About Leslie Smith Frank
When I began practicing mindfulness meditation in 1993, I discovered that what was stressing me out did not change. No big surprise. It did surprise me to observe that I was dealing with the same old stress in a very different way. I didn’t seem to be thrown off-center quite so quickly or as often, or feel upset for quite so long. This felt very important.
I was a student in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course at the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1998. The useful and transformative nature of the practices motivated me to enter the teacher training path. Since 2000, when my teacher training began, my exploration and learning have continued. I was honored to be invited to join the adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts Medical
School Center for Mindfulness in 2015 and completed MBSR teacher certification in 2016. In 2018, I began teaching MBSR for Brown University at their Mindfulness Center.
When I was teaching MBSR online in 2016 through UMass Center for Mindfulness, I never could have realized how valuable that early experience with ZOOM would be. When the pandemic began, I was familiar with ZOOM and started offering sessions online, right away.
As a board certified physician assistant, I worked in rehabilitation medicine, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and occupational medicine over a 25 year career. I am also a Massachusetts certified secondary school teacher.
April 2009, I opened the Mindful Awareness Practice Center (MAP Center) in Longmeadow, MA and began teaching MBSR to groups and individuals. This career shift was born rather quickly, yet quite organically, following significant shifts in my work as a physician assistant. It felt like the right thing, to follow the leading and leaning of my heart toward this work.
In 2010, through the encouragement of a friend, I applied to Bay Path University to teach Stress Management, a mindfulness-based contemplative course, which I designed. Serving on the advisory board for the Bay Path Physician Assistant program led to teaching MBSR to its physician assistant students. The university invited me to create another mindfulness-based course. After completing professional training in Mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT), I developed curricula and taught “Mindful Eating” as an online course for several years. In spring 2013, I began teaching a meditation course for undergraduates. As sustaining faculty in Bay Path’s 2014 Massive Open Online Course ( MOOC) “Own Your Story”, I learned and connected online with students around the world.
In addition to adult students in the 8-week MBSR program, I have taught mindful awareness to young people at Longmeadow High School, Wolf Swamp, Center and Blueberry Hill Elementary Schools, and Glenbrook Middle School - all in Longmeadow, MA. At Heartsong Yoga in East Longmeadow, MA, I offered 8-week teen stress reduction programs, as well as adult meditation classes. The Springfield JCC, Springfield Public Library, and Longmeadow Summer Enrichment have hosted teen mindfulness programs, which I designed and facilitated. The courses taught for youth are supported by broad training in several curricula including: Mindful Schools, .b, The Mindfulness in Schools Project, and Learning 2 Breathe curriculum.
In 2012 and 2014, I co-taught mindfulness practice to groups of public elementary school teachers and staff in Northampton, MA, through a community grant. In Spring of 2013, I entered class rooms to introduce eight weeks of mindfulness practice to kindergarten through fourth graders using the Mindful Schools model.
Throughout the years, invitations for public talks and professional development have come from: Health New England, Lego, Mestek Corporation, Storrs Library, Longmeadow, MA, Agawam Library, Western New England University (sponsored by Glenmeadow), Belchertown Schools, Longmeadow Public Schools, Northampton Public Schools, Hadley Schools, Hampshire Regional Schools, and The Western Massachusetts College and University Librarians. Recently, popular interest in intuitive eating has lead to invitations from Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, The Bariatric Dietitians Conference at Baystate Medical System and Baystate Reference Labs. I am delighted to be a regular guest lecturer at U Mass Graduate School of Dietetics, speaking about intuitive and mindful eating.
I’ve led morning meditations through the online platform eMindful, and my recordings of guided practice are in the online library of the popular meditation App, Insight Timer. In fall 2014, I facilitated mindful awareness training in an 8-week National Institute of Health (NIH) pilot study for students at Chicopee High School. Other venues in which I’ve taught MBSR include Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, and Copper Beech Institute in Hartford, CT.
My personal interest in food, eating behavior, mindfulness and body image came together as I began teaching a mindfulness-based intuitive eating course, Eat for Life. This non-diet approach to making peace with food shines light on a world that is filled with body shaming and harsh messages to restrict food and moralize eating behavior. Through kind awareness, participants call a truce with the "food police" and learn to regain pleasure and satisfaction in food. After several years of training and study, I am now a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.
My husband and I live in Northampton, MA. We love having our four adult children, partners and grandchildren visit and hang out.
The heart of this teaching and support comes from regular personal mindful awareness practice and silent retreats, several times a year.