Escape Stressors with Meditation

Escape Stressors with Meditation

 By Tanya A. Yacina   August 3, 2015

Benefits of a Break


Melissa Wallace uses sage to purify during a meditation session. | Photo by Jody Tiongco

While meditation is not a cure for any specific ailment, it’s been proven effective for those who practice regularly. A recent study from UCLA found that meditation can actually help preserve brain tissue that contains neurons (which naturally decreases with age), therefore minimizing the risk of mental illness and neurodegenerative disorders.

“The benefits of meditation have been studied scientifically for the last 100 years in the medical world and for more than 2,000 years in the spiritual world,” says the Rev. Melissa Wallace, owner of Universal Core Wellness Center LLC. “Meditation … sends out an overall healing signal to the body, causing the brain to go into active rest.”

Stress is classified as a contributor to nearly all the major modern-day ailments, and reducing it is one of the main benefits of meditation. A regular practice also lessens the effects of trauma, boosts productivity, lessens depression and anxiety, and positively impacts the neuroplasticity of the brain. Additionally, regular practitioners may experience a reduction in blood pressure and cortisol levels.

“The benefits of meditation have been studied scientifically for the last 100 years in the medical world and for more than 2,000 years in the spiritual world.” -Rev. Melissa Wallace

A two-time cancer survivor, Melissa became involved with meditation as a way to reduce the stress and anxiety of her diagnoses and treatments. “I added meditation to my own healing as one more tool in the toolbox without using a medical prescription,” says Melissa, who is also a holistic health practitioner with a professional background in neurology.

Karen Redding, a Laguna-based clinical social worker and psychoanalyst, says meditation triggers our nervous systems to work in a different way and steadies the mind during the stresses of life. “We’re able to notice that we are catastrophizing and can then stop,” she explains. “We’re able to be more present with what is here rather than reacting to what we think is or could be here.”

Picking Your Path


Photo Courtesy of OM Laguna Beach

The benefits of meditation are seemingly endless and, according to Karen, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. “Even the simplest form of meditation allows us to look at the process of our mind and helps people to calm the mania to get to the root of a problem,” she says. “Research has even shown that changes in the brain can be recorded just weeks after a person begins a regular meditation practice.”

Since any type of meditation is likely to have a positive impact, choose a practice to suit your personal preference, or experiment with multiple. “Meditation is a self-taught, adaptive practice,” Lori explains. “No matter what kind of meditation you try, you’ll notice similarities in the anchor points, like noticing the breath.”

Some of the broad forms of meditation acknowledged worldwide include transcendental, Zen, vipassana and mindfulness. In each, the end objective is to teach the mind to quiet, and free it of outside stressors.

While all are beneficial, there are differences between the major varieties. For example, Zen meditation is the practice of sitting in various prescribed positions to relax the body and mind and discover personal insight. Vipassana meditation, taught thousands of years ago by Buddha and practiced now by people of various cultures and backgrounds, teaches people to see things clearly, liberating themselves from suffering. Mindfulness meditation allows a person to sit in the present moment, with no objective or goal, to simply achieve peace with oneself. Transcendental meditation focuses on achieving enlightenment, but can also look to astral projection.

“Regardless of the type of meditation you practice, to learn to meditate and to learn to steady your mind requires you to figure out how to be kind and compassionate with yourself,” Karen says. “Meditation is a practice—a skill that we learn—and no matter what type of practice you try first, it all starts with a person’s intention to clear their mind and create a relationship with what we have going on in life with compassion and nutur[ing].”

Getting Started

Universal Core Wellness Center’s Melissa Wallace offers meditation sessions at various locations around town. | Photo by Jody Tiongco

Beginning a new practice solo can still be intimidating (or just downright confusing). For an introduction, it can be helpful to follow an experienced practitioner’s lead. Meditating with others also creates a healing space for all of the people practicing together.

