Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic (in 1979), and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (in 1995). He retired from his positions at the medical center in 2000. The Center for Mindfulness has been under the leadership of Dr. Saki Santorelli since that time, and during those years, it has grown remarkably and its programs have become more and more influential both in the US and internationally.
Jon is the author of two best-selling books: Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness (Dell, 1990; 2nd edition, revised and updated, Bantam, 2013), published in Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Dutch, Korean, Finnish, French, Chinese; and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life (Hyperion, 1994, 2004), published in German, Italian, French, Spanish, Czech, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Hebrew, Polish, Vietnamese, Korean, Croatian, Bulgarian, Finnish, Chinese, Estonian, Turkish, and Norwegian. He is also co-author, with his wife Myla, of Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting (Hyperion, 1997; Hachette 2013 revised and updated. It is in print in numerous languages, the latest being Danish (2016). Everyday Blessings was rated by Amazon.com as one of the top ten books of 1998 in the inspirational category.
Jon is also the author of Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness (Hyperion, 2005), The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (with Williams, Teasdale, and Segal – Guildford, 2007), Arriving at Your Own Door (Hyperion, 2007), a book of excerpts from Coming to Our Senses, and Letting Everything Become Your Teacher (Bantam Dell, 2009), a book of excerpts from Full Catastrophe Living. He is also the author of Mindfulness for Beginners (Sounds True, 2011) and co-editor (with Richard Davidson) of The Mind’s Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation (New Harbinger, 2011) and (with Mark Williams) of Mindfulness: Diverse Perspectives on its Meaning, Origins, and Applications (Routledge, 2013).
His books and guided meditation programs describe meditation practice in such commonsensical, relevant, and compelling terms that mindfulness meditation practice has become a way of life for thousands of people. His work has contributed to a growing movement of mindfulness into mainstream institutions in our society such as medicine, health care and hospitals, schools, higher education, corporations, prisons, the legal profession, and professional sports.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT in 1971 with the Nobel Laureate in physiology and medicine, Salvador Luria. Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s research between 1979 and 2002 focused on mind/body interactions for healing, on various clinical applications of mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain and/or stress-related disorders, on the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on the brain and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system; on the use and effects of MBSR with women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer; on patients undergoing bone marrow transplant; with prison inmates and staff ( view PDF); in multicultural settings; and on stress in various corporate settings and work environments.
His work in the stress reduction clinic was featured in Bill Moyers’ PBS Special, Healing and the Mind and in the book of the same title. In 1998, he 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)] (view PDF). Another study [Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, et al. (2003)], showed positive changes in brain activity associated with more effective emotional processing under stress, and in immune function in people taking an MBSR course in a corporate work setting in a randomized clinical trial ( view PDF). In 2008, he published, with Dr. David S. Ludwig of Children’s Hospital, an article in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) called Mindfulness in Medicine.
During his career, Dr. Kabat-Zinn has trained groups of judges, CEOs and business leaders, lawyers, clergy, and Olympic athletes (the 1984 Olympic Men’s Rowing Team) in mindfulness. Under his direction, the Center for Mindfulness (CFM) at UMass conducted MBSR programs in the inner city in Spanish as well as in English from 1992 to 2000. From 1992 to 1996, the CFM delivered programs to inmates and corrections staff and officials in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections with support from the Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice. The CFM also offers a number of professional training opportunities in MBSR, some of which Dr. Kabat-Zinn co-led with Dr. Saki Santorelli during the years 2000 through 2015 (see Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Arbor-Verlag, and Center for Mindfulness). Over 720 medical centers and clinics nationwide and abroad now use the MBSR model, including 17 in the Kaiser-Permanente system in Northern California. For a number of years, he conducted annual Power of Mindfulness retreats for business leaders and innovators through the Center for Mindfulness.
In 1994, Dr. Kabat-Zinn received the Interface Foundation Career Achievement Award, and the New York Open Center’s Tenth Year Anniversary Achievement in Medicine and Health Award. In 1998, he received the Art, Science, and Soul of Healing Award from the Institute for Health and Healing, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, and in 2001, 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. In 2007, he received an Inaugural Pioneer in Integrative Medicine Award from the Bravewell Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine and in 2008, the 2008 Mind and Brain Prize from the Center for Cogntive Science, University of Turin, Italy. He is a Founding Fellow of the Fetzer Institute and 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 US medical schools engaged at the creative edges of mind/body and integrative medicine. Until 2015, he served on the Board of the Mind and Life Institute, a group that organizes dialogues between the Dalai Lama and western scientists and scholars to promote deeper understanding and harnessing for beneficial purposes different ways of knowing and probing the nature of the mind, emotions, and reality. He was co-program chair of the 2005 Mind and Life Dialogue XIII: The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation, held in Washington DC.