49 of the Most Powerful Jon Kabat-Zinn Quotes

Jon Kabat-Zinn is the person most responsible for bringing the concepts of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation into the popular culture.

Jon was born in New York City in 1944. When he was preschool age he attended the Museum of Modern Art, he believes this was a building block to choosing his professional path. In Massachusetts, Jon attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and studied molecular biology.

While attending MIT, he was introduced to meditation and mindfulness because he attended a talk with Philip Kapleau, the author of ‘The Three Pillars of Zen’. In 1971 he finished his studies at MIT receiving his PhD and he began his work as a science teacher. In 1979, he founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and the Stress Reduction Clinic.

Today he is on the board of the Mind and Life Institute and is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has published several works and was also on a PBS special with Bill Moyers called ‘Healing and the Mind’. Jon Kabat-Zinn played an important role in changing the way society viewed meditation by including meditation in medical treatments such as cancer treatments and simply using meditation as a way to heal pain medically and physically.

Jon Kabat Zinn Quotes

  1. “Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  2. “Instead of ‘Let it go,’ we should probably say ‘Let it be’; this recognizes that the mind won’t let go and the problem may not go away, and it allows you to form a healthier relationship with what’s bothering you.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  3. “You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the tranquility of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  4. “When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  5. “None of us has to be a helpless victim of what was done to us or what was not done for us in the past, nor do we have to be helpless in the face of what we may be suffering now.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  6. “For men and women alike, this journey is a the trajectory between birth and death, a human life lived. No one escapes the adventure. We only work with it differently.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
  7. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  8. “Perhaps the most ‘spiritual’ thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  9. “It is what makes us human, what distinguishes us from other animals. We can be aware of being aware.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  10. “It is doubtful that we came to feel undeserving on our own. We were helped to feel unworthy. We were taught it in a thousand ways when we were little, and we learned our lessons well.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  11. “Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  12. “Mindfulness means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can. In the process, we become more in touch with our life as it is unfolding.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  13. “Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are
  14. “Most people don’t realize that the mind constantly chatters. And yet, that chatter winds up being the force that drives us much of the day in terms of what we do, what we react to, and how we feel.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  15. “Awareness is not the same as thinking. It is a complementary form of intelligence, a way of knowing that is at least as wonderful and as powerful, if not more so, than thinking.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  16. “From the perspective of meditation, every state is a special state, every moment a special moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  17. “It is indeed a radical act of love just to sit down and be quiet for a time by yourself.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  18. “Wherever you go, there you are” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  19. “There are certain ways in which I cultivate awareness, both through mindful yoga and taking care of my body and taking time to actually drop as deeply as possible into stillness, into whatever is unfolding in the present moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  20. “Our ability to touch love and kindness and be touched by them lies buried below our own fears and hurts, below our greed and our hatreds, below our desperate clinging to the illusion that we are separate and alone.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  21. “Look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them…. Without knowing it, we are coloring everything, putting our spin on it all.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  22. “We take care of the future best by taking care of the present now.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  23. “If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing… We may only go in circles…” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  24. “Most people think that to meditate, I should feel a particular special something, and if I don’t, then I must be doing something wrong.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  25. “There is just this moment. We are not trying to improve or to get anywhere else.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  26. “Practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence. Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  27. “Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  28. “We must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up and face them, over and over again if need be, without running away or numbing ourselves in the thousands of ways we conjure up to avoid the unavoidable.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  29. “Too much of the education system orients students toward becoming better thinkers, but there is almost no focus on our capacity to pay attention and cultivate awareness.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  30. “See for yourself whether letting go when a part of you really wants to hold on doesn’t bring a deeper satisfaction than clinging.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  31. “Discipline provides a constancy which is independent of what kind of day you had yesterday and what kind of day you anticipate today.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  32. “Healing is a coming to terms with things as they are, rather than struggling to force them to be as they once were, or as we would like them to be, to feel secure or to have what we sometimes think of as our own way.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  33. “Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are
  34. “When you have children, you realize how easy it is to not see them fully, and perhaps miss all those early years. If you are not careful, you can be too absorbed in work, and they will be only too happy to tell you about it later. Being a parent is one of greatest mindfulness practices of all.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  35. “Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  36. “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  37. “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  38. “Make a list of what is really important to you. Embody it.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life
  39. “Writing can be an incredible mindfulness practice.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  40. “Perhaps we just need little reminders from time to time that we are already dignified, deserving, worthy.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  41. “Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  42. “Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  43. “Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  44. “Breathing is central to every aspect of meditation training. It’s a wonderful place to focus in training the mind to be calm and concentrated.“ – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  45. “Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  46. “You make problem, you have problem” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  47. “All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  48. “Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  49. “He who dies before he dies does not die when he dies.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Summary

Jon Kabat-Zinn has studied and researched the benefits of mindfulness and is a major influence on not only health care but also meditation techniques.

Use some of his quotes to prepare you to find your own way in mindfulness or motivate and inspire you or others. Jon Kabat-Zinn has been and continues to be a great influence and inspiration in the world.

Image Credit: Experience Life Magazine, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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