Jon Kabat-Zinn on Meditation

I came across this footage on You-Tube the other day and found it helpful in deepening my understanding of mindfulness and meditation.

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jon Kabat-Zinn is often credited with bringing the concept of mindfulness to the attention of the Western world. He’s the pioneer behind the use of moment-to-moment awareness that underpins the recent research study I’ve documented here on Expatlogue over the past few months.

If you’ve been following the Mindful Meditation in Depression Relapse Prevention series, you might find this talk he gives to a group of lucky employees at Google (I sooo want a job there now!) helpful in broadening your understanding of the ideas we’ve been covering.

“Tune the machine before you take it on the road”

Meditation is an act of love and compassion for ourselves. Finding stillness and balance  within helps us keep a healthy perspective, and just as athletes train before a competition, or musicians tune their instruments before playing, we can all benefit from taking time to ready our minds before we put them to work.

Jon reminds us in his talk that we’re always HERE, there is no THERE. Cultivating a “beginner’s mind” that’s open and receptive to the gamut of experience means you can live your life moment by moment, instead of being preoccupied by the past or future. If we can inhabit NOW with awareness, we’ll encounter no boundaries. In this way we can bring “being” and “doing” closer together.

He reminds us of the existence of things beyond our vision and understanding, in simple terms we can all relate to. For example, the fact that you can never truly know anyone – not your spouse or your children – the depths of another’s mind are vast and voluminous.

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”

Jon is so chilled you’re calmed just by his presence, he takes his time finding the right words to convey his thoughts and, in doing so, slows us down to a less frenetic pace. The calm deliberation he projects is infectious. If you’ve been having difficulty with your meditation (and let’s face it – who doesn’t?) Jon does some trouble-shooting towards the end. Falling asleep, incessant internal commentary… he finds something to encourage in all scenarios.

If you have a spare hour, follow the example set by the creative minds at Google and watch this:

At the very least, you’ll be in good mood for the rest of the day.

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


      1. I first became aware of Zinn when I read The Mindful Way through Depression, which he wrote with 3 other authors. I’ve also read Full Catastrophe Living, and Wherever You Go, There You Are. Zinn was essentially my gateway to Buddhist (vipassana) meditation. He has a wonderful set of mindfulness meditation CDs with I always come back to. I believe I purchased these from I’ve taken two sets of classes based on his program. (OK, commercial over!).
        Am enjoying your blog!

  1. I have been doing a 21-day challenge from Deepak Chopra. It is incredible. Each day I am making a little bit more progress. Husband is doing it too, and we both find it incredibly beneficial, in different ways I think. I am so glad I started it… I used to meditate many years ago, but had completely lost it.

    1. My greatest hope is that I can increase my focus. I’m pretty scatty – I’ve lots going on but can’t always rein it in and guide it into something intelligible to others. Mindfulness helps to ground me and and quell the fear my thoughts will disperse before I can grasp them.

  2. Meditation has worked wonders for me. My doctor, Dr. Bested, recommends 10-15 minutes of meditation, sleeping down, before or after an activity. I meditate about 4 times a day plus following meditation my heart rate has gone down plus I am more energized. Over the years I have gradually gained more power as well as the ability to do much more which may additionally be attributed to my improved diet.

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