INVITING CHRONIC PAIN AND ILLNESS TO TEA
Pain and trauma can shape the relationship we have with our minds, bodies and hearts. This course is for those seeking to change their relationship with a chronic struggle that they may perceive as an obstacle to living life fully.
Research has shown that the cultivation of mindfulness practices can have a dramatic effect on the reduction of the experience of pain, yet many of us find that the trauma and/or pain interferes with our mindfulness practice. Informed by the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Judith Blackstone, Tara Brach and others, this course will provide tools participants can use to reframe their experience and embrace what is.
Through experiential exercises, meditations, group discussions, community-building and home practice, participants will learn to deepen their awareness of themselves as much more than the pain or illness.
This 17-week course offers 9 bi-weekly classes where new content will be offered, and 8 bi-weekly practice sessions to integrate learning and cultivate community. This course is designed for an extended length in order to help participants more fully integrate the teachings and practices into their lives.
The course includes:
Guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices
Gentle stretching and mindful movement
Group dialogue and discussions aimed at community-building and working through challenges
Daily home practice, including guided meditations
Bi-weekly sessions to support integration of learning
Fifteen recorded guided meditations and a home practice manual
This course is offered as a video conference course for convenience to participants as well as to allow for participation from various locations.
Tuition: $550, includes nine 2-hour experiential sessions, eight 1-hour practice sessions, workbook, and fifteen guided meditations (in mp3 format). Scholarship is available—contact me.
UPCOMING CHRONIC PAIN AND ILLNESS COURSES
NEW COURSE STARTING IN JANUARY 2021
Free Introductory Class: Thursday, December 10, 2020, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. ET
Free Introductory Class: Thursday, January 7, 2021, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. ET
Two-hour teaching sessions, Thursdays, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. ET, 1/14, 1/28, 2/11, 2/25, 3/11, 3/25, 4/8, 4/22, 5/6
One-hour practice sessions, Thursdays, 7 - 8 p.m. ET, 1/21, 2/4, 2/18, 3/4, 3/18, 4/1, 4/15, 4/29
REVIEWS FROM CHRONIC PAIN AND ILLNESS PARTICIPANTS
Course organization, delivery, and content were among the best I’ve taken to effect behavioral change. The exercises, meditations, and homework addressed many of the challenges I have with chronic pain in the way I perceive, feel, and communicate with myself and others. Stan’s teaching was tops. His focus on intent, self-kindness, and self-compassion enabled me to explore my thoughts and feelings without falling down the rabbit hole of self-condemnation and hopelessness. I smiled a few days last week for no reason. I know that I smiled a lot, and that others noticed. Even this weekend, when I experienced a high level of pain, I could still turn up the corners of my mouth and smile.
The course was comprehensive, methodical and clear. Each step of the training built upon what had come before. Stan is a gifted teacher who hears his students deeply and helps the group bond. The guided meditations were particularly helpful, as were the supporting written materials. But most importantly the course has heart. Stan was in the moment flexible with what was working or not working with the group, adjusting and adapting as needed. In our interviews, he asked skillful questions to evoke perspectives and discussion when I was stuck in knowing what I wanted to talk about. The email daily gratitude practice, which our group continued, was rich and became the most important part of the course for me. Of course it would not have worked so well without everything else. I really appreciated Stan recording the two sessions I was not able to attend. It made a big difference not missing that material.
My level of awareness has changed for the better. I am not my pain. I have “un-learned” it. Pain is part of life--suffering with the pain is optional....The wealth and “breath” of resources that were called upon--like poetry, meditation, talks, guests. Phenomenal....I say yes to life. I am in awe of our group and especially the work that was put in to keep it ongoing. Thank you, thank you for your devotion.
This course has been life changing for me. After many years of living with pain and illness, I had become an often negative, irritable and complaining person. It was as if there were a dark cloud over me a lot of the time. Though I knew better, I was pretty angry at life. Now I am not. I feel as if the windows and curtains have been thrown open and sunlight is flooding the room. Over the years I had gotten help in the form of excellent physical therapy, chiropractic, and Tui Na, and it was helpful to study and practice Chi Qung. But then I had had to go home and live with my pain and illness. I was seeking something more--teachings I could internalize that would help me learn how to cope better in my daily life with the ongoing experiences of physical distress and the attendant negative effects on my emotional life--and by the way, on the people around me.
Well, I found that help in spades with Inviting Chronic Pain and Illness to Tea. I have learned so many new ways to relate to my very real challenges, with acceptance, with perspective, with self-compassion, with an understanding of the effects of negative thoughts on my body, and of needing things to be a certain way. There is so much more but that gives a flavor of it I hope. I can't express how strongly I would recommend this course to anyone suffering with the effects of chronic pain and illness. Stan and Ruth are wonderful inspired and inspiring teachers and there are so many helpful tools in the course, including many profoundly helpful guided meditations.
