Mindful Ambassadors

Mindful Ambassadors

The Mindful Ambassadors program provides in-depth, scientifically-supported mindfulness training to students who wish to establish and/or deepen their own practice of mindfulness and use their skills to be of service to others on campus. Mindful Ambassadors cultivate a mindful and compassionate presence within themselves and their communities. They are knowledgeable about the various mindfulness offerings available to students and receive training in bringing mindfulness-based experiences to their residence halls, organizations, classrooms, and elsewhere on and off campus. Inspired by a social justice framework, Mindful Ambassadors explore ways in which mindfulness practice can be transformative individually and societally, and are committed to the common flourishing of all people. If you are interested in becoming a Mindful Ambassador, please contact Dr. Allyson Pimentel at apimentel@orl.ucla.edu.

Spotlight on Current Mindful Ambassadors

Max Wu

Max Wu, 13rd Year Theater Major

This one time I saw a flyer. It asked if I was stressed. I said oh my god yes totally like 24/7 actually. So I followed the time and place, and that’s how I went to my first mindfulness practice. After a year of practicing mindfulness, I learned it doesn’t make your stress go away. Mindfulness is about accepting all of your emotions, the good and bad, and being okay with it. Great thing about mindfulness is that it’s free and you don’t need to rely on anyone but yourself to do it.

But the real big takeaway here is that feelings, good or bad, will always come back. You can’t just make them disappear. That’s why I started practicing mindfulness. I mean, once you realize that life will never stop throwing emotions at you, it makes more sense to hug all of your emotions rather than punch all of them.

One of the most important lessons I've learned in my mindfulness journey is that you are not your thoughts. Regardless of how overwhelming your thoughts may be, mindfulness helps you view them from a different perspective. You soon realize that your thoughts don't have any power over you.

If anyone tells me that they're having an incredibly stressful life (any UCLA student in general), I love to talk about mindfulness. I won't necessarily start a meditation session right there, but I do enjoy talking about how it's made me a lot more in control of my emotions!

Daniela Sarmiento

Daniela Sarmiento, 1st Year Neuroscience Major

Mindfulness, to me, is a state of simply being. It is not worrying about the future or regretting the past - just accepting all that is happening in the present.

I first learned how to do a formal meditation practice before I started incorporating mindfulness into my everyday life. It was during a time of chronic stress and worry during my junior year of high school and it completely changed the way I perceived my anxieties. Originally, I did it because I knew it would help with my mental well-being. Soon, however, I discovered the myriad other health benefits that come with mindfulness - such as an increased metabolism, increased immune system, improved concentration, among others. I began incorporating mindfulness into my life by downloading several apps, my favorite being "Calm", which gives short guided sessions for practitioners of all levels. I use this app for 10 minutes every morning before getting out of bed and every night before going to bed; it is an essential part of my daily routine.

Last quarter, as a freshman college student, all of the stresses I faced junior year of high school were back again but with the added worry of adapting to a new life. Through mindfulness, I was able to accept the hardships and be grateful for the lessons they taught me. Also, I was more aware of the positive aspects in life and made the most of each moment of this new life.

One of the most important lessons I've learned in my mindfulness journey is that you are not your thoughts. Regardless of how overwhelming your thoughts may be, mindfulness helps you view them from a different perspective. You soon realize that your thoughts don't have any power over you.

As a Mindful Ambassador, I hope to relieve the stigma associated with meditation and mindfulness practice. I wish to help my peers discover the power of being present. 

Spotlight on Former Mindful Ambassadors

Danielle Carreon

Danielle Carreon, Senior Year Psychology Major

Hi, my name is Danielle, and mindfulness is my way to constantly keep me grounded to the present. I have struggled with always worrying about the future – whether it be for school or for work or even how I would interact with people I knew I would be seeing in the future. I always relied heavily on a plan, but that made it difficult to deal with things out of my control and things that were very unexpected.

Mindfulness is so important to me because the practice has given me a sense of safety. By focusing on the present I not only can feel more comfortable and flexible with change but I can be forgiving towards myself in times that I can't stick to my plan or to my expectations. I feel much safer to take risks and to approach each obstacle more openly than before.

Because of the profound change I've had by practicing mindfulness informally throughout each day, I want to share that feeling with my peers. I am a part of the large dance community here at UCLA and balancing dancing on a team and being a UCLA student is very tough. I hope to spread my knowledge of mindfulness in the hopes that this community can also learn to be more forgiving of themselves and live a more balanced life to do the things they want to do, especially dancing, here at UCLA.

Melanie Tran

Melanie Tran, 4th Year Psychology Major

Mindfulness is the intentional act of being in the present moment. It is the awareness of the self and of one’s surroundings at the given moment in time.

I can’t quite remember when I first learned about mindfulness, but the first time I really began my practice was when I joined the Resilience Peer Network. I became interested because it seemed intriguing and doable to improve my well-being. The quarter I began RPN was the quarter I began to make mindfulness and meditation habits in my everyday life. I committed to it because it seemed like a valuable skill that could help me with the feeling I had that I was living my life on autopilot. I wanted to step out of the daze that my college career had become, and I wanted to enjoy more of the moments and relax. As a chronic worrier, and a persistent planner, the past and future had consumed my present, and I wanted to change that.

Once I began incorporating mindfulness into my daily activities and dedicating a few minutes everyday to a formal sitting meditation, I began to notice my thinking habits and it became easier to redirect myself to the present moment. I noticed that my mood improved and my feeling of gratitude increased. When I began to notice myself having anxious or unhelpful thoughts, I would sit for 2-3 minutes outside to meditate, and after I usually felt much more calm. Mindfulness helped me become more accepting of situations that arose that would usually cause me stress. I felt that my mood improved considerably in the day-to-day since I was worrying less, and I think that influenced the presence I brought in social situations. I felt it improved my relationships and conversations with people because the calmness and presence carried over into my interactions with people. I felt I was a better friend and Resident Assistant. It also felt really good to know that I was doing something for myself and taking care of my mental health.

As a Mindful Ambassador, I hope to bring mindfulness to my residential community and encourage my residents to cultivate mindful habits in their day-to-day activities.”

Justino Flores

Justino Flores, 4th Year, Psychology Major, Gerontology and Public Health Minor

Mindfulness to me means being fully present in the moment and being okay with what you cannot change. I began with mindfulness when I signed up for a Yoga class and my instructor introduced mindfulness in the first five minutes of class with a controlled breathing exercise. I am committed to practicing mindfulness because it makes a world of a difference for my mental health, it helps decrease my anxiety levels and it keeps me grounded on a daily basis. I’ve noticed that whenever I am aware that my anxiety levels increase or I become frustrated or stressed, I have mindfulness to help me refocus. As a Mindful Ambassador, I hope to bring mindfulness to my internship at Belmont Village, an assisted living center, where I work closely with older adults who have mild to moderate cognitive impairment.