Health / 2013

LA the capital of mindfulness in 2050

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by InsightLA

Our idea is to transform the health of Los Angeles by catalyzing a mindfulness movement and changing behavior upstream. Working with health care professionals, schools, hospitals, clinics, businesses, community centers, and citizen leaders we will provide the tools, teachings, and network of teachers to help more people learn how to install healthy behaviors that benefit ourselves, our families, our institutions, and our city.

There are three specific components of this idea:

1. Expand the existing InsightLA training programs for health care professionals, which currently provide mindfulness training to health care professionals at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and other LA hospitals (UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, St John's, Cedars-Sinai) and hospice programs, including a partnership with Skirball. Nurses, doctors, respiratory & other therapists, social workers, chaplains, and interpreters all receive mindfulness training. The program has proven to be popular and beneficial to the many health care professionals who have attended over the last six years. As eighty percent of child deaths in hospitals occur in ICUs, the mindfulness retreats were initially created to help PICU (Pediatric ICU) and NICU (Neonatal ICU) staffers deal with the grief of multiple losses. The program has since expanded to include practitioners from other units, including Hematology-oncology, Cardio-thoracic, Surgery, Adolescent Medicine, and Bone Marrow Transplant. We are interested in expanding this program by launching a teacher training program that specializes on serving the health care system and the people who provide care.

2. Repair and open a new 17 acre property that has recently been transferred to InsightLA and can serve as a center for mindfulness in the heart of the city. The property is a unique asset offering access to nature, canyon views, native plants, and hiking trails. An estimated $75,000 are needed this year for basic repairs to make the space usable. Once those repairs are made, we intend to hold a retreat for professional caregivers from area hospitals and hospices, and with this grant we would also package the case study to create manuals and show how this model can be scaled to other health institutions in LA. We can also utilize the space to create similar programs targeted to specific professional fields and workplaces throughout the city, as well as community colleges and LAUSD, offering leadership trainings to help current and future leaders develop mindfulness tools to help solve LA's most pressing challenges.

3. Grow the network of teachers and programs that exists across LA in health care institutions, schools, and community centers through a Los Angeles Mindfulness Ambassador initiative. Currently, all InsightLA programs are open to the public, and participation is increasing. In addition to helping InsightLA launch a unique physical space, this project will help InsightLA take the mindfulness training programs online to increase reach and accessiblity of the trainings. Through this offline / online hybrid model, the project will effectively generate mindful leadership and action across our cultural, institutional, and community assets.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

We have trained more than 10,000 individual students in mindfulness. We have successfully maintained daily programs for which NO person is turned away for lack of funds. We have trained nurses, doctors, and social workers in mindfulness practices to deal with the dying and bereaved. We received grants totaling more than a half-million dollars from the Federal government to train clinicians at the Veterans Administration of Los Angeles to help them treat chronic sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other conditions suffered by American veterans. We have expanded from a group of mindfulness practitioners meeting in a living room one night a week to full-service centers in three locations, and two satellite locations in the San Fernando Valley and South Bay. We have brought in nationally renowned speakers and held large public forums to educate citizens about how mindfulness can improve their lives.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our intention is to partner wherever possible and appropriate to help scale the impact. Children's Hospital of Los Angeles is the initial pilot for a health care institution, and we will look to build on existing partnerships with UCLA Pediatric Pain Program, UCLArts and Healing, the SIMMS/MANN Center for Integrative Oncology, the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center, and the LA Veteran's Administration. Green Yoga Association, or another relevant partner, will serve as an environmental steward for the 17 acre property. Foundation for a Mindful Society (Mindful magazine & will help document the pilot programs. InsightLA Ed, the educational arm of InsightLA, will administer education and training programs.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

We will measure success by the ability to open the 17 acre facility this year, which currently is unfunded; by the number of health care professionals and community leaders who are trained in mindfulness; the number of new mindfulness teachers who go through InsightLA Programs; the number of communities with new practitioners and new teachers; and the number of people these teachers reach. Digital metrics will also be tracked, though additional resources will be needed to take that initiative to scale. The institute also has unprecedented opportunity to introduce mindfulness to LA based celebrities and athletes who can then engage the city and the world with the empirically-proven, scientifically-validated, experientially-contagious, cost-effective solution of meditation and mindfulness. Therefore, the number of influencers going through the program will also be tracked.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

This project will create a world class resource for training leaders in the mindfulness movement in the heart of Los Angeles. With new access to a property of 17 acres of pristine nature, this project will enable InsightLA to create a functional space for training health care professionals, educators, and other community leaders to become mindfulness practitioners and teachers in Los Angeles. By 2050, the program will have trained thousands of Mindfulness Ambassadors for the city, including health care professionals, educators, and community leaders, and provided the catalytic support to make Los Angeles a 'mindful city' that addresses health and environmental indicators upstream. In addition, free training resources will be provided online, so anyone can improve their mindfulness and drive positive behavior change in their own lives. This project, while focused on health, attacks all of the indicators at their root, by giving each of us and all of us the tools and training to be more mindful and considerate about the way we engage with the social, political, and natural environment and contribute to our families, our communities, and our city.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050, LA is locally, nationally, and globally recognized as a leader in mindfulness. Thousands of active LA Mindfulness Ambassadors represent all of our neighborhoods and institutions. LA is seen as the city that pioneered healthy behaviour change through a mix of meditation and mindfulness training, which then led to more mindful systematic change. Our health care system has shifted to helping people live proactive healthy lives rather than treating chronic problems. The majority of citizens and actions are mindful, which leads to a drastic decrease in chronic disease, a more functional and solvent health system, and longer, more productive, healthier lives.