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Meditation is the practice of employing a range of mindfulness practices to cultivate or attain a state of mental and physical tranquility. Meditation is a combination of mental focus, mindfulness, direct observation, and breathing techniques to give you a stable mentality, allowing you to organize your thoughts and feelings to live a more meaningful, present life.

As per a scientific study, regular meditation can have a curative impact on your psychological health and well-being, in addition to reducing stress. There are numerous styles of meditation, such as guided, transcendental, mindfulness, Kundalini, and zen, each of which employs its methods to assist meditators in achieving a state of mental peace.

This article includes an overview of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s unique methodology of mindfulness practices, his publications, books, and meditation methods.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is worldwide renowned for his works as a scientist, author, and meditation instructor dedicated to mainstreaming mindfulness in medicine and community. Emeritus professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Clinic in the year 1979 and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society in the year 1995. In 2000, he left his employment at the medical facility. Since then, under the direction of Dr. Saki Santorelli, the Center for Mindfulness has developed significantly and its services have become increasingly popular in the United States and globally.

Jon is the writer of two best-selling books: Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, which has been translated into Spanish, Russian, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Korean, Chinese and Finnish; and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, which has been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Czech, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Brazilian Portuguese, Hebrew, Russian, Polish, Vietnamese, Croatian, Korean, Bulgarian, Chinese, Finnish, Estonian, Norwegian and Turkish.  

His wife, Myla, and he also wrote Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. It is published in various languages, Danish being the most recent (2016). Amazon.com ranked Everyday Blessings among the 10 most popular inspirational books published in 1998.

His publications and guided meditation courses present meditation practice in such simple, pertinent, and appealing ways that thousands of individuals have adopted mindfulness meditation as a way of living. His work has contributed to the integration of mindfulness into mainstream society like health care, medicine, schools, hospitals, corporations, higher education, the legal profession, prisons, and professional sports.

The definition of mindfulness according to Jon Kabat-Zinn is the consciousness that develops from paying attention on purpose, in the current moment, and without judgment in the pursuit of self-understanding and enlightenment.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn goes on to explore and express his unique understanding of the ‘self’ through mindfulness. Because we assume there is someone to be taken seriously, we all take ourselves too seriously. This “I.” We become the protagonist of our film. The “me” narrative features, of course, myself! And everybody becomes a supporting character in our movie. Then we overlook that it is an invention. It is a structure. And that it is not a movie, and that there is no “you” to be found if one were to peel back the layers.

Are you your age? Are you your name? What are your thoughts? Are you your opinions? Are you your inherited traits?

Even your DNA will be expressed hundreds of times differently if you meditate or eat differently. So, you are not even the product of your genetic inheritance. Who are you, then?

How much of our time is spent on the “I” “Me” and “Mine” narrative, which has been associated with certain brain regions that function as the narrative default mode? And this is when the proverbial rubber hits the road: The query is infinitely more important than the answers we provide.

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to illuminate other, more lateral locations where there is no longer a “me” narrative.

It is merely this breath. That expiration. And it’s not even us breathing. If it were up to us to breathe, we would have stopped long ago.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1971 under Nobel Laureate in medicine and physiology Salvador Luria. 

Between 1979 and 2002, Dr. Kabat’s research focused on body/mind exchanges for healing, on a variety of clinical applications of mindfulness meditation exercise for people with stress-related disorders or chronic pain, on the influence of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) on the brain and how it structures emotions, especially under stress, and on the immune response; on the utilization and effects of MBSR with men with prostate cancer and women with breast cancer; on certain people going through bone marrow transplant; with staff and inmates in the prison; in multicultural settings; and on stress in different work environments and conglomerate settings.

His work at the stress management clinic was covered in Healing and the Mind, a PBS special hosted by Bill Moyers, and in the book of the same name. In 1998, he and his colleagues conducted a study revealing a fourfold effect of the brain on the speed of skin healing in psoriasis patients receiving UV light therapy. (Kabat-Zinn et al, Psychosomatic Medicine). 

