Monday, March 27, 2017
Can meditation heal political wounds in the South Bay beach cities?

By Megan Barnes, Daily Breeze

With the dust settling from one of the most heated local election seasons in years, the Beach Cities Health District wants to help residents move on and mellow out.

On April 6, the public health agency — which serves Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach — is putting on a free post-election community mindfulness workshop at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

The 6 p.m. event will bring together mental health experts to guide the audience through methods to help relieve stress and anxiety. It will be similar to one held after the contentious Hermosa Beach oil drilling Measure O campaign in 2015, which drew hundreds of participants.

Weeks after the March 7 election, division is still running deep in Redondo Beach, where contests for mayor, City Council and a ballot measure to derail a $400 million waterfront makeover were clouded by personal attacks, negative mailers, anonymous online posts and campaign finance complaints. While Manhattan Beach had a less controversial election for City Council, tensions have emerged over campaign mailers that targeted two ousted incumbents. 

Next week, Eric McCullum of Insight LA, Tristan Coopersmith of Life Lab and Greg Flaxman and Shiori Lange of the Beach Cities Health District will go over a series of meditation techniques, including intention setting, loving-kindness, visualization and mindful breathing.

Beach Cities Health District CEO Tom Bakaly, who formerly served as city manager in Hermosa Beach, said the idea is to help individuals be present and calm.

“One of the things we know from our data with Gallup polls over the last six years is in the South Bay, we’re very healthy and doing well in most categories, but one we struggle with is stress,” Bakaly said. “I think election season is maybe a contributor.”

He said both sides of the Measure O battle turned out for the first workshop in Hermosa Beach, which took place weeks before the vote.

“I think you build community one person at a time,” Bakaly said. “Our hope is if people are present or are in the moment, that they will be conscious of their actions and attitudes.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and pre-registration is required online at Child care will be offered at the nearby AdventurePlex kids play facility in Manhattan Beach. For more information, visit the Beach Cities Health District website or call Tiana Rideout at 310-374-3426, Ext. 139.

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