Mindfulness Expert Jon Kabat-Zinn to Present Four Programs at U.Va.

February 24, 2010

Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story by Jane Ford:

February 24, 2010 — Renowned scientist, writer and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn will present three events at the University of Virginia March 12-14 as part of the John and Tussi Kluge Compassionate Care Lecture Series, and also a Medical Center Hour presentation on March 15. 

Kabat-Zinn is the author and co-author of numerous books, including "Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain" and "Illness and Letting Everything Become Your Teacher."  With his wife, Myla Kabat-Zinn, he co-authored "Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting." They are members of the Mind and Life Education Research Network II and together support initiatives to further mindfulness in K-12 education and to promote mindful parenting.

The weekend begins with "Arriving at Your Own Door: Meditation Can Change Your Brain, Transform Your Mind, and Light Up Your Life," a public lecture and book signing to be held March 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall. There is no charge for the lecture and parking is available for a fee at the Central Grounds Garage. For information about this event and to register, visit mindfulness-lecture.eventbrite.com.

On March 13, he will conduct a retreat for health care professionals at Zehmer Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $30 and details are available at mindfulness-healthcare.eventbrite.com. This event is sold out, but there is a waiting list.

A retreat for community members will round out the events on March 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Alumni Hall. There is a suggested donation of $30 and lunch is provided. Details and registration are at mindfulness-community.eventbrite.com. Spaces are still available, but the event is filling up quickly. U.Va.'s Curry School of Education is sponsoring 20 public school teachers' participation and other members of the education and broader community are encouraged to register.

Kabat-Zinn will also give a special Medical Center Hour talk, "Mindfulness in Medicine and Psychology: Its Transformative and Healing Potential in Living and in Dying," on March 15 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at McLeod Hall Auditorium. His talk is free and open to the public.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he was founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society and former director of its world renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic.

His research career focused on mind-body interactions for healing and on the clinical applications and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain and stress-related disorders. His research included a worksite study of the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the brain and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system.

His work has contributed to a growing movement of mindfulness into mainstream institutions and professions, such as medicine and nursing, psychology, schools, corporations, prisons and professional sports. Hospitals and medical centers worldwide now offer clinical programs based on training in mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

Kabat-Zinn received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Salvador Luria. 

The John and Tussi Kluge Compassionate Care Lecture Series is part of a groundbreaking collaboration – the University of Virginia Initiatives in Compassionate Care – established with U.Va.'s schools of Medicine and Nursing and the U.Va. Health System. An interdisciplinary team seeks to create a transformational model for delivery of compassionate care to improve the lives of those with life-threatening illnesses across the life span and in health care settings by transforming practice, education, research and community partnerships.

According to Dorrie Fontaine, dean of the U.Va. School of Nursing, who is leading the development of the Initiatives in Compassionate Care, "In addition to the Kluge lecture series, this ambitious program also includes weekly mindfulness practices and a variety of outreach events for health care providers and for members of the community. Tussi Kluge is very much engaged and highly supportive. We know this effort will assure that our clinicians, faculty and students are better prepared to deliver more compassionate care over the long haul and that our patients and their families will benefit."

John Schorling, U.Va. professor of medicine and director of the Mindfulness Center, has participated in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Professional Training Program with Kabat-Zinn. Through the center, he teaches the discipline to medical students, physicians and other health care providers and conducts research on the clinical applications of mindfulness-based stress reduction.

"Mindfulness is about learning to pay attention to our present moment experience," he said. "We spend so much of our time worrying about the past and thinking about the future that we often miss what is going on right now. And when we begin to pay attention, we realize how rich our experience is and that we have many more choices than we thought. Our work with health care providers has shown that MBSR can significantly improve emotional well-being and decrease burnout."

As Fontaine sees it, "This weekend with Jon Kabat-Zinn is an important building block as we lay the foundation for a truly exciting transformation in the way we deliver health care."