Welcome to our Member Spotlight! This month we are delighted to shine the spotlight on the work of Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RDN, CDN, Nutrition Therapist with Eat to Love (www.eat2love.com).
Q. Jenna, would you share with your mindful eating program with us?
Beginning September 27th and running for 9 weeks, I will be co-teaching an online course for nutritionists, therapists, coaches, yoga teachers, and the like to learn how to provide meditation instruction to their patients, clients, or students one-on-one or in small groups. My co-teacher (and my own meditation instructor), Susan Piver, is a NY Times bestselling author of 8 books, a Buddhist teacher, and an authorized Meditation Instructor in the Shambhala lineage.
Together we will be helping students to establish and maintain their own regular meditation practice and then to extend the practice outward in their work with others. Students will be instructed in the basic practice of Shamatha meditation and provided with the tools necessary to create a strong personal practice that is genuine and sustainable. Then they will learn how to instruct others in the technique and to answer the most frequently asked questions about a meditation practice.
Q: What is your favorite resource for someone who is interested in mindful eating?
I see important guidance for creating and sustaining a mindful eating practice in practically every Buddhist text I read, regardless of whether food or body are mentioned expressly. Two of my favorites areThe Places that Scare You and Comfortable with Uncertainty, both by American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. These texts are incredibly accessible to those of us relatively new to Buddhist teachings and communicate so many of the themes and concepts that are relevant to the different ways we use or misuse food - grasping and attachment to pleasure, resistance of and avoiding discomfort, and ignorance or numbing out.
Q: Do you have a few favorite tips to offer?
Know that mindful eating will not "fix" you. First, because you are not broken. And second, because it will not save you from suffering. It is, however, one of the most kind, gentle, and loving things you can do for yourself that will in fact change the way you relate to your struggles, discomfort, and uncertainty.
Meditate. It's essential to having any kind of authentic mindful eating or mindfulness practice. Mindfulness without meditation is like a fat-free cupcake: flat, dense, and lacking in tenderness.
Q: Tell us a little how you came to this path. A story or memorable moment.
I began meditating about a year after I stopped drinking. Much like I was a gray-area problem drinker, I was a gray-area disordered eater, despite my extensive training in nutrition. My meditation practice showed me how I was using various distractions to buffer me from what was actually happening in my life. And it provided me with the stability to gradually expand into my discomfort without trying to self-medicate by drinking, eating, or doing any of the other things I did to not deal with my reality. Eventually I put two and two together and saw how a meditation practice could influence others' relationship with food, body, and suffering and decided that was exactly where I wanted to concentrate my personal and professional efforts.
Q: What is the one question about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?
"Can I use mindful eating or mindfulness to lose weight?"
Much as we should not "use" our meditation practice for a specific goal, a mindful eating practice should not be used to manipulate our bodies in some way. Mindful eating and mindfulness, for me, is about paying attention, being gentle, and being very honest with ourselves about what arises. To do that in any real way, we have to let go of a desire for a certain outcome.
Q: What is your vision for Mindful Eating? What do you want mindful eating to help or cure?
By practicing mindful eating and meditation, I believe that people can remove the barriers keeping them from engaging fully in their own lives and in the lives of others. When we obsess about food and our bodies, our field of vision gets very narrow, selfish, and small. By cultivating a sane relationship with food and ourselves, we can see our bodies as instruments for working with others rather than objects to be perfected.
Q: Why did you join The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME)?
I believe that TCME is emphasizing the most important aspects of wellness and creating a sane relationship with food and body. Even though I can't participate in as many of the programs as I'd like to because I have a young child, I benefit by just being associated with the group. I invested in a lifetime membership because I know I'll gradually be able to participate more and more and would like to continue to support the organization as it grows in influence and popularity.
Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RD, CDN, is a writer, nutrition therapist, mindfulness teacher and Open Heart Project Meditation Guide. She will be co-teaching the NEW “How to Become a Meditation Instructor” certified E-Course program with Susan Piver, starting September 27, 2016. This course will certify therapists, counselors, nutritionists, and coaches to teach meditation to their clients (there's early bird pricing available until mid-summer).
Learn more about this program here
Read a blog post Jenna wrote entitled: Five Mindfulness Lessons for Coaches
Thank you, Jenna, for sharing your passion for meditation, mindfulness and mindful eating with all of us.
This Member Spotlight is a space for us all to learn about and share our members' ideas, practices, clinical experience, projects, writings, and research regarding mindful eating. All Center for Mindful Eating members are welcome to submit their mindful eating 'Spotlight' which we will then share through our website, Nourish e-newsletter, Mindful Bytes, and our social media outlets. We are happy to help promote your mindful eating related projects provided they are primarily in harmony with our Principles of Mindful Eating and recently published Position Statements.