The Full Catastrophe

Dec 02, 2022
The Full Catastrophe Jon Kabat-Zinn

Have you ever had a week where your pet needs to go to the vet, the car needs to go to the mechanic, and the washing machine needs to be replaced? We’ve just had one of those weeks at my house. These converging challenges reminded me of the title of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s fabulous book, Full Catastrophe Living. It’s the basis of his mindfulness program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR.)  

In the book, Jon says that he borrowed the phrase Full Catastrophe Living from a movie, and it “embodies a supreme appreciation for the richness of life and the inevitability of all its dilemmas, sorrows, traumas, tragedies, and ironies.” You get to dance “in the gale of the full catastrophe, to celebrate life, to laugh at it…Catastrophe here does not mean disaster. Rather it means the poignant enormity of our life experience…The phrase reminds us that life is always in flux, that everything we think is permanent is actually only temporary and constantly changing.”

His book, he says, is about embracing the full catastrophe of life. One of his main tools to do so is mindfulness. He has a great working definition of mindfulness: the awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Did you catch that part at the end? Non-judgmentally? My challenge to you is to embrace the full catastrophe with non-judgment. Can you do it?