Students Receive Tips on Fueling Their Creative Selves

Students in grades 3-12 gathered in West Palm Beach on Saturday, October 24, participating in the year-round enrichment programs offered through the Kravis Center.   Underwritten by the Lawrence J. and Florence A. De George Charitable Trust, the De George Academy for Performing Arts provides instruction and coaching to economically disadvantaged youth interested in the performing arts.  Through these ongoing programs, students learn necessary tools and strategies that enrich their creative lives.

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD, understands how good nutrition helps students achieve goals.  Christie’s presentation, “Fueling Your Creative Self: Simple Strategies for Super Students”, emphasized the connection between regular, balanced meals fueling creative endeavors.  Children eagerly listened on as Christie shared important tips that included:

  • Always eat breakfast!
  • Don’t skip meals. 
  • • Have grains, protein, and color at all meals.
  • • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when just right.
  • • Have Growing Foods (whole grains, fruits & veggies, dairy, nuts, protein) for a sharp brain & body, and include Sometimes Foods (candy, desserts, sweets)
  • Enjoy your food and let creativity shine!

Wishing the best to these budding super stars!

Learning to be the Expert of Your Own Body

Learning to be the Expert of Your Own Body

Stephanie-Burstein
Stephanie Burstein, MFT, Registered Intern, Child & DBT Coach

We live in a society filled with mixed messages about body image, health, and what loving ourselves truly means – it can be overwhelming!  How do we navigate the confusion and learn how to be experts of our own bodies?  What does it take to deconstruct social myths about health, replacing fallacies with a greater understanding that each body is unique and wonderfully different? 

Luckily, there is an organization dedicated to teaching others how to have healthy relationships with their bodies.  The Body Positive, based in California, empowers individuals through trainings and public awareness.  This past month, I was thrilled to participate in The Body Positive’s professional training at Florida Atlantic University.  Participants learned about the Core Competencies of Intuitive Health Model, found in the organization’s book, embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!).  I am excited to share what I learned and hope you embark on your own journey towards body acceptance.  The following competencies can stand alone, but when combined they create an enormous feeling of empowerment and positive change.   Here is my take on each competency:

(1) Reclaiming Health

Working at the Oasis has taught me to take an intuitive and mindful approach to life.  By developing a mindfulness practice that has helped me identify my body’s needs, I have embraced a health-centered approach to self-care versus society’s weight-centered tactics.

(2) Practice Intuitive Self-Care

Self-care is not a cookie cutter process – it’s about listening to your body’s needs, not what society thinks you need.  My intuitive self-care routine varies from movement to creativity.  If I am feeling restless at my computer, I will walk.  Intuitive self-care helps you cultivate a more authentic version of yourself.

(3) Cultivate Self-Love

Learning to love yourself will help you discover self-compassion.  Self-compassion means practicing care and understanding for ourselves, and providing validation when things don’t go our way.  The more self-compassion and love we have for ourselves, the more likely we are to take chances and make life-affirming choices.

(4) Declare Authentic Beauty

Once we have cultivated self-love, we open ourselves to authentic beauty.  Authentic beauty means that we are able to see others and ourselves from a compassionate perspective rather than society’s perspective of superficial beauty.  We are able to appreciate our own beauty for its uniqueness.

(5) Build a Community

This competency espouses finding people who share your vision of self-compassion and health.  Individually, we may find it difficult to change the media and society, but together we are able to empower each other by creating a community where principles of self-love and compassion take precedence over harsh judgments.

I look forward to incorporating The Body Positive’s core competenticies into my life, both personally and professionally.  For more information,  visit thebodypositive.org.

Introducing CALM: Stress Reduction & Mindfulness for Teens

Shutt Fav Headshot (1)Modern life has many amenitites that simplify and automate our lives; however, daily demands continue to grow rapidly.  Technological advances streamline tasks while simultaneously keep us connected to social media, news, and email.  We have at our fingertips the ability to reap the benefits of a less stressful lifestyle, but we often pursue the path of more rather than less.  Besides the obvious negative impact on our own health, modeling this more and more lifestyle has consquenses for our children as well.  (Don’t worry! Nonjudgment…I’ve made many of these choices too.) Recognizing stress motivates us parents to incorporate stress reduction practices into our own lives.  How do we then identify and incorporate stress reduction into the lives of our children?

