Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD (#01)

By Shannon Harvey

In today’s episode you’ll be hearing what happened when I chatted to Jon Kabat-Zinn - who many people consider to be the father of mindfulness in the West. This was a key interview that I did during the production of my latest documentary called My Year of Living Mindfully.    To give some context to this conversation. I was inspired to make the film for two reasons.    Firstly I wanted to turn my mind to the mental health epidemic. After I made my first film The Connection I was acutely aware of the importance of looking after my mental wellbeing as well as my physical wellbeing. And I knew from a special issue of the leading medical journal, The Lancet, that every country in the world is facing and failing to tackle a host of mental health problems.    And secondly on a personal level I was struggling. I had just had my second child, I was overwhelmed with insomnia, and I was dealing with chronic pain from my autoimmune disease that causes arthritis throughout my body.   So I went in search of the mental equivalent of a daily 30-minute workout, or the mind’s five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. – Something that I could do, and something I could teach my kids, to protect, nurture and nourish our minds.   And that’s how I landed on mindfulness. Jon was the first interviewee on my list.   Jon is a mindfulness luminary because in the late 1970s, he developed an eight-week program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or MBSR. It was designed to offer hope to chronically ill people for whom conventional medicine had done all it could.     MBSR has been shown to improve everything from anxiety and depression, to quality of life and burnout these days is embedded into the fabric of many hospitals, schools and even parliaments. In the last three years alone, hundreds of scientists have published studies to investigate what MBSR does and for whom. 

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