Notable Living Contemporary Teachers

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Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction, Meditation.

“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”

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Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a biologist who developed the mindfulness-based stress-reduction program (MBSR) and founded the Stress Reduction Clinic in Massachusetts.

Professional Life

Jon Kabat-Zinn was born on June 5, 1944 in New York City. His father was a molecular immunologist at Columbia University Medical School, and his mother was a painter, and she sent her son to art school at the Museum of Modern Art as a preschooler. Kabat-Zinn believes that these influences in his life—the humanities and the sciences—helped him to choose his professional path. While Zinn was studying molecular biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he attended a talk by Philip Kapleau, author of The Three Pillars of Zen, that introduced Zinn to the concepts of meditation and mindfulness. Kabat-Zinn completed his PhD at MIT in 1971 and he began his career as a science teacher.

Kabat-Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and the Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979. He is professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and sits on the board of the Mind and Life Institute. Kabat-Zinn has published several books and leads mindfulness retreats targeted toward clinicians, businesses, and leaders. Kabat-Zinn’s work has gained a strong following, and he was once featured on a Bill Moyers special on PBS entitled Healing and the Mind.

Kabat-Zinn is married to Myla Zinn, the daughter of activist and historian Howard Zinn. The couple have three children.

Contribution to Psychology

Kabat-Zinn is known for incorporating eastern techniques with traditional western medicine. Kabat-Zinn’s work attempts to integrate the body and mind to heal physical health symptoms as well as psychological distress, as illustrated in his 1990 book, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness.

Kabat-Zinn has researched the beneficial effects of mindfulness, which he describes as “moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness,” on the physical body, the immune system, and stress. He established the Stress Reduction Clinic and developed the mindfulness-based stress-reduction program (MBSR), taught in eight-week sessions that combines meditation exercises and yoga techniques to help clients address symptoms, such as chronic pain and stress.

Research on mindfulness-based techniques are promising, and the Stress Reduction Clinic patients report a 50% reduction in chronic pain. Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Lifeserves as a guide for integrating mindfulness techniques into the reader’s daily routine.

Kabat-Zinn and his wife, Myla, co-authored Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting in 1997, bringing the practice of mindfulness to the challenges and rewards of parenting.



  1. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
  2. “You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the tranquility of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.”
  3. “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”
  4. “Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.”
  5. “Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.”
  6. “Maybe the fear is that we are less than we think we are, when the actuality of it is that we are much much more.”
  7. “Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.”
  8. Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”
  9. “Wherever you go, there you are”
  10. “To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.”
  11. “If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing… We may only go in circles…”
  12. “look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them…. Without knowing it, we are coloring everything, putting our spin on it all.”
  13. “Breathe and let be.”
  14. “He who dies before he dies does not die when he dies.”
  15. “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
  16. “Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.”
  17. “Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?”
  18. “Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?”
  19. “We must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up and face them, over and over again if need be, without running away or numbing ourselves in the thousands of ways we conjure up to avoid the unavoidable.”
  20. “You make problem, you have problem”