Contents of This Page

My Articles and Blog Posts

  1. “Aging Gracefully: Dealing with Chronic Pain Through Meditation.” Posted on January 12, 2012 on 60sFolksinTheir60s.

    “Many of us are fortunate to enter our sixties in good health and enjoying lives filled with blessings. ... As our working years draw to a close, we look forward to a retirement free of the stress of the workplace.... Retirement will end in death. How, if at all, can we prepare ourselves for that final passage?” more

  2. “Healing the Suffering Caused by Chronic Pain Through Meditation.” Posted on January 13, 2012 on ThePeacefulRunner.

    “Chronic pain can be a prison with deep, dark, dank, cramped cells and impenetrable walls. I know that place all too well. Later in this article I will describe my experiences with chronic pain and tell the story of how meditation helped me escape from that prison and transform my suffering into healing.” more

  3. “Healing the Suffering Caused by Chronic Pain Through Meditation.” Posted on February 3, 2012 on BlissPlan.

    The editor of Blissplan introduces my blog post as follows: “Today's guest author has written about a powerful spiritual experience — an illness. It seems almost impossible that we could ever be thankful for a serious physical problem, but it’s true nevertheless. It isn’t always that way of course. But I had Graves disease and my suffering was so great that I had to stop resisting my experience, just as Richard explains here. Acceptance was the only possible way to heal.” more

  4. “Bringing Mindfulness into Higher Education” by Richard S. Ellis, 2012-2013 Newsletter of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Volume 28, page 3.

    “After meditating regularly for a number of years, I decided to introduce meditation and the benefits of mindfuleness, in a gentle and nonintrusive way, to the students I teach. ... Their expressions of supp ort [Department Head and Associate Deans] inspired me to organize a group of graduate students in my department with whom I meet once a week once a week to discuss issues of stress and to meditate together, cultivating the mindfulness that can heal that stress.” more

  5. Bringing Mindfulness into Higher Education. 2013 ACMHE Winter Newsletter, 13-14. Published online by The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education.

    This article is a revised and updated version of the article appearing in the previous item. In it I describe my weekly sessions with graduate students in my department during which I helped them experience how mindfulness can help heal the suffering caused by the pressures of academic life and can transform that suffering into insight and wisdom.


  1. “Blinding pain, simple truth: a professor of mathematics heals himself through Buddhist meditation.” An interview with Elena Giorgi on the writing process and my book, posted on January 12, 2012 on Chimeras.

    Elena Giorgi introduces the interview as follows: “How did a professor of mathematics end up writing a book on Buddhist meditation? It’s a fascinating story, one that I was lucky enough to hear in person since I’ve known Richard for over ten years now, and I was thrilled when he graciously agreed to share it here on Chimeras.” more


  1. Retailing Insight: Connecting with the best in Body – Mind – Spirit

    Blinding Pain, Simple Truth: Changing Your Life Through Buddhist Meditation
    Richard S. Ellis
    $16.95 P, 978-1-56825-125-7
    Rainbow Books Inc.

    “Not just another book about alternative healing, this is also a very well-written textbook about how and why the alternative process Ellis chose actually worked. A professor of mathematics and Judaic studies, he does talk about things like conceptual lenses being a tenet of cognitive science, but always in understandable terms, with examples. He also makes it clear that the path to overcoming suffering lies in the right brain, not the left brain. The power of the book is Ellis’ honesty about his struggle with the concept of turning enemies into teachers. An additional selling point is Ellis’ use of Buddhist teachings to search for new insight into the Hebrew Bible. Consider displaying it with books by Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfeld, Rabbi David A. Cooper, and Pema Chödrön.”

    –Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight (May-June 2011), p. 106

Articles About the Book and Myself

  1. “Power of the mind: A UMass professor finds relief from debilitating headaches through meditation” by Suzanne Wilson, Daily Hampshire Gazette, March 8, 2011, pages C1–C2. The article also appeared in Amherst Bulletin, March 18, 2011, pages B1, B4. Another pdf file of the article is also available.

    “Richard S. Ellis of Amherst is a professor of mathematics and statistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an adjunct professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies department. Though he has achieved recognition in those fields, he also has expertise in another completely different subject - debilitating, blinding headaches.” more

  2. “A simple equation for turning suffering into healing,” University of Massachusetts Amherst Online Publication, In the Loop: News for Faculty & Staff, March 17, 2011.

    “Professor Richard S. Ellis’s new book, ‘Blinding Pain, Simple Truth: Changing Your Life Through Buddhist Meditation’ (Rainbow Books) chronicles his decade-long journey from relentless headache pain and torment to unmedicated joy and equanimity through Buddhist teachings and meditation.” more

  3. “Faculty Profile of Richard S. Ellis: Healing the Stress of Academic Life and Finding Peace” by Michael Lavine, 2011-2012 Newsletter of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Volume 27, pages 2–3.

    This profile describes my academic history and how my academic and non-academic lives intertwine. The profile stems from conversations between myself and Michael Lavine, who is the Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UMass Amherst.

    “This is the story of my colleague, Richard S. Ellis, whose successful career was nearly destroyed by incapacitating headaches. Paradoxically, because meditation taught Richard to accept the pain, the headaches have given new meaning to his career by revealing both the causes of suffering in academic life and a way to heal that suffering.” more

  4. “Ellis wins Living Now Book Award,” University of Massachusetts Amherst Online Publication, In the Loop: News for Faculty & Staff, September 27, 2012.

    “Richard S. Ellis, professor of Mathematics and Statistics and author of Blinding Pain, Simple Truth: Changing your Life through Buddhist Meditation, received the silver medal in the Meditation/Relaxation category of the Living Now Book Awards on Aug. 23 in Lakeland, Fla.” more

  5. Tapping the Power of Mindfulness by Maureen Salamon, H2U–Health to You magazine, Summer 2013, pages 8–10. My mindfulness approach to chronic pain is discussed on page 10: “the suffering has disappeared.”

    “To find out how real people incorporate mindfulness into their everyday lives—and how they benefit—we spoke with several and asked them to share their secrets.” more

  6. Love, Blessings, and Happiness: I Asked for Wonder (2014)

    Every five years members of my Harvard class of 1969 are asked to submit an anniversary report. This article is an updated version of my forty-fifth anniversary report, published in 2014. In it I describe the last five years, which have been filled with love, blessings, and happiness.

Talks on the Book

  1. “Escaping from the Prison of Chronic Pain Through Meditation”. This is the text of a talk that I have given, with small variations, at several book readings listed under Past Events.

    “My story is about headaches, devastating headaches that started in 2000 and nearly destroyed my career. I suffered miserably for two and a half years before I sought help from a therapist who changed my life. Jean Colucci guided me in meditation and encouraged me to attend a meditation retreat during the summer of 2003. While I was at that retreat, I had a life-altering insight about the headaches that would eventually heal my suffering.” more

  2. “Healing the Stress of Academic Life,” a talk in the College of Public Health, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, March 18, 2013. A recording of this talk is available online. I gave a similar talk on March 18, 2014 in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

    “In discussing stress in academic life I feel like a pioneer entering a new landscape that is waiting to be explored. Metaphors aside, we are dealing with a really strange situation here. Stress is a major component of academic life, but almost no one addresses the huge but obvious question. How can we deal with stress and perhaps even heal it?” more