Mindfulness… for the Cure

James Gimian discusses the Jon Kabat-Zinn mindfulness conference at UCLA and the exciting new meditation research.

Jim Gimian
7 October 2010

James Gimian discusses the Jon Kabat-Zinn mindfulness conference at UCLA and the exciting new meditation research.

Wow, that was very cool! Over 1,300 people gathered in UCLA’s Royce Hall last night to hear Jon Kabat-Zinn talk about mindfulness, integrative medicine, and the wonderful work of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Everyone was treated to Jon’s humorous, moving, and inspiring blend of personal stories and the latest science.

But last night’s Lynn Lecture had the feeling of more than just another of Jon’s wonderful mindfulness talks. It was an important milestone showing mindfulness’ growing impact acceptance into mainstream society. Several of us noted the genuine connection that was being forged between Jon’s work, the work of neuroscientist Dan Siegel (who introduced Jon), and the Komen Foundation under the leadership of newly appointed president Elizabeth Thompson.

One of the keys to this alliance was brought to light in Dan’s introduction of Jon. He told the story of how Jon started MBSR over 30 years ago by asking doctors at the UMass Medical Center to let him work with the patients who they could no longer help. Many tens of thousands of MBSR practitioners later, Elizabeth Thompson shows her leadership by bringing mindfulness in as another tool in the Komen Foundation’s important work battling breast cancer.

The significance of this collaboration was not lost those of us who attended last night’s event and have been longtime meditators. None of us could have imagined when we got into meditation some 35 years ago that we’d be here — talking about mindfulness with the head of the nation’s second largest funder of breast cancer research, or with Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn about her important work with mindfulness and education called MindUp, or the numerous mainstream physicians there already integrating mindfulness in their work.

One other very inspiring note about last night: It was an extremely well produced event, run by a cadre of highly professional volunteers headed up by dynamo and dedicated mindfulness worker Lynn Kutler, and her colleague Peggy Pratt. Lynn is a board member of the Lynn Lectures (named after her friend Lynn Grogan). Lynn’s tireless, skillful, and creative leadership of this event illustrated what a big impact can be made by one dedicated person working, as she herself told me, “one little step at a time.” On behalf of all my colleagues at the Shambhala Sun Foundation, I’d like to offer thanks and a deep bow to Lynn and Elizabeth Thompson for the great honor to sponsor this event. It was very cool to be part of it.