• Tue. May 30th, 2023

Mindfulness, compassion motivate Simms/Mann Center social worker Greg Flaxman


May 26, 2023

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 extra 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 definitely affirming the rewards of it.”

These scientific findings motivated him to start out meditating. And when he saw the optimistic 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 with out 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 persons 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 for the reason that of the cancer — like discomfort, or emotional distress, anxiousness, sadness — what I’ve observed is that it enables 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. A person going into therapy, 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 discover 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 kind 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 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 necessary as any other health-related therapy.

“Some persons do not even have an emotional response in the moment for the reason that they’re so focused on the therapy and so focused on just taking the subsequent step,” Flaxman says, adding that he often accompanies his sufferers to their chemotherapy appointments or medical professional visits to give assistance.

Wish 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 expanding up and saw the challenges they faced as they got older. He was moved by the care a hospice worker offered their family members at the finish of his grandparents’ lives.

“Being on the other side of the assistance that was necessary and seeing what could be important and effective to persons — I wanted to be element 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 for the reason that of its integrative strategy to treating cancer, beyond the standard health-related model. In addition to mindfulness, its offerings involve art therapy, qi gong, breathwork and chaplains who present spiritual assistance.

“It’s definitely searching at caring for the whole individual: thoughts, physique and spirit,” he says. “To be element of a group that has all these distinctive specialties — that definitely can be such a assistance to persons and let them to discover their house, 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.”