Author Jon Kabat-Zinn To Speak at UMass Amherst on March 14 as Part of Five-College Series

AMHERST, Mass. - Jon Kabat-Zinn, internationally renowned author and leading figure in mindfulness meditation practice in the United States, will give a talk titled, "Wherever You Go, There You Are: Living Life As If It Really Mattered," at the University of Massachusetts March 14 at 8 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Kabat-Zinn''s talk is the first in a series of talks and workshops supported by a $15,000 grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation to Five Colleges Inc., to take place between March of 2001 and January of 2002. The grant enables the five-college campus communities to undertake in-depth consideration of how contemplative study and practice in the academy can benefit learning, teaching, and the work environment. Sponsors of the series include UMass and Five Colleges Inc., the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and the New Ways of Knowing and Contemplation Five College Faculty Dialogue Group.

Kabat-Zinn is the author of two best-selling books on meditation practice in everyday life: Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind To Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Delta, 1991)and Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Every Day Life (Hyperian, 1994). Kabat-Zinn is also the founder and former executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

UMass Chancellor David K. Scott, who hosted a national conference on spirituality in higher education and the workplace in June 2000, says the conference and this new series of events raise "an important dimension of a larger vision of a university integrated across disciplinary and organizational boundaries. Education must adopt an integrative philosophy of knowledge… including a greater sense of wholeness and connectedness."

Amherst College physics Professor Arthur Zajonc, faculty director of the series, says the local events represent "the next phase of an initiative already underway at the five colleges to explore the role of spirituality in higher education. The scene in higher education," Zajonc says, "is changing quite rapidly, but I sense an openness to new spiritually-based modes of inquiry, an enlarged view of engaged education, and a rededication to service and compassionate action so as to address social injustice and environmental harm."

The kind of spirituality that Zajonc and his colleagues see at work on college campuses today is not to be equated with a religious movement, he says. As the former executive director of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Charles Halpern points out, "When we talk about the meeting point of secularism and spirituality, we are not talking about a particular spirituality but a process of going more deeply, in whatever way is right for each person."

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