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From ABC, this is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. Hey, guys, I don't know about you, but. I felt a lot of anger and fear and sadness while watching those horrifying images from the United States Capitol on Wednesday.


So if you're with me on that, how do we handle this situation with some degree of equanimity? That's what we're going to talk about today. It's Friday, as you know, which is when we usually post bonus meditations or talks. But given the national trauma through which we are currently living, both in the US and around the world, we wanted to post a special episode.


I'll be honest, as a journalist and as a meditation evangelist, I cannot sit here and guarantee you that everything's going to be fine. I suspect it will, but really, I do not know.


What I do know is that meditation, taking care of your own mind, will help you navigate this moment more skillfully. And if enough of us do this, it might actually impact the course of events in a positive way. You know who agrees with me, I actually stole this idea from him, so I know he agrees with me Jon Kabat Zinn. Jon is a towering figure in the world of meditation and mental health. He created mindfulness based stress reduction, which is a way of teaching meditation that brought the practice into the secular mainstream and then resulted in an explosion of scientific research demonstrating the benefits of the practice.


He's written a bunch of bestselling books, including Wherever You Go, There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living. And he's a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Quick note before we dive in.


If you're looking for more resources during this ugly time, it is not too late to sign up for the free New Year's meditation challenge. Just download the 10 percent happier app wherever you get your apps and you can sign up through Sunday. All that said, let's dive in now with Jon Kabat Zinn. Jon Kabat Zinn, my friend, I am very grateful to you for making time for us at this moment.


Thank you. My pleasure to be here.


Just to say to everybody, we emailed John last night and he agreed to do this. So this is the very kind.


I just curious, you know, when Samuel, our producer email, sent an email to both of us and I saw your reply, you said, you know, I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I've been watching all of this unfold. Something to that effect. Yeah.


I'd just be curious, what's your reaction after all of these years of practice, after all these years of being alive, after all these years of being an American, to watch the horror show at the US Capitol on Wednesday.


How did that go down for you? Well, to tell you the truth, I wasn't that surprised. I mean, I've been concerned about those kinds of possibilities for quite some time. And so it didn't surprise me that much that it would come to this, because from what I can observe, Trump is living in an alternate reality and he has managed to bring millions of people into that alternate reality. So then it's a question of which bubble do you want to live in if you live in the bubble that the election was stolen, even if it's an outright lie, when millions and millions of people believe that, then we've got a problem on our hands that's far bigger than one individual or even one assault done on federal property.


Even, you know, it was the capital. So I was shocked, but not at all surprised. I was surprised by how little the capital was like to defend it, so to speak. You know, that this was not anticipated in any way. And, you know, the place was just completely overrun, even though it's supposed to be a place that you can't actually enter into and just wander around on your own. So I think this needs to be seen in the arc of what's been developing in this country for quite some time.


And in some sense, it relates to white supremacy. It relates to economic and racial injustices and interest groups that want to maintain the status quo or find some kind of scapegoat for particular groups problems. And, you know, I don't see myself as in any way, shape or form as a political pundit. I'm just like, you're just asking me, well, how did I feel yesterday? And I'm seeing it this way because I've been thinking for a very long time and talking and teaching around the fact that meditation practice or mindfulness practice on its own for one's own individual well-being or mental health benefits or the cultivation of equanimity and wisdom and compassion to improve one's own being, so to speak, or for the sake of all beings.


Well, that really is in some sense then requires us to take care of the whole planet and to take care of the body politic. So mindfulness really does intersect with the body politic in ways that I think are critical for the next phase of whatever we're facing, not just as a country, because I think that the sort of foundations of our country are being challenged. But at the same time, the well-being of the planet is being challenged in ways that we ignore at our peril.


And it's you know, so these are of profound questions of where humanity is going and how humanity can tilt itself in the direction of causing minimal harm and maximal well-being in potentially a very short window of time. Given the forces that have been unleashed on social media and in terms of carbon and methane in the atmosphere.


So let me just pick up on the point you were making right there, Jon , and you make points along these lines in you. You sent me an article this morning that you've written for the journal Mindfulness before the events of Wednesday at the Capitol.


But in light of the political tumult we've seen and the climate crisis we're in.


You wrote quite beautiful article about the link between our meditation practices and the state of the world. And so that's what I want to pick up on, because I can imagine people listening to you talk about the connection between our little meditation practice for, whatever, five, 10, 15 minutes a day, maybe more, maybe less. And what's happening in the larger world and I can imagine people thinking, well, what connection is there?