“A guided meditation is always a great place to start,” Melissa explains. “Especially in a classroom environment, you learn that everyone and their processes are different. Guided meditation gives you grounding and a focal point to begin your practice.”

Whether you go it alone or with a group, it’s easier to start with short amounts of time. Lori recommends taking it slowly, allocating three minutes to count your breath while noticing when the mind wanders, then moving to six minutes and longer. “By noticing and acknowledging what you have observed during that time, you’re beginning to meditate,” Lori explains.

Karen also suggests easing into the practice. “You may begin with just five minutes of meditation a day while you’re walking, sitting, standing or lying down,” Karen explains. “Whether you use a guided meditation class or application, there are many ways to get inspiration for a daily practice. You don’t need equipment or workout clothes, you just need to make it a conscious part of your day.”

Practice Makes Perfect


Meditation bowls create soothing sounds. | Photo by Jody Tiongco

A number of factors contribute to the meditative experience, and nearly all can be adjusted to suit your personal goals and preferences. Many imagine meditating in a silent, sedentary state, but you can also practice with a light form of music or binaural beats (measured change in brain activity in response to audio stimulus—different tones played in each ear) as background. Chanting is another way to enhance the experience.

For those who have trouble sitting still for periods of time, an active approach may feel more natural. Try meditating while walking on the beach, or during yoga or tai chi.

“There are so many ways to practice meditation and it takes little effort to begin,” Melissa says. “Surfers feel the healing, natural effects of the water as they ride the waves. This is meditative in that the water simulates the womb and returning to source. Yogis practice active meditation and incorporate movement. However, you can also just sit or lie quietly alone, clearing your mind and opening yourself.”

Whichever approach you take, remember that you can always make alterations later as your skills develop and preferences change. “When first beginning to learn to meditate, the practice can be oversimplified and then built upon,” Lori says. “Beginners come to meditation to initially address stress that’s happening right now, but eventually, we learn to take our meditation practice to the stress in our lives and help alleviate it by taking our awareness into action.”

People & Places 


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Restoring Your Health Laguna Beach Style

Restoring Your Health Laguna Beach Style

By January 17, 2015  

Laguna Beach is a hotbed for holistic alternative healing practices, which seem to be more popular these days for coping with stressful, frenetic lifestyles. A stroll along the beach is one way to relax, but if you want to de-stress on a deeper level, try meditation and energy work to experience some amazing health benefits.


Healing the body often starts with letting go of negative thoughts and quieting mental chatter. Meditation can silence those nagging thoughts and can occur when we are in a deep relaxed state, such as during a massage or while “floating.” I’m sure you’re imagining yourself levitating like a magician’s assistant. Not exactly; rather floating in a tank of Epsom salts and water, also known as Epsom salt tank therapy, or here in Laguna, simply as “floating.” “Where in Laguna does one go to float?” you ask. The Float Lounge, which I recently heard about from my holistic health practitioner, Rev. Melissa Wallace. Curious, I made an appointment to float.

I arrived at The Float Lounge with lots of mental chatter: “Will my body really float? Will I get claustrophobic? Will it be scary? Will I freak out?” I was driving myself crazy. But these thoughts dissipated the moment I stepped into the cozy reception area. Owners Roseanne Ramirez and Jeff Brion instantly put me at ease.


I felt like I was visiting long-lost friends as they welcomed me to my first float. After Roseanne guided me through what to do and what to expect, off I went, into the float tank. The roomy chamber relieved my claustrophobia anxiety. As I glided on my back into the mixture of 1,000 pounds of high-grade mineral Epsom salt and 93 degrees water, I was amazed at my body’s buoyancy. Within several minutes my mind’s chatter switched from daily worries to acknowledging new sensations. My body seemed to melt into the Epsom salt mixture leaving no distinction between my skin and the warm salty water, yet at times I felt like I was cushioned in memory foam. With only the faint sound of my heartbeat and no electronic gadget distractions, I truly began to relax. Those 60 minutes went by quickly and I came out feeling peaceful, yet alert. The Float Lounge is one of five in the country—Laguna is fortunate.


