The Healing Power of Mindfulness P8

Daniel Vinograd


QUESTION: People are saying that life is more complicated and more stressful now, and I believe it. I don’t have anything to measure it against. And also the same with war, that people go to war and they come back having experienced things that they might not have lived through in other wars. There are scientists working on PTSD and trying to help people heal from those things that they might not have lived through. So sometimes I think about how if the world is becoming more stressful or complicated and our answer is “change yourself; change your relationship with that stress,” it seems – I’m not sure. I don’t know how to say it, but…


KABAT-ZINN: I got it. Thanks, that’s the other half of my talk. (laughter) Thank you for bringing that up. Let me just very quickly say, this isn’t about changing yourself. It’s exactly the opposite of changing yourself. It’s recognizing the beauty in yourself already, no change necessary. Now imagine if the Congress actually were mindful. (laughter) Actually, there is a Congressman in the Congress now, Tim Ryan from the 17th district in Ohio, who is doing everything he can to bring mindfulness into the mainstream in political and economic circles. You’ll see his name around from time to time, 5th term Congressman.


But the much larger thing – and I wrote 100 pages about mindful politics and coming to our senses – this is not about forgetting about social change or transformation. But in order to really have profound social change that’s in alignment with humanity and with kindness, we have to look at our own minds, because even the social change agents are driven by greed, hatred, and delusion, just like all the rest of us.


So until we learn how to at least recognize the toxic or the acquisitive, aggressive, violent aspects in ourselves, then we can do all we want to transform the institutions and even the laws, but human beings, being what they are, what we need to do is transform the species. Or I wouldn’t say transform the species; I would say have the species come into its own. Because we call ourselves Homo sapiens sapiens. In Latin, sapere is the verb “to taste” or “to know.” So Homo sapiens sapiens is the species that knows. And knows that it knows, in other words, awareness, yes, and meta-awareness, awareness of awareness.


That would be wisdom. If we actually were wise, then we would see what war does to societies. We would understand that with the kind of precocity and weapons and firepower and everything, we need to find other ways of resolving human conflict. But where’s that going to come from? It’s going to come out of the same human heart and the same human mind, and out of corporations, which after all mean “bodies.” The corpus, or the body, politic. That’s made up of human beings.


So we do need to tune the instrument on lots of different levels, including the law and jurisprudence, in order to actually privilege awareness over a dualistic, adversarial condition where it’s really winners and losers. And a huge amount of harm and social injustice gets done, and then we learn to sort of tolerate it, thinking, “Well, 100 years from now, it’ll be better.”


This is not going to happen overnight. I have a very long time horizon. I like to say – one Zen master put it this way: “Never forget the 1,000 year view.” I actually have it pretty much in the 1,000 year view. Then if it happens in 100, so much the better. Even where we would site nuclear power plants, if we were building nuclear power plants say in northern Japan, for instance,  where would you site them, knowing the geology of the Pacific Rim and northern Japan? Oh, maybe not too close to the water. I don’t know. You need an awful lot of mindfulness to actually come up with something like that.


So it has infinite number of implications, and I apologize for actually not having spent more time on this talk going there. It is all in coming to our senses, and there’s an awful lot happening in the world nowadays around that.


We’ll take one more and then we’ll stop. Or two more, if two people are standing up, I’ll take – are you standing up for a question? You’re just the microphone holder. Do you want to sing or something? (laughter) This is your moment. American Idol. (laughter)


QUESTION: I can make it brief.


KABAT-ZINN: You want to sing?


QUESTION: I’m a resident at the hospital here, and I know you’re getting involved with trying to bring this into more mainstream medicine. I’m hoping it’s not going to be like 150 years –


KABAT-ZINN: Oh no, no, it’s already in mainstream medicine. Just not here.


QUESTION: What I wanted to ask you about – right. It’s definitely not encouraged for us to take care of ourselves, and the amount of stresses and appointments and phone calls, and now EDH, our new computer system –


KABAT-ZINN: I heard about that.


QUESTION: I’m in psychiatry, and 30 minutes to adjust meds and also the person wants to talk to me and all of that. It’s completely stressed me out, but I can only imagine – and I have pretty great attendings and great faculty, but if I were to say, “You know what? I’m going to go to Shambhala to meditate” – because I do meditation in Shambhala, and I’ve read a lot of –


KABAT-ZINN: You mean the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado? Or here?


QUESTION: In White River Junction there’s one. But I’ve taken courses in level 1 and level 2. But if I were to say that, “You know what? I’m going to go for lunch, and we’re not really doing anything. I’m going to go meditate for an hour and then I’m going to be so much more there for my patients,” it probably, even with these kind, good mentors, it’s not going to fly. I advise my patients on these things, but still the medical professionals are supposed to be these superhuman people that I’m not.


KABAT-ZINN: Right. In a talk like this, I can in some sense only point to how deeply the penetration has gone. However, what you’re saying is, “not deep enough.” By any stretch of the imagination. And it takes a long, long time to shift a culture that has its own self-interests. A long time.