Mm hmm. Wonderful question. Well, I guess one way to answer that is to ask. What are we meditating for? What is the point? Is it just one more thing that we do during the day that's time consuming and maybe makes us feel a little better? Or are we in some sense meditating to. Not miss our moments and potentially the entirety of our lives unfolding because we're living so much in our heads or on our devices for that matter, and being driven by the forces that are playing in the world to such a degree that we're always off in a certain way because we're trying to get through this moment to get to a better moment.


And then the only better moment that kind of pursuit winds up leading to this, you know, the moment of death where you still aren't dead yet. You wake up and you realize, holy cow, I was paying attention to all the wrong things and I forgot that I had a lot more degrees of freedom in my life to love and to act and to care and to live and contribute. And then you die. Thoreau said that like one hundred and thirty years ago, and he was very much a social activist, actually.


And so there's no separation in my mind between meditative awareness and embodied wisdom. And embodied wisdom is not passive in the face of suffering. It moves toward suffering. That's what compassion is, is a kind of act. It's not a view. It's an impulse to contribute, to care and to move, to relieve suffering and to whatever degree is possible, amplify well-being. So to me, there's no separation between taking your seat. And taking a stand, in fact, taking your seat in formal meditation is taking a stand and saying, OK, in this moment.


Maybe I'm already OK, not like, oh, if I meditate for 50 years, then I'll be a little bit more OK because I'll have scored a lot of points and some kind of meditative agenda, but rather no. Let's actually see if we're not already whole w h o l e already complete. And yet we're ignoring or missing certain aspects of our own experience because we're so lost in thought. So we learn how to relate to thought in such a way that it doesn't become imprisoning or so totally blinding that we fall into a kind of caricature of who we really are and our beliefs and thoughts.


And then we identify with people like ourselves. And then we other the others who don't look like us, who don't talk like us, who don't meditate like us or whatever it is. And then we're in this dualism that is the exact opposite of anything that has to do with wisdom or compassion. And so to me, there's no separation or practice. And we've got the body, which is the first foundation of mindfulness in the classical Buddhist teachings. And then we have the body politic, the fact that we can take aerial photographs, satellite photographs of the planet, and we see what's happened to the glaciers.


We see what's happening with the polar ice caps. You apprehend it with the same mind that apprehends the breath flowing in and out of your body if you're meditating. So then having seen that. And you just go back to meditation cushion and you say, ho hum, in, out, come, go cold, who cares? No, you have to say this has consequences. This is a dis ease of the planet that's leading to a kind of disease that if you care about others, if you care about future generations, you have to take responsibility for that.


It's the same with the body politic of a country, whether it's the United States or Canada or any country in the world. I mean, there's a certain way in which we belong to something that's larger than ourselves. So when you take your seat, in some sense, you're taking a stand, recognizing how interconnected everything is in the universe, that we can make potentially small contributions that turned out not to be so small. So even taking your seat is in some sense a radical political act because, one, you're not creating trouble while you're sitting on a meditation cushion except in your own mind.


But to you, that gets off the cushion, maybe slightly more fine tuned and more spacious and clearer than if you hadn't been on the question at all. And so actually, the meditation practice can wind up shaping you and doing you more than that. You conventionally think you are doing the meditation practice and therefore moving the world in ways that, as I said, may contribute in tiny ways that aren't so tiny to reducing harm and amplifying well-being. However, you want to define that on the personal health level and the family level and community level.


On the city level. On the national level. On the planetary level. And to me, this is the absolute essence of mindfulness. And if all of us were practicing in this way, it's not like there's one catechism that we're following. It's like, no, we need to tap into our own creative impulses and let the practice shape how we move in the world so that, you know, nobody told you then to develop this podcast or to try to take what you've learned in your own meditation practice and bring it out into the world in all of the ways, some of which have not been all that easy to do.


But the world is different because you've chosen to do that and you don't say, well, that's just a very small piece of a very large yes. But if everybody took a certain amount of responsibility to fine tune their own instrument before they played it and then maybe let the playing of it develop sympathetic resonances with other people who were somewhat like minded, that's how the world changes. So I see meditation is kind of what I've been saying over this past year with covid, never mind what just happened yesterday, but what with covid and everything else that we're facing on a planetary level, on a human level, you know, mindfulness is in some sense has always been absolute and artfulness.


If we want to sort of play with reminding ourselves that mindfulness means artfulness, that there are two wings, one bird, that this is kind of always been an absolutely essential element in human culture to maximize beauty, so to speak, or wisdom. And if that was true in all other eras, I would posit that it's infinitely more important now than ever before that we're all at all sorts of crisis or tipping points or whatever you want to call it, and that we need to, in some sense, take responsibility for these things in many, many different ways, including in government, at every level of government, and governing ourselves in a certain way in which the world governing really means how you conduct yourself from moment to moment to moment.


