How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
Benefits of Mindfulness: Mindful Living Can Change Your Life
Mindfulness 101: A Beginner's Guide
In this interview Jon invites us to know for ourselves the sacredness that is inherent in this present moment (if we’ll only wake up to it).
So we are truly blessed to
be joined by Jon Kabat Zinn.
So, Jon, if you haven't heard of him
already, is Professor of Medicine Emeritus
at the University of Massachusetts
Medical School, where he was the
founder of the Center for Mindfulness.
Jon is a bestselling author, a mindfulness
teacher and creator of the groundbreaking
MBSR program and MBSR stands for
mindfulness based stress reduction.
You know, Jon has really been a
pioneer in making mindfulness more
accessible, especially in the West.
So here's my chat with Jon Kabat Zinn.
And I just wanted to tell you also
that before every single chat that I
had with anyone during this summit,
we always would sit for one minute of
mindfulness before the interview began,
but Jon didn't want to leave you out
of our minute of mindfulness together.
So he invites the whole community
in, for all of us to ground and
center before the chat begins.
Enjoy your minute of mindfulness
and my chat with Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Wherever you are, whoever you are,
if you're watching this, just, we
invite you to just follow the sound
into the silence and stillness of
your own heart as the sound dissolves.
So that we're actually cultivating
deep listening, deep hearing.
Hearing only what's here to be heard.
So allowing yourself to actually
settle into this moment.
Of course, there's a degree of
anticipation because for one, you're
in front of your computer and for
two, you're in front of your computer
so that you can tune into this
episode of The Mindfulness Summit.
So there's a lot of intentionality
here and perhaps a little
anticipation because we probably
all have better things to be doing.
So just settling into being on the
threshold of this unfolding, as
part of the larger unfolding of
all the conversations that have
gone on during this wonderful month
under Melli's careful shepherding.
And just being fully awake, no
matter what time this is for you.
And as best you can, fully
present in your body.
And if you were new to the practice or
maybe even if you're not, it can't hurt
to simply see if you can ride on the waves
of your own breath sensations as they
come in and out of the body, as the breath
itself moves in and out of the body.
Without any effort to force or pull or
constrain or manipulate this breathing.
It does very well without
Witness that you're still alive.
And so just luxuriating, so
to speak, as you ride on the
waves of this vital rhythm.
That's deeply intrinsic to life itself.
And resting here in the silence in
between and underneath my words.
A silence that's never
not here, never broken.
Infinitely and always available to you.
And they're just possible not only
to be friends, but to enhance.
Moment by moment, by timeless moment.
As we sit here,
with life unfolding exactly the way
life is unfolding in this moment.
So you don't have to try to achieve
any special feeling or state.
Or pursue anything.
But to just put the welcome mat
out for whatever is already here.
Whatever is here, including the
unwanted, the unpleasant, the
full catastrophe, so to speak.
And resting in awareness.
And fully awake.
Thank you for that.
It's nice to think that there
are people all around the
world tuning into this program.
And I think it's one signature of
your genius to have thought of doing
something like this, that we can all
tune into and share and hear each
other and hear new people that we
haven't heard before and experienced
the diversity of the teachers and the
teachings and the sources of it all.
And it feels like a kindergarten,
like we're back to school and maybe
with a true beginner's mind and
inquiring as to what mindfulness
is out there an awful lot nowadays.
What is it actually?
What is it really beneath all
the hype and the sort of fanfare
about it that's very, very recent?
Thank you for conceiving of
this and then shepherding it,
mothering it, so to speak, along.
I have a feeling this is only, this
month of October is only the beginning.
I'm starting to get that feeling too, Jon.
And I think, you know, I just want
to take this opportunity actually
to acknowledge all of the people
who are tuning in, knowing that this
is the last day of the 31 days of
this particular part of the summit.
And there may be a continuation.
But I really want to take this moment
to extend my deep respect for all
of the people who have continued
to sit every day, or you might've
had a day off here and there, and
many of you have been practicing for
maybe decades before this summit.
Many people have probably coming back
to this practice after some time off, or
you might've started doing this on the
1st of October for the very first time.
But either way, you're still here with
us on this journey and I just want
to congratulate you for that, because
I'm sure there's been times when it's
been easeful and other times when the
mind is busy or it's just challenging
to sit and you've stuck with it
and you've stuck with this summit.
So my deepest respect and also my
gratitude to all of you, because sitting
in this way is never just about us.
It's always an act of self nourishment
and self care, but it can't help
when we take our seat or however you
practice that capacity to have more
wise and compassionate and kind lives.
It can't help but ripple out
to the rest of the world.
So thank you for your practice.
And perhaps the realization is
also unfolding that this summit was
never about you changing yourself.
It was never about you becoming better.
And it was always about you knowing
yourself and being yourself more fully.
I'm very happy you're saying that by the
way, because one of the misconceptions
about meditation and particularly
mindfulness is that it's a hotshot mode of
self-improvement, so to speak or achieving
some imagined state of wellbeing that's
permanent and that's going to last forever
and that's kind of basically immunize
you against any bad feelings and you'll
just be relaxed for your entire life.
And it's really a profound misconception
of the beauty and the power and the wisdom
of mindfulness or any form of meditation,
because it's really not achieved,
trying to achieve some special state.
Mindfulness is not a special state that
if you just sit in a certain way and
breathe in a certain way, then you'll
have this aha moment and you say, that's
what I've been looking for my whole
life, and then cling to it for the rest
of your life to try to get back to it.
That's not really what it's about at all.
It's, as I was trying to suggest in the
beginning few moments of the meditation,
just to be with things as they are.
