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Bronxville Elementary School Students Practice Mindfulness PDF Print Email

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Contributed by Michael Ganci, Syntax for The Bronxville School

Oct. 9, 2019:  As a Bronxville High School student read aloud calming prompts from a colorful children’s meditation book, “Big Breath,” a group of Bronxville Elementary school students – who had found a comfy spot on the rug and closed their eyes – filled the classroom with deep breaths and gentle exhales.

The session was part of a collaborative effort between the elementary school, high school teacher Bill Meyer and members of the Meditation Club to introduce additional mindfulness strategies for the younger students, in partnership with psychologist Dr. Joyce Vastola and the school’s psychology interns. Meyer – who has been incorporating meditation in his classes and leading mindfulness practices throughout the school building for close to a decade – is the author of “Big Breath,” which was released in August.

“We are really excited about this partnership,” Meyer said. “This year, members of the Meditation Club will facilitate the use of the book and bring some of the tools and practices developed over the last several years into the elementary school. It will be powerful for both sets of students to grow that relationship and learn from one another.”

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Bronxville High School teacher Bill Meyer and members of the Meditation Club during a mindfulness session.

Meyer’s latest book is a meditation guide to help young readers wind down before bed or after a tough day. Illustrated by Brittany R. Jacobs, the book features colorful images and calming meditation prompts.

“We tried to make it accessible and in the tone of an invitation versus a directive,” he said. “I felt like kids have way too many directions as it is in the day, and meditation should be an invitation, a space and place for them to explore the interior.”

Meyer, who had conducted extensive research on the topic, said there are numerous academic and wellness benefits that develop when teachers incorporate meditation and mindfulness into their curriculum.

“The school should take great pride in the growth of the Meditation Club and presence of mindfulness,” he said. “We are way ahead of the curve in developing a lot of the infrastructure necessary to grow this work but also integrate it deeply into the learning environments of our students.”

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School psychologist Dr. Joyce Vastola reads from Bill Meyer’s meditation book, “Big Breath,” to a group of Bronxville Elementary School students.

Meyer credits the community’s support and focus on student health and well-being for making the school’s work not just possible, but successful. “There is a lot of distortion and distraction in the lives of young people, and mindfulness is about setting those pieces aside and reconnecting with the present moment and in the process with oneself,” Meyer said. “By connecting with the self, we are then better able to connect to others and be of service to others. There’s an emphasis on engaged citizenship as part of the Bronxville Promise, and developing more self-aware and reflective students is the first step in developing engaged citizens.”

Pictured at top: Bronxville High School teacher Bill Meyer and a member of the high school Meditation Club lead a mindfulness session in a Bronxville Elementary School classroom.

Photos courtesy of the Bronxville Union Free School District


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
Two Special Community Events at Christ Church Bronxville this Sunday, October 6, and Monday, October 7 PDF Print Email

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By Staff

Oct. 2, 2019: Christ Church Bronxville invites the community to be part of two special events at the church this week.

Sunday, October 6, 2019, 5:00 to 6:15 pm: Blessing of the Animals. All creatures great and small are welcome. The church invites you to join "this joyful and lively service as we give thanks for creation, our animal companions, and pledge ourselves to care for them."

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Monday, October 7, 2019, 6:30 to 8:15 pm: Community Dinner and Evening Prayer with Brothers from Taize:  Brother John and Brother Emile from the Taize Community will join the community for an evening of conversation and worship. The event will take place in Taylor Hall at Christ Church Bronxville. It will begin with dinner and conversation at 6:30 pm and will be followed by Taize evening prayer in the church at 7:30 pm. A donation of $40 is suggested to support the Brothers of Taize and the youth program at Christ Church Bronxville.
 Click here to RSVP. Email Elis Lui at CLOAKING with any questions.

Photos courtesy Christ Church Bronxville

 

 
Community Fund Event on October 15 to Focus on Brain Science of Addiction and the Adolescent Brain PDF Print Email

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By Amy Korb, Executive Director, The Community Fund

Oct. 2, 2019:  The Community Fund of Bronxville Eastchester Tuckahoe is a nonprofit corporation organized to provide funding and support for social service agencies and community programs serving the health, education, and welfare needs of local residents.

It recently announced the launch of a new Community Conversations Speaker Series designed to offer all local residents up-to-date information on and support for the urgent issues that are impacting their community.

The first of the series will feature Dr. Robert Dupont and Dr. Caroline Dupont from the Institute for Behavior and Health. It will focus on the brain science of addiction and why the adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to substance abuse. It will take place at Concordia College on October 15 at 7:30 pm in the Sommer Center for Worship and the Performing Arts and will focus on drug abuse prevention. Free tickets are available by registering at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-conversations-tickets-73118971813.

