Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness, meditation, and ordering and simplifying your life
The other day I was arguing with a friend. Maybe not a full argument, but a misunderstanding. During a break I got online and noticed a link to an interview with someone whose thinking I liked. The first few minutes of the interview told me it would help.
I suggested to my friend we both listen to the interview. We did. We then immediately came to understand each other, resolved the differences, and created a better solution than we would have otherwise.
Who is Jon Kabat-Zinn and why should I care?
The interview was with Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose books I’ve referred to before. He studies and promotes mindfulness, meditation, and self-awareness. If you like my perspective based in science and nature examining business, how the mind works, relationships, emotions, and such, you’ll like him.
He has a PhD in molecular biology from MIT and is now Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I like people who learned serious science and apply it to regular life, as someone doing so myself.
One of his major influences for me comes from recognizing that for many people, meditation sounds like something exotic, mysterious, and religious. He points out it doesn’t have to. It doesn’t need any of that baggage. It doesn’t need incense, chanting, gongs, and all that stuff. To me, by now, that stuff seems as weird now as ever, but meditation doesn’t. It’s just slowing down and focusing.
If you just focus, say paying attention to your breath, you can become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, priorities, body, and things like that. In ways you can understand far better through experiencing them than I can explain in a post here, it helps you understand what’s important and what isn’t — that can be relationships, projects, what you do at work, and so on. When you know your priorities you can increase what you value and decrease what you don’t — what I call increasing the signal to noise ratio.
Meditation helps you understand your priorities. After all, the opposite of mediation — reacting to things outside your control and changing focus rapidly — is what leads to losing track of your priorities.
I particularly like how Kabat-Zinn’s simple approach that makes it easy for anyone to appreciate and use meditation.
If you’ve ever thought about simplifying your life, taking more control, slowing things down, or being less reactive, I recommend listening or watching a Jon-Kabat Zinn interview.
Here is a link to a list of videos of him. I’ve only seen the first, a talk he gave at Google, which I recommend. I’ll watch others after I get out of China, which blocks YouTube.
Watching someone talk about meditation isn’t meditation, but he explains things well, with experience. And I guarantee it will help you sleep if you’re having trouble with it.
EDIT: a reader posted on this page a link to another interview with him. Here’s that link.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees
Pingback: Monkey Mind » Joshua Spodek