Cancer and mindfulness


Jon Kabat-Zinn

I will be attending the Compassion and Presence: Spiritual Care for the Living and Dying conference in Killarney at the end of the month. I took part in a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course at the cancer support centre I attended while undergoing my breast cancer treatment and I continue to draw daily on the lessons I learned from that time.

Key note speaker at the conference will be Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. By taking a scientific approach to the study of meditation practices, Kabat-Zinn has been to the forefront of the mainstreaming of meditation in healthcare settings around the world. His first studies at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre in Boston spawned numerous other studies which show how people cope better with stress, anxiety, pain and illness by practising mindfulness meditation.  In an interview in the health supplement of today’s Irish Times, he explains that “by cultivating attention, people can restore their sense of resilience and their capacity to deal with stressful and painful experiences in life – including emotional upheavals. Mindfulness meditation is a first person direct experience that is transformative and healing.”

Training healthcare practitioners in mindfulness meditation has also become a significant part of Kabat-Zinn’s work. “It’s important to bring the care back into healthcare,” he says. “It is easy for the individual to get lost in a healthcare system and to become a number or a diagnosis. It’s easy to forget that every person is a multi-dimensional human being with fears, aspirations and families – loving or non-loving,” he says.

You can read the interview in full here.