Jon Kabat-Zinn: The Benefits of Meditation on Brain and Body

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of scientific research on meditation, describes  the benefits of meditation practice on the mind, brain and body. One of the main points he discusses is how meditation actually makes changes in the brain structurally, in a process that is known in neuroscience as neuroplasticity.

Excerpts from the video:

“Meditation can transform your life and be profoundly healing. And it does that by working on the entire organism–from your chromosomes to your cells to your brain. And it affects all organ systems within the body. We’re beginning to understand that, including the immune system and how the brain activity functions under stress and under difficult situations, how we regulate emotions and so forth.

“And the brain, being an organ of experience, actually is continually changing its shape. This is that kind of discovery of neuroplasticity.  And so how we decide to live our lives, and in the sense how we decide to keep our minds, actually changes not just our ideas and opinions and how caught we get in them, but actually changes our relationship to thought. And then when we look at the structure of the brain, not only is the brain functioning differently, but the actual structure of the brain, that what some pople call the real estate of the brain,  is being recruited in the service of greater compassion, equanimity, clarity and wisdom. And you can see that in different regions of the brain that actually become thicker.”

About Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“Jon Kabat-Zinn (né Kabat) (born June 5, 1944) is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Zen Master Seung Sahn and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers led him to integrate their teachings with those of Western science. He teaches mindfulness meditation as a technique to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. A stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn is offered at medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.” (source: wikipedia)


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Meditation in San Francisco School Improves Learning Since 2005 the David Lynch Foundation has shared Transcendental Meditation with our most stressed populations. If you are inspired by this video please make a donation using the Donate button on the right. The David Lynch Foundation runs entirely on donations and there is a long list of schools and organizations eager to participate. We appreciate your support. Change begins within!

For information on how to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique please visit

James Dierke: My name is James Dierke and I am the principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School. When I arrived at this school thirteen years ago it had the highest absentee rate, the highest suspension rate, the highest teacher turnover rate, the lowest academic achievement rate. We had the second highest crime rate in San Francisco and about 85% of the kids were from homes of poverty. The kids didn't play outside they didn't go anywhere on the weekends. They were kind of prisoners of their own environment.

Five years ago Principal Dierke tried something new to break the predictive power of the demographics of his school.

James Dierke: I had heard about Transcendental Meditation early in my career as a special educator. I had seen it in operation on a one to one basis.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a simple and effective technique proven to reduce stress and improve health and well-being.

James Dierke: When I first went downtown to tell people that this is what we wanted to do, they looked at me funny and said, "Oh, really?" I said, "We really have nothing to lose here by trying this."

Carlos Garcia, Superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District: We've tried everything else we've spent a ton of money for Title 1 programs, different programs on trying to have an impact on student achievement.

James Dierke: I said I will have the support of the parents. My faculty voted 99 to 1 to do it.

Carlos Garcia: Let's see if it works.

Teacher: Alright class, we're ready. Quiet Time starts now.

Principal Dierke and his staff were instructed in meditation. They implemented the Quiet Time program in their 6th and 7th grade classes. Twice a day students practiced meditation for 15 minutes.

James Dierke: The idea of kids having a little time out from everything lets them erase everything on their frontal lobe. The brain is much calmer so naturally you're able to absorb a lot more.

Jan Link, Supervisor - Research Office at the Unified School District: That 15 minutes twice a day is enough to make the difference where when you actually have a 40 minute class there's quiet, there's focused concentration and there's joyful learning.

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[…] Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of scientific research on meditation, describes  the benefits of meditation practice on the mind, brain and body. One of the main points he discusses is how meditation actually makes changes in the brain structurally, in a process that is known in neuroscience as neuroplasticity.  […]


Dear Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn,am very greatful for all the work that you started in 1971.Your meditation tapes and what we were taught in Sweden in Hudinge karolinska hospital has helped me get back to whom i was before and discovering that i was misdiagnosed with depression bipolar for 18years.I was on heavy metal medication which almost caused my life.As am still breathing and heading for my next treatment because of thyroid problem Graves diesease which is now become hypothyriod which has made me loose wait.
Having followed all your programs on tapes that i bought and from you i two months ago went to Atsumi retreat healing center Co.LTD in Phuket Thailand on the 6th of June this year to detox all heavy metals i got in the Swedish hospitals.I was under the bestcare of the Atsumi staff with one of the best Nutrionist in the world Called Craig who is still helping me get the best Practioners who can treat my hypothyroid.My thyroid was not treated well in Sweden and that,s why i have had storm thyroid five times and falling sick to an exten i even quit my levertyroixin on the 3rd of august.After being in Thailand i left for my home country Kenya on the 24th of august to attend my sons wedding who is a pilot with Kenya airways.The very same week i got to Kenya i got sick on a wednesday.Before even coming to Kenya i had visited Phuket Bangkok hospital in Thailand where i met very good doctars who gave me fantastic treatment.They had warned me if i get sick to go to the nearest hospital in Kenya and tell them about my thyroid.
As i was in Kenya i met very good doctars who helped me alot during my 2 weeks at home.I left for Sweden on the 10th of July and am know in Sweden on my bed writing to you.I called in sick because i feel so tired the thyroid is still very hyper causing me less sleep.As of this week and next week i am living for the next country for treatment and meeting the worlds best prationers of all times.After i get well i will let anybody suffering go and get treated by this Dr i was told to go to by Craig who is an angel of god like you are Dr Jon Kabat Zinn.
Today i pray meditate eat and am whole vegan.My big thanks in a million to you sir i hope the world can listen to your programs.Please go to africa and teach meditation in the universtiys in Kenya and all over africa and all over the world.You made me discover your teacher Thich Nhat Hanh,Deepakchopra and Oprah winfrey meditation videos and Sister Jayanti Brahama Kumaris and many others.
As i continue folowing all your meditations and i love them all they mean the world to me i got myself back.I believe in god and i stand for the truth.God bless you Dr Jon Kabat Zinn for your hard work and all your staff memebers and your loving family.

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