But it turns out that
just is enormous because.
We don't really want to be with things
that we don't like that are unpleasant,
that we didn't sign up for in this life.
And yet that is the nature of it
and this is where the wisdom lies.
This is where the compassion lies
for oneself as well as others.
This is really where any potential for
healing and transformation, whether
we're talking about ourselves as
individuals or we're talking about
a society or the entire planet.
Really, I think rests on that capacity,
that non dual wisdom that knows that
we don't have to force things to change
or try to cling to a special state
because every moment, every experience
that you're having, including the
unpleasant ones, is unbelievably special.
And when you can hold it in
awareness, then you have new
degrees of freedom to be in wise
relationship to it and then act on it.
So there's nothing passive about this,
but you're acting out of wisdom instead
of rejecting this and grasping on that,
which is really a source of enormous
ignorance and delusion and suffering.
So that's easy to say, but this is
really the hardest work in the world.
And I too want to bow to everybody
who's tuned in over these past 31 days.
I myself started out just fine, but
my life is complicated and there
were evenings that I just missed.
And then I missed too
many to totally catch up.
So I've seen maybe half or a
little more than half of them.
And I just feel like
that's the way it goes.
We can't be everywhere for
everybody in every moment.
So we have to, in some sense, come
to terms, which is my real definition
of healing, is coming to terms with
things as they are, come to terms
with how it is for us in this moment.
And then it's not like you get
wisdom, it's that you're making room
for your intrinsic, innate clarity,
wisdom, and penetrative awareness to
simply emerge, because guess what?
It's actually been here all along.
Like you're already a genius.
You're already a miraculous being.
You already have the most complex
organization of matter in the known
universe inside your little old skull.
And so to recognize the beauty, as well
as of course, the pain and the suffering
is incredibly important to find a way to,
in some sense, come to equilibrium and
equanimity and the kind of actions that
are really necessary to take in this world
that are not driven by more for me or my
suffering or my depression or my anxiety
or my mental state, or for that matter, if
we're talking about meditators, especially
beginning meditators, and I would say
beginning meditators, maybe the first 40
or 50 years of regular practice that it's
like boring, like, good God, why should
I sit and just watch my mind go insane
or be all over the place or perpetually
self distract myself, and think that
there's some better way to do it.
Or mindfulness can't be about
this because if it were just about
this, I mean, who would do it?
It's like watching my mind like this.
But it turns out that that's where that
little pivot, that little rotation in
consciousness, so that what is arising
becomes the curriculum rather than
what you think is the curriculum or the
straight path to enlightenment, really
is liberating and is truly freeing.
And you don't have to sit in a cave
for 50 years for that to happen.
It's already yours or ours.
And that's exactly what I would love
to bring out and ask you about in
this moment, because a couple of days
ago, the meditation session that I
did with a dear friend of yours and
colleague, Saki Santorelli aired as
part of this summit and I don't know
how many people noticed, but during that
session with Saki, I was moved to tears.
And the reason for that was because
we have been talking about so many
dimensions of mindfulness during this
summit, and they're all important
and they're all really wonderful.
You know, how mindfulness can make us more
productive, how mindfulness can make us
more creative, have better relationships,
even better health and less suffering.
All these things are wonderful.
And there was this moment where I thanked
Saki for bringing and making mindfulness,
secular, and he said, you know, secular
can sometimes mean in people's minds
that it's been stripped of sacredness.
And it's never been anything but sacred.
And in the moment that he said those
words, I just, the tears started coming
because I realized that I was craving
for that to be aired here in the summit.
And just in my interactions
with other people, sacredness
is often very private for me.
And so I wanted to give us a space to
talk about that and a space for you to
talk about how mindfulness has deeper
dimensions and that it's a kind of
coming into touch with who we really are.
Yeah, well, that's all it's about.
It's not about anything but that.
And the more popular it gets
that this was not a problem.
I started what's come to be known
as MBSR in the stress reduction
clinic at the University of
Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979.
So that's like a...
That's the year I was born.
So there you go.
A different universe entirely.
It's basically before the
digital age, except for the
military and science, scientists.
And it's only recently that it's sort
of exploded in terms of interest.
And this has been driven by
factors that, to a large degree
was set in play a long time ago.
And that had to do with being very
patient, but really convinced that
the world was basically starving for
this kind of wisdom and that it could
not come in the traditional forms
because most people would reject
the form and miss the substance.
So we had to generate new vehicles, but
at the same time, if those vehicles dumbed
down or denatured the essence of what is
called the Dharma, with a sort of this
deep wisdom that is an all traditions,
but was most highly articulated and most
refined in the Buddhist tradition in
which I grew up kind of, so to speak.
Then we needed to find new ways to
language it to new vocabulary so that
it would be so commonsensical that
your mother would go, or your father
would go well, of course, why didn't I
realize that meditation was just about
paying attention and awareness and it
didn't involve all this other stuff.
And so it turns out the other
stuff is completely embedded in the
paying attention and the awareness.
So you don't have to do a lot of
propaganda around it to the point
where people feel you were just
selling me some belief system.
So now, of course, it's
everywhere and it's moving into
the school system and so forth.
And there, you have to be very
careful because if it seems to be
religious, where that we're secretly
trying to turn people's dear beloved
children into closet Buddhists.
That would be awful.
And who would want that?
I mean, I would reject that entirely.
And just to be clear, I,
myself am not a Buddhist.
I don't identify as a Buddhist at all.
I identify as a serious
and beginner student, so to
speak of Buddhist meditation.
I'm only doing the best I can.
So when the word secular is
used, it's really misinformed.
And I tend to use the word
mainstream as opposed to secular.
And as in the mainstreaming
of mindfulness rather than the
secularization, because we've been
emphasizing from the very beginning
that this is sacred, sacred work.
In the same way that the doctor-patient
relationship and the Hippocratic oath
to first do no harm are sacred, sacred
foundations of modern medical practice.
And we use that terminology sacred.
And even in the American Declaration
of Independence, that word is in there.
And it's in there in a non-religious form.
It's in there in the phrase 'to which
we dedicate our lives.' in other
words, the breaking from the United
Kingdom to which we dedicate our lives,
our fortunes and our sacred honor.
So from the point of view of America,
this is truly American, but it's
differentiating the sacred from
a kind of classical religion that
feels like it requires belief.
This is much more empirical.
It does not require any belief or
catechism that you just sit down
and you apprehend for yourself
following a very simple set of
guidelines what the actual truth of
your experience is in this moment.
And yet there is an
ethical foundation to this.
So it's not like, well, if you
meditate, then you'll become a better
sniper, if you're in the military.
Because mindfulness is spoken of as a,
and described in the texts as a wholesome
mental factor, so if one cultivates
mindfulness, your heart's going to change.
And in fact, in all Asian languages,
the word from mind and the word
for heart are the same word.
So in English, whether it's in Australia,
New Zealand, the UK, or Canada, the
United States, or any place else where
people are speaking English, if you
hear the word mindfulness and in some
way you are not hearing simultaneously
and silently, the word heartfulness,
you're not really understanding it.
And you're conceptualizing
it, turning it into a concept.
It's easy to do because mindfulness is a
kind of American word and it was slapped
on a Pali word, Sati, by translators
who knew something, but maybe not like,
maybe it's not the best translation,
but it is the translation now of
all Buddhists scholars and so forth.
But the interesting thing
is it's not Buddhist.
It's not Buddhist.
It's a quality of mind.
It's a quality of being
that can be cultivated.
And some people describe it as
a skill that can be developed or
a muscle that you can exercise.
But, and the part of the reason
it's not Buddhist is that
the Buddha wasn't a Buddhist.
You know, the isms and the various kinds
of things that grow out of it with no
disregard or disrespect whatsoever.
But when we're drilling down to what
the essence of the Dharma is, it's
always changed when it moved from a
new country out of India and into Tibet
or into Southeast Asia or whatever.
So there are many dharmas, not
one, but there's actually only one.
Because no matter how it flowers,
the essence is always the same.
And the way it is embodied and the
way it is translated and the way
it is lived really is up to us.
And so now it's gone global.
I can't say it came to the West because
there's no East and the West anymore.
So it's our responsibility
to not blow this.
And we could.
We could dumb this down the way
we dumbed down and commercialize
and commodify everything.
So it just becomes another
concept, another thought, another
thing to fill up your day.
Now I got to meditate on top of everything
else and it becomes like onerous.
And then why am I doing it,
especially since I'm not allowed
to experience a special state?
So what would my
motivation be for doing it?
And my response is how about love?
How about sanity?
What about recognizing that like
stopping for a moment and dropping
from all the doing and to being
would be a radical act of sanity.
To just pause and say, if you
played the violin, of course you
wouldn't play it without tuning it.
So you have to pause to
tune your instrument.
And that's the way it is in school.
You describe it as like before
the kids can learn, they have to
tune their instrument of learning.
And if they come to school stressed
or hungry or having experienced
violence in the family before
they even make it to school, their
instrument is really out of tune.
And rather than yelling at kids to
pay attention, we need to really
nurture them into attending.
And this is a kind of
lifetime's engagement on the
part of more and more people.
And I like to describe
it as a love affair.
It's a love affair.
And so when I take my seat in the morning
and I've come over the decades to actually
experience it as a radical act of love
and sanity just to do that, not so that
I'll get some benefit, but just so that
I will remember that I'm alive and that
my life is much more than what's on my
to-do list for today or how stressed I
might be trying to get it all done and
meanwhile, missing all of my moments.
And then probably what's most important
is like, say the look in your lover's
eyes or your partner, your spouse, or
your grandchildren or your parents,
and, and to not let that go by so
fleetingly that it's just another
thought that you don't capture.
So this is like high stakes engagement.
And it requires a
It's not like a new Buddha is going
to rise and everybody's going to
bow down to him and make it okay.
I mean, the Dalai Lama
is very clear on that.
It's a time for us all to take
responsibility for a universal
wisdom that's intrinsic to our
humanity, really in our DNA.
And in a sense, our biology
is unbelievably responsive to
it, but that's another story.
It reminds me of a term that's been
coming to my mind more and more lately
of becoming this radical act of taking
responsibility for ourselves and
for the planet is kind of in a way
becoming like an inner peace activist.
It is important to do all
the stuff on the outside.
It's very important.
And in my experience is, is that
when we cultivate more peace and
compassion within, it just is the
most natural thing in the world to
love, your actions love the planet.
And also that it's, otherwise it's a
prescription for burnout, sooner or later.
I mean, the problems are just much too
big for any one person or organization.
So you have to have a kind of a
long-term strategy to not push the lever
and yet to make the kinds of changes
happen that will mitigate the vector
that we're already on as a planet.
And it is going to require governments.
It's going to require societies.
It's going to require individuals
because it all boils down to individuals,
namely us to undergo what I call this
orthogonal rotation in consciousness.
