On The Mindfulness Revolution and Our Fear of Authenticity (with Jon Kabat-Zinn)

    —
November 8, 2019

The Mindfulness Revolution Header Image

Deepen your personal healing practice with guided meditations, audio presentations, and learning intensives by Jon Kabat-Zinn on Sounds True »

Have you ever wondered who coined the term ‘mindfulness’? That was Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He describes it as “paying attention on purpose with a non-judgmental attitude.”

“I take an enormous amount of pleasure in actually not trying to get anywhere” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

Partly because of his work and research, this concept of ‘mindfulness’ has become mainstream. We see it at colleges, small businesses and large corporations, and—perhaps most notably—in medicine (Kabat-Zinn also founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School).

In Tami’s interview with Kabat-Zinn on Insights at the Edge, the two begin asking: Why is mindfulness gaining popularity in the first place? In the process, they explore what’s simple, profound, and relatable about it.

AGE OF MINDFULNESS

mindfulness revolution woman

“Once you realize that we are completely embedded in an interconnected world … the only real response is a sense of profound appreciation or affection for the fact that we are not separate” 

Mindfulness has always been a part of humanity. It has been called different names and interpreted by different lenses, but the concept of some greater unity of which we are all a part—that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

So, even if it’s a trend, couldn’t there be more to it? In a way, mindfulness seems to take on the breath of intuition, not necessarily logic or reason. It is truly the air of possibility.

YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS

mindfulness revolution thoughts

You cannot get rid of your thoughts. But when you create distance between yourself and your thoughts, you can let them wash through you. You do not have to fight to maintain them or believe them. And, you do not have to fight to let them go.

“Suppose the sky is awareness. If a bird flew through, then the sky would know it. … [The sky] has its own sort of ground condition of just being the sky, just being awareness”

He describes this awareness not as a state of being, but as a shift in seeing. There was always space there. We just needed to rotate a lens.

Have you ever retreated your vision while meditating, so that you were gazing out from between your two closed eyes? Like that. That field of awareness stretches infinitely—as conscious beings, it weaves us together.

This feeling is both humbling and terrifying in its awesomeness. When the sky is so big, we don’t know what we are. But we can accept this uncertainty. Our minds, our egos, our bodies—can expand with it.

WE ARE ALL GENIUSES

mindfulness revolution connected

Homo sapien sapien literally translates from Latin to “the species that knows and knows that it knows.”

In the episode, Jon and Tami talk beautifully about mindfulness’s fundamental humanness. There is an utter connection between our feet grounded on this Earth, and the spaces we don’t understand.

“There is something about mindfulness that is absolutely core to our humanity … the final common pathway of what makes us human”

Sometimes, meditation helps us feel the truth of this. Once we know this awareness is there, we can integrate it into the ways we think and make decisions.

FEAR OF AUTHENTICITY

mindfulness revolution authenticityWe reach for purpose; we wish to understand our place in the universe. (It isn’t weird for us to do this. If I were an alien, and I heard humans were doing this, I would be like, well, yeah.)

Yet, we are afraid to be ourselves. We don’t want ourselves to disappear. So we keep inside our deepest sorrows, anxieties, and emotions.

The parts of us we try and protect so carefully end up banging on the walls inside of us, stuck.

“It’s not like we can never suppress that shadow side … but if we can come to understand it in a deeper way, then I think there is a potential … [to] elevate what is most beautiful and good about all human beings”

What if we gave all of it—ourselves, and our connection to the world—the space to breathe?

(And the possibilities begin to shimmer.)

 

ABOUT JON KABAT-ZINN

Jon Kabat-Zinn Author Photo

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society in 1995, and its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Clinic in 1979. His trailblazing research has helped bring mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine. He is the author of 10 books, including the bestsellers Full Catastrophe Living; Wherever You Go, There You Are; and Mindfulness for Beginners.

Take a look at Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book and accompanying CD of guided practices, Mindfulness for Beginners, published by Sounds True!

