Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn.jpg
Born Jon Kabat-Zinn
(1944-06-05)June 5, 1944
Nationality American United States
Education PhD, MIT
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Known for Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Parent(s) Elvin Kabat, Sally Kabat

Jon Kabat-Zinn (born Kabat on 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 those of science. 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, is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Kabat-Zinn was born in New York City in 1944 to Elvin Kabat, a biomedical scientist, and Sally Kabat, a painter. He graduated from Haverford College 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. Kabat-Zinn was born Jewish but has stated that his beliefs growing up were a fusion of science and art.[2] Although he has been trained in Buddhist principles, he does not identify as a Buddhist, preferring to think of himself as a scientist.[3][4] He is Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.[2]


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 Thich Nhat Hanh and Seung Sahn.[3] He also studied at the Insight Meditation Society and eventually also taught there.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3] The course claims to help patients cope with stress, pain, and illness by using what is called "moment-to-moment awareness."[5][6]

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.[3] In 1994 Kabat-Zinn's second book, titled Wherever You Go, There You Are, became a national bestseller.[4] 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.[3]

Research by Kabat-Zinn includes the effect of MBSR on psoriasis, pain, anxiety, brain function, and immune function.[7]

He is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute, a group that organizes dialogues between the Dalai Lama and Western scientists.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Kabat-Zinn is married to Myla Zinn, the daughter of Roslyn and Howard Zinn. Their three grown children are Will, Naushon, and Serena.[9]


  • 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).


  1. ^ Horstman, Judith (2010). The Scientific American Brave New Brain. San Francisco, Calif.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 33. ISBN 0470376244. 
  2. ^ a b Cochran, Tracy (December 6, 2004). "Mindful Writing: Jon Kabat-Zinn asks us to come to our senses". Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Wilson, Jeff (2014). Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture. Oxford University Press. p. 35. 
  4. ^ a b Boyce, Barry (May 2005). "Jon Kabat-Zinn: The Man Who Prescribes the Medicine of the Moment". Shambhala Sun. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  5. ^ "What is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course?". Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Thompson, Sylvia (10 April 2012). "The Father of Mindfulness". The Irish Times. 
  7. ^ "Jon Kabat-Zinn: Selected Publications". UMass Profiles. Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Jon Kabat-Zinn bio". Mind and Life Institute. 
  9. ^ 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

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