Laguna is also lucky to have Melissa Wallace in town, who is owner of Universal Core Wellness Center. I met Melissa at The Chakra Shack where she offers holistic healing services, including lifestyle and nutrition coaching, intuitive counseling, and Reiki and Shamanic healing. Receiving a treatment from Melissa is a nurturing, insightful, extremely relaxing experience. Her energy balancing treatments have relieved me of stress-related health issues from insomnia to back pain. Melissa also works on animals and discerned the cause of my cat’s allergies, which happened to be diet related.


Stress might be unavoidable, but calming the mind, relaxing the body and revitalizing the soul can alleviate its negative effects. So turn off that cell phone, go float, then hit the beach and breathe in that healing ocean air.



Visit The Float Lounge, at 1891 S. Coast Hwy, Ste. A, Laguna Beach, California or go to www.feelingfunctional.com for more information. To book an appointment with Melissa visit www.universalcorewellnesscenter.com or Call 949-887-8825

Laguna Beach Attractions, Laguna Beach Events, Laguna Beach Walks

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The Blue Eyed Shaman™ – Reiki & Alleviation of Cancer

149053_10200582879630936_245749101_nAlthough it’s becoming more and more widely accepted that many of our diseases are related to our body-mind-universe connection, and are not simply the result of physical well-being. Cancer, although curable by conventional science, is still too often seen as a disease of the body only.

Reiki, Meditation and Holistic Therapy’s can help combat cancer. Reiki can approach cancer beyond the physically debilitating aspects of the dis-ease and explore the spiritual and emotional aspects of it. While providing the Patient with an outlet of positive affirmation and hope.

Of course cancer patients are clearly affected in a multitude of ways beyond merely the physical- it is extremely common for cancer patients to experience a severe emotional and psychological malaise that can range from symptoms of anxiety and stress all the way to severe depression. Furthermore cancer is a particularly draining disease and many patients feel spiritually worn out from its intensive nature. And conventional treatments, like chemotherapy, are riddled with side-effects that can exacerbate these spiritual and emotional maladies if taken on their own. However these harsh, debilitating physical and psychological side effects to conventional cancer treatments can often be effectively combated by alternative or complementary treatments such as Reiki. Many cancer patients adopt Reiki for a multitude of reasons.

Reiki is increasingly becoming well recognized for its ability to alleviate stress and pain, a much needed boom for cancer patients, but it is also becoming more known as a catalyst to cancer treatment. Although Reiki can be beneficial to nearly everyone, because Reiki removes the energy blockages in the body and allows for cancer patients to feel more relaxed and stress-free while undergoing invasive procedures cancer patients diagnosed with rare or low-survivability cancers, like pancreatic cancer or pleural mesothelioma, have more to gain from Reiki healing than most.

Cancer patients can also benefit from how Reiki can accelerate the healing process by relieving energy blockages. When the body’s energy is allowed to flow freely through-out the entire body its natural healing processes accelerate. Thus when a cancer patient’s body is fully awake and their energy can move freely throughout it, it is able to heal faster. Removing the energy blockages in the body allows the immune system to function effectively- an extremely valuable resource in battling cancer.

Today, more and more doctors have begun to actively promote the use of complementary and alternative therapies alongside conventional cancer treatments. Thankfully the medical community has increasingly noticed the positives in using various therapies alongside each other to combat serious diseases like cancer. And while conventional scientists still do not fully understand how Reiki heals, a plethora of studies and personal accounts have recorded patients that patients feel less pain and a better sense of well-being after Reiki sessions. As such, doctors who treat patients with aggressive cancers are at the forefront of promoting the use of complimentary therapies like Reiki in addition to more conventional cancer treatments.

~ Rev. Melissa M. Wallace


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