BY SHARON SAMUEL
Mindfulness, compassion and discernment are all you need to sustain a positive relationship with your body.
Sydney Bell, a social worker, counsellor, “health at every size” educator and body acceptance advocate, moved to Kitchener from Saskatoon on June 1 with her husband and dogs.
“My husband and I, we resigned (from) our jobs, sold our house and packed our dogs in our car and drove here,” she said. “We wanted a change in our lives. We wanted to live in southern Ontario.”
Bell conducts workshops on body sovereignty, which is about being comfortable in your skin, revelling in a healthy and nourishing relationship with your body. She hosts the workshops at the Hive and Groove in Kitchener, a wellness centre owned by her friend.
“It’s her business. I rent counselling space there and use spaces for workshops and classes,” she said.
Bell said her own life experiences have taught her that mindfulness, compassion and discernment is what is needed to have a positive relationship with her body. Mindfulness is being aware of oneself and the world around you, compassion is being able to forgive oneself for the negative feelings you have and accept yourself for what you are, and discernment is being able to determine what is helpful in the sovereignty journey.
“I think in my own journey towards a positive relationship with my body and all the studying and reading and learning I have done from amazing teachers, what has been helpful in that journey (are) those three things,” she said.
She said her teachers were her life experiences and she has also learned a lot from books she has read.
“There is a book called Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon and she is just an amazing woman,” said Bell. “The book is really encouraging a real significant shift, the theory being if you take care of yourself to the best of your ability your weight will be at a good weight for you.”
She said she had the opportunity to do a week-long intensive workshop with Bacon which was valuable to her.
She added the benefits are huge if people work on mindfulness, compassion and discernment as those three things can help a person when she gets negative thoughts and spirals downward.
“Compassion gives you an opportunity to move upward instead of spiralling downward,” Bell said, adding practising the trio to have a positive relationship with the body is a lifelong journey. Every now and then there will be a disappointment but people must remind themselves that it is normal to have that negative thought and they should have self-compassion instead of criticizing themselves.
“It’s important to be able to offer comfort to somebody who is in that dark place. Your worth as a human being isn’t determined by your outside appearance, it’s determined by your very existence.”
For more information on mindfulness, compassion and discernment, to make an appointment with Bell or to find out when the workshops are conducted,