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.

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