A group in New Orleans is turning off cell phones, and escaping from their busy lives a couple of times a week.
But they are not going to lunch with friends or the gym. What they are doing dates back thousands of years - and doctors say it's healing.
As shoppers and cars race by on busy Magazine Street outside, the mood inside the walls is serene.
"Let go of anything that is not going on in this room right now, Meditation Guide Stephanie Osborne says calmly. For years, she has been practicing and guiding others through meditation.
"When you meditate, you stay more in the present moment, and it causes you to respond more easily to stressful situations," Osborne explains.
There are gentle commands. One is to love yourself the way you deserve to be loved.
"May I respect myself the way I deserve to be respected? I am enough. I am enough," she recites to the class.
Her words evoke emotion and even tears.
"Because I always feel like I need to give more and do more," said Jen Taylor about her personal and professional life.
"To have somebody tell you just to love yourself, it was what I needed," said a tearful Beverly Matheney, who is dealing with the caretaking of a relative.
"Wow what an incredible gift to give myself today, especially today for me as we honor the passing of my father-in-law," said a tearful Maria Hayes, who explains today is the one year anniversary of his passing. She tells the class that she tells her children and husband that she loves them but never herself.
An LSU Health psychologist says meditation is healing.
"The best evidence that we have is it seems to have a pretty profound impact on the body's stress response system. What we're seeing is improvements in depression, smoking cessation, and pain," said Dr. Phillip Stepka, a Clinical Psychologist at LSUHSC.
Stephanie says since she started meditating, she doesn't have as many as many flare ups with her autoimmune condition of ulcerative colitis.
"It really helped heal my body. That's why I really wanted to bring it to the city and really make a difference," said Osborne.
She says meditation lowers blood pressure, gives a boost in the immune system, and creates inner peace. Class members agree.
"Emotionally, I don't focus on the negative. I focus on the positive," said Claudia Cope, who adds that her muscle tension is relieved as well.
"One of my favorite parts is the joyfulness and the compassion," said Tracy Stewart.
"I really felt each of you and thank you so much Stephanie," said Michelle Gunnell, who explained that she felt the energy inside of the entire class growing to the outside and connecting them all to each other.
*Meditate New Orleans
Classes: Thursday 7:30am, 10am, and 5:30pm
Classes are 45 minutes at 3029 Magazine Street in the Osborne Gallery.
First session is free. Thursday evening classes are free.
Other classes are $10.
Classes are for adult men and women.
*Reclaiming the Goddess Within: A Transformative Women's Empowerment & Mindfulness Weekend
June 2-3, 9am-5pm
New Orleans Museum of Art
$99 for tickets
Speakers, workshops, presentations, connection exercises, activities and small mediations
from 10 empowerment leaders, life coaches, success teachers and meditation guides.
For more on classes, the weekend event or for company and corporate programs and workshops: