A free program at the Ocean City Library is allowing patrons to check out an opportunity for relaxation and good health.

The Meditation and Cultivating Awareness classes offered at the library at

2 p.m. Mondays help promote "wellness through the body, mind, spirit connection," according to Kate Lutz, who teaches the two-hour weekly sessions.

"Like weight training cultivates strength and muscle fitness, meditation as a path to inner harmony is a fitness training also worth cultivating," said Lutz. "Today's interest in meditation and mindfulness is similar to how other Eastern practices have grown in popularity."

Meditation helps practitioners enter into a state of deep relaxation and calmness, according to the instructor.

The practice of cultivating awareness is an extension of meditation and "offers ways to develop a state of clarity, gratitude, and being more present and centered in the now," according to the instructor.

The sessions are geared toward people of all levels of experience. During the sessions, Lutz leads participants on two guided meditations while they sit on chairs in a circle.

Topics for discussion include focusing energy, meditation practices, creating beliefs, shifting old patterns and living in the now.

"Anybody can come in, it's very laid-back. It's very informal," said Karen Mahar, a senior librarian and program coordinator at the library.

The library has hosted the meditation classes before, and they have proven to be popular with patrons, Mahar said.

"We do such a variety of programming - everything from Spanish classes to cooking demonstrations to craft classes - so this was just something to add to our list of things we offer," Mahar said. Patrons had been asking if the library offered anything on meditation, so when the chance to host the classes arose, it seemed like a good idea, she said.

Lutz has studied meditation and similar practices for 25 years. Her sessions also include discussions on how people are responding to the classes and on topics such as manifesting intentions. There also are interactive exercises and a short period for journaling.

609-272-7242

If you go

Meditation and Cultivating Awareness classes held

2 to 4 p.m. Mondays in Room N116 at the Ocean City Library, 1735 Simpson Ave., Classes are free. For information, call 609-399-2434. ext. 5238.