Listen: Jon Kabat-Zinn on Meditation as a Love Affair
"Big episode. This is weak big episode with a massive figure in the world of meditation especially in the West. I think it's safe to say that I would not have gotten interested. Didn't in Meditation Word Not for John Cabot Zinn who came out of a scientific background at MIT and Had A long history of studying Studying Meditation as well and then came up with a way to combine the two through mindfulness based stress reduction. which was a a way to to to teach meditation without the religious overtones or metaphysical claims and that created a situation in which creating in this standardized protocol for teaching meditation? Over the course of eight weeks this embiid or training meant that all these scientists could swoop in and test it on different populations In in a replicable way and that has created the explosion of scientific research we've seen around meditation and without that aforementioned explosion of research. I wouldn't have been able to get over the Hump to do it. I don't I don't imagine John is a huge figure for me personally. And and if you're interested in meditation by the transit of property he's he's he's a big product A big figure for you even if you haven't heard before his official title he is. He's the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine Healthcare Society at the university diversity of Massachusetts Medical School. He's written a few huge books once called full catastrophe. Living another is called. Wherever you go there you are which is one of the first books I ever read about? Meditation was in fact the book. I was reading when I I gave it a try. A many many years ago That's just a short list of his books. He's written many of them and as you're about to hear He. He is basically impossible to interview but in the best possible way in that he very kindly and enthusiastically thickly and repeatedly derails the interview But stay with it because I promise that even though there appear to be loose threads Throughout the course of the interview I think we went back and tied tied them all up anyway. His his style is Really really fun to listen to be with and so. I think you're going to get a lot of this here. He is John Capitain. It's great to see you again. Good to be here. Always great to see you thanks. Dan Thanks As you know I spent some time with your son recently yes amazing. He's fantastic apple doesn't fall far and must be. I mean just to have an having extend myself for you to have a son with whom you can talk Dharma. That must be I mean. I can't really good treats together. You guys have have a real connection. Yeah so that's that's a that's kind of condition that's very hard to even put into words how it feels for me as there's a father to do that. So what's on your your. How old you know? I'm seventy five seventy five even at this both practicing and and My Term Not Yours. evangelizing definitely you know. I know you would not use that word but spreading the word. Put it that way. If you don't mind my tango this like you know the way I see my karmic assignment on the planet which has evolved over time as one to I found the cultivation of mindfulness through Buddhist meditative practices and traditions to be a The most profound thing that I've ever encountered my life and and even in my first twenty one years or so before I discovered that I you know I was. I deeply involved in science and all sorts of other things of tremendous interest but Being exposed to of the wisdom and that the Buddhist tradition somehow offers through meditative awareness. really put click lights on everything something else that I was interested in the world and kind of made sense of it and connected different elements like say art and science music and poetry in a deep understanding of the nature of the mind the body and so forth from kind of first person experiential level. Almost as if from you know since I'm laboratory scientists INTAS laboratory scientists. We've got one more laboratory that none of us ever really recognized as such and that is the body and life itself emerging out of momentary experience embodied in this body so that kind of was a unifying in very revealing moment for me when I began to experience that within the originally the zen meditation meditation tradition and so And what you're calling. EVANGELIZING are spreading. The word or something is really the way I see it. Is that This kind of capacity that human beings has like a hidden dimension like what quantum physicists or String theorists were cosmologists would call hidden dimensions of space time or reality and we have hidden dimensions. Galore being human that we never paid any attention to the right here then if we were able to occupy them were avail ourselves of them then without anything having to change life would be very different and the biggest hidden dimension is awareness itself then until recently in schools we never got any training and awareness. We got teachers wanted us to pay attention as best as we could but they never taught us how so lot of times. I'm a product of the New York public schools. I mean Moore yelled at to pay attention. which doesn't exactly help people who have a hard time focusing to actually get better at that And then over time it became came obvious that this would be something that would be more important for me to devote my life to articulating in ways that regular people all of us could understand that without doing anything all of a sudden you have like a whole extra dimension of. Let's say wisdom to actually draw on that it doesn't require moving to the Himalayas moving into some cave and meditating. You know or any kind of cliche about what meditation would bring you fifty the years after very hard practice so this whole notion that wakefulness Is something that you have to strive for and ultimately if you exercise the muscle long enough your wake-up okay and sometimes that's the word is associated with that and Linemen and enlightenment meant and then everybody wants to be enlightened but when but if you're in darkened your concept of enlightened is not going to be very accurate because the in darkness is going to have all these filters that make whatever you think. You're striving for inconceivable with the thinking mind mind okay but that doesn't mean it's not instantly available if you drop underneath your thinking mind which is always taught in school has had a think but not how to awareness so this is this sort of missing piece of our humanity so to speak and I like to talk about it that way because we gave ourselves the the name as a species Homo Sapiens sapiens from the Latin superior which means to taste to know. But it's not an intellectual knowing like looking something up in the dictionary and thinking about it is the direct perceptual knowing that comes with wakefulness with awareness with direct contact through attention. You get comprehensive seeing hearing smelling tasting touching. It's like that's part of our humanity but we never really encouraged to to exercise that muscle so that we can drop in on this moment and live fully now. As opposed to striving striving forcing doing doing doing to get to some better moment at some future time that we idealize rant Romanticize says the way I really should be if I was really myself tough enlightened compassionate kind never angry or he's keeping my voice calm all have never stressed knowing knowing how to deal with every conceivable kind of emotional or physical pain. And that's like just one more narrative of thinking thinking thinking and when you realize that in any given moment which means basically making it real then you're already okay. There's no place to go as it says in the heart Sutra Prajit Apar- Mita teachings supreme minor. Teaching is no place to go. Nothing to do and nothing no special something to attain. Why okay because you're already insanely special in virtually every conceivable way even if the narrative you tell yourself is that and then you fill in the blanks about? What's wrong wrong with you? Or why the world is you know. Has It in for you or why you'll never succeed door. You're too old or too big or too little or you to this to that which which is all just more narrative for thinking"