Another study [Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, et al. (2003)] demonstrated favorable changes in brain activity linked with more efficient emotion regulation under stress, as well as in immunological function, in participants who took an MBSR course in a corporate work situation. Together with Dr. David S. Ludwig of Children’s Hospital, he published a paper titled Mindfulness in Medicine in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2008.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn has instructed teams of judges, business leaders and CEOs, clergy, lawyers, and Olympic athletes in mindfulness throughout his career. From 1992 through 2000, under his guidance, the Center for Mindfulness (CFM) at the University of Massachusetts sponsored MBSR programs in the inner city in both English and Spanish. With assistance from the Massachusetts Council on Criminal Justice, the CFM provided programs to convicts, prison employees, and officials at the Massachusetts Department of Corrections from 1992 to 1996.

The CFM also offers a variety of professional training options in MBSR, some of which was co-led by Dr. Kabat-Zinn and Dr. Sakit Santorelli between 2000 and 2015. Over 720 medical institutions and clinics in the United States and worldwide already use the MBSR approach, including 17 within the Kaiser-Permanente network in Northern California. Through the Center for Mindfulness, he led yearly Power of Mindfulness retreats for corporate executives and innovators for several years.

In 2007, he was presented with the Inaugural Pioneer in Integrative Medicine Award by the Bravewell Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine, and in 2008, he was awarded the 2008 Mind and Brain Prize by the Center for Cognitive Science, University of Turin, Italy. 

He is a Foundational Fellow of the Fetzer Institute, the Founding Convener of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, a network of deans, chancellors, and faculty at major US medical schools engaged in innovative mind/body and integrative medicine research. 

Until 2015, he was on the Board of the Mind and Life Institute, a nonprofit that conducts talks between western scientists and Dalai Lama, and researchers to foster a better understanding of the nature of the emotions, mind, and reality. Mind and Life Dialogue XIII: The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation was held in Washington D.C. in 2005, and was co-chaired by him.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society and Stress Reduction Clinic. According to him, learning how to meditate does not have to be difficult: the simplest kinds of meditation rely on the breath, in part because it is so instinctive and in part because it relaxes us. Here is a brief meditation guide produced by Jon:

1. Assume a posture. It makes no difference if you are lying down, sitting on the floor, or seated on a chair. You should only adopt a posture that embodies attentiveness and dignity. A novice may find sitting in a chair to be the most convenient alternative. Determine the duration of your meditation practice and if necessary, set an alarm or reminder.

2. Drop in. When you begin formal meditation, avoid framing it as a means to an end; in fact, this should be the case. Meditation is an “experience” rather than a “doing.” Consider the beginning as merely “dropping in” to your existence. Feel what it’s like to occupy your body in the current moment: sitting where it’s sitting, with the back position as it is, and its weight serving as an anchor. If it helps, you may close your eyes, but if you want, you may keep them open.

3. Be “breathed.” Avoid forcing and tugging your breath; instead, permit your body to “breathe” you. Observe the bodily sensations. They may be most noticeable inside the nose, but they can also be felt elsewhere. Consider focusing your concentration on the chest or the abdomen, for example. Some find that the belly, stomach, or gut is a good place to tune in because it is removed from the mental clutter. Now, pay attention to the breath and the gaps between it, and ride the ins and outs like a wave. Relax with this cycle in mind.

4. Guide your thinking. Your mind wanders. This is a normal characteristic of having thoughts, so refrain from criticizing yourself. Instead, be aware that your focus has shifted, which is a thoughtful effort in and of itself. Next, record your thoughts with utmost objectivity. Then, invite your thoughts to reconnect to the sensations of breathing within your body and embrace the present moment. This may occur often, but rest confident that when the mind drifts, it is not a break in the meditation; it is an integral part of it.

5. Finish consciously and mindfully. At the conclusion of your meditation, invite your eyes to reopen if they have been closed. Adjust your stance and prepare to stand up. Maintaining awareness of the breath when you move out of formal meditation is a manner of repeating the fundamental notion that meditation and living are essentially the same.

Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important

This is a mindfulness master class.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is considered one of the top mindfulness teachers you will ever see. He has been instructing the mainstream about the real advantages of meditation for decades. Today, thousands of people throughout the world have formally incorporated mindfulness meditation into their daily lives. But what exactly is meditation? Why may it be worth attempting? Or additional development if you already have experience?

