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!


 

2nd Annual HEArt Show Fundraiser a Huge Success!

It wasn’t your typical fundraising event.  Fancy invitations were not sent to a targeted donor mailing list, nor was the event publicized months in advance.  Directed by Clara Bossie, LMFT, the “event committee” consisted of a group of staff members dedicated to a nonprofit organization close to their hearts.  An abundance of creative vision combined with passionate and enthusiastic supporters resulted in the HEArt Show (Healing Through Expressive Arts), benefitting The Body Positive.

Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches was transformed for the sold out event, which took place on February 6th, 2015.  Our building twinkled against the sunset’s dusk, with the landscaping highlighted in hues of blue and purple.  Guests were greeted by live harp music and invited to explore multiple galleries.  While enjoying specially prepared culinary creations, attendees participated in body art, live videography, and hands-on art in our collaborative painting studio.

Over forty featured artists contributed pieces to the HEArt Show.  Whimsical décor and special lighting complimented artwork, which included mixed media, photography, jewelry, fashion, and sculpture.  Featured local artists included Salvatore Principe, Ona Steele, Charles Soto, as well as art students from both Atlantic Community and Boca Raton Community High Schools.  The live auction featured two one-of-a-kind pieces created during the event in our live studio.

Whether attendees were just enjoying the sights or purchasing exquisite artwork, everyone who participated helped to support The Body Positive.  Founded in 1996, The Body Positive’s mission is to teach people how to overcome conflicts with their bodies so they can lead happier, more productive lives.  The organization’s mission is spread through public workshops, student leadership training and mentoring, professional training, and online activism.  Connie Sobczak, Executive Director of The Body Positive, was thrilled to attend the HEArt Show.  Guests were able to receive signed copies of Ms. Sobczak’s book, Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!).

The personal touches and intimate atmosphere of the HEArt Show made it truly unique in comparison to other fundraising endeavors.  Generous underwriters, caring volunteers, and talented artists worked together to create a memorable evening, with over $7,000 raised to support The Body Positive (visit TheBodyPositive.com).  The HEArt Show proved that Einstein was on to something when he shared that: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  All of the fundraising expertise combined couldn’t have reproduced the heart and soul that went into this extraordinary event.  We hope we have inspired you to become involved in next year’s show!

Sara Goldstein, Staff Writer

 

 

Snacking Sense

By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

If you’ve ever tried to have a clear and concise conversation with your child after school, you might find it a daunting and nearly impossible task.  Typically, you will find their attention, energy and desire to recount the day stretched thin, and much of that is simply because their bodies have run out of fuel. If it’s been at least 3 hours since their last meal or snack, or their previous amount of food was small, rest assured it is time for them to eat. They need a snack.

As Ellyn Satter so beautifully explains in her Division of Responsibility, one of the parental roles in the feeding relationship is to “provide regular meals and snacks”.  This provides stability and the reassurance that food will always be available, thereby allowing children to develop a regular rhythm of hunger and fullness signals which will serve them well throughout their life.  As they trust that we will provide food in a regular and timely manner, they can best develop a sense of trusting themselves and their internal signals.

Snacks, however, have many stigmas and much confusion abounds as we try to determine the “best way” to provide them to our kids.  Here are some suggestions that may answer a few of your questions:

  • Snacks are typically best thought of as little meals, not a single stand-alone item. Our culture has branded certain categories as “snack foods”, however anything you would serve at a meal could feasibly be a snack and will undoubtedly be more satisfying than a single-serve package of baked crackers!  How about a slice of leftover veggie pizza and some grapes?
  • Include two or three foods from amongst:  whole grains, protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and fats.  Make certain to also offer some ‘fun foods’, and pair them with foods that have a little staying power, such as chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.  Having foods with a higher fat content will hold them longer, and create greater satisfaction.
  • 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.
  • A snack is not a treat, not a reward, not withheld in a punishing manner, not conditional.  It’s simply a consistent part of a normal day between meals.  It is just food.
  • Have your kids sit at a table for snacks (without TV, Instagram, or homework!), allowing them to better listen to their bodies and know when they’re satisfied, (not to mention the fact that running around the house is dangerous and messy if done while eating!).  If your child needs to go straight from school to a practice, event or appointment, make certain to have packed a few snack options, and give him time to fully taste and enjoy before running out of the car.
  • Sit down and keep your child company, listening to your own body’s signals of hunger or thirst.  Snack time is designed to relax and regroup.  Take a quick minute to breathe, stretch and transition from the busy day.  Don’t create a stressful conversation about the hours of homework they have yet to face!  Our children are watching us always, and modeling consistent snack and re-charge time is helpful for their development, as we as for our energy and patience.
  • Try to give at least two hours and not longer than 3½ -4 hours between a snack and the next meal.  For example, if dinner is at 6:00, aim to have snack time completed by 4:00, in time for your child to get hungry again by the meal.  In the meantime, make certain your little one has caught up on their water intake, adding in some fresh fruit, ice cubes or cucumbers for a little flavor and fun.
  • If your child is truly not hungry, they won’t eat.  They can then eat at the upcoming meal –  no grazing later on as the meal approaches.
  • When your kids are older, they can begin to make some choices about snacks, within the guidelines that you’ve demonstrated.  Remember to keep them planning and eating at a generally consistent time.

If you maintain the reliable consistency of meals and snacks, including a variety of foods, your child will regulate and be able to trust their body’s signals of hunger and fullness.  Happy snacking!

 

Ellyn Satter, Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense (n.p.: Bull, 2000), http://www.amazon.com/Child-Mine-Feeding-Revised-Updated/dp/0923521518/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y/185-4852629-9299211.“Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding,” Ellyn Satter Institute, 2014, http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/dor/divisionofresponsibilityinfeeding.php.

 

The Affordable Care Act: What’s New in Mental Health Coverage?

By Asia Adams

“Obamacare”…It’s a phrase we hear all too often.  The overarching goal is to expand insurance coverage, improve quality of services, & make healthcare more accessible overall.   Now, while this all sounds great in theory, what does it really mean? And what are its’ implications for mental healthcare consumers?

The law is expansive, to say the least; 974 pages, addressing everything from health quality measures, to improved design of emergency care.  It’s far too lengthy for any ordinary person to sift through, much less fully understand.  However, it is important to note that mental health has recently become one of the “10 Essential Benefits” that are required in those insurance policies which are sold on the federal health exchange. With more emphasis being placed on the importance of mental health, some big changes will be happening in terms of coverage within this population.  For starters:

  • Health insurance plans are not able to apply yearly OR lifetime dollar limits on coverage of essential health benefits, whereas they often did in the past.
  • In Florida alone, $5,887,000 in grants have been awarded in order to increase behavioral health screening and push for integration with primary health.  More specifically, this money goes toward “expanding suicide prevention activities, screening for substance abuse disorders, and integrating primary care services into publicly funded community mental health, as well as other community-based behavioral health settings”.
  • A pre-existing condition may no longer be used as grounds for denial of an individual’s future insurance policy.

While the Affordable Care Act still has much room for improvement, the recent provisions regarding mental healthcare are certainly a big move in the right direction for those affected.