Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn.jpg
Born Jon Kabat-Zinn
(1944-06-05)June 5, 1944
Education PhD, MIT
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Known for Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Parents 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 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 Western science. He teaches mindfulness which he claims can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn, called Mindfulness-based stress reduction, is offered at medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Kabat-Zinn was born in 1944, to Elvin Kabat, a biomedical scientist, and Sally Kabat, a painter. Kabat-Zinn received his 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]


Thich Nhat Hanh[3] has brought mindfulness to the attention of Westerners. It was on a retreat he led in the United States that an American doctor, Jon Kabat-Zinn, first realized the appropriateness of mindfulness in the treatment of chronic medical conditions. Kabat-Zinn later adapted Hanh’s teachings on mindfulness into the structured eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, which has since spread throughout the western World.[4]

Kabat-Zinn is the creator and former Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is also the founder (1979) and former director of its renowned Stress Reduction Clinic and Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Kabat-Zinn began teaching the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979. MBSR is an eight-week course which combines meditation and Hatha yoga and claims to help patients cope with stress, pain, and illness by using what they call "moment-to-moment awareness". [5]

In 1993, Kabat-Zinn’s work in the Stress Reduction Clinic was featured in Bill Moyers's PBS special Healing and the Mind and in the book by Moyers of the same title. Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues published a research paper on the effect of the mind on the rate of skin clearing in patients with psoriasis undergoing ultraviolet light therapy.[6]

Kabat-Zinn conducts annual mindfulness retreats for business leaders and conducts training for health professionals in MBSR.

Kabat-Zinn has written Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Delta, 1991), and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life (Hyperion, 1994). He co-authored with Myla Kabat-Zinn Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, (Hyperion, 1997). Other books include Coming to Our Senses (Hyperion, 2005), The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, co-authored with J. Mark G. Williams, John D. Teasdale and Zindel V. Segal (Guilford, 2007), and 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).

He is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute, a group that organizes dialogues between the Dalai Lama and Western scientists.[7]

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.[8]



  1. ^ Horstman, Judith (2010). The Scientific American Brave New Brain. San Francisco, Calif.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 33. ISBN 0470376244. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness (1975), Beacon Books, ISBN 0-8070-1239-4
  4. ^ Thompson, Sylvia (10 April 2012). "The Father of Mindfulness". The Irish Times. 
  5. ^ "What is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course?". 
  6. ^ Kabat-Zinn et al., Psychosomatic Medicine 60:625-623 (1998)
  7. ^ "Jon Kabat-Zinn bio". Mind and Life Institute. 
  8. ^ 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

External links[edit]