So that you are the same old person you
always were and yet you're not because
fundamentally you've woken up and you no
longer believe the narratives in your head
that make you the most important being on
the planet and make everything about you,
about I, me and mine and my success and
my depression and my upset and my this.
All of it's true.
It's just not a big enough narrative of
who you really are, is so much bigger than
who you think you are or want to be, or
wish you weren't or anything like that.
And when you tap into that fundamental
dimension of awareness that is part of
our human repertoire and learning to
inhabit it and cultivate it in the ways
that mindfulness practice in various ways
is all about, then, in a certain way,
the practice is doing you rather than the
conceit of yes, I'm doing the practice.
It's like no, make yourself available
and let the discipline and the
kindness and the embrace and the
intentionality and the motivation, the
core motivation to do no harm and to
optimize the potential for being of
use on this planet, helping others who
are suffering, that it flowers all by
itself if we get out of our own way.
But as long as you're on a giant sort of
personal, let's not call it an ego trip,
but a personal pronounship, because ego
is just the Latin person pronoun for I.
And you can be aware of that.
You could be mindful of what
we sometimes call selfing.
How much of the day we echo of our
mouth just selfing, selfing, selfing.
You can be also and the first thing that,
I don't need to be telling this group
of people that, but for beginners at
least, the first thing that happens when
you cultivate mindfulness is you realize
how mindless we are most of the time.
And our so-called default mode
or default mode network from the
neuroscience side of things is really
running this constant story of me,
my life, my successes, my failures,
my future, my past, my relationships.
Nothing wrong with it.
It's like, if you didn't know who you
were, I mean, it'd be very hard to
wake up in the morning and go to work.
But that's not all of who you are.
And if you don't remember why you're
going to work or who the real you is, or
you don't live in your body, but you're
only up to here and most of the time
lost in thought, then the Dukkha, the
suffering, the sort of unsatisfactoriness
of life really rears its head in ways
that ultimately are just very painful.
And no one, no one can fix that.
This is not about fixing, even
though we work in medicine.
MBSR is not about fixing people's
chronic diseases or chronic
pain or depression or anxiety.
It's about putting out the welcome mat
for things as they are - the good, the
bad, and the ugly, another movie title.
And then discovering that your awareness,
for instance of sadness, isn't sad.
And it's not like we give
a lecture about that.
Experiment for yourself.
Is my awareness of my sadness sad, or
is my awareness of my anxiety anxious,
or is my awareness of my back pain or
headache actually experiencing suffering.
And this is empirical.
And look, I mean, your
life is a laboratory.
Our bodies are a laboratory.
Our minds are a laboratory.
And so there's an awful lot of learning
that we just never learned in the
school, but it's like here for us.
And in some sense, then that's why I said
life itself becomes the curriculum, if
we're willing to enroll in that school.
I'd like to talk a little
bit more about how we...
I have two quotes that I think talk about
something really fundamental about the
human condition, the kinds of things
that stop us from actually stopping and
dropping in on the present moment and
actually being in touch with ourselves
in the way that you're talking about.
The first quote is by Eckhart Tolle and
he says, "When we lose touch with inner
stillness, we lose touch with ourselves.
And when we lose touch with
ourselves, we have a tendency
to lose ourselves in the world."
The second quote is by Blaise
Pascal and he says, "All the
problems of mankind stem from...
his inability to sit quietly
in the room by himself."
Whenever I'm teaching in France, because
I speak French more or less, I always
go back to Blaise Pascal, 17th century
genius, mathematician, philosopher.
I mean, true what they
call second order genius.
And it's sitting right there and it's
saying, "All man's sorrows, all man's
difficulties stem from his inability
to sit quietly in a room by himself."
And I can hear all the women going,
yeah, that's true for those men.
It isn't that it is just men.
It's all of us.
It's just they only talk about men.
But it's the nature of the human mind
when it doesn't know itself to not be
comfortable, unless it fills up the space.
And so once we filled up all this space,
then we just like juggling all the time.
And we're not smart enough to
fill up the space with space.
So we don't see the space.
We just see that clutter.
And it's all urgent of course, because
I have to get it done in order to have
the next thing happen and the next
thing, and I'm not knocking any of this.
And we need to take responsibility
for getting work done, getting things
done and taking care of the children
and taking care of the garden and
getting, contributing in the work world.
I mean, this is where meaning
comes out of our lives.
Butif we don't know who's doing the
doing, then we're in deep trouble.
That's a really important
juncture though, isn't it?
Like there's this really
So what Eckhart's talking about is
what we've been talking about of like,
and this is true in my experience,
that when I'm fully present in the
moment, when I'm in touch with the
deepest aspect of who I am, there is
a kind of background easefulness and
contentedness, even when things get tough.
Now, the opposite of that is when
we lose touch with that, we lose
touch with ourselves, we lose
touch with the present moment.
And my experience is that there's
an inner discord or an unease or a
sense ,you could say, of think I'm not
whole yet, I'm not complete, I'm not
enough, or this moment's not enough,
whatever the story is in the mind.
And I feel like this is such an
important juncture in our lives
as mindfulness practitioners,
because it's where we stop running.
It's where we start seeking.
It's where we start
We start running away from
that feeling of not enough yet,
I'm not whole, there's unease.
And instead of dropping in, we run,
we start running right at that point.
Why would you, if you weren't taught
this, only one person in millions
can have discovered for themselves.
That's the beauty of this, isn't it?
They're practices that anybody can do.
And then the discoveries are yours.
It's like you are the original
researcher in the laboratory of your
own life and you discovered just this.
So look, Eckhart Tolle experienced it.
And it came out of a huge amount
of pain, a huge amount of pain.