So if you notice greed come up, for instance, or violence impulses, well, we all have violent impulses, not just those other people that are violent impulses. We all have them. But how do you work with them in such a way that they don't actually become unleashed to the point where, you know, you wind up committing some kind of irreversible act that creates more harm. So this is the evolution of the meditation practice itself in a certain way that these are very ancient practices, but they have to, in some sense, be reborn or renaissance, so to speak, in each generation, not to lose or disparage or dumped down or in any way, shape or form disregard the beauty of what has been.


But to actually take that and let it emerge into this moment in time so that it's fully embodied in up for the task of wisdom and and healing and creativity at this particular moment.


Let me go back to this other piece that you mentioned, because we put out the call on Twitter. To let people know that, you know, we're going to be doing this episode with you and what questions that they have, and by far the most common question was around, how do I relate to those people on my TV screen desecrating the cradle of democracy for the United States and really in many ways for the world?


You know, how do I have any compassion for these people who are acting in such contemptible ways? Yeah, that's a really wonderful question, I ask myself that question because I notice a lot of anger and contempt and all sorts of emotions like that arising. And then I remember that, you know. People feel the same way on the other side. Their anger and contempt and these are human characteristics that ultimately wind up with the question of what people want.


What do you want? What would be satisfying and whether it's us or them. Everybody wants something. And I think what we all want ultimately is to be seen, to be recognized, to feel like we count and that we in some sense can make a difference. And so a lot of people are feeling extremely alienated from. The way we are governing ourselves and the way the society is constructed, and it's been that way from the very beginning because the society and the governing and especially was built on a foundation of wiping out the native population of this continent through all sorts of horrific means, not just disease, but absolute terror.


And then the enslavement of people that all the enlightened countries of Europe contributed to, where I don't know if all but a great many contributed to ferrying them over here and our entire economy was built on the enslavement of humans for a very long time. We have a lot to digest to understand who we are. I mean, if it had been just to sort of think about it for a second as a kind of hypothetical, it wouldn't happen. But the people who are in the streets protesting after George Floyds murder.


OK, you saw what happened with the National Guard and all these other sort of units out there of the military and the police in Black Lives Matter Plaza and everything else, I mean, it was like Mercilus day. Where was any of that with the attack on the Capitol, which is those were peaceful people exercising their right to protest. There are huge asymmetries here in the response. What is that about? We have to ask that question. That's a profound meditative question.


What are these asymmetries? Why is it this way for this group of people and not that way for the other people? Do they somehow have more rights than regular citizens? So there are all sorts of things going on in this country that I think are coming home to roost and we need to actually I think the metaphor would be we need to swallow the hot iron ball. Sometimes when people talk in that kind of a way, we need to swallow that iron ball and really digest it and metabolize it and understand that there is some degree of realisation and acknowledgement that that needs to happen, that we need to reconstruct what our understanding of living together is on this planet and in this country and in terms of democracy.


And there's all sorts of incredibly positive forces at work right now about this. But a lot of it is kind of the coming home to roost of things that were seeded hundreds of years ago. And the fact that the demographic of the United States is changing in this period of 10 or 15 years where white people will no longer be the majority in the United States of America. And a lot of people feel like they are taking our country away. And so they have those that group of people has that kind of sense of desperation and that it's our country.


It's like they can be here as long as they know their place. But it's not like their country. It's it's not actual equality in terms of economic justice or racial justice or anything else. So there are certain conversations that we need to have that don't go very well when everybody's in some kind of bubble where they don't even hear, you know, your reality is reality. They only live in their reality. We're living in our reality. They can't talk to each other anymore.


Facts don't matter. So this is a problem of the human mind when it doesn't know itself. So it comes right back to the meditation practice. Liberation from this kind of greed, hatred and delusion, however, it expresses itself individually or collectively, the path to liberation is to actually wake up, to actually realize that the reality that we construct for ourselves is not the true reality. That is something much larger and that there is a place for us we belong, no matter who we are, no matter what color, no matter what our history.


And so there is the potential, I think, for us to be truly free. That's what the land of the free and the home of the brave. Well, let's make it real for once and for all. And we better because the clock is ticking.


So whether that's a long way to respond about, you know, to to that question. But I do feel like. What my hope is that we will recruit everybody to this inquiry about how to take care of what most needs taking care of in our own domains and in our collective domains, and maybe we need a Hippocratic Oath for not just politics, but for everything we do where we every single one of us makes a commitment to at least first do no harm, at least first, do no harm in politics, in education, in all sorts of different domains.