For 50 years, Robert L. DuPont, MD, has been a leader in drug abuse prevention and treatment. He was the first director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (1973-1978) and the second White House Drug Chief (1973-1977). From 1968 to1970, he was the director of Community Services for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. From 1970 to1973, he served as administrator of the District of Columbia Narcotics Treatment Administration. In 1978, he became the founding president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., a nonprofit research and policy organization that identifies and promotes powerful new ideas to reduce drug use and addiction.  

Caroline DuPont, MD, is the vice president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. She focuses on addiction treatment and prevention. She maintains a private practice specializing in anxiety and addiction. Formerly, she was the founding president and principal investigator of DuPont Clinical Research, Inc., where she directed a team that conducted studies of investigational medication for anxiety and affective disorders.

The members of RyeACT coalition and their youth leader group will share their unique perspective as young people and speak to why they believe their local outcomes have improved using a community-based coalition approach.

“We are thrilled to start leveraging the expertise of the agencies we support in order to bring our entire community programming around issues that affect us all,” said Kiri Wolfe, board president of The Community Fund. “This is the first of many speaker events on topics that are relevant to our community that we are planning to host."

Youth substance prevention is a critical issue locally and nationally, and we are hopeful that this evening will be successful in starting a larger conversation throughout the Bronxville, Tuckahoe, and Eastchester community.

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
Be Well Bash a Success: See Photos PDF Print Email

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By Staff

Sep. 18, 2019:  The 2nd Annual NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital Be Well Bash was held at the Bronxville School on Sunday, September 15, and was a big success, with over 1,000 people attending.   

Enjoy pictures from the event below.

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Top four photos contributed by Josefa Paganuzzi, Thompson & Bender, for NYP Lawrence Hospital.


Lead photo and all other photos by N. Bower

 
Understanding Eating Disorders and Their Treatment PDF Print Email

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By Adrienne Katzow, PhD, The Counseling Center

Sep. 11, 2019:  Women's mental health concerns related to body image and eating disorders can arise during different periods of their lives.  Problems often appear during adolescence, when physical changes provoke anxiety, and again during the college years, when adult responsibilities often prove challenging.  Women who anticipate becoming mothers may also be vulnerable as they navigate the stress of trying to get pregnant, handle the dramatic bodily changes that occur with pregnancy and adjust to becoming new mothers. 

Eating problems play out on a spectrum—from concerning issues that have little impact on daily life, to a diagnosed condition that interferes with healthy living, to a life-threatening condition requiring serious medical intervention.  Behaviors include restricting food, over-exercising to lose weight and binging\purging (in various forms).  Severe and consistent restriction of food intake can lead to anorexia nervosa.  A recent variation of this disorder is orthorexia nervosa, an obsessive focus on healthy eating and food, which is often a way to camouflage an underlying eating disorder. While this disorder is not formally recognized as a medical diagnosis, it is very prevalent.

All eating disorders tend to involve feelings of shame.  Often people struggling with these issues go to considerable lengths to hide unhealthy behavior.  Often, too, these disorders re-emerge for women at different points over their lifetimes; they may seem to resolve the issues at one point only to find that they resurface during periods of increased emotional stress or physical change.  

Women who are coping with anxiety or depression during the prenatal and postpartum periods of pregnancy can be especially vulnerable to the reemergence of body image issues and eating disorders at different points.  The excessive focus on a pregnant woman’s appearance, whether it be comments about what she “should” eat, how much weight to gain, or her body’s changing shape and size, can be particularly challenging and anxiety provoking for a woman with a history of an eating disorder.  For another pregnant woman, she might actually experience relief from her eating disorder while pregnant, as there is a feeling that the body is allowed to change, but then find the postpartum experience filled with anxiety and a re-emergence of eating problems.  It is fair to say that the entire process of pregnancy and birth can give rise to a spike in anxiety which can become managed through disordered eating behaviors. Although women receive considerable support while they’re pregnant, once the baby is born and the focus shifts away from the new mother to the child, support can disappear just when women most need it in the postpartum period.  

Psychotherapists understand eating disorders as a way of managing overwhelming emotions and of regulating and gaining control over them.  Disordered eating allows the struggling person to deal with emotions that they otherwise feel helpless to manage. Attention is deflected from the upsetting feelings and instead directed on to food and exercise. The woman may not be able to control her emotions, but she can control her food intake and physical activity.  As a woman experiences the stress of a challenging job, of a competitive school, or of a difficult relationship, a therapist can help her see how hyper-focusing on food and weight becomes a coping mechanism….. a way of trying to make what is unmanageable feel manageable.   

