Stress Reduction and Integrative Health
Countless studies have proven the physical and emotional benefits of including stress reduction as part of an approach to optimal wellness. Additionally, Smith Center’s yoga classes are listed with the National MS Society and we welcome patients and caregivers of those with multiple sclerosis to our gentle yoga classes.
Restorative yoga, as well as other forms of yoga, meditation, and other techniques, help to trigger the Parasympathetic Nervous System, also known as the PNS. The PNS is responsible for balancing the body and bringing its response system back into equilibrium. Stimulating the PNS helps to lower heart rate and blood pressure; it helps to healthily stimulate the immune system and keep the endocrine system operating healthily.
When this system gets out of whack, or when the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) gets over-stimulated, the PNS helps to bring all back in balance. It is believed that if the PNS is tapped out or under-active, illness pervades. Thus, forms of relaxation, such as yoga and meditation, that help to stimulate the PNS are generally beneficial for overall body health.
David Spiegel, MD, author of Living Beyond Limits, reports, “In medicine, we are learning that physical problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, can be influenced by psychological interventions, such as relaxation training. Mind and body are connected and must work together, and this should be a powerful asset in treating medical illness.”
Upcoming Movement & Meditation Classes
Energy Balancing (IN-PERSON OR REMOTE)
Weekly on Thursdays from 1:00-3:00pm (30-minute appointments), with the Energy Balancing Team (Anne, Margaret, Pat, Sylvia, Gail)
Our Energy Balancing Program addresses the subtle energies of our body. When these energies are out of balance, all our body systems can become askew. One key to bringing us back into balance is deep relaxation. This is just what our volunteers provide – a half-hour of stress reducing relaxation to calm the body and enhance our well-being.
Bi-Monthly on the 2nd & 4th Wednesdays from 7:00-8:00pm, with Kevin Mutschler
This is an all levels introduction to the practice of Qigong. You will learn about the human energy system or subtle body. This class will include discussion, movement and an energetic transmission and meditation.
In the tradition of Qigong, we will learn practices to shape and sculpt this system for our highest good in 3 ways:
- Purge or clear stagnant energy
- Tone or nourish energy to replenish our internal resources
- Regulate our energy system
LGBTQIA+ Morning Meditation
Weekly on Tuesdays from 7:30-8:00am, with Susan Salek
An opportunity to come together as an LGBTQIA+ community for a weekly morning meditation sit.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Bi-monthly on Wednesdays from 2:00-2:30pm, with Jessica Gelfarb, MSW, LICSW & Sara Richman, LICSW
Developing mindfulness skills can help combat stress, anxiety, and uncertainty in everyday life. Join us for regular sessions to help you better understand and transform your mind.
All experience levels are welcome to attend! Open to patients, survivors, caregivers, medical professionals and the community. This group welcomes all levels, including those who have not tried Mindfulness and Meditation before.
Being Together Mindfulness
Bi-monthly on Mondays from 12:00-`12:30pm, with Linda Seabright
Specifically, mindfulness helps you access the ability to be non-judgmental, compassionate, patient, present and aware. You wouldn’t have come this far if these qualities did not exist in you somewhere. Possible benefits may be a greater sense of peace and well-being.
We will take a few moments to check into how we’re feeling in the beginning of the meditation and afterward. We’ll sit or lie comfortably and go through a slightly different guided meditation each week. No experience needed.
Community Sound Bath
Monthly on the 1st Friday of the month from 8:00-9:00pm, with Michaela Bekenn (hosted in partnership with the Tigerlily Foundation)
We come together in community to be supported by the soothing vibrations of breath, silence, and sound. The session begins with setting an intention for your practice, followed by gentle stretches and breathing techniques to guide you into deep relaxation and surrender. The remainder of the journey is a sound bath guided by crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, drum, guitar, and vocal toning channeling the frequencies of love.
(Ongoing) – with Carole O’Toole
Cancer often initiates an intense transformational process that can raise more questions than answers, leading us to re-examine our beliefs and approach to life. We may feel called to explore opportunities for spiritual growth, feeling a desire to connect with the sacred in a more conscious way and define more deeply life’s meaning in the face of cancer.