QUESTION: Just like I’m sure it takes a long time for these people to get to your clinic, because I know the chronic pain patients we’re seeing, we’re not advising any of what you guys –


KABAT-ZINN: Yeah, but you could set up an MBSR. Maybe there is – is there an MBSR clinic?


QUESTION: Not even close.


KABAT-ZINN: Well, that’s not that radical to do. Are you in psychiatry?




KABAT-ZINN: Yeah, it’s not that radical to do. Maybe medicine should do it, if psychiatry has an aversion to the mind-body connection. (laughter) (applause) I even know gastroenterologists who are working with veterans who have PTSD, and pulmonologists. This transcends specialty.


QUESTION: There are some, and you would hope psychiatry would be the most open to it.


KABAT-ZINN: Well, I don’t know if I would hope, but if you hope it, then make it happen. The psychiatry of the future, where does it lie?


QUESTION: Not in medication.


KABAT-ZINN: Well, where does it lie? I’m being serious with you now.


QUESTION: I think in the neurosciences.


KABAT-ZINN: No, no, I’m looking for something much simpler. It lies with you.


QUESTION: Oh. (laughter)


KABAT-ZINN: It lies with that impulse to have come to this talk. It lies with that impulse to go to the Shambhala Center and clear your mind and then be more present. If you want the medicine of the future to be different, or the psychiatry of the future to be different, don’t look around for someone else to do it. You do it. When will you be good enough? Never, because part of your mind will tell you, “You don’t have enough power, you don’t have enough influence, you don’t have enough this” – you’ve got plenty. As a medical resident, as a psychiatry resident, you’ve got plenty. If people don’t want to do it, that’s too bad. But you can take the initiative.


And I’m not joking. We’re really talking about a rotation in consciousness here, and the institutions change when people are willing to actually own how you take it. You’ve had enough medical training to actually be able to make cogent arguments that a lot of the way the healthcare system is set up, I’m guessing, just from what you’ve said, is toxic to the people that you’re most trying to help. What kind of a setup is that? Even if you have a better medical record system. (laughter)


Okay, this will be the last one.


QUESTION: Oh, no, there’s somebody really ahead of me. I just wanted to let people know that we do have Upper Valley Mindfulness Associates. We’re psychotherapists, and we’re in our sixth year of offering mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.


KABAT-ZINN: Wonderful. Yeah, another thing I didn’t really get to talk about too much, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. But yeah, I’m sure there are resources in this area, lots of them, like the Shambhala Center. Are there any MBSR teachers here, in the community? There you go. Say.


SPEAKER: [Inaudible 01:49:43].


KABAT-ZINN: Now wait a minute, someone just said, “No, there’s nothing at Dartmouth Hitchcock.” But MBSR is at Dartmouth Hitchcock?


SPEAKER: [Inaudible 01:49:56].


KABAT-ZINN: You say the doctor doesn’t – between the two of you, you have an insurrection. (laughter) How many other people are here with that? Oh, so now you have a revolution. (laughter)


Listen, that’s how institutions change. And you can do it with tremendous intelligence, with tremendous propriety, with tremendous intentionality and kindness, so that it’s not like you’re going to go and just be obnoxious and tell everybody else what they’re doing wrong, but to actually offer a new option that – I’m not joking, folks, people are dying for. People are dying for it, metaphorically and literally. There’s never been more scientific evidence in favor of moving in this direction.


In some sense, what I’m saying is the responsibility for the future of not only medicine, but our society, is a distributive responsibility. As I like to say, the world needs all its flowers, and you’re one, whether your mind is like depressive rumination, “He means everybody else in the room but not me.” No, I mean you.


If you don’t recognize the flower that you are and the genius that you are and the beauty that you are, and take it someplace where it can illuminate some tiny little corner that may be insignificant, but isn’t – you think it is, but it isn’t – and just apply what you care most deeply about there, that’s how the “care” gets back into healthcare. We’re not talking about health insurance reform; we’re talking about healthcare reform, and we haven’t seen the beginning of healthcare reform. (applause)


And when we do, it will be a participatory medicine. It will be recruiting the interior dimensionality and resources that every single human being, by virtue of being born a human being, has to one degree or another, and that degree is huge. We need to learn how to recruit it, because anything else will just be technology and it will be all doing-based, and none of it being-based. We’re not called human doings; we’re called human beings.


At that, I’m going to stop it, because again, it’s late. But thank you very much for your attention. (applause)

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

View Larger Map

Dr. Daniel Vinograd, DDS |
10450 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 |
Phone: 619-630-7174    •    Dr. Vinograd, DDS, is a Dentist in San Diego, CA, offering services as a periodontist, and providing teeth whitening, dental crowns, invisalign, implants, lumineers, dentures, root canals, holistic, family and cosmetic dentistry.

Promoted by: San Diego SEO & Dental Marketing
All Copyright © 2021 or its affiliates.