A Major Turning Point for Mindfulness in Health Care

Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, comments on the first medical school division dedicated to studying the impact of meditation.

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When I started at the UMass Medical Center in 1976, the idea that one day there would be a Division of Mindfulness within the Department of Medicine was virtually inconceivable. That it has come about is diagnostic of a new and increasingly widespread recognition of the deep potential synergies between the domains of medicine and meditation (the words themselves are obviously linked at the etymological hip) as well as recognition of the challenges involved in maintaining and optimizing human well-being and health across the lifespan.

When I started at the UMass Medical Center in 1976, the idea that one day there would be a Division of Mindfulness within the Department of Medicine was virtually inconceivable.

Thanks to the rapidly growing science of mindfulness, we are now understanding the seamless interconnectedness of brain, mind, body, experience, and well-being — to say nothing of the contributions to health and well-being that stem from social interconnectedness and environmental/planetary concerns. Our scientific understanding of mindfulness has the potential to inform the development of increasingly effective and targeted clinical programs under the umbrella of a far more participatory model of medicine and health care, in which our patients learn to engage in mindfulness practices shown to beneficially affect health and well-being as a complement to their medical treatments. In that sense, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can be seen as a public health intervention, designed to over time move the bell curve of society as a whole toward greater health.  Jud Brewer and the Department of Medicine are to be congratulated for bringing things to this pioneering new threshold.  The new Division of Mindfulness will reaffirm UMass’s leadership position in this cutting edge field and will serve as an effective launching platform for the next generation of research and clinical developments at the institution where mindfulness in medicine began.

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Professor of Medicine emeritus
UMass Medical School

Founder, MBSR and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society

This statement provides additional information to a feature article titled, “The Medicine of the Moment” in the April 2018 issue of Mindful magazine.

UMass Medical School Creates First Division of Mindfulness
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