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Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (born June 5, 1944) is Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness meditation as a technique to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness.
His life work has been largely dedicated to bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. Kabat-Zinn is the author or co-author of scientific papers on mindfulness and its clinical applications. He has written two bestselling books: 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). His most recent book is Coming to Our Senses(Hyperion, 2005).
Kabat-Zinn is the founder 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 received his Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1971 from MIT where he studied under Salvador Luria, Nobel Laureate in Medicine. Kabat-Zinn has made significant contributions to modern health care with his research which focused on mind/body interactions for healing, and on various clinical applications of mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain and/or stress-related disorders. 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 to help patients cope with stress, pain, and illness by using moment-to-moment awareness. Such mindfulness helps participants use their inner resources to achieve good health and well being. Kabat-Zinn and colleagues have studied the effects of practicing moment-to-moment awareness on the brain, and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system.
Kabat-Zinn and colleagues have studied the use and effects of MBSR on women with breast cancer and on men with prostate cancer; on patients undergoing bone marrow transplant; with prison inmates and staff; in multicultural settings; and on stress in various corporate settings and work environments.
In 1993, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work in the Stress Reduction Clinic was featured in Bill Moyers' 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 demonstrating in a small clinical trial, a four-fold effect of the mind on the rate of skin clearing in patients with psoriasis undergoing ultraviolet light therapy: [Kabat-Zinn et al, Psychosomatic Medicine 60:625-623 (1998)]. A more recent paper [Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, et al. Psychosomatic Medicine 65: 564-570 (2003)] shows positive changes in brain activity, emotional processing under stress, and immune function in people taking an MBSR course in a corporate work setting in a randomized clinical trial.
Kabat-Zinn has trained groups of judges, business leaders, lawyers, clergy, and the 1984 U.S. Olympic Men's Rowing Team, and environmental activists in mindfulness. Under his direction, the Center for Mindfulness conducted MBSR programs in both the inner city and the Massachusetts state prison system in Spanish and in English. He conducts annual mindfulness retreats for business leaders and innovators, and with his colleagues at the Center For Mindfulness, conducts training retreats for health professionals in MBSR. Over 200 medical centers and clinics nationwide and abroad now use the MBSR model.
In 1998, Kabat-Zinn received the Art, Science, and Soul of Healing Award from the Institute for Health and Healing, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. In 2001, he received the 2nd Annual Trailblazer Award for "pioneering work in the field of integrative medicine" from the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, California. He is a Founding Fellow of the Fetzer Institute, a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the founding convener of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine; a network of deans and chancellors and faculty at major U.S. medical schools engaged at the creative edges of mind/body and integrative medicine. He is a board member of the Mind and Life Institute, a group that organizes dialogues between the Dalai Lama and Western scientists to promote deeper understanding of different ways of knowing and probing the nature of mind, emotions, and reality. Dr. Kabat-Zinn holds a second degree black belt in Shim Gum Do (Zen Sword). He, and his wife Myla, have three grown children.
Jon is also the son-in-law of the accomplished social activist, Howard Zinn.
Kabat-Zinn, J (1991) Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness. Delta. Kabat-Zinn, J (1994)Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life Hyperion. Kabat-Zinn, J & Kabat-Zinn, M (1997} Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Hyperion. Kabat-Zinn, J (2005) Coming to Our Senses Hyperion.
- Kabat-Zinn, J., An out-patient program in Behavioral Medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results. Gen. Hosp. Psychiatry (1982) 4:33-47.
- Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L. and Burney, R., The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. J. Behav. Med. (1985) 8:163-190.
- Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., Burney, R. and Sellers, W., Four year follow-up of a meditation-based program for the self-regulation of chronic pain: Treatment outcomes and compliance. Clin.J.Pain (1986) 2:159-173.
- Kabat-Zinn, J. and Chapman-Waldrop, A., Compliance with an outpatient stress reduction program: rates and predictors of completion. J.Behav. Med.(1988) 11:333-352.
- Ockene, J., Sorensen, G., Kabat-Zinn, J., Ockene, I.S., and Donnelly, G., Benefits and costs of lifestyle change to reduce risk of chronic disease. Preventive Medicine, (1988) 17:224-234.
- Bernhard, J., Kristeller, J. and Kabat-Zinn, J., Effectiveness of relaxation and visualization techniques as an adjunct to phototherapy and photochemotherapy of psoriasis. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. (1988) 19:572-73.
- Ockene, J.K., Ockene, I.S., Kabat-Zinn, J., Greene, H.L., and Frid, D. Teaching risk-factor counseling skills to medical students, house staff, and fellows. Am. J. Prevent. Med. (1990) 6 (#2): 35-42.
- Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A.O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L.G., Fletcher, K., Pbert, L., Linderking, W., Santorelli, S.F., Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Am. J Psychiatry (1992) 149:936-943.
- Miller, J., Fletcher, K. and Kabat-Zinn, J., Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Gen. Hosp. Psychiatry (1995) 17:192-200.
- Massion, A.O., Teas, J., Hebert, J.R., Wertheimer, M.D., and Kabat-Zinn, J. Meditation, melatonin, and breast/prostate cancer: Hypothesis and preliminary data. Medical Hypotheses (1995) 44:39-46.
- Kabat-Zinn, J. Chapman, A, and Salmon, P. The relationship of cognitive and somatic components of anxiety to patient preference for alternative relaxation techniques. Mind/ Body Medicine (1997) 2:101-109.
- Saxe, G., Hebert, J., Carmody, J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Rosenzweig, P., Jarzobski, D., Reed, G., and Blute, R. Can Diet, in conjunction with Stress Reduction, Affect the Rate of Increase in Prostate-specific Antigen After Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer? J. of Urology, In Press, 2001.
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