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Greg Flaxman, LCSW, began practicing mindfulness in 2007 as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. By the time he came to UCLA for graduate college a couple of years later, he was major mindfulness sessions for classmates.

“I was understanding about the analysis about meditation and it was just type of blowing my thoughts that this was not a lot more mainstream,” Flaxman says. “Now we have apps and even commercials for it but back then, there was nonetheless a lot of new science coming out that was seriously affirming the advantages of it.”

These scientific findings motivated him to get started meditating. And when he saw the constructive effect mindfulness practice was possessing on his life, he was inspired to share it with other individuals.

Now, amongst his other duties as a clinical oncology social worker at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, Flaxman leads a mindfulness meditation group for persons with cancer.

Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally paying consideration to moment-to-moment experiences as they arise, with curiosity and devoid of judgment. This cultivates a sense of ease and balance, enabling for thoughtful response rather than automatic reaction to life situations.

Coping with cancer

Mindfulness practice “allows persons to be capable to keep with an practical experience that is currently there, that is currently present for them,” Flaxman says. “So if there is anything difficult going on, probably due to the fact of the cancer — like discomfort, or emotional distress, anxiousness, sadness — what I’ve observed is that it makes it possible for people to be capable to be with that in a way that brings in some self-compassion.”

After persons create some familiarity with mindfulness practice, they can get in touch with upon that feeling of groundedness at will, he says. An individual going into therapy, for instance, could possibly tune into their breath, the sensation of hearing the sounds about them, or something that feels neutral or calming. Mindfulness meditation builds the potential to come across an internal anchor, he says.

Flaxman also continues his private mindfulness practice as a way of staying present with his personal emotional landscape.

“I like pondering of it as a type of mental hygiene,” he says.

As a social worker with the Simms/Mann Center, Flaxman also sees person individuals of all ages at any stage of their cancer journey.

Getting a cancer diagnosis brings about a variety feelings for quite a few persons, which includes anxiousness, depression and shock, Flaxman says. At the Simms/Mann Center, which supplies psychosocial care for persons with cancer and their households, coping with the psychological and emotional challenges of the diagnosis is as vital as any other healthcare therapy.

“Some persons do not even have an emotional response in the moment due to the fact they’re so focused on the therapy and so focused on just taking the subsequent step,” Flaxman says, adding that he occasionally accompanies his individuals to their chemotherapy appointments or medical doctor visits to offer you help.

Wish to support

Flaxman says he knew from a young age that he “wanted to be in a assisting profession.” He was close to his grandparents when he was increasing up and saw the challenges they faced as they got older. He was moved by the care a hospice worker offered their loved ones at the finish of his grandparents’ lives.

“Being on the other side of the help that was necessary and seeing what could be important and useful to persons — I wanted to be portion of that answer,” he says. “There’s anything that feels very good about becoming capable to give back in this way. It feels like a way of honoring their memories.”

Flaxman was drawn to the Simms/Mann Center due to the fact of its integrative method to treating cancer, beyond the classic healthcare model. In addition to mindfulness, its offerings include things like art therapy, qi gong, breathwork and chaplains who present spiritual help.

“It’s seriously searching at caring for the complete particular person: thoughts, physique and spirit,” he says. “To be portion of a group that has all these diverse specialties — that seriously can be such a help to persons and permit them to come across their household, in a way. I really feel like the Simms/Mann Center creates a spot for persons exactly where they really feel a sense of belonging and neighborhood.”

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