Jon Kabat-Zinn

Meditation Works!

The following are direct quotes from Jon Kabat-Zinn speaking about meditation and The Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program.  As recorded in Healing Emotions Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions and Health edited by Daniel Goleman Chapter 6 Mindfulness as Medicine.

“Nowadays people know about meditation but they have a very incomplete view of it.  We want to teach people that meditation is not making your mind blank, but instead is learning to see things as they are and to live with things as they are.”

“That chance is an opportunity to explore on a deep level how they might help themselves.  They have sought help from other people in all sorts of places, but we ask, ‘Have you considered the inner resources, perhaps even the wisdom, that already exists in your body and mind?  If you can uncover it and develop a way to use that energy, then perhaps, together with your doctors, you can move toward greater levels of health and healing.’  This is not curing, but healing.  A cure just magically makes it all better somehow, but healing transforms both body and mind on a deep level.  One sees differently and comes to terms with one’s illness.”

“My understanding is that meditation in a larger sense is really a way of being, an ability to generalize the quality of mindfulness.  Rather than performing some kind of manipulation of one’s attention at certain times, you develop a continuity of awareness that allows all of your life to become an expression of your meditation practice.”

“I’d like to go very briefly now through some general results of the stress reduction program.” “If we take all people who were referred over a period of time with various pain problems, and we look at the number of different medical symptoms they report, there is a reduction of 25 percent in the number of symptoms over the eight weeks of the course.  If we look at psychological symptoms, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and somatization, or imagining the body to be much worse than it is, we see a reduction of 32 percent in the number of symptoms over eight weeks.  These people have had their pain problem for about eight years on the average, and have not previously been very successful at controlling their problem.”

“In follow-up studies of patients who took the meditation training, the number of symptoms remains low over the four years of the study, so there is some evidence that the improvement is maintained over time.”  “Ninety-three percent say that four years later, they are still doing something that they learned in the program.  Forty-five percent are continuing to practice the formal meditation daily for at least fifteen minutes at a time, at least three times a week.  Four years have passed with no reinforcement.”

“Although we see big improvements, very often the most important thing people get out of the program was not what they came looking for.  They find something deeper.  When we ask what they found in the meditation training program, they mention two things.  One I think is very funny: they say ‘the breathing.’  I ask, ‘What do you mean? You were breathing for many years before you began meditation.’  What they mean is they have a new-found awareness of the special quality of breath that relates to a greater sensitivity and awareness of their whole body.  Along with the breath comes a sense of greater appreciation for the miracle of having a body, even if the body has a disability.  Each breath, each moment, is a miracle, and when you begin to experience that directly, it vitalizes the quality of your life because you stop missing or running through so many of your moments.  The other thing they say is, ‘I learned that I am not my thoughts, and by extension I learned that I am not my pain or my suffering.'”

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UMASS Center for Mindfulness

Please see this link for a full biography  About Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic (in 1979), and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (in 1995).  He retired from his positions at the medical center in 2000. The Center for Mindfulness has been under the leadership of Dr. Saki Santorelli since that time, and during those years, it has grown remarkably and its programs have become more and more influential both in the US and internationally.  

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