And so when he talks about the Power
of Now, it's coming out of a whole life
that required him, in some sense, to
wake up to what we're talking about
and then live it in a certain way.
And of course he's been an inspiration
to many people, but then you can
turn even that, or anybody's teaching
into, again, a catechism in you.
You read the book, but, and it resonates
with you, but you don't do the work.
I mean, he sat on a park bench for
two years in the middle of wherever
in enormous amount of pain and then
woke up and it's really worth reading.
I know him.
It's really worth reading his account
of it because it's like, how many
people does that happen to, you see.
And it came out of like he had
major exposure to practices.
But this is, in some
sense, his own realization.
And everybody's realization is our own.
So yeah, this is a critical
fulcrum that you're pointing to.
And do you have, I know there's an easy
answer to this, but it's not that easy
to practice, but do you have any advice?
I feel like this juncture is
something that we can get stuck in.
Spiritual practitioners, everyday people,
everybody, we can really get caught
in these cycles of keeping on running.
It doesn't really ultimately work
because the unease stays there
because we haven't dropped back in.
So what advice or any guidance that you
have on helping us to come into more
skillful relationship in that, in those
quiet moments, when we're in the room
alone and we come face to face with that?
Well, really it's to be disciplined
about it and have a certain kind of
confidence, maybe from reading, maybe
from other people that you know,
or whatever, some certain kind of
confidence that what looks like nothing
or complete idiocy, isn't nothing.
And all this talk about mindfulness
that somebody from the outside who
thinks it's garbage, could just say,
this is like much ado about nothing,
you know, the famous Shakespeare play.
But it's not much ado about nothing.
Although granted, it looks
that way from the outside.
It's much ado about what looks from
the outside like almost nothing, but
turns out to be just about everything.
So there's a certain amount of
confidence that a certain amount
of discipline is required and
you sit through thick and thin.
And I use the word sit just the
way you did like it means anything.
You could stand on your head, hang from
your fingernails, run, lie down there,
four classical meditation postures.
Although most people only
practice a few of them.
But sitting, standing - a very
powerful meditation practice.
We teach all four in MBSR,
which is kind of unusual.
Lying down, which is one that's one of
the most powerful meditation practices,
but I have to remind people it's about
falling awake, not about falling asleep.
But even falling asleep is
good because everybody's sleep
deprived, and then walking.
So the advice that I would give
to people is don't give up.
Hang in no matter what,
through thick and thin.
Read books, listen to guided meditation
tapes, study with tons of teachers, and
don't think this is some sideline while
you get the rest of your life together.
This is not separate from life.
And the more you learn how to inhabit
the field of awareness or heartfulness
or mindfulness, the more you, I
think we'll find that, you grow
into the actuality of who you are.
It's not, it doesn't make
you stupider to just sit.
From the outside it looks like, oh, silly
people sitting and they'rewasting time.
But actually there is no time
to waste because we only have
moments in which to live.
And most of them we do miss because
we're on autopilot so much of the time.
This doesn't mean that your
stress is going to go away.
We call what we do,
mindfulness-based stress reduction.
And we did that for many reasons,
but most people, when they, someplace
in the middle of the eight weeks of
MBSR, they wind up having a kind of
enlightenment experience, so to speak.
This isn't stress reduction.
This is about my whole life.
And it's like we say, hmm, interesting.
Because it's not that the stress
reduction part of it is not important,
but it's not so much reducing your
stress that would be trying to
attain a certain kind of end point.
And it doesn't mean you can't change
your life to reduce your stress, if there
are certain stressrs that are there,
but it's more that what you're really
changing is your relationship to stress
and to everything else in your life.
And once you know that, once you
practice it, once you exercise that
muscle on a daily basis, not just
like, over the weekend or something
like that, then everything that
arises becomes part of the curriculum.
And the real practice is
how you live your life.
Not just how long you sit in the
morning, or whether you do a body
scan lying down in bed before you
wake up, which I highly recommend.
Or just lying down meditation,
nevermind the body scan.
Just even four or five breaths
every morning when you wake up.
Be sure you actually wake up before you
jump out of bed because most of the time
you're on autopilot, brushing your teeth
mindlessly and running through the day.
But just that few breaths or
a few moments or 20 minutes
of waking up early and in bed.
So nobody can say, I
don't have time for this.
It's too uncomfortable to sit.
So these are a few of the sort
of pointers, but I think the
primal thing to emphasize is
remember what your motivation is.
If this is just the big fad for you,
everybody's talking about mindfulness,
now you have to become a meditator
on top of every other annoying thing
you have to acquire, then give it up.
Go to the gym.
Just run on a treadmill or
whatever, or chop vegetables.
If you do those mindfully,
then it's all practice.
You cannot escape from it.
And pretty soon you're going to die.
So, all of us are.
So the question is not like, some
people say like what happens after life?
And my question is really not
what happens after life, but
it's their life before death.
And that would require us to really
zero in on the actuality of our lives.
And then the pain, the suffering it's
still there, but our relationship to it
really can transform and that is wisdom.
It doesn't mean you won't get sick.
It doesn't mean that
tragedies don't happen.
It doesn't mean that things will
go the way you thought they were
when you mapped out your life
at the age of 15 or whatever.
But it means that you will find a way to
be that's authentic, that's true to you.
And then that almost
defines beauty, in my view.
And you can see it in people's
faces, even over eight weeks of
MBSR, faces change profoundly.
You can see it in front of your very
eyes, people becoming themselves and
the stress, the lines, the clenching
of the face somehow just dissolve..
But it's not by trying to do anything.
