June 2, 2023 3:45 pm

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 handful of years later, he was top mindfulness sessions for classmates.

“I was finding out about the study about meditation and it was just sort of blowing my thoughts that this was not much 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 truly affirming the rewards of it.”

These scientific findings motivated him to start out meditating. And as soon as he saw the good effect mindfulness practice was getting on his life, he was inspired to share it with other folks.

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 individuals with cancer.

Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally paying interest to moment-to-moment experiences as they arise, with curiosity and with no 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 individuals to be capable to keep with an encounter that is currently there, that is currently present for them,” Flaxman says. “So if there is anything difficult going on, maybe simply because 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 individuals create some familiarity with mindfulness practice, they can contact upon that feeling of groundedness at will, he says. Somebody 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 potential to uncover 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 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 several individuals, like anxiousness, depression and shock, Flaxman says. At the Simms/Mann Center, which delivers psychosocial care for individuals with cancer and their households, coping with the psychological and emotional challenges of the diagnosis is as critical as any other healthcare remedy.

“Some individuals do not even have an emotional response in the moment simply because they’re so focused on the remedy 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 present assistance.

Want to aid

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 household at the finish of his grandparents’ lives.

“Being on the other side of the assistance that was necessary and seeing what could be precious and helpful to individuals — I wanted to be portion of that resolution,” he says. “There’s anything that feels great 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 simply because of its integrative strategy to treating cancer, beyond the regular healthcare model. Apart from mindfulness, its offerings involve art therapy, qi gong, breathwork and chaplains who supply spiritual assistance.

“It’s truly searching at caring for the whole particular person: thoughts, physique and spirit,” he says. “To be portion of a group that has all these distinct specialties — that truly can be such a assistance to individuals and let them to uncover their house, in a way. I really feel like the Simms/Mann Center creates a spot for individuals exactly where they really feel a sense of belonging and neighborhood.”