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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 58 of people. Some 85 percent of them report that the practice has healed them in some way. “My original work was with people with chronic-pain con- ditions who were told by doctors, ‘You’re going to have to learn to live with this condition,’ ” says Kabat-Zinn. “Mindfulness of- fered them some ways to do that learning.” “So, then,” I suggest, “mindfulness just teaches us to accept our painful conditions.” No, Kabat-Zinn corrects me. It doesn’t just teach acceptance; acceptance is huge. “My working definition of healing is com- ing to terms with things as they are. That’s very different from curing. With curing there is the expectation that things will be restored to the way they were before.” Mindfulness, however, does seem to affect more than at- titude. In one study Kabat-Zinn was involved with, psoriasis patients practicing mindfulness healed at four times the rate of non-meditators. In another study, mindfulness was taught to a group of healthy employees in a work environment but was not taught to a control group. Those who meditated showed significant improvements in immune function. Intriguing research regarding meditation and healing—partic- ularly psychological healing—has also emerged from the Mind and Life Institute, which came into being at a groundbreak- ing conference in 1987 that brought together world-renowned scientists and Buddhist contemplatives, including the Dalai Lama. Mind and Life has since hosted sixteen conferences and started an annual summer research institute. Some of its best-known work has been done at the University of Wisconsin by Mind and Life board member Richard David- son and a group of scientists and practitioners, including the Above: A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class in Boulder, Colorado; left: a professional training program at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; below: scanning the brain of Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard at the Waisman Brain Imaging Lab at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. TOP:ALANRABOLD,LEFT:DAVIDSILVER,RIGHT:WAISMANBRAINIMAGINGLABS SEPT 56-63.indd 58 SEPT 56-63.indd 58 7/3/08 1:32:01 PM 7/3/08 1:32:01 PM