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 studying about the study about meditation and it was just type of blowing my thoughts that this was not extra mainstream,” Flaxman says. “Now we have apps and even commercials for it but back then, there was nevertheless a lot of new science coming out that was genuinely affirming the positive aspects of it.”
These scientific findings motivated him to get started meditating. And when he saw the good influence 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 folks with cancer.
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally paying interest to moment-to-moment experiences as they arise, with curiosity and devoid of judgment. This cultivates a sense of ease and balance, permitting for thoughtful response rather than automatic reaction to life situations.
Coping with cancer
Mindfulness practice “allows folks to be capable to remain with an knowledge 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 noticed is that it makes it possible for people to be capable to be with that in a way that brings in some self-compassion.”
When folks create some familiarity with mindfulness practice, they can contact upon that feeling of groundedness at will, he says. A person going into remedy, for instance, may well tune into their breath, the sensation of hearing the sounds about them, or something that feels neutral or calming. Mindfulness meditation builds the capability to obtain an internal anchor, he says.
Flaxman also continues his individual mindfulness practice as a way of staying present with his personal emotional landscape.
“I like considering of it as a type of mental hygiene,” he says.
As a social worker with the Simms/Mann Center, Flaxman also sees person sufferers of all ages at any stage of their cancer journey.
Getting a cancer diagnosis brings about a variety feelings for several folks, such as anxiousness, depression and shock, Flaxman says. At the Simms/Mann Center, which offers psychosocial care for folks with cancer and their households, coping with the psychological and emotional challenges of the diagnosis is as crucial as any other healthcare remedy.
“Some folks do not even have an emotional response in the moment due to the fact they’re so focused on the remedy and so focused on just taking the subsequent step,” Flaxman says, adding that he at times accompanies his sufferers to their chemotherapy appointments or medical doctor visits to provide help.
Wish to assist
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 developing up and saw the challenges they faced as they got older. He was moved by the care a hospice worker supplied their loved ones at the finish of his grandparents’ lives.
“Being on the other side of the help that was required and seeing what could be precious and advantageous to folks — I wanted to be aspect of that remedy,” he says. “There’s anything that feels fantastic 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 strategy to treating cancer, beyond the standard healthcare model. In addition to mindfulness, its offerings include things like art therapy, qi gong, breathwork and chaplains who offer spiritual help.
“It’s genuinely hunting at caring for the whole particular person: thoughts, physique and spirit,” he says. “To be aspect of a group that has all these distinctive specialties — that genuinely can be such a help to folks and enable them to obtain their household, in a way. I really feel like the Simms/Mann Center creates a location for folks exactly where they really feel a sense of belonging and neighborhood.”