John Kabat-Zinn: “Meditation strengthens immunity”

The evidence is convincing: meditation is able to heal not only the spirit, but also our body. It allows you to deal with the relapses of depression, stress and its consequences for our health. It took decades to make this news from the United States to spread further around the world and gained supporters in Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, France.

Meditation is successfully used in some European medical institutions, although many specialists still relate to it with wary, and in some countries – in Russia – very little is generally known about its medical capabilities. The “medical” meditation showed its effectiveness thirty years ago, when the biologist John Kabat-Zinn developed a series of exercises, including special breathing and concentration techniques, in order to “reduce stress based on awareness”.

Today, experts in the field of cognitive therapy add work to these exercises to realize the depressive state (inevitable gloomy thoughts, a decline in self -esteem), as well as a gradual training of control over these mental processes: relaxation, unequal acceptance of their emotions and thoughts and observation, as they “float,“ float, ”Like clouds in the sky “. About the possibilities that this technique can open, we talked with its author.

John Kabat-Zinn-biologist, professor of medicine of Massachusetsky University (USA). In 1979, he found himself at the origins of “spiritual medicine”, the first to propose to use the practice of meditation for medicinal purposes.

Psychologies: How did you come to use Buddhist meditative techniques to combat stress?

About it

  • John Kabat-Zinn “Wherever you go-you are already there”, publishing house of the Transpersonal Institute, 2000.

John Kabat-Zinn: Probably, this idea arose as an unconscious attempt to reconcile my own parents. My father was a famous biologist, and my mother was an enthusiastic, but unrecognized artist. Their views on the world were radically different, and this often prevented them from finding a common language. Already in childhood, I realized that the worldview of each of us is incomplete in our own way. All this subsequently made me ask questions about the nature of our consciousness, about how exactly we realize everything that exists around. With this, my interest in science began. In my student years, I was engaged in Zen-Buddhist practices, yoga, oriental martial arts. And my desire to connect these practices with science became more and more and more. When I defended my doctoral dissertation on molecular biology, I decided to devote my life to my project: to include Buddhist meditation – without its religious aspect – in medical practice. I dreamed of creating a treatment program that would give in to scientific control and was acceptable for everyone from a philosophical point of view.

And how did you succeed?

When I took up the implementation of my project, I was a doctor of biology, defended a dissertation at the famous Massachusetts Technological Institute and successfully engaged in medicine. This was enough to get the “green light”. When it turned out that my program is effective, I received wide support. Thus, a program for reducing stress in eight weeks based on meditation was born (MBSR). Each of its participant is offered a weekly lesson in the group and one hour on the day of

home practice in audio recordings. Gradually, we began to apply our program in the treatment of anxiety, phobias, dependencies, depression ..

What type of meditation do you use in your programs?

We use various meditative practices – and traditional exercises according to a certain method and more free techniques. But all of them are based on the development of realization of reality. This type of attention lies at the basis of Buddhist meditation. In short, I can characterize this condition as a complete transfer of attention to the present moment-without any assessment of myself or reality. This position creates a favorable ground for the spiritual world, peace of mind, for compassion and love. We hope that by teaching people of meditation, we observe the spirit of the Buddhist path, Dharma, but at the same time we speak social language, which is understandable to everyone. We offer the program participants different exercises. With the mental scanning of the body (Body Scan), lying down, focuses on sensations in each of it. With sitting meditation, attention is directed to different objects: breathing, sounds, thoughts, mental images. We also have a practice of non -constant relaxed attention, which is also called “open presence” or “mental silence”. It was first proposed by the Indian philosopher Jidd Krishnamurti. At our trainings, you can learn how to consciously move – walk and engage in yoga – and consciously take food. More free practices help to learn how to include open and non -value perception of reality at any time of everyday life: when we communicate with children and home, make purchases, put things in order in the house, play sports. If we do not give our inner monologue ourselves, we remain completely attentive to everything that we do and worry. Ultimately, life itself turns into a practice of meditation. The main thing is not to miss the minutes of your existence, to constantly feel the present, then the same “here and now”.

In what diseases can meditation help?

The list of such diseases is lengthened all the time. But it is also important what exactly we mean by cure. We are healed when we restore the same state of the body in which it was before illness or injury? Or when we learn to accept the situation as it is, and, despite the problems, live it with the greatest comfort? Healing in the first sense is not always feasible even by the latest means of modern medicine. But along the second path to healing, we can go at any time while we are alive. This is what patients who practice our program or other medical and psychological techniques based on awareness learn from their own experience. We are engaged in the so -called active medicine, which encourages the patient to independently begin the path to well -being and health, relying on his body’s ability to self -regulation. Meditation training is a useful addition to treatment with the help of modern medicine.

Meditation of awareness in Russia

“The method of John Kabat-Zinna is based on fundamental scientific research in the field of neurophysiology,” confirms Dmitry Shamenkov, candidate of medical sciences, handler of the scientific project “Conscious Health Management”.

“In fact, these studies are based on the works of such outstanding Russian physiologists as Pavlov or Sechenov. They proved how the ability of a person to influence the work of his nervous system to achieve health could be important. The basic tool for this, Kabat-Zinn believes, is the so-called awareness-our sensations, thoughts, actions-which allows a person to feel better and his body helps the mechanisms of its self-regulation. If we master the skills of such work on managing your health, including with the help of a conscious reduction in stress, restoration will go much faster. In those foreign clinics where the meaning of this approach is understood, it is possible to achieve phenomenal results in therapy even complex diseases (neurological and cardiovascular, immunological disorders and metabolic diseases of the type of diabetes). Unfortunately, this approach is almost unfamiliar to Russian medicine: today I know only one project to create such a center for a decrease in stress in Moscow ”.

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