Kabat-Zinn Wows Crowd in Oxford


Follow Your Heart

Lecture by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in Oxford, UK on 10th November 2010

by Shamash Alidina  10/11/2010                

Today I attend a lecture by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in a huge lecture hall at Oxford, UK.

I’m a mindfulness teacher and have watched many lectures by Jon, read most of his books and have also attended residential trainings by him. I attended the talk with eagerness – excited to hear a talented speaker who has done so much to bring mindfulness into the west.

I was not disappointed. After a few preliminary words, inviting us to look around the room and see how many people have attended of all ages, he had all 600 attendees sitting in mindful meditation with a minimal amount of fuss. He asked us to reflect, and reflect again on the question: ‘Why am I here? Why am I really, really, really here’. He told us why here was there – out of love. Out of love for Professor Mark Williams and his tireless work in researching mindfulness and developing MBCT at Oxford University’s Centre for Mindfulness. Jon then sat composed, eyes closed, and began to gently guide us, reminding us of the awareness that bathes us but which we rarely give any notice. I felt my inner sense of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations dissolve into an bigger awareness…an awareness that is both supremely secure and immensely warm and gentle.

“We’re talking about much ado about nothing. Well, almost nothing. But that almost nothing turns out to be….everything. Kabat-Zinn”

Following a 15 minute meditation, Jon eased into his monologue. And he spoke from his heart. He talked about his life and how he came to start the stress reduction clinic in 1979. He was actually searching for the nature of reality, for what life was really about. First he looked in Physics, but it became too difficult! So then he tried Chemistry and ended up doing a  PhD in Molecular Biology with a Nobel Laureate at MIT University. This didn’t satisfy his thirst for deeper understanding into the nature of what it means to be a human being so he didn’t go in that direction. He spent 10 years searching for his ‘calling’. He spent that time engaged in yoga and meditation and martial arts. He loved it and knew that if he was to understand what it means to be a human being, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, he had to do something with this inner exploration. Then, on a retreat he had a flash of insight. It only took 10 seconds for that insight, but there was 10 years of search previous to that. He dreamt up what was to be the first Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course. And now, 30 years later, he’s sitting in a room with over 600 people on a weekday evening, who share a passion of some level, about the transformative power of mindfulness.

Kabat-Zinn talked for an hour and three quarters but it seemed to fly by. He obviously said a lot in that time, but there was one thing that really resonated with me, and which he continued to reiterate. It was this:

If you have a vision, a calling in your heart, an idea of something you can do that can make a change, then trust it. Trust in it. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve if you have a heart-felt vision and keep going step by step. Jon had a vision for mindfulness in society and it is rapidly becoming a reality as we speak. Research into mindfulness is growing exponentially, as is the funding that goes in it. Do whatever you feel is important because you don’t want to be about to step into your grave and think, ‘oh, hang on a minute, I’ve been doing it all wrong..’.

So, trust in your own inner intuition, in your body’s wisdom and take the first tiny little step. Who know’s where it will take you?

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