Some stress is part of everday living.  In teenagers, many stressful life expereinces are often part of the norm.  Mild stress can be helpful to motivate one to complete difficult taks and reach important goals.  However, excessive and/or chronic stress in teens may result in a downward spiral of emotional and physical problems.  Common signs of stress in teens include:

Difficulty sleeping

Changes in appetite (too much or too little)

Excessive worry thoughts

Avoidance of social situations and activities

Frequent illness

Headaches and stomachaches

Extreme anger or sadness (reacts or overreacts)

Substance abuse

Parents who have identified stress related symptoms, anxiety, or depression in their child or adolescent might have already sought psychotherapy treatment. In addition to therapy, research has demonstrated that mindfulness is an effective tool for reducing stress, offering teens a way out of suffering and reducing risk to complications that arise from untreated anxiety and depression (including dropping out of school, addiction, and suicide).  Mindfulness can also help with the everyday challenges of being a teen, such as college testing and applications, homework, extracurricular activities and social relationships.  Offering teens an alternative way of building stress resiliency before they breakdown can be an excellent preventative medicine tool.  Some tips to incorporate mindfulness into your teen’s life include:

1. Disconnect!  Even if it is only for 20 minutes, remind your teen that downtime is important.  Turn off the technology and focus on breathing.  Breathe in a full breath (fuller than usual) and very slowly exhale, feeling the sensations of letting go.  With each exhale, there is a softening of the body.  Repeat.

2. Naming. When you are stressed, take time to pause, identify and name your emotions and thoughts.  Ask yourself, “Is this really true?”  Check the facts and see if there are any exaggeration of thoughts or catastrophic beliefs.  What can you realistically do about it now?  If nothing else, practice letting go.  Reframe by thinking, “I am feeling stressed about _____ and I intend to do _______ about it, or I am going to let this go for now.

3. If your mind is racing and overwhelmed with too many thoughts, STOP.  Stop everying.  Take a deep breath, Observe your breath, Proceed mindfully with just one thought.

Utilizing these easy tools now will provide teens with a lifetime of healthy coping mechanisms.  To advance your teen’s mindfulness knowledge even further, learn more about CALM: Teen Mindfulness Workshop at Sacred Treehouse.  This workshop will teach teens techniques to help cultivate acceptance and live mindfully.  Classes will include gentle yoga and stretching, mindful meditation, group discussion, and self-reflection activities. 

Wishing you and your children health, joy, and peace. 

– Dr. Patty Shutt

CALM: Teen Mindfulness Workshop will begin on Saturday, October 24th, 3:30-5:00 p.m.  For more information, please call 561-278-6033.

Summer Reading: No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering

No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh
Sara Goldstein, Staff Writer

The date was Saturday, May 9th, 2015. After my first experience with Dr. Shutt’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction silent retreat, I immediately drove to Barnes & Noble in search of more literature to keep me inspired. In retrospect, this was not the wisest decision. My car, under the influence of my relaxed mind, glided down Military Trail. As I pulled into the chaotic parking lot, I realized that I was not ready to overwhelm my brain with sensations.   There were too many lights, sounds, and people to navigate.

I gravitated toward the religious shelves and stood before Buddhism. My fingers brushed against Pema Chodron, Deepak Chopra and many titles with the word “zen”, stopping at Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich (pronounced like the word tick) is an old favorite of mine. There are countless titles to choose, spanning several decades and many different subjects. Like No Mud, No Lotusa shark drawn to a shiny object, I picked up No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering. The exterior is beautiful, but the words inside are even more exquisite.

Many of us have made it our mission to avoid emotional and physical discomfort. Readers are challenged to accept their suffering, inviting in all unpleasant experiences rather than trying to avoid them through consumption, addiction, or denial. In clear and comforting prose, Hanh explains how we are able to blossom from difficult experiences. The book invites readers to look at their suffering through practicing mindfulness. Many mindfulness techniques are outlined, including breathing meditation, mantras, metta (compassion) meditation, and incorporating mindfulness into daily activities.