It's not like rather than
the Botox I'll take MBSR.
It's like, no, it has to be, this root
practice really needs to be practiced
for no reason, not to get someplace else.
This is very radical.
But to just, in some sense, the reason
is to just wake up to be, to not
miss your moments, because as I said,
sooner or later we're going to die.
And the real question is, have we lived?
Thoreau, our famous philosopher from
Concord, Massachusetts, famous for
having said, "I went to the woods,"
because he went off to the woods and
lived in a cabin for two years and just
watched the days unfold and the nights.
"I went to the woods because I wished
to live deliberately, to front only
the essential facts of life, and see
if I could not learn what they had
to teach, and not, when I came to
die, discover that I hadn't lived."
So, I like to say another way of
looking at the meditation is die now,
get it over with, and then all the
rest of our moments will be free.
And the funny thing is that when...
You die to your, to
those personal pronouns.
And you die now and then you find out that
all that's really left is the unfolding
miracle of life, which is, I think the
sacredness that Saki was speaking of.
And you can call that...
Oh, the interweb stopped in that moment.
Oh, we just had a tiny pause.
Yes, it did stop at that moment.
I was wondering whether I
should comment about it.
But that's part of the process, is it not?
I don't know why that...
But it makes it more real in a way.
And everybody watching can go, yeah.
This is just Skype and it
doesn't work all that well.
But it is a miracle.
I mean, 20 years ago, we could
not be doing this with hundreds of
thousands of people in real time.
And so there's a certain wonder and real
awe associated with the fact that we
can have these kinds of conversations.
And then the real question: is the
conversations are all fine, but it's
just talk unless the resonances that
are underlying what we're talking about,
we were talking about as the sacred
element of it or the beauty element or
the truth beyond truth element of it that
resonates with the core of our humanity.
When that's alive, then you
don't have to really do anything.
And that's what it means to practice.
And that's what it means to be.
So do this practice, trust the
practice and you find out, I guess,
that dimension unfolds by itself.
Let life be the teacher.
Life is the teacher.
Life is the curriculum.
And it's all the curriculum.
Not that it's all wanted,
and some of it's horrific.
But again, if I had to use one
word to describe mindfulness and
people often ask me that, I've come
to, my response is relationality.
So it's how are we in relationship
to whatever it is that unfolds,
including in the body, the breath,
the mind, thoughts, emotions,
likes, dislikes, pain, suffering.
And there's where the
degrees of freedom run.
Enormous degrees of freedom in that.
And then freedom is freedom.
Like it means freedom, non-attachment,
clarity, wisdom, and intrinsic kindness,
because you have seen and lived and
understood the interconnectedness of
everything so that we are not separate.
And I'm not talking about
Skype and the internet.
This is interconnectedness that goes
way beyond the Skype or the internet.
And the old ancient Buddhist
and Indian image of it is
what's called the Indra's net.
It's a model of the universe where
every single feature of the universe
is like a multifaceted jewel,
and in particular, creatures, and
in particular, human creatures.
And with multifaceted, and all of
us have many, many facets, and the
universe is basically the net reflecting
every facet and every other facets.
So we are completely
interconnected and inter-embedded.
And then the only natural
response to that is compassion.
Because you're not, again,
you're not who you think you are.
You're not even you.
We're all, sometimes the images
used are the waves on the ocean.
And individually rise.
We rise up and then soon gone.
But it's all life.
It's one ocean wave.
And so we can wave to each other
on Skype or on our cushions
when we're not on Skype.
And just with tuning into Indra's
net, you don't need a cable or
any other kind of technology.
And so there's one more
question that I'd love to...
I know what it is.
I now you know what it is because I
know you've been watching this summit.
I don't have the slightest idea
of what I would respond to it.
I'm not planning ahead.
Well,, I'll ask you
and see what comes out.
So, as you know it's been said
that mindfulness has the capacity
to change the world from the
inside out, one person at a time.
And I'm wondering...
Who said that by the way, as long
as we're saying it's been said?
He's a wise man that man.
I love Joseph.
And so my question to you is do
you believe mindfulness has the
capacity to change the world?
And if so, what would that look like
do you think if mindfulness were
to hit some kind of critical mass?
Well, first of all, no, I don't believe
it because of what I said about belief.
So I know it.
I know it from direct personal experience.
And what does it mean to change the world?
I mean, if you're different,
the world is already different.
And you could say in a completely
trivial, insignificant way, but
because of the interconnectedness
of the universe and of all beings.
If you were transformed, the whole, what
I sometimes call crystal lattice structure
of all of humanity is already different.
And it's not trivial.
It's not insignificant.
And there've been many, many instances
where one person's conviction makes a huge
transformative difference in the world.
Even if that person winds up
being burned at the stake or
dying for their convictions.
So there's no question in my mind that
mindfulness, and I wouldn't be doing
what I was doing and writing books like
Coming To Our Senses, which are really
about, in some sense, the potential to
transform the world through mindfulness,
and a lot of that would be healing.
If I didn't know, in some sense, that
we were capable of this and that the
human species needs it in order to
grow into the name we gave ourselves,
homo sapiens sapiens from the Latin
sapere, which means to taste or to
know, and not to know conceptually with
the head, but to know in the sort of
deepest of ways, beyond the conceptual.
So with a species that knows and
knows that it knows or awareness
and meta awareness, and I think
that's a great name, but I don't
think we've quite lived into it yet.
We're a very, very new species
from an evolutionary point of view.
And of course we're capable of
completely obliterating ourselves
and everything else on the planet
except maybe cockroaches and bacteria.
They'll do fine.
