Wellness, Home & Lifestyle

Mindfulness, Pain, and Suffering

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Lesson time 13:36 min

Jon explains how mindfulness can change your relationship with pain and dramatically reduce your suffering.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Stop Compounding Suffering • Take a Peek at Pain • Unpersonalizing Pain


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I date my formal practice of mindfulness meditation to 1965 when I was a graduate student at MIT. And I went to a talk that inspired me enormously. And it really meant that, OK, now I can't just be a scientist and that there was something else going on here. And then the question is, well, what the hell am I going to do with my life? And so I would say that for the next 10 years, both in the front of my mind and in the back of my mind, I was really meditating on, what is my job on the planet? I went on a long, two-week retreat in Western Massachusetts in the early spring or late winter. It was freezing, I mean, absolutely freezing. And we were taking vows not to make any voluntary movement for, you know, an hour or two. And between the cold and the vow not to move, you know, and sitting on the floor, after, say, 20 or 30 or 40 minutes, some kind of discomfort would arise. And sometimes, it would get unbelievably intense. And it would get stronger and stronger and stronger. And I'd taken a vow not to move. So you don't have any alternative. You can move, of course. Nobody's standing over you saying, you can't move. But to experiment with that, I finally, over the course of those two weeks, had an experience of like 1 minute, I was in absolute agony. And the next minute, without anything being different, all the sensations were still there. And I was like completely at home. And the moment before, it was like, this is killing me. I can't stand it I'm leaving this retreat. I hate this. The stupidest thing in the world is meditation practice. And it's killing me. It's killing me. And then all of a sudden, it wasn't killing me. It was what it was. I'm not sure that the sensations attenuated one bit. But something shifted in the mind. And it just was what it was. And it was no longer pain. It became what it was. There's no words for it. You could say it was-- it was sensation. It was uncomfortable. But it wasn't cause to abandon the retreat or even to shift my posture. And I remember at the time-- and I wrote it on the back of an envelope because we also weren't supposed to write anything. And so I breaking one rule after another. I wrote on the back of the envelope, this is really powerful because I can always get up from this. But what if you had a chronic pain condition where you couldn't just get up and it would be better, that it was just going to be this way? That was a real eye opener for me. And I realized immediately this would be incredibly valuable for people in the hospital where they've reached the end of their rope. That was really a stretch in those days because the idea that you would bring meditation into the mainstream of Western medicine was kind of tantamount I often say of like the Visigoths are at the gates of the citadel of Western civilization about to completely destroy it. We're going to let these lunatics in to teach meditation within our august, scientifically grounded medicine? ...

About the Instructor

A pioneer of the Western mindfulness movement, Jon Kabat-Zinn has spent more than 40 years studying, teaching, and advocating the benefits of mindfulness. In his MasterClass, he teaches you how to cultivate a mindfulness practice, reduce your stress, and soothe your thoughts with meditation and movement. Jon shares expert tips and guidance that meets you where you are. Let this class help you make the most of being alive.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches you how to incorporate meditation into your everyday life to improve your health and happiness.

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