Living in Santa Monica can be a tad bit stressful from the traffic, to the high cost of living in the famous beach city.

UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica is offering residents and local employees free weekly drop in meditation classes.

“Many of us spend our lives doing, achieving, and producing. Rarely do we spend time just being,” said UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, Director of Mindfulness Education Diana Winston. “The act of connecting inward is essential for health and well being in our fast paced world.”

Natalie Bell, CMF, PT, and UCLA MARC Mindfulness Instructor said, “ There is such a need for mindfulness here. The Westside is full of traffic, constant news, and a society that is constantly on the go.

The 30 minute weekly drop in session are held from 12:30 – 1 p.m. every Tuesday at the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica in the Auditorium.

According to UCLA MARC website, there is significant research that has shown mindfulness to address health issues such as lower blood pressure and boost the immune system, increase attention and focus, including those suffering from ADHD and helping with difficult mental states such as anxiety and depression.

The sessions are led by trained facilitators form UCLA MARC.

Bell has been practicing mediation for 30 years and said, “There have been regulars who continue to come to meditation who tell me their anxiety and depression or the simple fact they feel better because of meditation.”

One of those regulars is 35 year Santa Monica resident Ellen Borenstein. She has been attending the mindful meditation program for two years now and has taken her kids and husband, who is currently battling cancer.

“We have really put our all in this mediation and it seems it has helped my husband, as he is still with me,” said Borenstein. “It releases any stress or anxiety any of us may have.”

The weekly drop in classes have been going on for around five years now and there is no sign of slowing down because of the positive response and benefits.

“You come in here, breathe and are guided through the process. You learn the ins and outs of breathing and ultimately it can be challenging but you learn to become in tune with your body,” said Bell.

UCLA Medical Center will be providing Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPs), a six-week introduction class to mindfulness. Participants learn practices to reduce stress and anxiety, daily practices for calm and balance, working with difficult thoughts and skills for self-compassion and science based benefits of mindfulness.

Classes begin July 19 and run through August 23 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Sessions will be held in the Continuum Studio at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. For more information you can visit www.nataliebell.com or visit http://marc.ucla.edu/free-drop-in-meditation .

marina@smdp.com

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