But, yeah, we need to sort of wake up as
a species and we know we're capable of it.
And all the beauty that humanity is
capable of comes from when we live
inside that aspect of ourselves.
And all the horrors and the genocide
and the crime and the suffering on
this planet that comes out of the
human mind when it doesn't know
itself is just equally colossal.
So I'm not worried about how it will
look when the 1.2 billion people on
Facebook, and I'm not one of them.
And I'm not worried about when 1.2 billion
people or even sort of imagining what it
would be like when 1.2 billion people are
meditating, if you will, or are mindful.
I have no question that it will evolve
maybe very quickly in such a way that
it won't be easy, but that we'll find a
way to ride the vector of humility, of
humanity, of ethics, of non harming, of
wisdom, of compassion in ways that will
be beyond our imagination and create
institutions to really support that.
And laws that actually regulate
greed, hatred, and delusion.
So there you have it.
And I don't know how far away that is,
but I hope it's on the agenda for us.
And maybe it will be in our life time.
But that's one of the reasons to teach
mindfulness in the schools, because
when you learn that tuning of your own
instrument early on, and not as some
kind of belief system or anything like
that, then the potential good that can
unfold from it is really incalculable.
And there's so much
suffering on this planet.
And a lot of it, we do generate ourselves.
And if we could learn how to really serve
each other and be here for each other in
ways that are authentic and heartfelt and
heartful, then the world would I think
look more or less the way it does, but
we'd have more of those smiling faces.
I'll say one other thing, because
it just happened this week.
The parliament in the UK, as you may have
heard, as people may know, issued a report
that you called the Mindful Nation UK
after Tim Ryan's title of his book in the
United States, the Congressman from Ohio.
And they have been practicing mindfulness,
the House of Lords and the House of
Commons together for quite some time now,
several years and going through eight
week training programs in mindfulness.
And there's a long waiting list.
So this is remarkable that a parliamentary
governmental body would issue such a
report pointing to four areas in which
mindfulness really needs to be explored
much more and funded much more to do the
kind of groundwork to decide whether it's
up to the task in a practical way that
would really be valuable for the society.
And those areas are health, education,
criminal justice and business.
And so, wow.
That's quite extraordinary
that they have done that.
And I just send them
all a deep bow for this.
It's an all parliamentary report, which
means that all party parliamentary
report, which means that all the
parties like are represented themselves
in this commonality of purpose.
Now, I would love to imagine that that
were possible in the United States where
the antipathy between people who dress
up as donkeys and people who dress up as
elephants, or Democrats or Republicans,
for those of you who don't know that
much about the American politics.
And has reached a point where
it's basically dis dysfunctional
in ways that are creating huge
amounts of pain and suffering.
And most of it is driven by
greed, hatred and delusion.
The same for banking and many other
things that are really out of control
and we get the dregs of it, but
the amount of harm that's caused
by a non mindful, non-heartful,
non wakeful way of doing business.
The consequences for the environment,
for the planet for every aspect of
human life are just so great now.
And we know that that we have
to become more mindful of these
larger domains than just my body,
my breath, my success, my failure.
And again, it's not, there's nothing
wrong with the body, the breath,
success or failure, because there's
no success without many failures.
But the my is something that we
could actually really look at.
And if we do that as individuals
or as a species, we're going
to be in very, very good shape.
And I think this summit, and the
reason I agreed to be part of it is,
in some sense, an indicator or, how
should I put this, a signature of
what human beings are capable of.
I don't know where this came from in
you, but Joseph didn't call you up on
the phone and give you this idea, nor did
I, nor, I'm guessing, did anybody else.
It comes out of you.
And you see the beauty of that is insane
because it's distributed everywhere.
So everybody has the potential to
add to this conversation, to this
unfolding, to this flowering, to
this flourishing on the planet.
And the only way you
can do it is your way.
You can't pretend or
adopt someone else's way.
There are infinite number of ways
to practice mindfulness in ways
that are deluded and hopeless.
But there are also an infinite number of
ways to practice wise mindfulness or right
mindfulness, and there's no one right way.
So again, you've got to
do that interior work.
And I just love that we're all
in this together, so to speak.
Yeah and thank you so
much for bringing that up.
It's such a warm and open and
accommodating thing to bring
to the floor for people to know
that there's not a right way.
We're all very different, but it is
important to be authentic to ourselves
and to, as best we can, to embody the
practice and to live and breathe it.
And to not think that you're inadequate.
Of course you can think you're inadequate.
We all do.
Like I'm not the Buddha or I'm not
enlightened or all of that stuff.
And the irony is, from the non
dual Buddhist point of view,
you're already enlightened.
It's just that you don't know it
because you haven't yet woken up
or gotten out of your own way.
It's the I that's the problem,
not the enlightenment.
And maybe there are no enlightened
people when all is said and done.
Maybe what there are, are
only enlightening moments.
And the more we align ourselves with
that potential in ourselves, the more
things will move in a direction of
greater wisdom, compassion, and sanity,
and a kind of deep flourishing that will
take care of the fact that, hopefully
will take care of the fact that we
only have this home, this home planet.
And we have given it a fever and it has
its own dynamic now, and this is no joke.
And we're seeing it in the ferocity
of the storms and the slow increase
in the losing of the glaciers
and the ice caps, polar ice caps.
That's part of mindfulness practice too.
It's like we're all in this together.
And so what could be
more beautiful than that?
And there's where the, that whole thing
we were talking about it being not
trivial, that I'm just one person, that
I'm only little old me and how much, even
if I meditate, can I change the planet?
