Talks of world peace and meditation might seem ironic coming from an anarchist graduate student of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the 70’s, but that’s the reality for Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Zinn was a part of the protests against MIT’s involvement with nuclear weaponry for which he was reprimanded and rough handled by the Police. Now, nearly 50 years later and he is at the forefront of bringing the greatest change in our perception of meditation, mindfulness as he calls it.
He developed this technique, which to put it simply is a more secular form of Buddhism. Though he agrees that he uses the principles of Buddhism, saying he approached Buddhism through an irreverent path, he still insists that the practice that he derived- mindfulness is not Buddhist.
For him it would be like saying that gravity is an inherently English identity marker because it was discovered by an Englishman. He has worked on the technique for the past 40 years and has perfected it to an extent that leading NBA teams swear by its efficacy in helping them concentrate.
Mindfulness as according to its founder is a state of complete awareness which is achieved when we concentrate on each moment which is passing by, without any judgment or distraction. According to him, mindfulness is capable of treating serious conditions such as chronic pain.
When you pay such close attention to every minute change in sensations, even though they may be painful, you begin to come to terms with the fact that the pain itself is not constant, it is changing and at the same time it is not a part of you. This principle is very influential but not limited to physical pain. It helps in dealing with mental trauma as well.
After proving the mettle of his belief system in the field of meditation and healing, Kabat-Zinn is now turning his attention to an ailment which is infecting our whole planet, in fact the essence of humanity itself.
According to him, we have become insensitive to the things happening around us, and this is why these bad things are happening without check as nobody seems to be aware of their presence, much less impact. He feels everything that threatens humanity test, from Global warming to Trump to Acts of Terrorism can all be cured by mindfulness.
At least that is what he has been trying to convince the world leaders of. He believes that mindfulness can help us bring a radical change in the very way that the world is run. It can help in addressing and treating the Ego Epidemic that humanity seems to be undergoing.
The constant dichotomy of US v/s THEM which is plaguing the nation is what the world needs to perceive and understand. Without mindfulness, the human mind is incapable of going beyond the selfish realm of me and hence unable to see the bigger picture which is threatening our very existence.