No Mud, No Lotus was the perfect companion to my MBSR training. Since it is a quick read, I purposefully slowed down – only allowing myself one chapter per day. As with all of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, I felt like I was having a quiet conversation with a good friend. I imagined a soft-spoken voice reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s introductory quote: “Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.” This book brought me gratitude for all of the mud that has helped transform me.

Got FATTITUDE?

In May, Team Oasis had the pleasure of meeting Lindsey Averill, feminist activist, scholar, and filmmaker.  Averill, a PhD candidate at Florida Atlantic University, is currently working on her first documentary.  Fattitude explores representations of overweight people in popular culture, which often include unflattering stereotypes, discrimination, and ridicule. Through interviews with scholars and activists, Fattitude reveals to viewers that every body is worthy of love, pleasure, and acceptance.

Ms. Averill shared the Fattitude trailer, as well as unreleased clips.  After viewing, we spoke passionately about the objectification of women’s bodies, the false correlation between thinness and health, and even fatkinis.  It was evident to all in attendance that cultural perceptions of body image need to be examined and discussed openly, regardless of the reactions of others.

Fattitude is an ambitious project currently in its post-production stages.  Fundraising efforts have already generated over $44,000; however, costs have proven to be higher than anticipated.  Here is what we ask of you:

  1. View the trailer at:  http://www.fattitudethemovie.com/
  2. Help spread the word!  Discuss Fattitude with friends, family, and co-workers.
  3. Follow Fattitude on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  4. If you feel compelled to give, make a tax-deductible donation.

Just this past weekend, body shaming made national news.  We cannot wait for Fattitude to change minds and hearts.  What are your thoughts?

Staff Spotlight: Ashley Leising, M.S., Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern

Staff Spotlight
Meet Ashley Leising, M.S., #IMH13586
Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern

What is your academic background?

I double majored in Psychology and Family and Child Sciences, and graduated with my Bachelor of Science from The Florida State University. I then went onto obtain my Master of Science from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Mental Health Counseling.

Favorite Self-Care Activities:

Massages, going to the beach/on the boat, hanging with my cousins, working out, getting my hair and nails done, shopping, cleaning.

What is your approach to therapy?

I have an integrative approach with a focus on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Each client is different, and I tailor my approach toward their needs.

What influenced you to become a therapist? When did you know that you wanted to work in mental health?

At a young age, I had the opportunity to help my aunt coach children with autism. During
undergrad, I interned at a private practice and have always enjoyed helping others. Through my internship, I began to realize that I have a passion for helping and working with people. I enjoyed my undergraduate coursework and knew mental health was a field I wanted to pursue higher education in.

Why is therapy important?

Sometimes, we just can’t doing everything ourselves. Therefore, we seek the help of others. Therapy is a place for clients to focus on themselves.

Ashley is available for individual therapy sessions and DBT coaching.  Call (561) 278-6033 to schedule an appointment.

Staff Spolight: Stephanie Burstein, M.S., Registered Marriage & Family Therapy Intern

Staff Spotlight
Meet Stephanie Burstein, M.S., #IMT2307
Registered Marriage and Family Therapy Intern

What is your academic background?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Upon
graduating, I moved to NYC, where I have an aunt who is a psychiatrist, and interned at a state clinic. Soon after, I began looking into graduate programs, and ultimately decided to come back home to be closer to my family. I attended Palm Beach Atlantic University, where I recently obtained my Master of Science in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling.

Favorite Self-Care Activities:

I love to work on my art journals and experiment with mixed media. I find it relaxing to lay out all my materials on a table and just start to play! I also really enjoy comedy. Whenever I’ve had a rough day, I have go-to comedians that can brighten my mood! To quote Audrey Hepburn, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

What is your approach to therapy?

As a Marriage and Family therapist, I take a Systems Approach. I see individuals as part of a system that impacts them. Luckily, I work alongside some amazing therapists who challenge and support me. I am continuously growing as a clinician and love every minute of it.

What influenced you to become a therapist? When did you know that you wanted to work in mental health?