And then, of course, how would you know if you're doing harm, unless you are paying attention, unless you are bringing enough mindfulness to the domain of the present moment that you can see what the effects of your anger is, what the effects of your fear is, what the effects of your violent impulses and other impulses are on not just other people, but you are losing your own mind. So we're at a point where I say this a lot about the pandemic, but it's true for now, too.


Like this is not a time for any of us to lose our minds when we most need to actually reclaim our minds or maybe even discover for the first time the full dimensionality of the mind. And that, to me, is what's happening in the past 40 or 50 years with meditative practices moving into the mainstream, is that we're actually catching up with something that has to do with the core true nature of our humanity. And now it's got to be planetree to.


If you don't mind, I am really curious. Could you take us inside your own mind as you're watching?


I don't know, on your computer, your phone, your TV, images of people with Auschwitz, T-shirts and Confederate flags marching through the US Capitol. And you mentioned that you two have the impulse sometimes towards contempt or other anger. So how do you work with that?


Because I think hearing how you work with your own mind in moments of judgment or disdain or contempt or hate could be instructive for the rest of us in similar moments.


I don't I don't know about that, but I'm happy to at least try. Of course, anger and contempt and disdain and all sorts of other judgments come up about seeing people carrying R 15s and other weapons into the streets and then protesting. And but the fact is that then I kind of remind myself that the only person that's going to suffer from my angers me, that that's like driving your car with the brake on to just run up your anger quotient.


But if you can be aware of that anger, then you can channel that anger as a certain kind of creative energy, because these people are not with maybe a few exceptions. I would say I don't like to actually use the term evil in relationship to most people, even if I don't agree with them. For the most part, I would say that what we're facing is ignorance, the classic three toxin's of Buddhism, greed, including wanting to get re-elected.


Hatred, that's the othering of everything you don't want or don't like or you feel is like taking something from you. So greed on the one hand, wanting what you want. Wanting everything that you don't want to go away, disappear, or just, you know, sort of basically that and then ignorances is like total delusion that they're living in a world where this is. Not the way things are, so that there are actually fundamental truth to even the word dharma means truth.


Ultimately, it means the lawfulness of things. And we should talk some about how the law is going to have to deal with what just happened yesterday, because if there are no consequences for that invasion and the sedition behind it from whatever places it can, then that feeds more greed, hatred and delusion. Right, I mean, there's no I don't think there's any way to contest that that we have to in some sense, if we're going to follow the laws that we construct, then we have to, one, bring wisdom to those laws and maybe generate new laws so that we don't wind up in these kinds of circumstances quite that frequently, but also to enforce the laws that we have.


And we've seen a systematic disregard for the laws. Unless you happen to be in a position of power or close proximity to Trump. And then and then those people who are outright criminals and broken lots of laws, they go free, but they're like millions of people sitting in jail who've done nothing in comparison and they're in there for life or they're in there for 20 years. And these things, the chickens, unfortunately, are coming home or fortunately in a certain way and coming home to or at least the contradictions are coming home to roost and we need to swallow it.


Digest it, as I said, metabolize it and understand how we then respond and no one person has the answer. That's the beauty of this approach, is that human beings, when we put our heads together and we we share our hearts, there is a kind of distributive intelligence that doesn't exist within any one of us. But when we really listen to each other's voices, which is what the Senate and the House are supposed to be about, instead of lobbing grenades at each other.


And I've been in the house and I've seen I've been to State of the Union addresses by the president and I've seen the disgusting way that people have, you know, shouted things out and completely disregarded anybody that they didn't agree with to the point where you don't have any comity, you don't have the kind of core ingredients for coming to.


Yes. To come into some kind of agreement of a greater good, a greater whole. And this is not Democrat and Republican. This is human. We need to wake up. We need to wake up. And there are an infinite number of ways to operationalize this practice so that it's not like you're adopting some kind of catechism or some foreign religion or anything like that. But to sort of really come to a kind of realization, recognition and then realization of what it would take to take care of all of the cells of the body politic, which is everybody on the planet or everybody in the country.


And I don't I don't have the answer to how that goes. I mean, in my own personal history, I mean, I like very much as an anti-war activist in the 60s, I've been in the streets of Washington. I've been tear gassed multiple times. I've been beaten up by the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I mean, there also I've had all my own experiences of that kind of thing. And I don't believe in left and right even.


I mean, I'm not do I think things in that kind of a way? What I'm saying is that we need to find ways to connect with the forces that shape our world so that they shape it to minimize harm and maximize good, and that the laws really support that and then are enforced equally.