The book Meditation Is Not What You Think It Is addresses these issues. Initially published in 2005 as part of a much larger book “Coming to Our Senses,” it has been revised with a new introduction by the author and is now much more pertinent. 

Take this book as an offer to discover more — from one of the founders of the global mindfulness movement — about why meditation is not for the “faint-hearted,” how dropping into awareness daily may be a revolutionary act of love, and why paying close attention is of the utmost importance.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

The groundbreaking work on meditation, mindfulness, and healing has been edited and updated after 25 years.

Stress. It can suck our energies, impair our health, and even abbreviate our lives if we let it over. It increases our susceptibility to depression and anxiety, isolation, and sickness. Premised on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s famous mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this iconic, ground-breaking effort spawned an entirely new practice of psychology and medicine—shows you how and when to use scientifically validated mind-body strategies derived from yoga and meditation to combat stress, set up a greater balance between mind and body, and promote well-being and healing. 

By participating in these mindfulness activities and incorporating them into your moment-to-moment and daily life, you can learn how to relieve stress and feelings of panic, promote optimal healing, manage chronic pain, and enhance life quality, interactions, and social networks. 

This second version includes findings from contemporary studies on the neuroscience of mindfulness, a fresh introduction, revised statistics, and a comprehensive reading list that has been thoroughly revised. Full Catastrophe Living is a book for the young, the old, the healthy, and those attempting to live a healthier and calmer life in our fast-paced society.

Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—and Your Life

Jon Kabat-Zinn says that, despite our desire for totality, it is already present and ours. The mindfulness practice enables not only an ephemeral sense of contentment but also a genuine embrace of a more profound harmony that encompasses and penetrates our life. Mindfulness for Beginners invites you to learn how to shift your relationships to the way you feel, think, love, play, and work to awaken and embody yourself more fully.

The scientist, teacher, and clinician who first illustrated the benefits of mindfulness in mainstream Western medicine provided a book that can be used in three distinct ways: as a catalog of practices and reflections to be opened and investigated at random; as an enlightening and appealing start-to-finish read; or as an evolving and dynamic “lesson-a-day” introduction to mindfulness practice.

Jon Kabat-Zinn has discovered certain attitudes and behaviors to be the most helpful with his students:

  • Why heartfulness and true mindfulness are equivalent
  • The need to always return to our body and our senses
  • How our “self-liberating” thoughts are affected by consciousness
  • Beyond our “narrative” and into direct personal experience.
  • Stabilizing our focus and presence during daily tasks.
  • The three venoms that cause agony and the remedies for them
  • How mindfulness facilitates healing
  • Regaining our entirety, and much more

The recommendation for leading a more mindful life sounds straightforward: redirect your attention repeatedly to whatever is occurring. If you have done it, however, you know that this is where the real problems and difficulties begin. Mindfulness for Beginners offers welcome answers, perspectives, and guidance to help us make this transformation, moment-to-moment, into a more expansive, clear, dependable, and loving relationship with ourselves and the world.

Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness

Coming To Our Senses is an essential guide to finding meaning in life, written by a renowned expert premised on the relationship between mindfulness and spiritual and physical health.

With his now-classic primer to mindfulness, Wherever You Go, There You Are, Kabat-Zinn transformed our understanding of the awareness in everyday life. Now, with Coming to Our Senses, he presents the authoritative book on the relationship between mindfulness and our spiritual and physical well-being. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn explores the marvels and mysteries of our bodies and minds with methodological knowledge, poetic dexterity, and convincing personal stories, describing simple, insightful ways we can arrive at a greater knowledge, through our sensory experiences, of our elegance, our brilliance, and our life path in a complex, fear-driven, and rapidly evolving world.

In each of the eight sections of this book, Jon Kabat-Zinn uncovers a different aspect of the grand journey of healing ourselves — and the world — through mindful awareness, with an emphasis on the “sensescapes” of our lifestyles and how a more deliberate understanding of the senses, including the mind itself, enables us to live more fully and genuinely. By “coming to our senses” — both literally and figuratively, by opening to our inherent interconnectivity with the world all around us — we can be more embodied, more compassionate, and more aware individuals, thereby contributing to the rehabilitation of the body politic along with our own lives in both big and little ways.

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