Mindful Pain Solutions News
Summer 2015 Edition
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"These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them."

—  Rumi, The Essential Rumi


2015 Summer Edition
NeuroNova Centre NEWS

Book Review:  The Brain's Way of Healing  - by Norman Doidge M.D.
You asked:  The Mindfulness Solution for Pain...what to expect?
Did You Know That?

 Welcome to Spring/Summer ...

...and to NeuroNova Centre evolving into a training organization for new facilitators of the courses we have offered over the years, and to bringing Mindfulness strategies to staff of corporations and businesses. Our team is changing to support our new mandate, to enhance access for chronic pain sufferers to mindfulness strategies, and reduce suffering. Worldwide.

Please help us to find more applicants for our facilitator training and health care professional training programmes:
Or contact us at


What’s happening about the
Ontario Alumni Maintenance classes?

Plans are in the works! We are working on establishing “Chapters” of 3 to 4 sites linked by telemedicine to form maintenance classes all over Ontario so Alumni have a community to support their practice. Stay tuned. And check the website for updates.

Book Review


The Brain's Way of Healing

– by Norman Doidge M.D. (Viking 2015)


Reviewed by Jackie Gardner-Nix

This is a second book from Doidge, his first book: a best seller, was “The Brain that Changes Itself”.  Doidge is a psychiatrist and manages to recount patient stories which suggest amazing cure or control over progression of their diseases, and yet he is able to back the stories with scientific fact.

The first chapter is about curing pain. Yes, curing chronic pain. His subject is a chronic pain specialist who works out of a Pain Centre in California who, himself suffered intractable severe neck pain after a skiing accident 13 years before. Spreading and becoming more intense, the pain was threatening his livelihood.  He began to study the brain maps of where pain registers in the brain on becoming chronic, and he visualized these areas intently many times a day for months to imagine reducing the scope of the neurons participating in registering his pain. In other words he used guided imagery, a bit more accurately than we do in our courses, focusing in on where he knew areas of the brain register chronic pain.  With great perseverance—he called it relentlessness- and determination, he got his pain to zero in a year and it has not returned.

Only some of his patients were able to do the same with his coaching. He still uses conventional pain interventions in his Pain Centre, and mindfulness wasn’t mentioned, though he was clearly using imagery to change his brain pathways—the neurons that fire together wire together; the neurons which fire apart wire apart. That’s what happens when we change our behaviours and take more control of our thoughts—the neuroplasticity of the brain.

Other chapters deal with other diseases such as Parkinson’s, where an amazing dedication to intense, relentless exercise reduced the progression of the symptoms of Parkinson’s in a South African man who had had it diagnosed in his 30s and was now late 70s.  

The extraordinary people who turned back their diseases in almost miraculous ways had this relentlessness in common. They were the “Olympic athletes” of their disabilities, and amazing examples of not letting their brain have a “mind of its own”, the “default” state most of our minds are in before we discover Mindfulness. 

Doidge also has some technology surprises in his book where function was being restored by light therapy or electrically delivered energy therapy. 

We may not all be able to aspire to be the Olympic athletes of our various disabilities, Nevertheless, those who can, act as a beacon to show what’s possible: that the brain can change in ways which heal the body, and that we can all achieve some of that when given the tools.  Such as Mindfulness.


The Mindfulness Solution to Pain ... what to expect?
I have just finished reading your ebook “The Mindfulness Solution to Pain” and for the last couple months I have attended a weekly mindfulness training course. I suffer from chronic pain in my head and have been taking strong medications since the beginning. After two months of mindfulness training during which we have learnt some mindfulness practices (breath, body scan, walking meditation), my pain seems to have worsened. According to your experience, is it a common or expected development? Maybe I had better stop meditating?

– from a correspondent from Italy

Answered – by Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix: 

As a migraine sufferer myself I find I am at greater risk of migraines when going from busy life to silent retreat and then back to busy life again—the transition times-- and I remember a publication years ago reporting a case study of a man who’s migraines increased on his initial introduction to Mindfulness and decreased after a year or so doing his practice. 