We've talked about anger, is what I'm saying. Can I just interrupt for a second and ask you whether what I'm saying is making any sense to you? Because I think some, you know, sort of pretty provocative things in part on purpose.


I, I think now is a healthy moment and an appropriate moment for provocation. And so it makes complete sense to me and. I wanted you to come on, because I want you to do what feels right to you in the moment and for it to be of service to other people.


And so I hope it I hope it's of service to the people. I mean, these are very, very difficult times and disturbing times. But I'm I would like to say to your listening audience that my perspective on human beings. Is that we're all geniuses. I mean, we see that when we work with people in the hospital in mindfulness based stress reduction, we see people coming in. We don't see them as a cardiac patient, the lower back pain patient, a gastrointestinal patient.


We don't see the diagnosis. We see them as human beings and we see them as geniuses. To a first approximation, every human being is a genius. After all, what's right under your skull? The cranium, the human cranium is the most complex arrangement of matter in the known universe. And the universe is incredibly vast. And you've got upwards of hundred billion neurons and unimaginable trillions of trillions of synaptic connections just in the brain. Never mind the nervous system throughout the body and in the brain.


They're fluxing in and out and talking to each other constantly and driving what's called functional connectivity moment by moment by moment. And they're actually changing their structure. The brain changes the structure in response to what you do. So if you get angry a lot or if you are falling into depression, a lot of those have effects on the brain. On the other hand, if you start to sort of move into expressing more connectivity, more love, more appreciation, more gratitude, that also has effects on the brain and not just on the brain, but also on the genome, on up regulation and down regulation of hundreds of genes and chromosomes that have to do with inflammatory disease processes, potentially cancer and so forth, and then also cell senescence and aging there.


All sorts of things that we know in the domain of science now that weren't really known 40 years ago, that suggest that the practice of meditation actually is transformative, right down to the cellular and molecular level in ways that we still don't understand. And I don't want to idealize it, but where every single one of us is actually a miraculous being, every single one of us that the eyes work, that the ears work, we take all this stuff for granted until, of course, they don't work.


And it's not just your eyes or your ears, but all of it and that our hearts beat while we're sleeping and we wake up the next morning, hey, guess what? I'm still alive. These are all miraculous sort of experiences that we just don't pay any attention to and take for granted. And what I'm basically saying is that waking up means to recognize the incredible beauty of a human life that's soon over. What are we going to do with it while we're still breathing?


And if we start to ask ourselves those kinds of questions, then and we do create an ethical foundation for ourselves along the lines of the Hippocratic Oath, where we at least affirm that we will try to not have a disaster following us in our wake, but in some sense, try to meet the moment with as much clarity and kindness as possible and recognize self, another, another and self so that you transcend some of those ways in which we're so separate in our own skins and our own bodies, then I think the potential is here for us on the planet to actually tilt things in the direction of a renaissance that will put the European renaissance of the 17th and 18th centuries into the shade with our capacities for technology, with our capacity for art, with our capacities, for everything that we do this beautiful in human life.


But we do need to recognize our own tendency towards violence and towards othering and towards fear and getting lost in those kinds of things. And then take the bull by the horns, because there are a lot of things that really objectively we need to be afraid of. But part of it is we need to be afraid of our own fear and how blinding it can be and how much it can lead to these kinds of dualisms that do not serve the body politic.


I sometimes say, like, if the heart and the liver decide to go to war because the heart doesn't like the way the liver cells look, they don't want color or they they don't contract the way we contract. You know, that's a prescription for the death of the body. Right. So you don't want to have an auto immune disease of any kind where one organ system or one set of cells that looks different from every other set of cells, they go to war with each other, the body, every single person who's listening has a body.


And that body is working and that brain is working. And you don't have the slightest idea how you got any of that and how you're benefiting from any of that. And now you're even decoding what I'm saying as I wag my tongue in some other part of the universe and somehow, electronically, things get vibrated to the point where your tympanic membrane gets vibrated as I wag my tongue and move my lips and move air over, we're taking an awful lot for granted that is so insanely beautiful that maybe we could stop for a moment and simply drop into this moment, not try to fix anything, solve anything, cure anything, even on at the level of the body politic.


But just to pause and take a moment and remember who you are.


Serious? Yes. I mean, I was going to leave out the F word, but it didn't feel appropriate to leave it out, you know, wake up, for God's sakes, and then contribute in some tiny little way to furthering the beauty in the world.


To furthering the you know. Compassion to furthering care in whatever way, shape or form in your family, in your work world, wherever it is, and then to. Recognised how privileged you are. And of course, you say, well, she doesn't know who I am, you can't see me or anything. Well, if your heart is still beating, if you were listening to his party's chances are your privilege in an insane number of ways. I don't have to know what they are on the you know what they are.


