Prof. of Medicine Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
“Jon Kabat-Zinn brings to the arena of mind-body science a touch of the poet as well as the pragmatist, giving us the hows and whys of meditation in a language we don’t often associate with the subject.” – Bill Moyers, PBS
Jon Kabat-Zinn started out as a molecular biologist, studying under Nobel Laureate Salvador Luria, but his interest in meditation drew him towards the study of how the mind facilitates healing. Now a Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Dr. Kabat-Zinn has focused his research on the benefits of mindfulness meditation in cooperation with clinical treatments for patients with chronic illnesses and stress related disorders.
One of his groundbreaking early studies showed that meditation in conjunction with conventional medical treatment could help people with the skin condition psoriasis heal faster. He was having lunch with some dermatologists and was listening to them describe how stress leads to psoriatic flare ups and how they treated the resulting skin legions with a course of light therapy. For Dr. Kabat-Zinn, who had set up the Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979 in order to teach people with a chronic illness non-religious meditative techniques in hopes of adding a new dimension to their health approach, this gave him an idea.
He convinced the dermatologists to let him teach the patients to meditate while they were being treated under the ultra violet light. They set up a small randomised trial to compare people getting the light treatment as per normal with people getting the light treatment while they were meditating. It turned out that the meditators skin cleared at four times the rate of the non-meditators. This finding was then repeated in other studies.
“And it is a beautiful example of the mind/body connection because you’re doing something with your mind
and something is happening in the skin. So it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Watch this excerpt from The Connection where Dr. Kabat-Zinn talks about the study.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn is best known for developing the 8 week MBSR Program to catch the people falling through the cracks of the medical system, which has now evolved into Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn has written 4 books, translated into over 30 languages, including Full Catastrophe Living; Wherever You Go There You Are, Everyday Blessings, and Coming to Our Senses. He is also on the Board of the Mind and Life Institute, a group that organizes dialogues between the Dalai Lama and Western scientists to promote deeper understanding of the mind.
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