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Living and Loving with Chronic Pain

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Sometimes life hurts. Sometimes it hurts alot. Dr Andrea Grabovac knows all about this and the mental strategies to cope with daily pain.

Mindful-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a a psychological therapy which has been used globally to treat many ailments and conditions, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and trauma. By working from a place of self-awareness and compassion, we are able to identify the behaviours and thoughts that can lead to declining mental health conditions. Dr Andrea Grabovac has whole-heartedly used this therapy style to change lives over the last 9 years, as a practicing clinician, co-founder of the North American Chapter of the MiCBT Institute, published peer-reviewed author on the Buddhist Psychological Model, and teacher trainer, including her Cultivating Wellbeing for Health Professionals program at Hollyhock.

Learn a daily mindful practice used to help with pain management from Dr Grabovac. Love yourself, one day at a time.


Coming to a sitting posture that supports an alert attention relaxing any tension in the body that’s not needed at this time allowing your hands to rest comfortably on your lap perhaps elevated on a pillow or blanket if this helps. Support the arms shoulders and neck in the relaxed position, closing your eyes to minimize distractions or keeping them open with a soft unfocused gaze towards the floor. Bringing attention to sensations of the body sitting here, perhaps sensations where the body is in contact with the chair or cushion or sensations in other areas of the body such as the sensations associated with breathing and beginning with the intention to bring a friendly kind attitude towards yourself.

Gently offering the possibility of a kind understanding towards oneself and continuing throughout this practice to maintain this intention of kindness towards physical and mental sensations. It may be possible to feel sensations in the body that are consistent with a kind attitude. Perhaps a pleasant flow of tingling sensations whether in the hands or soles of the feet or the chest perhaps a warm and expansive feeling. Sometimes when we first start a loving-kindness practice we don’t feel many or any physical sensations and that’s fine too. We are still doing the practice and benefiting from it.

Also, sometimes during loving-kindness practice thoughts or sensations might occur that are unpleasant and that is normal as well. Welcome even these more difficult thoughts or physical sensations into awareness with acceptance and non reactivity and if you are feeling some pleasant sensations consistent with kindness, with each out-breath, visualize that the pleasant sensations are expanding slowly throughout the body perhaps feeling the sensations spreading throughout the body each time you breathe out and whether working at the level of gently offering kindness to yourself or offering kindness and pleasant sensations paired with this. Beginning to wish yourself well by extending thoughts of well-being harmony and love to yourself, I’ll be offering some examples of loving kindness phrases and feel free to change them as works best for you to best express your own wishes.

May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be kind to myself
May I accept myself as I am
May I extend compassion towards myself
May I be patient with myself
May I feel joy and contentment

Continuing to repeat the phrases while visualizing or feeling pleasant sensations consistent with kindness; expanding slowly through the body with each exhale.

May I be peaceful and at ease may I be kind to myself
May I accept myself as I am
May I extend compassion towards myself
May I be patient with myself
May I feel joy and contentment

Now we can expand these wishes for wellbeing and bring to mind friends and family that are dear to you whom you care about and feel appreciative towards, and offering these words with intentions, for their well-being and perhaps also pairing these phrases with imagining the pleasant sensations consistent with kindness.

Expanding outwards towards your loved ones maybe a sense that your heart expands with each exhalation throughout the entire body or visualizing or even feeling subtle sensations flowing out of your body towards those you love and care for while generating positive thoughts for them with the associated wish or hope that it benefits them.

May you be peaceful and at ease
May you be kind to yourself
May you accept yourself as you are
May you extend compassion towards yourself
May you be patient with yourself
May you feel joy and contentment

Now allowing this intention for loving-kindness to spread further to defuse and radiate in all directions towards all people and living things as possible and available at this time. If also working with the free flow of pleasant sensations of kindness with each exhale, visualizing the pleasant sensations expanding feeling the sensations diffuse and radiates in all directions towards all beings.

May all beings be peaceful and at ease
May all beings be kind to themselves
May all beings accept themselves as they are
May all beings extend compassion towards themselves
May all beings be patient with themselves
May all beings feel joy and contentment
May all beings be happy

And now as we start to come to the close of this practice coming back to including yourself in the well wishes for kindness extending thoughts and sensations of kindness towards yourself allowing attention to rest on sensations in the body including sensations of breathing.

Noticing sensations of the in-breath and out-breath and including any sensations consistent with kindness and other sensations that have arisen during this practice remembering that as you become familiar with this practice in addition to practicing on a regular basis with the audio recording to train these skills you can also bring a shorter version of the loving-kindness practice into your day. In the grocery store line up, when talking with friends, when preparing a meal, feeling these sensations and wishing yourself and others well is available to you throughout the day.

Over the next few breaths, gradually opening your eyes and perhaps choosing to continue to pay attention to moment by moment experience with intentions of kindness.

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