Regardless of your personal beliefs or faith system, working with a spiritual companion offers you an opportunity to reflect with another on what is going on for you spiritually, and explore how to integrate your cancer experience with your personal beliefs.
Contact Olivia at firstname.lastname@example.org for an introduction to Spiritual Companioning.
Move Your Lymph (IN-PERSON)
Monthly on the 2nd Thursday from 11:45am-12:30pm, with Liz Hoffmann, BS, LMT2180, CLT
If stress, surgery or cancer treatment have created swelling in your body, this class is for you. We will practice techniques that you can take back to the comfort of your home. Breathing techniques, exercise and self massage will be included in this 45 minute class. Bring a water bottle to keep hydrated and improve the flow.
Simply M the Movement
Weekly on Thursday from 5:30-6:30pm, with Ketty M Urbay (in partnership with the Tigerlily Foundation)
Dance and music can heal your mind, body and soul. This is a 1 hour dance class set to a carefully curated musical playlist that will inspire and elevate. Have fun following easy to learn dance steps and creative movement exercises that will spark your joy and creativity. Every week is a new theme and a whole new set of moves to a variety of music.
Monthly on the 1st Saturday from 9:30-10:30pm, with DJ Dimepiece (in partnership with the Tigerlily Foundation)
Dance Party is hosted by DJ Dimepiece, a professional DJ in LA, California who will help you groove in your own home with a unique playlist each month. This party happens via Instagram live through Tigerlily’s Instagram and is an interactive night “in” with participants all over the country!
Follow Tigerlily Foundation on Instagram: @tigerlily_foundation
Meet Our Movement & Meditation Facilitators
About Pat Spellman
Pat studied English literature and has a special interest in reading and writing poetry. She has been certified as a Reiki master and as a practitioner of reflexology and Feldenkrais movement. She is a long-time member of the Self-Realization Fellowship, which teaches meditation methods and principles for harmonious living. After a career in publications in DC, Pat retired in Baltimore where she continues her active interest in the Smith Center and its clients.
About Sylvia Sturm
Sylvia Sturm, EEM-CLP, RM/T, heads our Energy Balancing volunteer team. Sylvia is a Certified Eden Energy Medicine Clinical Practitioner and a Reiki Master Teacher. For many years she has managed a Reiki Volunteer group at a seniors’ residence and has served for 6 years as a Reiki volunteer in GWU Hospital. She is delighted to now work with a dedicated and wonderful team to address the balancing of one’s subtle energies in order to allow the body to completely relax. She has an independent practice in Kensington, MD. To learn more about Sylvia and subtle energies, please visit her website www.sylviasturm.com.
About Jessica Gelfarb, MSW, LICSW
Jessica is a licensed clinical social worker who has experience working with patients and families facing a range of medical diagnoses in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from University of Michigan and her masters degree in social work from University of Maryland with a focus on clinical and medical social work. Jessica recently joined the team at the George Washington University cancer center as an oncology social worker. Prior to her role at GW Jessica worked extensively with organ transplant patients at Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute and co-led the institute’s transplant support group. She has also spent time working on cardiology and intensive care units throughout her career. Jessica initially became interested in pursuing oncology social work after attending the Association of Oncology Social Work’s annual conference a number of years ago as well as observing first- hand the widespread impact that cancer has on so many individuals and families. She is passionate about partnering with patients in order to provide psychosocial and emotional support as they navigate their diagnosis and treatment.
About Sara Richman, LICSW
Sara Richman, LICSW is a licensed and certified oncology clinical social worker (OSW-C). She received her masters in social work (MSW) at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Prior to working at GW, Sara was an oncology clinical social worker at MedStar Washington Hospital Center where she worked with all types of blood cancers and disorders.
About Linda Seabright
Linda Seabright has been teaching Mindfulness and Meditation since she completed her training in MBSR, or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine in 2016. Linda is a life-long practitioner of yoga, a cancer survivor, and has studied expressive art therapy since 2010. Her passion for artistic and musical expression have inspired her to bring the same dedication to her meditation teachings, bringing a wide array of experience to her practice. She also teaches trauma-based meditation to nonprofits and has developed a series of meditations to help bring peace and balance into people’s lives. More information at www.jazzmeditation.com.
