Wellness, Home & Lifestyle

The Science of Mindfulness

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Lesson time 12:25 min

Jon discusses the scientific studies that show how practicing mindfulness can modify your genes, reduce inflammation, and slow the aging process.

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

Topics include: The Telomere Effect • Quieting the Default Mode Network • Epigenetics and Inflammation


[MUSIC PLAYING] - In 1979, when the Stress Reduction Clinic was birthed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, it was really the first time as far as I know that mindfulness as a rigorous discipline was brought into the mainstream of medicine and health care. And I knew when I started the program and again having been trained as a scientist that if we didn't actually try to document what was going on, it would be a nice anecdotal story about some hospital that had an interesting program and that would be it, because it's only one hospital. And with no data, it's like people hear it. They believe it. They tell stories about it, but it doesn't go anywhere. And so if the intention was to actually have this move the bell curve of medicine and public health, we needed to write scientific papers documenting in the medical and scientific literature what was going on. And so you can see in this chart the number of peer reviewed scientific papers that come out in the medical literature every year. In 1982, it was one paper, the first paper I published on chronic pain patients. And then all of a sudden around the year 2000, 2002 things start to go up higher and higher and higher. Now there are 1,203 papers in the last complete year that we have data for, which was 2019. The shape of this curve is exponential. It's growing faster and faster and faster, but the fact of this is that in less than 20 years a field has developed, an entire field not just in psychology and in medicine and health care but also in neuroscience looking at all these deeper aspects of what's going on in the brain, what's going on in the immune system, what's going on with our chromosomes and epigenetics and telomeres at the ends of the chromosomes, cell senescence, and cell aging. So this is, kind of, evidence, and one of the reasons I like to talk about it is that it's evidence that it is actually possible to bring new things into the world in ways that are really grounded in scientific investigations, and its kind of attempts to deeply understand how the mind and the body and meditation practice are related to health across the lifespan. And so I think there's enormous cause for optimism as this research continues to develop that we'll understand in deeper and deeper ways why it is that something as simple as from the outside nothing at all can have such profound effects on the organism. [MUSIC PLAYING] Alyssa Apple and her colleague, Liz Blackburn, won the Nobel Prize for some of her work with telomeres and the enzyme that makes them longer or shorter telomerase. Now telomeres are the repeat subunits of DNA at the end of all of our chromosomes, and it turns out they're necessary for mitosis, for cell division. But those mitotic spindles have these telomeres associated with them that are degradable. Every time a cell divides they get shorter, and when they're gone then the cell goes into what's called senescence and basically dies. So the research by ...

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.

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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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