Your beauty is exactly
what the planet needs.
I like to say that every one of us
is a flower and the world needs all
of us to flower in our own ways.
And then in talking with each other and
working together and teaming up and making
things happen that we care about, because
this is not just about individuals, it's
about our interconnectedness socially.
It's about social justice.
It's about transforming our societies
and seeing how much pain is involved
in what we've talked about it before.
Racism and all sorts of isms that
ignore or degrade certain kinds of
people, because they're not like
me, all of that is potentially
healable if we wake up in this way.
Yeah, I think Blaise Pascal had
it right back all that time ago.
Except that I have to emphasize, because
sitting quietly in a room by yourself is
great and I do it and I've done it for
a very long time, relatively speaking.
But the real practice is how we live
our lives from moment to moment.
That's the real practice.
Not how much time your
ass is on the cushion.
It's necessary, but it's not sufficient.
And not just it's not sufficient
now because we have all these
global warming problems.
It was never sufficient.
It's an embodied way of being.
And so if you're a great meditator,
but you don't attend to your children
or to your parents, or to what needs
doing now and asking yourself what
requires doing now, or how should I
be in relationship to this moment or
this challenge, then you can go on
all the meditation retreats you like.
But I think that there's a certain way in
which it will be found to be incomplete.
And yet we do need people who go on
long meditation retreats and who are not
social activists and who just hold down
whatever it is that they're holding down.
But I'm not worried about it.
But I think that we need
all sorts of people.
And the only way that is really going
to change is if you find what you love.
Each one of us find what we love and
just give ourselves over to it and
then not claim any credit for it.
Thank you so much for that, Jon.
And I just want to also take this
opportunity to thank you so deeply for
the work that you've done in bringing
us more access to these teachings.
And also to so many of the other amazing
pioneers who've taken part in this summit.
Many of the people who have taken part
in this summit have done incredible
work to, for somebody like myself when
I wanted access to these teachings, they
were here for me because of the work that
yourself and a lot of other people did.
And that is just the most incredible gift.
So my heartfelt, heartfelt gratitude to
all of the pioneers and all of the people
who took part in this summit because it
was only because you believed in my crazy
idea that the summit ended up happening.
So thank you so much for believing
in this and for doing the work
that you do and continue to do.
My deepest, deepest, respect
and deep bow to you all.
I got to say, you've
become my teacher as well.
This whole process has
become part of my learning.
Many of the people who you've featured
over these past weeks are, literally,
my teachers, as well as metaphorically.
And some of them might be my students,
but they're also my teachers.
So again, an example of complete
interconnectedness and inter-embeddedness.
So I think from here, we're going
to be moving on to a livestream kind
of thing at some other to really
tie the bow on this whole month.
I feel incredible gratitude for
having the opportunity to engage in
that extended guided meditation and
inquiry together where we won't be
in conversation as I understand it.
So I want to just sort of, and I'll do
it sort of literally bow to you Melli
and to Matt, who's the other aspect of
this team, in making all the technology
happen, for everything that you've done
to create this and all the learning
that's gone on and some of the challenges,
the stress, the unpleasantness.
And so it's all part of
the flowering, so to speak.
And I feel really honored
to meet you in this way.
And a deep bow to you too, Jon.
Get Unlimited Access
A Mindfulness Plus+ subscription gives you unlimited access to a world of premium mindfulness content.
Email MissingWe couldn’t detect your email with the SSO provider you have selected.
We are here to make a positive impact on the world. We never want to sell you something that hasn’t helped you live a better life. That’s why if you’re unhappy with any purchase from us, you have 30 days to get a full refund and your money back.
If you subscribed to Mindfulness Plus+ and are unhappy with your purchase, please get in contact with us within the 30-day period and we’ll refund your purchase.
Learn more about our Mindfulness Guarantee.
We believe in a world where everybody has access to the life-changing skills of mindfulness.
Congratulations on taking the first step towards a more mindful life! As a token of our appreciation, we want to offer you an exclusive opportunity to upgrade to Mindfulness Plus+ for a price you won't find anywhere else.
Mindfulness Plus+ is our premium membership that includes everything you need to learn mindfulness and keep practicing throughout all stages of life.
Take this exclusive offer to further your mindfulness skills and experience deeper levels of well-being.
Just a small sample of the life-changing 5-star reviews we get on a daily basis.
Vidyamala’s tips on catching anger as it’s happening or about to happen are great - clear, practical, and doable.
The little talks before the meditations are priceless. It's like I've found my peeps. The topics, the quotes, the goals—it all makes so much sense to me, things I want to be thinking and learning about. Most importantly, the meditations are kindness-centered, which I love. It feels like a new way to approach meditation.
Incredible, easy to navigate app. I would highly recommend this app to anyone who wishes to reduce stress and anxiety or simply as an aid to improve overall mental health.
I love how the app gives me pointers to new things to explore.
So calm and soothing. I love the new bundle with Kelly Boys, she’s brilliant!
Better than Headspace. I've had the paid version of both apps, and I must say I enjoy this one better.
- Gina, Plus+ Member
I am very new to meditation, and am so happy that my first introduction to it has been through this app
The first session was fantastic. I feel safe. And supported. Almost like having someone helping me through my difficult time. I’m very grateful for this app.
You get a lot of useful tips for handling stress and anxiety in 'real life'.
Kelly Boys is hands down the best. Everytime I click on one of her guided meditations I get excited for the calmness that lies ahead.
Claim your free access
Create a mindfulness account and we’ll unlock this premium session in your account forever.
Complete a few quick questions to make your own personalized mindfulness plan.