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A MAP to a Better You

By Jake Levin

Leslie Smith Frank has nearly a quarter century's worth of experience in stress reduction, during which time her mindfulness has grown.

At the Mindfulness Awareness Practice Center (MAP) as 40 Center St. in Northampton, Mass., she applies her trade as a teacher and counselor specializing in a mindful eating course titled "Eat for Life," as well as in a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

Frank is a PA-C Emeritus, certified mindfulness teacher through UMass Medical School and a certified intuitive eating counselor. The Eat for Life program aims to help clients get control of their diets, without having to go on an actual diet.

Leslie Smith Frank

"Even when you're not hungry, do you eat?" Frank asked. "Are there unpleasant emotions during and after eating? Is food used to deal with stress? Is dieting a way of life? Do you often eat rapidly and feel 'stuffed' after eating? Do you eat to numb or pacify emotions or to reward or comfort yourself? Do you sometimes feel out of control with food and eating?"

The rapid fire questionnaire covers all of the bases of potential eating disorders. If you answered yes to one or more of the questions, you may benefit from the Eat for Life course, Frank said.

The MBSR program can help clients who may be in search of better, simpler ways to deal with stress, as well as a variety of other traits. Better concentration, more composure in difficult times, enhanced creativity, increased capacity for kindness and self-acceptance and living with more ease and less worry are also skills which can be gained through the eight-week program.

"Unrelieved stress can result in damage to the body and the mind," Frank said. "When people feel that their physical and mental resources are being taxed or exceeded, the symptoms of stress may emerge. Pain, difficulty with sleep, distractibility, irritability, anxiety and even depression can be traced to unrelieved stress."

Frank loves working at MAP with both individuals and groups. She said the experience of being less caught in worry or anticipation can be positively joyful. You'll never feel rushed at the MAP, where taking your time to establish a better you is encouraged.

"Our society rewards busy-ness and encourages distraction," Frank said. "So sitting quietly, doing what appears to be nothing may seem like a big waste of time. And yet, it may be the most important, wise choice we make in our day."

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