[Webinar Recording] Living Well with Chronic Pain and Illness

Toni Bernhard

A Parkinson’s diagnosis can bring with it a wide array of challenges. It is life-disrupting and can feel like the life you once knew and the one you dreamed about are gone forever. This can leave you feeling stressed, fearful, uncertain, and overwhelmed. In the book How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide, author Toni Bernhard addresses a broad range of topics and how the practices of mindfulness, equanimity, and self-compassion can make life as good and joyful as possible in the face of a diagnosis like Parkinson’s.

During this webinar, Toni discussed what she’s learned about living with chronic pain and illness and how to live well no matter what obstacles you are facing.

To access the recording, click here.

To download the audio, click here.

To download the transcript, click here.

Show Notes

  • When you’re living with chronic pain or illness, you often hear from people who do not fully understand its effects that “you look great” or “I hope you get better soon.” Although these kinds of comments are said with good intentions, they can sometimes make you feel unseen or minimized to any outward symptoms
  • With many illnesses, particularly those that are chronic and/or progressive, the way a person looks is not necessarily the way they feel
  • Living with chronic illness can mean relationships and friendships change, and some may fade away. It can help to think about why some friends might shy away from the relationship and to realize the reasons are likely about them, not you
  • When living with chronic pain and illness, a “not-to-do” list (with items such as, “Do not blame yourself for your condition”) may be as important as a “to-do” list
  • Toni splits the experience of pain into three parts. One is the pain itself. Another is the emotional reaction to the pain, which can be anything from frustration to sadness to anger to compassion. The third is how we spin our story based on our reaction. An example is feeling pain, growing sad, and then thinking, “I am going to be in pain and unhappy forever. This is never going to stop.” Practicing mindfulness can help you be aware of these thoughts and bring your thoughts back to the present moment, not focused on the past or the future
  • Mindfulness, Toni says, is showing “caring attention to the present moment.” Mindfulness means bringing your attention to the present while still caring for others if the need should arise
  • One mindfulness exercise Toni practices is the three-breath technique. To do it, take three deep breaths in and out, focusing only on the sound and feeling of your breath
  • If living with chronic pain or illness means you aren’t able to join loved ones for activities you would enjoy, it can cause intense, and often unwelcome, emotions. Toni suggests trying the practice of mudita, a Buddhist philosophy of being happy for others during their times of joy

Additional Resources

An interview with Toni Bernhard about her book How to Wake Up

Meditation, Mindfulness, and Parkinson’s

Mudita: The Buddhist Practice of Sympathetic Joy

A Primer On Pain And Parkinson’s

Webinar Recording: Pain and Parkinson’s with Dr. Janis Miyasaki

8 Ankle and Foot Stretches to Reduce Pain and Increase Flexibility in Parkinson’s

Learn more about living well with Parkinson’s

Join us for our next The Victory Summit® Virtual Event: How to Live Well with Parkinson’s (For People with Parkinson’s by People with Parkinson’s).

During this event, you will learn from and interact with an inspirational lineup of speakers and small group leaders who have been living with Parkinson’s anywhere from two years to 20+ years. They will share their best tips, most moving stories, and the actions they’ve taken to overcome their biggest challenges and most troublesome symptoms. By the end of this event, you will have made a host of new friends and gathered a wide variety of ideas to help you live well with Parkinson’s for many years to come. Learn more and register here.

Live Well Today Webinar Series Presenting Partners*

*While the generous support of our sponsors makes our educational programs available,
their donations do not influence Davis Phinney Foundation content, perspective, or speaker selection.

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