★★★★★ Easy to read and informative as well as inspiring. —gus c
★★★★★ In my opinion, a must-read for all humans. —Yves N

ABOUT THE AUTHORDani Ferrara Blogger Author Photo

When she isn’t writing, playing music or teaching, Dani Ferrara blogs at Sounds True and researches the alchemy of healing. Explore her art at daniferrarapoet.com.

 

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Photo of ()\

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the founder and director of its renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic. His clinic was featured in 1993 in the public television series Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the author of 15 books, in print in over 45 languages. These include Full Catastrophe LivingWherever You Go, There You Are; Coming to Our Senses; and Mindfulness for Beginners.

Author photo © Jaume Cosialls

Also By Author

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Befriending Pain

Current statistics tell us that 20% of the US population has some form of chronic pain, defined as severe discomfort that has continued for six months or more. That’s more than 50 million people. Jon Kabat-Zinn has received international acclaim for his leading work in bringing the life-changing practices of meditation and mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. In this inspiring podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Jon about his empowering new book, Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief, and how we can greatly improve our lives (and our entire world) by reframing the way we relate to our thoughts, our minds, and the sensations of our bodies. 

Listen in as they discuss the epidemic of chronic pain and the power of mindfulness to ease suffering of all kinds, the myth of the “good meditator,” the body as the starting point for practice, exploring your “emotionally freighted thoughts,” our longing to be who we really are, working with the mind and learning to inhabit a space of embodied awareness, the refuge that is meditation practice, letting go of our stories, befriending the sensory field of what we call pain, the miracle of life on Earth, the Buddha’s teaching on mindfulness as the direct path to liberation, surfing the waves of your own experience, unity within diversity and the arising of compassion, focusing on what’s right instead of what’s wrong, how we are all on a growth curve on life’s journey, and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

On The Mindfulness Revolution and Our Fear of Authenti...

The Mindfulness Revolution Header Image

Deepen your personal healing practice with guided meditations, audio presentations, and learning intensives by Jon Kabat-Zinn on Sounds True »

Have you ever wondered who coined the term ‘mindfulness’? That was Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He describes it as “paying attention on purpose with a non-judgmental attitude.”

“I take an enormous amount of pleasure in actually not trying to get anywhere” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

Partly because of his work and research, this concept of ‘mindfulness’ has become mainstream. We see it at colleges, small businesses and large corporations, and—perhaps most notably—in medicine (Kabat-Zinn also founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School).

In Tami’s interview with Kabat-Zinn on Insights at the Edge, the two begin asking: Why is mindfulness gaining popularity in the first place? In the process, they explore what’s simple, profound, and relatable about it.

AGE OF MINDFULNESS

mindfulness revolution woman

“Once you realize that we are completely embedded in an interconnected world … the only real response is a sense of profound appreciation or affection for the fact that we are not separate” 

Mindfulness has always been a part of humanity. It has been called different names and interpreted by different lenses, but the concept of some greater unity of which we are all a part—that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

So, even if it’s a trend, couldn’t there be more to it? In a way, mindfulness seems to take on the breath of intuition, not necessarily logic or reason. It is truly the air of possibility.

YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS

mindfulness revolution thoughts

You cannot get rid of your thoughts. But when you create distance between yourself and your thoughts, you can let them wash through you. You do not have to fight to maintain them or believe them. And, you do not have to fight to let them go.

“Suppose the sky is awareness. If a bird flew through, then the sky would know it. … [The sky] has its own sort of ground condition of just being the sky, just being awareness”

He describes this awareness not as a state of being, but as a shift in seeing. There was always space there. We just needed to rotate a lens.

Have you ever retreated your vision while meditating, so that you were gazing out from between your two closed eyes? Like that. That field of awareness stretches infinitely—as conscious beings, it weaves us together.

This feeling is both humbling and terrifying in its awesomeness. When the sky is so big, we don’t know what we are. But we can accept this uncertainty. Our minds, our egos, our bodies—can expand with it.

