I was born and raised in New Zealand and first became interested in meditation in 1985 when receiving hospital treatment for a spinal injury. I intuited that meditation and mindfulness could offer me a unique means of easing the mental suffering associated with the physical pain I was experiencing, which has turned out to be the case. For the subsequent twenty years I have continued to follow this thread, moving to the UK in 1990 to live at a retreat centre in Shropshire, training further in meditation and preparing for ordination into the Western Buddhist Order, now the Triratna Buddhist Order.
My spinal condition deteriorated further in the late 1990s and I now use crutches or a wheelchair for mobility, but my overall quality of life has continued to improve as I have become more and more adept at managing my responses to my physical condition and enriching my life in other ways.
In 1996 I moved to Manchester and in 2001 I started teaching mindfulness-based approaches to others living with physical pain and illness, with funding from the Millennium Commission. In 2004 I founded Breathworks with Sona and Gary, both good friends of mine, who are very experienced meditators and teachers. I am deeply committed to the project and find it extremely satisfying.
I have been on a number of conferences, courses and training retreats with experts in the field of pain management and mindfulness, enabling me to draw on a wide range of approaches in my teaching – using both mindfulness and other recognised pain management interventions. I also continue to attend and lead residential intensive meditation retreats several times a year.
- Being Here - Vidyamala's experience of living with pain
- One Moment at a Time - an article and led meditation by Vidyamala
- Living Well with Pain and Illness: The mindful way to free yourself from suffering - Vidyamala's first book
- Interview with Vidyamala, with Sounds True, her US publisher