I have to know what my privileges in my domain. And I try to do that out of respect for the fact that no matter how much you're hurting, there are an awful lot of people on the planet that are hurting a hell of a lot more than you. And we need to be able to hold all of that in our own hearts in a way that actually just states something new where we ultimately and I think we have very little time for this uncovered discover, recover or find for the first time our way into the name we gave ourselves as a species, Homo sapiens sapiens, which means the species that is aware and is aware that it's aware from the Latin supari, which means that taste or to know.


So it's not about cognition and metacognition. It's about awareness, which is a kind of really almost superpower that's not recognized. We don't recognize that awareness actually gives us an enormous amount of leverage for navigating and the full catastrophe of the human condition. And I think we need to do that on the planetary and on the national level, as well as on a personal level. That that that is our karmic assignment, so to speak. And I'm putting this out on the airwaves through 10 percent happier because I feel like we're all cells of that one body politic and you can't have like 10 percent of the cells functioning.


We need 100 percent of those neurons functioning and the immune cells and the blood cells and everything else, the bone cells. And we can do it. That's that's the beauty of it, is that we are already geniuses. We are already miraculous beings. But we do need to wake up.


Much more of my conversation with Jon Kabat Zinn in right after this. The New Year is a good time for a mental health check in better help online counseling offers licensed professional therapists who are trained to listen and help with issues ranging from stress, depression, family conflicts and more. Get matched with your therapist in under 48 hours and start communicating via secure video, phone chat or text from the comfort of your home. Join the million plus people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced better help counselor.


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Happier get started at better l.p dot dotcom happier. Before we dive back in with Jon, I just want to put in another plug for the New Year's meditation challenge, as if coming off of 20 20 wasn't enough, what happened this week may leave you feeling unsettled and unsure how to handle everything that's coming up in your mind. So we here at 10 percent happier are here for you. We hope you'll join us. And over 100000 other meditators kick starting their meditation practices in our New Year's challenge.


That is not an exaggeration. Well over 100000 people have signed up this Sunday. January 10th is the last day to join us. It's a free twenty one day challenge. Jeff Warren, Susan Piver, Tourie Salha, three great meditation teachers will guide you through a whole series of meditations demonstrating the benefits of developing the sometimes corny but deeply, deeply useful skills of self-love and self compassion, all of which is highly likely to keep you a little cooler during these chaotic times.


You can join the challenge right now for free by downloading the 10 percent happier app today, wherever you get your apps or by visiting 10 percent dotcom, that's all one word spelled out. If you already have the app, just open it up and follow the instructions. All right. Let's get back now to my conversation with Jon Kabat Zinn .


You invoked the full catastrophe, you wrote a great book called Full Catastrophe Living, and anybody who has any self-awareness whatsoever will get a sense of the catastrophe in our own minds. You've talked about anger as an aspect of the catastrophe. You've also talked about fear. And I want to get to fear. This is where is trying to go earlier. And I'm glad you interrupted me because everything you said subsequently was fascinating. But let me just get back to fear, because you did address it there and that and for a moment in in that answer and I think there's more to say, we got a message that I want to play to you from a woman named Nicole about fear.


Hi, Diane.


My name is Nicole and I'm from Maine. I guess my question to you is, isn't this the type of danger that we genuinely should be setting off alarms in our primal minds, that we should be putting us into fight or flight mode? Isn't this one situation where my mind and my body are absolutely right to be signaling me to think about how to protect myself and my family against what might be coming? Yeah, profound question.


And I'm sure it's running through a lot of people's minds is, OK, this is all well and good to talk about mindfulness or, you know, the species or the planet or the country. But I got to take care of what I got to take care of. And when the proverbial stuff is hitting the proverbial fan, I need to pay a certain kind of attention to that. And actually, she's pointing out that we evolved to focus in in that kind of way and drop in to mobilizing our entire being to protect ourselves.


So fight or flight, of course, triggers that. And also, you know, we don't want to put our heads in the sand. So I think there's just it's important to bring awareness to that impulse. And if there are things that you can do that will assuage some of your fear, whatever it is, then I think that's fine to do. But I don't think we're at the point yet where we're going to sort of see outright mayhem everywhere.


So depending on where you are, you have to make certain that different kinds of decisions because frankly, there's been outright mayhem in many, many communities for decades, for centuries. But it hasn't been recognized in the mainstream press. There haven't been any cameras around to show it or anything like that. So now you're seeing this. This was like that. Don't make it more than it is and don't make it less than it is. There has been all sorts of stuff going on for a very long time.