An added bonus, I found, is that through the course I've learned so much about practicing mindfulness as a way of life. Though I had studied mindfulness before, being mindfully focused on something so personally important as pain and illness was powerfully motivating. It gave particular meaning to each mindful practice and made the practices come fully alive.
A final note. I'm glad that during the course, my pain, though present, was under relatively good control. I think that helped me really feel the effects of the course, especially in my body. My pain level went way down. It turns out that now, in the last couple of weeks, I'm in an episode of extreme, almost constant pain. I have severe scoliosis, am now 80 years old, and because of deconditioning and a consequent loss of core strength, there has been a shift in my bony structure causing body distortion, muscle tightness and spasms.. Without having taken this course I would probably have been pulled into a depression, but, though I'm suffering, I am not depressed. When I am feeling the most pain, I am not always doing too well with using all the tools I've learned. I've tried but it can be too intense and I can't always even focus on guided meditations. I've tended to seek distraction, like endless movies, instead. But my attitude is different, and once, hopefully, things ease up, I know the tools are there. If not, I hope I have enough experience now to know how to get back to them.
My main intent in signing up for workshop was to learn techniques for minimizing the emotional impact of chronic pain, particularly in relation to my tendency to be self-critical about causing or adding to pain. The course not only met my expectations but exceeded them....[The main takeaways of course were] becoming more aware and appreciative of the parts of the body that are not in pain, as well as those that are; becoming more aware of judgement and emotion relative to pain and providing kindness and compassion when they occurs; becoming more aware of role emotions play in my pain, particularly with help of emotions chart; gaining wider perspective on pain thru spaciousness and tonglen exercises and meditations; finding how important gratitude is in providing perspective on judgement and suffering; being reminded of the importance of regularly "pausing" before acting; [and] finding tools to deal with self critical thinking, particularly thru self talk, use of kind and true criteria, and resolving to let go as much as possible....Stan and Ruth were tremendously sensitive to my needs.
Thank you for offering this program! I was fortunate enough to take this program soon after I began treatment for cancer. The information, guidance, practice and support offered through this program and by the instructors was so very helpful and valuable at this time. I highly recommend the program for those struggling with chronic pain or illness. It has given me new perspective and ways to relate to my illness and life, a wealth of resources and deepened my meditation practice. I feel the experiences and resources offered through this program will guide and help me through whatever challenges life may present. What a gift!...Ruth and Stan are amazing! They are knowledgeable, organized, articulate, patient, kind, encouraging, inspiring and motivating.
A life changer! I have gained a new perspective on how to be ok with the disease instead of wanting it to go away....The safe space created, a sense of community for healing and growing. Being in the body instead of resisting it. t was very well designed. Stan and Ruth, the guest speakers. There is so much I got from this course.
This course has been awesome. I am so grateful to Ruth and Stan for all the time they have put into it. The handouts and meditations have been so helpful. I feel certain I will be studying the handouts and using the meditations for many weeks in the near future. I truly appreciate all the extra evenings, guest speakers, and emails as well. And I do appreciate that adding the extra evenings has required effort above and beyond what is normally provided in such a course. I would highly recommend this program to anyone experiencing chronic pain and/or illness.
The meditations are awesome and I need to continue these daily. I think the gratitude practice is quite important and I know I need to develop that into a daily routine. Helping us get to know others in the group was so helpful and I do appreciate the break-out rooms discussions. The sharing of emails with a smaller half group enabled us to get to know others much better and appreciate the struggles and insights of the other members of the group and experience their caring for one another.. The extra meetings each week were such a gift and I do appreciate the extended time helped us to make the meditations more of a habit than if we just experienced the teachings of the course for 8 or 9 weeks. Both Stan and Ruth are so supportive and I am so impressed with how they were able to address people’s needs and concerns.
The course gave me many tools to lessen the burden of, and my identification with my pain and chronic illness. The sense of community it fostered was an unexpected bonus. Many thanks! The 17 weeks, alternating class with practice session was really beneficial in allowing me to fully grasp material of one class over two weeks. The small groups fostered a sense of community which was great. Stan and Ruth, both good teachers with a lot compassionate and patience, they balanced each other well.
I'm not ready for the 17 weeks to end. The invaluable mindfulness tools and resources we were given, the caring community we built (teachers and classmates included), and the boundless hope that was generated lightened my experience with daily chronic pain and illness. For those and many other reasons, this program was extremely helpful....Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Stan and Ruth, for this program. The course is fantastic, and so are you. Your strengths and skills as teachers complement each other beautifully. It's evident that you poured your hearts and souls into the creation of the materials and teaching of each unit. You gave students tools and hope to carry forward individually and collectively. You helped us make our bodies a better place to come home to. Please keep offering and teaching this program. People who are experiencing chronic pain and illness need this course and you.