I think I always knew I wanted to work with people on a personal level, but was not sure to what extent. I toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher, but the idea of being able to really help create positivity in a person when they needed it most seemed like it was the best path for me. It was during my general psychology class that I decided to change majors. This class sparked more of my interest to understand our behaviors.

Why is therapy important?

We all want to be understood and ultimately therapy helps facilitate that desire.

Stephanie is available for individual therapy sessions and DBT coaching for children, teens and parents.  Call (561) 278-6033 to schedule an apppointment.

Meditation 101

Meditation 101:  Q & A with Dr. Patricia Shutt

What are the fundamentals of meditation?
I teach basic concentration skills to beginners to cultivate discipline in the mind and to become more one-pointed. Our minds are divided during most of our day and jumping from one task to another, often without our permission. We start with practices of awareness of breath, awareness of sensations, and work toward awareness of thoughts and feelings. For some, instruction in using a mantram, which is a short phrase repeated silently, works as a way to harness the wild, restless mind.

How much time should one dedicate to meditation each day?
The formal practice of sitting meditation requires between 20-45 minutes per day. However as one begins to develop a daily practice, they can start off with a shorter duration, maybe 5-10 minutes, and gradually build as concentration improves. One will gradually shift their priorities in life to make the time for meditation as the practice continues.

What is the ideal environment to meditate?
The best environment is right where you are – anywhere and anytime. Any comfortable spot with minimal interruptions will do. Getting caught up in having to have the “right” place, space, and time often leads to putting off the practice. There really is no ”right” or “wrong” environment.

What is the most common misconception people have regarding meditation?
The idea that one must clear their mind or empty their mind is a common misconception in beginning meditation. Many people give up immediately when they discover “monkey mind” – a state of wandering and jumping from thought to thought, is a more typical experience. It takes time and patience to move past that.

Join us for Mindful Mondays at Sacred Treehouse!  Beginning Meditation with Dr. Shutt is held every Monday from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  For more information, please call us at 561-278-6033.

Book Review – “Beautiful You” by Rosie Molinary

Beautiful You by Rosie Molinary

Asia Adams, Staff Writer

Beautiful You is unlike any personal growth book I’ve ever read.  While I’ve found that others tend to be repetitive, even cliché at times, this book delivers a fresh approach, and I am grateful to have come across it.  From the first page, I was hooked.  With 365 prompts for journaling all falling under the umbrella of acceptance and appreciation for oneself, it is wonderful for those seeking a short, daily read.  It is practical in that it only requires a few minutes a day, and at the same time, provides more than enough material to leave me feeling affected (in the best way possible), and satisfied.  My favorite prompts so far? Day 2: Pledge Allegiance to Yourself and Day 28: Stop Comparing.  I give Beautiful You two thumbs up, as it has resonated quite well with me.  It provides the perfect means for daily self-reflection, and is quite literally an innovative how-to guide for boosting a healthy sense of self, while decreasing self-deprecation.  Every minute that I spend with it in hand is truly time well spent.

Looking for more?  Attend the Art Journaling class on Fridays at Sacred Treehouse from 11:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.

Snacking Sense: Tips for Healthy Kids

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

Since all foods can be part of a balanced eating relationship, I tend to recommend buying full-sized bags of products (chips, crackers, cookies), rather than 100-calorie individual versions.  Not only does this save you some money, it most importantly avoids all of the subtle messages that we give our kids by placing “calories” as part of a food decision.  Have you ever had a 100-calorie bag of anything?  Were you completely and utterly satisfied after finishing it?  If you wanted another one, did you feel like you “shouldn’t”?  In my experience, they leave us hanging, wishing we had more. There is nothing magical about that number “100”, except that it’s an effective marketing strategy.  By focusing on the number, we have a much harder time listening to our tummies and the signals that tell us if we are still hungry or comfortably satisfied.  Instead, present these foods on a plate or in a serving bowl, allowing kids to fill their own plate and gauge the food amounts to their hunger levels.  For snacks you need to pack, keep some reusable snack containers on hand and make certain to include enough so that they can eat sufficiently.  Happy Snacking!