June 5, 1944
New York City, New York, United States
|Alma mater||Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|Known for||Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction|
Jon Kabat-Zinn (born Jon Kabat, June 5, 1944) is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Zen Master Seung Sahn and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers led him to integrate their teachings with scientific findings. He teaches mindfulness, which he says can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.
Life and work
Kabat-Zinn was born in New York City in 1944 as the youngest of nine children to Elvin Kabat, a biomedical scientist, and Sally Kabat, a painter. He graduated from Haverford College in 1964 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1971 from MIT, where he studied under Salvador Luria, Nobel Laureate in medicine.
While at MIT, Kabat-Zinn was a leading campaigner against military research at the university as well as a campaigner against the Vietnam war. During this time, he pondered his life's purpose, which he called his "karmic assignment."
Kabat-Zinn was first introduced to meditation by Philip Kapleau, a Zen missionary who came to speak at MIT while Kabat-Zinn was a student. Kabat-Zinn went on to study meditation with other Buddhist teachers such as Thích Nhất Hạnh and Seungsahn. He also studied at the Insight Meditation Society and eventually also taught there. In 1979 he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he adapted the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and developed the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program. He subsequently renamed the structured eight-week course Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). He removed the Buddhist framework and eventually downplayed any connection between mindfulness and Buddhism, instead putting MBSR in a scientific context. He subsequently also founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His secular technique, which combines meditation and Hatha yoga, has since spread worldwide. The course aims to help patients cope with stress, pain, and illness by using what is called "moment-to-moment awareness."
Kabat-Zinn's MBSR began to get increasing notice with the publication of his first book, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Delta, 1991), which gave detailed instructions for the practice. Then, in 1993, his work in the Stress Reduction Clinic was featured in Bill Moyers's PBS special Healing and the Mind, spurring wide interest in MBSR and helping to make Kabat-Zinn nationally famous. In 1994 Kabat-Zinn's second book, titled Wherever You Go, There You Are, became a national bestseller. In the latter part of the 1990s, many MBSR clinics were opened, either as standalone centers or as part of a hospital's holistic medicine program.
MBSR has been adapted for use by the US military to improve combatants' "operational effectiveness," apparently with Kabat-Zinn's approval, which has provoked some controversy among mindfulness practitioners.
Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Kabat-Zinn was born Jewish but has stated that his beliefs growing up were a fusion of science and art. Although he has been "trained in Buddhism and espouses its principles," he rejects the label of "Buddhist," preferring to "apply mindfulness within a scientific rather than a religious frame."
- Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Delta Trade Paperbacks, 1991. ISBN 0-385-30312-2.
- Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. Hyperion Books, 1994. ISBN 1-4013-0778-7.
- Full catastrophe living: how to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation. Piatkus, 1996. ISBN 0-7499-1585-4.
- The Power of Meditation and Prayer, with Sogyal Rinpoche, Larry Dossey, Michael Toms. Hay House, 1997. ISBN 1-56170-423-7.
- Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, with Myla Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 1997. ISBN 978-0-7868-8314-1.
- Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life. Piatkus, 2001. ISBN 0-7499-1422-X.
- Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. Hyperion, 2006. ISBN 0-7868-8654-4.
- The mindful way through depression: freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness, by J. Mark G. Williams, John D. Teasdale, Zindel V. Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn. Guilford Press, 2007. ISBN 1593851286.
- Arriving at Your Own Door. Piatkus Books, 2008. ISBN 0-7499-2861-1.
- Letting Everything Become Your Teacher: 100 Lessons in Mindfulness. Dell Publishing Company, 2009. ISBN 0-385-34323-X.
- The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation, co-authored with Richard Davidson (New Harbinger, 2012) (based on the 13th Mind and Life Institute Dialogue in 2005).
- Horstman, Judith (2010). The Scientific American Brave New Brain. San Francisco, Calif.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 33. ISBN 0470376244.
- The Tech, 7/10/69 p2-3 and 5/11/69 p1,3,4 and 7/11/69 p1,3,5 and 17/3/70 p1 and 5/5/70 p6 and 6/5/70 p1; MIT Review Panel on Special Laboratories Final Report; J. Kabat-Zinn, Coming to Our Senses p556-9.
- Wilson, Jeff (2014). Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture. Oxford University Press. p. 35.
- "What is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course?". Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Thompson, Sylvia (10 April 2012). "The Father of Mindfulness". The Irish Times.
- Boyce, Barry (May 2005). "Jon Kabat-Zinn: The Man Who Prescribes the Medicine of the Moment". Shambhala Sun. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
- "Jon Kabat-Zinn: Selected Publications". UMass Profiles. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- "Jon Kabat-Zinn bio". Mind and Life Institute.
- Christopher Titmuss, 'Are Buddhist Mindfulness Practices used to support International War Crimes?'
- Ronald Purser, 'The Militarization of Mindfulness', Inquiring Mind, Spring 2014
- 'Dr. Kabat- Zinn talks about Mindfulness Program in Camp Zama'.
- Cochran, Tracy (December 6, 2004). "Mindful Writing: Jon Kabat-Zinn asks us to come to our senses". Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Gesund durch Meditation p330 and 331 the German translation of Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness