Los Angeles—Hamer Museum’s weekly mindfulness meditation lessons move online to help people deal with stress while staying safe
Take a look at our list of free online meditation & yoga lessons and you’ll note that a lot of teachers are now giving free online lessons. One such institution is Hammer Museum, who have moved their mindfulness meditation series online, in partnership with the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
Hammer Museum mindfulness lessons are now available on Zoom.
Usually, Hammer Museum Mindfulness lessons take place at the museum’s auditorium at 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles. But Claudia Bestor [director of public programs, Hammer Museum] has decided to move lessons online during the pandemic.
Speaking on Zoom, Bestor said, “Right now, our focus is just on executing the programs that we’re already doing at the highest level of excellence via online platforms.”
Bestor began the Hammer mindfulness meditation lessons in 2010, after completing a meditation course in 2008. Her ambition was, and is, to teach mindfulness for free to make it accessible to all. “We wanted to make it very approachable and non-threatening so nobody has to sit on the floor in yoga pants.”
The course invites all-comers to enjoy mindfulness however they like.
Mindfulness meditation is by far the most popular type of meditation technique.
It involves focusing on the breath in a non-judgmental fashion while observing the present moment. Diana Winston, who teaches mindfulness education at MARC [the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center] says that mindfulness places emphasis on present-moment awareness, openness, curiosity, and acceptance. She notes that the technique offers many wellbeing and health benefits, including helping with anxiety and depression.
“It teaches us how to work with our thoughts and not get lost in our thoughts and stuck there in a way that can lead to a lot of suffering,” said Winston.
How Hammer Museum Teaches Mindfulness Meditation
At Hammer Museum, mindfulness lessons are focused around a specific topic, which is often of cultural relevance. They recently had a meditation for the Black lives Matter movement. The teacher introduces the idea and discusses it with the group. They then perform a group mindfulness meditation, and conclude with a closing activity.
Winston states that they frequently use mantras to help instil certain thoughts and ideas. Mantras they’ve used include “‘things are as they are’ and ‘be with things as they are,’” said Winston, who explains that these mantras cultivate calmness and equanimity.
Teaching mantras is often an ideal way for beginners to start to relax because the simple repetition of words steadies the mind while also cultivating positive thoughts.
Hammer Museum mindfulness lessons have always been popular. They regularly attract around 200 people. That number increased with the pandemic. Hammer Museum started to see over 300 people per class, says Winston, which she attributed to the uncertainty of the times.
Of course, with the pandemic, Winston wanted to keep members safe, and so made the decision to move lessons online. Winston says that although there is not the in-person aspect, online lessons are still warm and inviting, and users can choose to have their video on and off.
“People can choose to leave their video on or off and usually at the end of a meditation, everybody sort of is waving at each other and greeting each other,” Bestor said.
To join the lessons, check our classes schedule.