A Lostock Hall woman with fibromyalgia and arthralgia is hosting new mindfulness classes to help people manage chronic pain and an array of long-term illnesses.
Linda Duckworth (64) will hold the sessions on Tuesdays from 7 - 8pm and Wednesdays from 1 - 2pm at Lostock Hall Medical Centre. She will also continue to run her class on Wednesdays from 10 - 11am.
The retired childcare and health and social care teacher, who worked at Lancashire College, began practicing mindfulness as a way to cope with crippling pain caused by arthralgia and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Arthralgia is an illness causing stiffness in the joints while FMS is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.
Commenting on the impact of her conditions, Linda said: "I had to give up my job and take early retirement because I could hardly get out of bed. The pain just overtook my life and I couldn't see an end to it. I really thought I'd end up in a wheelchair one day.
"Life ends up passing you by and it can lead to anxiety and depression. It's a vicious circle."
Linda has suffered from FMS for more than 30 years. She then developed arthralgia after losing the cartilage in her knees and damaged her lower back while working as a childcare teacher.
She was in so much agony that she had to have an operation on her back and both knees replaced. She was also forced to leave her career behind as driving all over Lancashire for her work made the pain in her neck and back more unbearable.
Linda then attended a pain clinic where she completed a three-week pain management course at Hope Hospital in Liverpool. The course transformed her outlook on life and inspired her to undertake online teacher training in mindfulness, followed by further studies in the field at a Birmingham college.
The teacher, who aspires to help others in similar situations, added: "Mindfulness helps you to relax and accept the pain. It doesn't take it away but it helps you to cope with it. I know my limitations but now I live in the moment and assess what works for me. You get good days and bad days but you learn to take your time."
The practice has allowed Linda to reclaim her old identity and fuelled her passion for helping others.
"I've now got a job in a college and I'm working in the local community so I've got my life back. I'm enthusiastic about life again and feel like I'm doing some good. I like helping people and find it satisfying. You see the difference in those who try it. You see them relaxing," she said.
Mindfulness can help people with a variety of health difficulties, including stress, anxiety and the menopause, according to Linda, who also offers home visits.
"It's for lots of people really. The possibilities are endless. And you get to meet like-minded people who support each other - it's like a community," she added.
"I encourage people to use it in everyday life and teach them to be present and live moment by moment. It gives you a bit of time to yourself and you can never get those moments back."