WE ARE ALL GENIUSES

mindfulness revolution connected

Homo sapien sapien literally translates from Latin to “the species that knows and knows that it knows.”

In the episode, Jon and Tami talk beautifully about mindfulness’s fundamental humanness. There is an utter connection between our feet grounded on this Earth, and the spaces we don’t understand.

“There is something about mindfulness that is absolutely core to our humanity … the final common pathway of what makes us human”

Sometimes, meditation helps us feel the truth of this. Once we know this awareness is there, we can integrate it into the ways we think and make decisions.

FEAR OF AUTHENTICITY

mindfulness revolution authenticityWe reach for purpose; we wish to understand our place in the universe. (It isn’t weird for us to do this. If I were an alien, and I heard humans were doing this, I would be like, well, yeah.)

Yet, we are afraid to be ourselves. We don’t want ourselves to disappear. So we keep inside our deepest sorrows, anxieties, and emotions.

The parts of us we try and protect so carefully end up banging on the walls inside of us, stuck.

“It’s not like we can never suppress that shadow side … but if we can come to understand it in a deeper way, then I think there is a potential … [to] elevate what is most beautiful and good about all human beings”

What if we gave all of it—ourselves, and our connection to the world—the space to breathe?

(And the possibilities begin to shimmer.)

 

ABOUT JON KABAT-ZINN

Jon Kabat-Zinn Author Photo

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society in 1995, and its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Clinic in 1979. His trailblazing research has helped bring mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine. He is the author of 10 books, including the bestsellers Full Catastrophe Living; Wherever You Go, There You Are; and Mindfulness for Beginners.

Take a look at Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book and accompanying CD of guided practices, Mindfulness for Beginners, published by Sounds True!

★★★★★ Easy to read and informative as well as inspiring. —gus c
★★★★★ In my opinion, a must-read for all humans. —Yves N

ABOUT THE AUTHORDani Ferrara Blogger Author Photo

When she isn’t writing, playing music or teaching, Dani Ferrara blogs at Sounds True and researches the alchemy of healing. Explore her art at daniferrarapoet.com.

 

Jon Kabat-Zinn: The Mindfulness Revolution

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is the internationally renowned founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, whose trailblazing research has helped bring mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine. Jon is the author of many books and audio programs, including Wherever You Go, There You Are and the Guided Mindfulness Meditation series. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Jon about the role of science in validating mindfulness practice, the 180-degree shift that lets us rest in awareness instead of identifying with our thoughts, and the potential cultural renaissance that could arise from a “mindfulness revolution.” (72 minutes)

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In this episode:

  • “Active hope” is about acting in service of the future we hope for
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We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

Ep 5 Bonus: Breathing Through

This bonus episode will support you to take the main insights from Episode 4: There is No Future if We Go Numb and Episode 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing, deeper into your life. 

Both of these episodes are about the second phase in the Spiral of the Work That Reconnects, Honoring Our Pain for the World. This bonus is a recording of Joanna leading a meditation called Breathing Through, recorded at a retreat in 2006. In it, she’ll guide you to create space to acknowledge and honor the pain for the world that you carry without numbing or getting overwhelmed. All you’ll need for this bonus exercise is a place where you can close your eyes and relax.  

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

 

Ep 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing

Now we get to what may be the toughest part of reckoning with our planet’s situation: dealing with numbness, grief, and despair. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the many crises around us, and natural to want to numb ourselves to the pain. 

Joanna and Jess speak with great vulnerability and candor about what it takes to navigate our darkest feelings—and the strength and beauty that can be found when we honor our pain. 

Trigger Warning: In this episode, we discuss suicide.

In this episode:

  • When it feels like our pain could swallow us whole, it helps to remember that all feelings come and go
  • Desperation can take us to dark places, but we are more than our despair
  • Numbness—Jess opens up about her familiar tactic for escaping pain
  • Our pain becomes sacred when we allow it to deepen our connection with the world
  • Bonus Exercise: Breathing Through

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

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