“The real practice is your life” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

A video excerpt from Jon Kabat-Zinn's lecture "Mindfulness, Healing and Transformation: The Pain and the Promise of Befriending the Full Catastrophe."

In this excerpt, Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about why he has dedicated his life to the difficult task of getting to know the mind. He talks about what happens when we cultivate the capacity to be in the present moment, and exactly what’s needed to start one’s own mindfulness practice.

This is a video excerpt featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. from his video lecture entitled “Mindfulness, Healing and Transformation: The Pain and the Promise of Befriending the Full Catastrophe”. For details on the full video and to order, please visit the CMI Education Institute. 


The brain is a very complicated apparatus and the mind, whatever it’s relationship to the brain is, even more amazing. How about we get to know it intimately, underneath talk. Before speech. It may be the hardest work in the world but the reason I do it is because as far as I’m concerned what else is there to do? If you’re not cultivating this capacity to be in the present moment, you will see, that most of the time you’ll be lost in the past and where’s the other favourite place that we like to hang out? The future. Nobody in this room I’m sure spends any time worrying or planning but if you start to investigate other people’s minds, if not your own, you’ll find that most of the time, we are obsessed with things that haven’t happened yet to the point where, Mark Twain made the comment, many of you know this, that his life was absolutely filled with tragedy and some of it actually happened. So when you start to observe what’s on your mind, it’s like, hey, it’s more dramatic than 500 channels of cable television and any number of police shows and whatever it is that floats your boat, they’re all in there anyway. It’s like, wow, you’re in there too. So the question is how about we cultivate this capacity for knowing, this capacity for feeling, this capacity for hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and far more than five senses, but also interception, proprioception, what if we started to work those muscles? Now, the real meditation practice isn’t sitting in the full lotus, you know, early in the morning in your house, although I recommend it and if you can’t sit in the full lotus, which I don’t, then sit some other way and if you can’t sit stand and—I mean there are lots of ways to do it, there are many, many doors into the room, including mindful yoga, including everything, I mean cooking, chopping vegetables, making love. The real practice is your life, okay, and how much of it do we miss. How much of it do we miss?

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