Called a “social phenomenon” by its leading advocate, Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is changing the face of health and humanity.
The audience who had gathered to hear Jon Kabat-Zinn speak were stilled to a meditative silence: eyes shut, minds open, eager to know more about the power of the here and now and how it could change their lives for the better, forever.
The 68-year-old, who founded the famous Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme in the US, appeared at the Friends Meeting House, Euston, London for an event organised by the Action for Happiness movement.
“You’re part of a community, a community which is growing at a momentous ...” he says.
Kabat-Zinn’s journey began in 1965 when he discovered Zen Buddhism.
He does not call himself a Buddhist, however. “Not even Buddha called himself a Buddhist,” he says.
Now he is at the forefront of spreading meditation across the western world.
“It is what distinguishes us from other animals — being aware of being aware.
We are, after all, human beings, not human doings”
Wholeheartedly promoting mindfulness’s achievements in science, and acting as one of the leaders of the dialogue between science and Buddhism – in which the Dalai Lama has been an enthusiastic participant – Kabat-Zinn says:
“We have much leverage on the physical effects on the body, right down to the DNA – much more than you could imagine.”
He noted the work of Elizabeth Blackburn, the Australian who has won a Nobel Prize in Biology for her work on the correlations between the Telomerase enzyme and mindfulness, which suggests practicing mindfulness could also be the answer to anti-ageing.
“[Mindfulness is] stress-busting, increasing positive states and decreasing stress conditions which may in turn slow the rate of cellular ageing,”
reads Blackburn’s paper on the research, titled To Age or Not to Age.
Kabat-Zinn has also been collaborating with psychologists in the UK who have adapted his work for Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, which has won recognition from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as a treatment for depression.
How do you practice mindfulness?
“Let’s take a little minute to tap into being here,” says Kabat-Zinn.
“Awareness, awareness, and awareness, minute by minute by minute and breath by breath by breath as you sit here in the present-to-present-to-
present without trying to get anywhere, just simply being with your experience as it’s unfolding.”
Kabat-Zinn passed his own mindfulness tips on to the audience:
“Every morning, breathe in the day, and do what you need to do: sit down with your mind and body. How long will it be before your first thought?
“When you’re showering, check you’re in the shower, or are you allowing your work to come into the shower with you? Before you know it, everyone at work is in the shower with you."
"Be aware and rest in your own awareness; put a welcome mat out for things just as they are.”
by Naomi Tolley reports from London
Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Morris Herzstein Professor in Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, is a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research.
She discovered the molecular nature of telomeres - the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information - and the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase. Blackburn and her research team at the University of California, San Francisco are working with various cells including human cells, with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology.
Blackburn earned her B.Sc. (1970) and M.Sc. (1972) degrees from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and her Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Cambridge in England. She did her postdoctoral work in Molecular and Cellular Biology from 1975 to 1977 at Yale.
In 1978, Blackburn joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Molecular Biology. In 1990, she joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UC San Francisco, where she served as Department Chair from 1993 to 1999.
Blackburn is currently a faculty member in Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. She is also a Non-Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute.
Telomerase, a specialized ribonucleprotein reverse transcriptase, is important for long-term eukaryotic cell proliferation and genomic stability, because it replenishes the DNA at telomeres. Thus depending on cell type telomerase partially or completely (depending on cell type) counteracts the progressive shortening of telomeres that otherwise occurs.
Telomerase is highly active in many human malignancies, and a potential target for anti-cancer approaches.
Furthermore, recent collaborative studies have shown the relationship between accelerated telomere shortening and life stress and that low telomerase levels are associated with six prominent risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Uploaded on Jul 18, 2008
UCSF Professor Elizabeth Blackburn explores the effects of aging on a cellular level.
Series: Osher Lifelong Learning Presents [7/2008] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 14535]
Professor Blackburn just won the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine (along with Carol Greider (of Johns Hopkins) and Jack Szostak (of Harvard University Medical School).
Category - Education
License - Standard YouTube License
Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn: