This post is written by Centred Meditation Facilitator, Ashley Hunt. She is running a workshop on pain management this Wednesday Evening at 6:45pm.

It seems strange to think that just over three years ago I [Ashley] was a healthy, fit, part-time personal trainer and full-time movement junkie. My favourite past times were hanging upside down on some straps or silks, or balancing on my hands. These days I struggle with the most basic yoga sequences and hardly do any exercise at all.

I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 26 years old. What started with feeling some pain in my feet one day, led to experiencing chronic pain in my entire body within three months.

These are the most important lessons I’ve learnt since living with chronic pain:

  1. Self care isn’t just a #buzzword, it’s a necessity
    I used to push my body to its limits, training hard and working hard. Now I’ve learnt how to rest out of necessity and it feels bloody good. Be kind to your body and give yourself a break every now and then. Ask yourself often, what does my body need right now? And then listen. Your body has so much wisdom to share with you. More often than not it will tell you to slow down, take some time out and recharge.
  2. Take advice from others, but with caution
    When you are suffering from any kind of ailment, everyone will want to weigh in with their best ideas to fix it. Listen openly and with a kind heart, as your family and friends are only trying to help. But, at the end of the day, you are the only one who knows your body and only you can decide what is best for you.
  3. It’s OK to ask for help
    I used to be a bonafide Beyoncé inspired independent woman (snaps fingers with sass). I prided myself on my ability to not need anyone and I thought this meant that I was crushing life. Oh how things change… These days I need help doing everything from opening jars, to tying up shoelaces and opening doors. At first I resented dependence on others, but now I am so grateful for all of the people in my life who are willing to support me. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who jump in to help when needed.
  4. Meditation changes everything
    When I developed RA, I had been meditating for over ten years. But it wasn’t until I learnt to live with pain that I realised how important my meditation practice was in getting me through the hard times. I saw people around me going through similar challenges and just not coping at all. I felt so strongly that everybody needed the mindfulness tools I had learnt to help them through their difficulties. I realised then and there that I wanted to teach meditation to other people.

If you are dealing with pain of any kind, whether it’s just a niggle from an injury or it’s an all consuming condition, please know that you are not alone if you are struggling. Come along to my pain management workshop to learn to stop letting pain get the better of you and connect with others who are also experiencing pain in a judgement free zone.