The phenomenon of “let down” migraines occurring at weekends is well known. It is partly due to the stress hormones supporting us through our stressed “busy-ness” and then falling away at weekends and leaving us with no control over those pulsing brain arteries! Our bodies don’t manage the sharp transition very well. This is similar to when we don’t take coffee in the morning after taking it daily: the usual response is a headache by late morning. I think formal practice and silent retreats result in migraine sufferers experiencing a sudden change in stress levels: the stress hormones decline but the body systems have not acclimatized to the transition. Eventually with continuing practice, we may not tighten up so much when in our non- meditating moments and we become wiser about how much to take on, reducing the load causing us stress—then migraines are in better check.

Additionally, frequent use of migraine pain-relieving medications can cause a rebound phenomenon as the body becomes dependent on the medication. Opioid medications, which include codeine-containing pain killers, have been found to encourage migraine onset if used more than 8 days a month, and also to reduce migraine responsiveness to ibuprofen and the triptans if used with them. I don’t take my triptan/ibuprofen combination more than 2 times in 1 week, to avoid the rebound phenomenon.  If I am unlucky enough to get 3 migraine onsets in a week I use ice and rest after that, but that is rare for me and tells me I have put too much work into my schedule.

Did You Know That?

If you experience colours associated with certain words or numbers, you are not alone! We have occasionally had participants report this during our courses and they note it particularly during guided meditation practice.

This is the phenomenon of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that is said to mingle senses together: the Greek translation of the word is “joining of senses”. According to an article ”A Blending of the Senses”  by Rose Foster in the History of Medicine section of Doctor’s Review, May 2015, between 2 to 4% of the population are synesthetes, where associations such as: the letter P is blue, or this syrup tastes pink, or this name is red, are conscious, consistent and automatic. 

Colour imagery related to letters was found to be somewhat influenced in more synesthetes than could be a chance finding by a prominent toy company’s letter fridge magnet colours available in the 1975 to 1980 era. Synesthetes raised with these as children tended to see the colours the company used for these letters in their mind’s eye when seeing those letters throughout life.  Some synesthetes associate certain numbers as male or female. Chromesthetes associate sounds with colours. Spatial sequence synesthetes orient days of the week and months of the year around them in space. 

So if you have any of these sense associations, you can speak up and celebrate your extra gift!  In the 1960s synesthetes were thought to have been victims of excessive use of LSD, but with better understanding of the workings of the brain, this theory has been laid to rest!


Becoming mindful
can help to deal with trauma


Pushing away bad memories can be unproductive.


5 day Level 1 MBCPM™ patient course and practicum (Facilitators in training and health care professionals also participate in this course with patients). Toronto location only: Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, behind St Michael’s Hospital. Room 136. August 10th to 14th.  Monday Tuesday and Thursday 9.30 to 4.30 pm; Wednesday and Friday 9.30 to 1 pm. Facilitators: Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix and Dr. Trudy Lynn Mahood. 
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1 day Silent Retreat: Sunday August 16th Li Ka Shing Institute, Room 136 
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The above Retreat and practicum are followed by: MBCPM™ Facilitator Curriculum Training August 17th to 19th  Li Ka Shing Institute. 
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Fall 2015 Lumina level 4 Weekend Course, Toronto. September 19th 9.30 am to 4.30 pm; September 20th 9.45 am to 1.15 pm. To enroll, contact

Health Care Professional Training in MBCPM™: Starting in 2015, this has now been blended with the five day patient practicum in August, or the MBCPM™ facilitator training sessions.  Individual health facilities may enquire about trainings for their staff which can be arranged separately. 
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Corporate Trainings for staff: enquire at
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One on One MBCPM™ training, outside of a group setting:  The publication of the Level 1/2 workbook may allow someone who is unable to attend group classes to do the course, using all the materials, and with guidance of a personal “coach” trained by NNC in MBCPM™ facilitator training, if one is available. The facilitator would connect by phone or other means such as Skype about 5 times during the process of working through the materials. This would not be covered by OHIP but can be priced depending on the facilitator’s fee. If interested, you may contact the NNC office at to enquire about this availability.


Please note that now MBCPM™ courses are being offered more widely, they are not being covered by OHIP where facilitators are not MDs or being funded within a Health Care Facility budget. If you have extended benefits your facilitator may be an eligible health care professional covered under your plan.

