Physiotherapist Embraces Mindfulness to Treat Chronic Pain

Physiotherapist Embraces Mindfulness to Treat Chronic Pain

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"SCS has truly given me a newfound meaning and purpose:  to educate and inspire the next generation of health care providers to use mind-body approaches in their personal and professional lives.” - Shrey Vazir, SCS learner

For Shrey Vazir, experiencing back pain at a young age led him on a long and winding journey through our healthcare system, which inspired him to dedicate his life to health, pain-management, and mindfulness. “I started to experience pain at age 12, so I began physiotherapy. I knew immediately I wanted to get into healthcare,” reflects Shrey, who now holds a Master of Physiotherapy from the University of Toronto. “In university, my pain started to worsen, which sent me on a very frustrating journey. I saw physios, chiropractors, acupuncturists, a rheumatologist, and a neurologist. After a trip to the ER due to extreme pain, I was eventually referred to a pain physician who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition.”

Throughout his physiotherapy studies, Shrey began exploring mindfulness as a tool to manage physical pain. “I was really shocked to learn what a powerful tool mindfulness could be in helping patients deal with pain. It’s clear to me that behaviours and thinking can affect pain levels in the body. I wanted to enhance my knowledge of mindfulness practices, so I started studying at SCS,” explains Shrey, who earned our Applied Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management (MBCPM™) Facilitation Certificate in 2018. “I chose SCS because the program is very evidence-based. It taught me how to treat people holistically through hands-on learning with real patients. My biggest take away was the fact that mental health and mental wellbeing are so crucial to our physical wellbeing. We can truly change the way we live through a practice like mindfulness meditation, and I’ve experienced the benefits first-hand. Mindfulness, and using the mind-body connection, is a big part of my personal healing path.”

Today, Shrey is a physiotherapist and a mindfulness facilitator in the Comprehensive Integrated Pain Program at Toronto Western Hospital and Altum Health. “Mindfulness is an integral part of my practice, which is rather unique in the physiotherapy world. It informs how I approach each patient, and a huge part of mindfulness is about accepting what is happening in life, whether things are good or bad, easy or hard. Personally, mindfulness helped me accept my chronic pain condition, and taught me skills like meditation and movement that I can use to manage my pain,” he says. In fact, Shrey recently founded Mind Body Horizons, a company that teaches mindfulness and meditation skills to patients and rehabilitation professionals. “Mindfulness has shifted my attitude towards living with pain,” says Shrey. “I want others in the rehabilitation space to be able to share these tools with their patients. I want mindfulness to become a mainstream tool for supporting pain management.”

According to Shrey, continuing education has the power to change lives. “The mindfulness meditation program at SCS has undoubtedly changed my personal life, and my career. It taught me how to combine my knowledge in physical therapy and mindfulness, which has not only allowed me to take charge over my own pain condition, but it has also allowed me to provide a holistic and mind-body approach of care to many patients and professionals,” he reflects. “SCS has truly given me a newfound meaning and purpose:  to educate and inspire the next generation of health care providers to use mind-body approaches in their personal and professional lives.”