We are delighted to shine our ourJune Member Spotlight on Alice J. Rosen, MSEd, LMHC!
Alice is the founder of "The No-Diet and Self-Led Eating Workshops" and "The Conscious Cafe.’ She is a faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist, and former Director of Education for "Feeding Ourselves (SM)."
She works as a psychotherapist and educator specializing in eating and body image issues, but also addresses more general issues such as anxiety, mood disorders, life transitions, and chronic pain/stress. Her private practice, which spans over twenty-seven years, is located in Concord, MA.
Q: Alice, would you share with our members more about your mindful eating program?
I offer weekend intensive workshops called The No-Diet Workshop, and Self-Led Eating. (The latter is for professionals.) These utilize mindfulness to bring about the experience of an authentic ease and pleasure with food, and at the same time, a new confidence in the body to be the guide in matters of eating. I offer monthly Conscious Cafés where people come together to practice mindful eating. I also work individually with clients using the Internal Family Systems Model to get to know, understand, and be freed from what hinders them from being more present around food.
Another part of my “program” is my teaching and guiding CD The Feeding Ourselves Method, A Guide to Achieving a Healthy Relationship with Food. It is an efficient way to introduce and teach Mindful Eating.
Q: Would you share with us your favorite resource for someone who is interested in mindful eating?
Well, I suggest to most to explore TCME. I also recommend that they hook in to the messages and exercises from Green Mountain at Fox Run. These are very balanced and wise. For some clients, I may suggest MBSR, meditation or yoga groups. I also consider books a resource. (One Bowl, Overcoming Overeating, The Zen of Eating, The Slow-Down Diet, Geneen Roth books, True Refuge by Tara Brach are some of my favorites, not to mention, my own CD.
Q: Do you have a few favorite tips to offer?
Practicing mindful eating is key, but patience and respect for one’s pace opens the door. What is important, is HOW you eat….. not WHAT you eat.
Q: Tell us a little how you came to this path. A story or memorable moment.
I had been an emotional eater for over 13 years, with no insight as to how to manage my out-of-control behaviors. In 1979 I took what I knew was to be my last long mindfulness meditation retreat for quite a while. I was about to get my M.S.Ed, enter the world of the employed, get married and have children. I had been meditating for 6 years before that, but had to admit to myself at this “last chance for enlightenment” that I had wasted a lot of time dwelling in past, future and fantasies during prior retreats. It was with a sense of urgency that I decided to be mindful during every aspect of the 10 -day retreat, from transitions to yogi job and even to eating.
Mindful eating was not a term then, but I remembered instructions years before where the teacher told us to “Notice the intention to pick up the utensil, notice the transit, notice putting utensil down, fully experience food in mouth, swallow. So I did that at my fist evening where they served just apples. To my utter surprise, when there was more than half the apple left, I found no desire, nor intention to pick it up. My mind told me that I should finish it because I hadn’t eaten much all day, that it was the only thing to eat until breakfast, that it was just an apple, that I shouldn’t waste it, etc, but in mindfully going back to my experience in-the-moment, I could find no desire to eat, so I threw it in the compost.
I found that so curious that I ate mindfully again at breakfast and every meal after for 10 days. I ended up eating less that half of what I normally ate, but was also more satisfied than ever. My body felt so much better, and all the cravings for food and later regrets, which had always accompanied me on retreats, fell away. I felt liberated. I thought I had discovered something, and could not wait to share it with the world when I came out of retreat.
I have been on this path since then. My joy is that others experience that same feeling for themselves.
Q: What is the one question about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?
Just one? Maybe it boils down to pervasive doubts that mindfulness of eating is possible and that it “works”. It is generally acknowledged that a little mindfulness can’t hurt, but you still need to follow a diet or caloric plan to keep you in check and in order to lose weight.
Q: What is your vision for Mindful Eating? What do you want mindful eating to help or cure?
I have a big vision for Mindful Eating. Since food is necessary for survival and is literally central to and essential to all that we know, repairing our relationship with food would effect well being on every level, from Nature and spirit, to physical, emotional, social, physical, economic and political.
My vision is that we are at peace with food, find pleasure in eating, honor and respect it. My vision is that this common sense approach eliminates the diet mentality and frees people from unnecessary suffering.
In the early 80’s, when my kids were in grade school, I attempted, as a volunteer, to integrate a mindful eating program into the existing curriculum, which included lunchtime. They thought I had two heads! I still think that mindful eating can be seamlessly integrated into any curriculum from preschool on.
Q: Why did you join TCME?
Despite the present popularity of Mindfulness, it is actually difficult to find colleagues who fully embrace mindful eating. I have felt quite isolated in this regard. I am very impressed with all that TCME has to offer, and how it has managed to provide so much information and support. I want to join in on, and sustain that effort.
Alice is leading a Self-Led Eating Weekend Intensive in Concord MA in June 2016.