Not all courses are listed, as some have not yet been scheduled. Please check our website for updates

Aurora, linked with Brampton via telemedicine
Dr. Paulette Licorish’s MBCPM™ level 1 Course in Aurora on Mondays from September 14th, linked with Brampton. She will also offer an onsite Level 1 course from the Poly Clinic in North York on Fridays from September 18th.  Fax referrals specifying mindfulness course and site to 416 250 0323; Phone: 416 250 7171. 

Only available to patients of Cambridge Memorial Hospital Mental Health Program. Mary MacDonald-Young co-facilitating with Cathy Martin-Hernandez’s MBCPM™ level 1 Course. Phone: 519-621-2333 x 3308, Fax: 519-740-4936

Haliburton (on-site only)
Barb Fraser’s MBCPM™ Level 1 Course will begin in September in Haliburton.  For information or to register please call 705-455-9220 x 312 or email 

Kingston (plus telemedicine sites)
Dr. Ruth Dubin and Evelyn Bowering’s MBCPM™ Level 1 Course will be offered at the Kingston Community Health Centre on Wednesdays for 13 weeks from September 21st, 1:15 – 3:45pm.  This course will run simultaneously, linked by telemedicine with other sites.  For more information please contact the coordinator at 613-542-2949 x 1179 or email at

Noelville (plus telemedicine sites)
Annie Hebert’s MBCPM™ courses will run simultaneously from the Noelville, St Charles area, linked by telemedicine with other sites. Please contact Annie at 705-898-2594 to register.

Orangeville (on site only)
Dr. Nadine Locas-French’s MBCPM™ Level 1 is being offered in September: time and location to be determined. Fax: (519) 940-8130.

Orillia (plus telemedicine sites, to Cobourg and others TBA)
Dr. Kim McKenzie’s MBCPM™ Level 1 Course is being offered Mondays starting September, from 1:15 – 3:45 pm in Orillia, Ontario. This course will run simultaneously, linked by telemedicine with Cobourg; other sites to be determined.  Physician referral required. Please send an email to or phone 705-795-7629 to register.  Other courses and levels of the MBCPM™ may be offered in Fall and on site in Barrie, On.

Sarnia (on site only)
Pawan Singh (Social worker) will be offering MBCPM™ Level 1 starting soon. Tel: 519 491 1110. 

Thunder Bay (on-site only)
Dr. Trudy Lynn Mahood’s MBCPM™  Courses are being offered at Clinical Institute in Thunder Bay.  Please contact Dr. Trudy Lynn Mahood via email at to find out Fall dates, times and to register.

Toronto:  Central
Centre for Mindfulness Studies’ MBCPM™ level 1 Course, facilitated by Angie Kingma, will start September 15th 5.30 to 8 pm.
For more information:

Toronto:  East York (on-site only)
Dr. Adam Bletsoe’s MBCPM™ Level 1 Course is being offered in East York, Toronto from Tuesday September 15th, 6.30 to 8.30 pm. Please contact his office at 416-694-4800 x 1 for cost and enrolment, or register at

Toronto:  North York
Dr. Paulette Licorish will offer an onsite Level 1 course from the Poly Clinic in North York on Fridays from September 18th.  Fax referrals specifying mindfulness course to 416 250 0323; Phone: 416 250 7171. 

Toronto:  St. Michael’s, Toronto  for SMH patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (on-site only)
Cecilia Wan's MBCPM™ Level 1 Course will be held at St. Michael's Hospital starting in September, Thursdays from 1:00 - 3:00pm.  For more information please contact Cecilia Wan at 416-864-6060 x 4026.

Vaughan (on-site only)
Louisa Mailis's MBCPM™ Level 1 Course will be offered at the Pain and Wellness Centre in Vaughan. From September 14th 2015.  For more information please contact 1-800-597-5733, fax referrals to 1-844-358-9308.


Please watch the NNC website for other locations starting in the Fall –which may include Kitchener, London, North Bay, Richmond Hill, and Kirkland Lake.

As always, we welcome your submissions! Please send any articles, book reviews, or contributions for the Newsletter to:


All previous issues of our Newsletter are available at


Mindful Pain Solutions News is published by The NeuroNova Centre for Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management


Newsletter Staff

Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix MB.BS., Ph.D., MRCP(UK), Editor-In-Chief

ITRM Consulting Inc. Publisher

Dawn Friesen, Graphic Designer


Copyright © 2015 NeuroNova Centre for Mindful Solutions Inc., All rights reserved.

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