And the real challenge is how can we collectively deal with this and elect people to really maybe ask the deep questions about Democracy 2.0? Maybe democracy needs an upgrade. If it's this fragile, maybe George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Madison and all those people, they do a great job for 1776, but maybe in twenty twenty one after the horrors of twenty twenty, we need to have an upgrade of some kind, Democracy 2.0 or 3.0, and who knows what that is.


But when we start to have these kinds of conversations and we start to, as you saw in Georgia, people organizing and bringing people into the electorate who've never felt like the electorate was in their bag because they've been ignored for centuries. Then, you know, things change, things always change, because there are people who are willing to do the impossible, and then it turns out it's possible, but it's hard work. It's every day. It's not when you feel like it.


And so there are all sorts of ways in which I think we can. He is safe, as we can be, within our own little communities, but not think that that kind of safety is actually going to do it for us, we need to take care of the larger community, whatever ways we can find to do it. So good question. And again, as with all questions, I would encourage you to keep asking it because I don't have the answers.


The whole point is to ask these kinds of questions and then expand the domain of. What we might hear if we were to listen to our own hearts in a larger rather than merely a contracted way because we're so frightened, because then our fear winds up becoming our biggest enemy. And it's also no way to live because it has health consequences, too, I mean, if you're living in of contracted fear state for very long, it starts to have very negative consequences on on your life in many different ways.


I was reading an Arthur Brooks column or an article in The Atlantic recently, Arthur has been on the show. He's, I believe, is at Harvard, and he writes about human flourishing and well-being for the Atlantic. And he wrote something about the relationship between love and fear not long ago. And he quoted both, I believe, Lao Tzu and Saint Francis, one of whom said something to the effect of, well, both of them said something to the effect of perfect love drives out fear.


And I have wondered about that because I I feel Nicole's fear and these what can be platitudes come to mind about love in the face of fear.


And I wonder, hmm, can I operationalize that wisdom in the face of what seems to me like fact based fear? Yeah, it's a good question. I think you start close to home so you don't go out and do it in the face of what you're most afraid of, but notice the little ways in which fear comes up in your life that have nothing to do with the country. But just how do you relate to fear? And you can work with that.


That's part of in some sense, the meditative challenge is to put the welcome mat out for fear and see if you can ask yourself the question is my, you know, awareness of my fear frightened and investigate that. See if your awareness of your fear doesn't have a different perspective and a new degree of freedom to actually work with that fear rather than be completely tied up in knots by it. And that becomes a practice. It's not like, oh, I heard him say that now.


OK, I got that one down. No, you have to exercise the muscle every time fear arises rather than contracting. You recognize his fear. That's a mindstate. It has effects on the body. How am I going to be in relationship to it in this moment? Do I want to completely freak out, run away, hide or feel those impulses? But then is that so practical? And maybe I could stretch the envelope a little bit more.


Now, when somebody is holding a gun to your head, then it's a different circumstance. But a lot of the time that's not where we're at at the moment. But we let the fear completely overwhelm all our other forms of intelligence. Fear is a very powerful form of intelligence. But we got we got a very, very big repertoire of intelligence is at our disposal. And part of mindfulness practice is to cultivate not the intelligence, but access to them because they're already yours.


And this is the moment that needs all hands on deck. And then we need to be in dialogue, not with people who are in our little thought bubble and think alike and that meditate and everything else. But precisely at those interfaces with the people who see things very, very differently from ourselves, how that's going to unfold, I don't know. But I myself am pretty optimistic that we human beings and and even we Americans are really capable of digging deep into our true nature and coming up with something that is authentic, that's robust.


That's true. That's ethical, that's kind. That cares. And that's now our karmic assignment as a country and as a species.


And you're calling on everybody listening and everybody will stop to to get involved. And I want to be clear, at least my understanding of what you're saying in terms of getting involved, taking action. It doesn't have to be grandiose. It can be as simple as, you know, helping out your neighbor. It can be as simple as voting. Totally, totally.


And let's say it in terms of voting, it wasn't that simple. I mean, it took a lot of work to get people to vote, especially in the face of voter suppression, systematic, organized voter suppression by elected officials throughout the country, not just in Georgia. So, you know, this is a slow arc.


It's a long process that we're involved in. But the stakes are incredibly high.


So the real challenge or Zen koan, if you like, is what is what is right action, what is mine to do that could contribute even the tiniest little ways to the well-being of the world, the well-being of my community, the well-being of whatever it is, not from the point of view of self-centered self-interest, but from the point of view of a we rather than me, we. That's the first word in the U.S. Constitution. We and I think we've reached the point where we need to really reflect in very, very profound ways about how tiny little contributions and even intention and motivation can make huge, amplified changes in the world.


