Jack interviewed at Kripalu, Winter 2011
Jack Kornfield, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, author, and one of the most well-known teachers of Buddhism in the West. He’s a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock Center in California. Here, he talks about meditation, his signature loving-kindness practice, an upcoming Kripalu retreat, and why he loves to teach.
What’s at the core of the trainings you teach?
The trainings are centered in equanimity and balance—it’s the training of the heart and mind to stay balanced. I teach a series of steps for equanimity, beginning with reflections on the vastness of time and changing circumstances, ever-changing winds of gain and loss, praise and loss, pleasure and pain. Training has to do with reflecting on the value of keeping a peaceful heart and envisioning others with compassion. We realize that people can love enormously, and that you can’t love on behalf of someone else; we try to understand the limits of love. It’s also using a series of deep intentions: May I live with peace in the joys and sorrows of the world. May you find peace.
What transformations can people have when they practice meditation?
There’s a glow people have, a “meditation facelift” that leaves people profoundly refreshed, their eyes open and skin clear. You don’t have to become a card-carrying Buddhist. You can tend to the beauty that’s awakened in yourself from meditation practice in moments, by skillful use of intention, and the practice of loving-kindness. You can do this anywhere—in the airport, supermarket, or workplace. In any circumstance, even tending young children, having the skills of wise intention is invaluable and makes that circumstance more alive.
Body-based practices, such as being aware of the breath, can help you embody the power of mindfulness and live fully in the present, whether you’re jogging or cooking. The result is the ability to live your life in the reality of the present, rather than in the worries of the future and regrets of the past. And you have the flexibility and ability to respond to your circumstances with a tremendous sense of inner power.
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