2020 was a sucker of a year. A survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40 percent of adults in the United States have some psychological impairment, such as feeling stressed or overwhelmed, as a result of this year’s lockdown.
In The Know’s, Paul Lazo himself was no exception, the only problem was that all of his usual stress management strategies like live events and going to the gym were closed. When his roommate suggested that he try meditation, he was skeptical. But after completing one of UCLA’s online mindfulness meditation retreats, Paul is now a believer.
“If you’re anything like me, if you think about meditating, you might think, it’s not for me or it’s hokey. Why should I want to sit down for hours in complete silence? “Said Paul.
But at the height of the pandemic, Paul decided to give meditation a chance.
“My usual coping mechanisms for stress are usually entirely physical,” Paul said. “When I’m overwhelmed with my life, I often go to the gym or dance at a concert. But in March, when gyms closed and live events were canceled, I immediately felt my mental health suffer. “
Paul signed up for a mindfulness retreat at UCLA. The 15-year program connects people around the world for a weekend of wellness classes.
“We’ve done all kinds of programs that involve retreats,” Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education, told In The Know. “We’ve done live retreats where we used to go to a beautiful location, and we’ve done face-to-face classes at UCLA and in the Los Angles community for a long time.”
After the pandemic, the program offered virtual events for the first time.
“We found it was a really nice way for people from all over the world to practice,” said Winston.
While home may not have been the ideal place to hold classes, not much has changed in the curriculum at UCLA.
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“The program includes art therapy, outdoor recreation, and even some zoom dance parties,” said Paul.
Winston admitted that meditation can be daunting at first as your mind can wander. But that’s only part of the process.
“As you do it over time, your ability to pay attention improves,” said Winston. “You have to do it, you have to practice it, and if it’s something that appeals to you, it can be a helpful tool for your physical and mental health.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can help you create new perspectives for stressful situations while boosting your imagination, concentration, and creativity.
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How UCLA’s Online Mindful Meditation Retreat Changed a Skeptic’s Mind first appeared in In The Know.