The treatment of eating disorders is complex and multi-pronged.  While for some people it is enough to just see a psychotherapist with specialized training in eating disorders once or twice per week, for many patients a more comprehensive treatment team needs to be assembled.  This team could involve the psychotherapist,  a medical doctor who monitors the client’s physical health, and a nutritionist.  In addition, group therapy might be recommended as a helpful support.     

The length of treatment can vary, but in general this is not short-term work.  Sometimes the eating disorder is only one piece of the patient’s mental health picture, and the underlying areas of trauma and conflict need to be explored and understood for the eating issues to be worked through and resolved. A patient’s ability for self-examination, her openness to treatment, and her capacity for insight all play a role in determining how long her treatment lasts.

Most patients with eating disorders have a great deal of ambivalence about “giving up” symptoms which feel so central to their functioning.  The patient wants to change but is also fearful of changing. Individuals have developed patterns of behavior that have worked for them and it’s often more comfortable to maintain the status quo—however painful that may be—than to risk confronting the underlying issues and finding healthier ways to manage their emotions.  Quite often patients are unaware of the connection between their behavior and their emotions.  Much of the therapist’s work may involve helping patients translate the language of their body, eating and food into the language of their emotions and needs.  For patients who are not able to articulate their feelings, this can be challenging work.   

Psychotherapists approach the treatment of body image and eating problems in different ways though, these days, many would agree that an integrative approach can be most effective. A therapist can focus on helping the woman understand how her disordered eating behaviors have become a way of coping with stress or transitions in her life, but have also interfered with different parts of her life. Therapy becomes about understanding the behaviors -- where they came from in the patient’s history and how they became a way to manage overwhelming emotions, while also focusing explicitly on decreasing the behaviors and developing healthier coping skills. These days, many therapists opt for a “relational” style in which the therapist collaborates with the patient, is in the trenches with her.  In this type of work, therapists seek to create a safe place, and remain supportive, as they explore what is going on with the patient outside the therapist’s office,  as well as examining how unhealthy ways of managing emotions and behavior might also be played out in relationship to the psychotherapist.  When patients bring these issues “into the room,” it provides the psychotherapist with a rich arena in which to point these patterns out and ultimately facilitate real change.  At its best, therapy can be a crucible for change, an essential part of any patient’s journey towards growth and recovery. 

Serious eating disorders can be physically dangerous and it’s important that patients be made aware of the possible current and long-term medical consequences of their behavior.  If a teen is no longer getting her period as a result of her eating disorder, learning that her behavior could impact her ability to have children years later may motivate her to seek help.  If a woman is experiencing dental issues from the acid build-up on her teeth caused by purging, bringing that issue into the light of discussion may allow her to see her situation more clearly.  Shame associated with eating disorders pervades our culture, and it pervades the medical system as well.  Often dentists and gynecologists don’t follow up with more probing questions when a patient denies a behavior, and medical side-effects can go unaddressed.  With care, a psychotherapist can help steer patients to medical providers who are knowledgeable about eating disorders and will be able to approach patients with care and without judgment.  

What can family and friends do to support someone who is suffering from an eating disorder? As a first step, parents, a spouse, or another significant, caring person might participate in helping the sufferer get a professional evaluation and diagnosis. Loved ones can also join group therapy or support groups that help answer questions such as: Am I enabling this behavior? Am I unconsciously contributing to it?  It’s a good rule of thumb not to focus on food—not to comment on what the person is or isn’t eating, or on how much weight they’ve lost or gained.  Such comments are likely to make the person more sensitive, self-aware, and anxious; less trusting and apt to confide. And yes, however well-intentioned, what people say can make the situation worse.

There is tremendous anxiety about eating and food choices in our culture and this anxiety provides fertile ground for the development of eating disorders. The current tendency to talk about “clean eating” versus “dirty eating, ” in which foods are given moral or emotional value, helps to promote this unhealthy notion that food and emotional worth are somehow linked.  A better approach may be to focus on “intuitive eating,” in which food is emotionally neutral and patients learn to connect with, take ownership of, and trust their feelings of hunger, fullness and satisfaction.  Unlike other kinds of addictive behavior, such as alcoholism, the patient with an eating disorder cannot turn away from food entirely, which makes the process of recovery all the more difficult.  But, with in-depth treatment, patients do learn to forge a new relationship with food and to detach eating from the core of their self-worth.

At The Counseling Center in Westchester, we can provide support and guidance to help you manage a range of issues and anxieties affecting your daily life.

Pictured here:  Adrienne Katzow

Photo courtesy The Counseling Center

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 

 
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