In fact, that's the only way change ever happens, is by people being creative and getting out of their own way and not being imprisoned by the routinized patterns of their own thought. And then emotional reactivity, including fear and including saying things like, I'm not worthy or I'm not smart enough or I'm too old or I'm too young or I'm too out of it or whatever it is. No. You are already complete, the only thing that will happen to you over time is that you'll get older so you know however old you are.


This is the perfect moment to find out who you are in the deepest of ways. And it's not your narratives in your head about who you are or who you're not. So that's where awareness comes in, because your awareness can hold all that instantly. It's not like then you have to go to a meditation school for 40 years, instantly, in no time. You can hold that and investigate for yourself and my larger than my narrative's. And it's impossible not to recognize instantly that you're larger than your narratives and then you don't need to be stuck in those stories of me and how inadequate I am or how fearful I am or anything else.


And you can trust an awareness in your heart, in heart from as much as mindfulness. That word, by the way, is in most Asian languages. The word for mind and the word for heart is the same word. So we're talking about when we talk about mindfulness, we're really talking about something that doesn't separate us from our own love, from our own hearts. And and I might as well throw in that. I really see meditation practice as a radical act of sanity waking up.


It's like it's not it's not a luxury. It's an absolute necessity in this moment of time. And it's a radical act of sanity to stop and drop into the present moment and to not believe your thoughts. I mean, I had a bumper sticker once that said, don't believe everything you think I've come around to thinking maybe it should have said don't believe anything you think unless you hold it in awareness first and ask deep questions about its validity, because the awareness itself is much more discerning than usually the thinking, the cognitive function that we come up with.


We have so many other intelligences. And so I really feel like it's up to us that maybe yesterday was a wake up call for a lot of people. But a lot of us have woken up a long time ago and it's like, OK, now what? And I you know, I feel like in a certain way it's funny for me to say it, but I feel very patriotic about this. I really feel like there is something about us as humans, as Americans, but as humans we can do this.


We have the repertoire, we have all the ingredients. But we need to in some sense. Care enough to do it and what makes us care, suffering? When the suffering becomes too overwhelming, then we start to look around for. Liberation from suffering. That's what meditation practice is all about, is the direct recognition of the potential for liberation from suffering through action and through stillness, and they're not two separate things that again, like two wings, one bird stillness, incredibly important to really learn how to inhabit the domain of awareness.


But on the other hand. Taking it out into the world when the world is on fire, you don't sit there and meditate on your meditation cushion. You run in and, you know, rescue other people. And put the water on to whatever degree, even if it's a fire hose, that's OK, you know. And you take care of others first, just like the oxygen mask falling out of the airplanes that we no longer fly on. You put the oxygen mask on yourself first because you take you have to take care of yourself so you can be of use to others.


So it's not a selfish act. So meditation is not a selfish act. It's a selfless act, it's a recognition that who we think we are, what we think of as ourself, is an infinitesimal element of a much larger domain of being, that is. We can grow our way into by listening deeply to our own hearts and to the suffering in ourselves and the suffering in each other, the beauty in ourselves and the beauty in each other. And I love that I mean, that's what floats my boat.


I think that excellent, hyper articulate, contemplative stemwinder was the perfect place to leave this conversation that was great and. Yeah, I'm just grateful to you for for doing it on short notice. Thank you. Yeah, no problem. Big thanks again to Jon Kabat Zinn and it's always great to spend time with him before I go to things to say first, we're certainly not done talking about this issue here on the podcast. Coming up on Monday, we're going to bring you a special episode with Lamar Rod Owens, who we often turn to at difficult moments in history.


And so he has offered to come back. So that's that's coming up on Monday. The other thing I just wanted to say before we go was that I'm going to compulsively remind you again that if you haven't signed up for the New Year's meditation challenge, you really ought to you can do it for free by downloading the 10 percent happier app today. Wherever you get your apps, if you already have the app, just open it up and follow the instructions to join.


Final thing to say is that I want to say thank you to everybody who worked so hard to make this show a reality. Samuel Johns is our fearless leader. He's our senior producer. D.J. Kashmir is our producer. Jules Dodson is our A.P. Our sound designer is Matt Boydton of Ultraviolet Audio. Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We get an enormous amount of incredibly helpful input from colleagues such as Ben Rubin, Nate Tobey Pinpoint and Liz Lemon. Also, of course, big.


Thank you to my ABC News comrade's Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohen. We'll see you all on Monday with Lamar Ratones.