About Carole O’Toole
Smith Center’s Spiritual Companion, Carole O’Toole, was called to companion others following her cancer experience that led her to explore how illness offers opportunities for spiritual growth. Since 2006 Carole has served in many roles at Smith Center, including Director of Residential Retreats, Director of the Institute of Integrative Oncology Navigation, Director of Smith Center’s Integrative Navigation Training Program, and as a member of and mentor for our integrative navigation team. Carole is currently receiving professional training in Spiritual Direction through The Haden Institute, with a particular focus on grief and loss and the spiritual challenges of living with cancer.
Carole invites you to explore with her how to make meaning of your cancer experience and to look for where the holy is in your life. Currently, limited space is available for new clients. Individual appointments are available via Zoom or by telephone and are free of charge.
About Michaela Bekenn
Michaela Bekenn (she/her/they) is a Toronto-based certified sound therapy practitioner, yoga teacher, meditation instructor, and singer-songwriter. She is a certified facilitator of Compassion-Based Resilience Training and mindfulness for stress reduction, addiction recovery, and chronic pain. Michaela offers a variety of wellness-focused experiences that are always informed by the needs and goals of each client and group. Her extensive interdisciplinary training in theatre, music, dance, yoga, mindfulness, and Traditional Chinese Medicine allows for an eclectic approach in her practice. Michaela sources great joy from serving a wide range of demographics including youth, neurodiverse adults, corporate groups, and seniors. She is currently expanding her practice through a Master’s in Music Therapy & Psychotherapy. Michaela believes in the power of integrative community wellness. She is committed to holding inclusive space for participants to feel supported and nourished, wherever they may be in their personal journey.
About Liz Hoffmann, BS, LMT2180, CLT
A Japanologist by education, Liz Hoffmann solidified her movement toward the healing arts by becoming a full time shiatsu practitioner in 1994. Her certification from the Ohashi Institute was followed by training in reflexology, aromatherapy, massage, and eventually Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) for general health and cancer patients. In 2022, she became a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. As a non-smoking lung cancer survivor, she personally experienced how MLD and bodywork enhance healing. She has a private shiatsu and MLD practice a few blocks from the Smith Center. For more information see www.5elementwellness.com.
About Ketty M Urbay
Ketty M Urbay was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Florida. Ketty has a double bachelors in Dance and Psychology from Florida International University. She facilitated movement and creative writing workshops for 15 years with at risk teenage girls through a program created by her Dance Professor Leslie Neal called ArtSpring.
About DJ Dimepiece
About Anne Molofsky
Anne has always been interested in promoting health and wellness. She had a forty-year career as a nutritionist, beginning as a research nutritionist in several NIH-funded clinical trials, then working for the federal government in policy and education, and subsequently counselling clients in her private practice. She received her reiki training over 10 years ago and was able to offer reiki sessions to her nutrition clients as part of their treatment. Since 2013 Anne has also volunteered at Walter Reed offering reiki sessions to Wounded Warriors and their families. She became a Reiki Master Teacher in 2017. Anne is thrilled to be joining the wonderful Energy Balancing Team at the Smith Center!
About Margaret Haggerty
It is a privilege for to be part of the energy balancing team for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. Having had a long and gratifying career as a registered nurse, I bring a wide range of experiences. Before my retirement nine years ago, I had worked for 47 years as a nurse in a variety of capacities. Whether I was taking care of a tiny two-pound NICU infant or doing diabetic teaching for a centenarian, I realized that there was a larger Presence who was always guiding me. And I believe deeply that whatever experience of healing we receive, involves body, mind and spirit. I became a massage therapist and Reiki Master in order to incorporate a more deliberate approach to healing touch. It was a privilege to work with many clients who were dealing with cancer. What a joy it was to offer some hope and gentle touch as they faced many medical and emotional challenges. Now in my later years I am happy to bring the soft, caring touch of energy balancing to help those who come to Smith Center, to relax in order for. their bodies to mend and their spirits to heal.
About Kevin Mutschler
Kevin is a board-certified acupuncturist (NCCAOM) and Qigong educator with over twenty-five years experience in healing arts practice, research and education, including work in medical anthropology, somatic therapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Kevin has special interests in working with patients living with chronic illness, migraine, MS and cancer. He is a Smith Center fellow in Integrative Cancer Care Navigation and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology.