Benedictine CARE Wellness Program

Integrating Contemplative Practices and the Benedictine Monastic Heritage into our CARE Weight Loss and Lifestyle Program

Cultivating Interior Silence, Reconnecting, and Studying… Together in Community

Benedictine CARE provides guidance and education, support and community, and a new approach to preventative health and wellness rooted in a 1500-year-old tradition.

Benedictine CARE is led and developed by licensed nutritionist, Teri Rose, MS, LN, OblSB, a Benedictine oblate with St. Paul’s Monastery in Maplewood, MN. Teri has been in spiritual formation with the Sisters of St. Benedict since 2018. A Benedictine oblate is a lay monastic affiliated with a monastery who promises to uphold the Benedictine values and the Rule of St. Benedict to the best of their ability in their own lives. Benedictine CARE is being offered in collaboration with St Paul’s Monastery and their Benedictine Center, a spiritual retreat center open to the public.

Benedictine CARE integrates contemplative practices, the Benedictine monastic heritage, and therapeutic lifestyle programming into a unique new option for individuals that continue to be challenged when trying to consistently make the lifestyle choices they want to be making.

Only in the past couple of decades has our culture started acknowledging the role of lifestyle choices on premature deaths caused from high blood pressure, inactivity, and excess weight. Yet, this fear of dying sooner hasn’t motivated long-term change. In fact, disease risk continues to climb. So why has this transforming new approach to health, using lifestyle as medicine, failed to reverse the world health crisis?

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Where do we go from here?

Flipping the current health paradigm

We propose that it isn’t due to lack of information or of “knowing how”. It isn’t due to individual lack of willpower or discipline. And for many, it isn’t because they can’t align their goals with their values or define why they really want to make the change.

Many individuals stand in the sacred sliver of time right before a choice, knowing very much what they wish they would do, calling to mind all the “right reasons” to make the choice they really want to make, and still they make the ingrained choice of habit. The choice that reinforces negative self talk and increases their risk for illness. They, again, make the “bad choice” and promise tomorrow will be better.

So where do we go when eating well protects our health but doesn’t “fix” everything and when knowing the psychology of what is going on in our nervous systems and brains offers us relief and understanding but doesn’t seem to take us far enough?

What if this inability to adhere to the choices we want to be making is being caused by a lack of connection to the internal physical body, isolation caused from thinking we have to “fix ourselves by ourselves” (even if we pay for professional help, we feel alone in our kitchens at night), and separation from an experienced relationship with the Beloved, with the Divine within us?

When you read this, stop for a moment and see how it resonates with you.

You might not have considered these questions as the source of your underlying restlessness or frustration but if something here resonates with you, stay curious about what that could mean. This is the very essence of what we will be nurturing in Benedictine CARE. Because it is here, when guidance and companionship is sought to explore these questions, where the Benedictine Tradition thrives.

Pay attention to what monastics point to_Benedictine CARE_cropped

Benedictine Spirituality + Preventative Health

Contemplative Practices: Cultivating Interior Silence

  • Benedictine CARE guides you in the contemplative practices of Centering Prayer and Biospiritual Focusing
  • Contemplative living, cultivating the ability to listen to and be led by the Divine within, is a foundation of the monastic heritage; within the monastery, attention is turned to internal quiet multiple times each day; in Benedictine CARE you will be introduced how to begin this practice and will have a community to practice within
  • Benedictine CARE challenges the existing idea of body, mind, and spirt being a triangle, with each point of equal importance; Benedictine CARE follows the monastic tradition that teaches the spirit embraces and leads; our bodies and minds are needed to be sure and they are our greatest gifts but what could happen if we could pause to listen to our spirit first in that sacred sliver of time before our choices?

Benedictine Values: Stability, Stewardship, and Community

In Benedictine CARE you will study how the Benedictine monastic values of Stability, Stewardship, and Community all enhance your ability to sustain desired long-term changes. You will be within a group of individuals making similar changes as you. You will share conversations around:

    • How does Stability increase our ability to stand in the seemingly uncomfortable void change creates?
    • How does the responsibility of Stewardship also apply to our physical bodies and minds?
    • And how does coming together in Community to practice this help facilitate long-term change?

Practice Using Food and Lifestyle as Medicine

  • Benedictine CARE includes our core CARE Weight Loss and Lifestyle program materials
  • Immediately at enrollment you will have access to the CARE Balanced Plate, meal timing guidelines, and sample meal plans
  • Cultivating interior silence does not mean we become passive, rather, it helps us take the action we want to take which includes playing, exploring, and getting in the kitchen to practice our therapeutic lifestyle

How it Works

Benedictine CARE has three important components

Online study and conversation – this is where you will download the educational materials, as well as, where you will chat (practice our monastic value of Community) with other program members throughout the month

Bi-monthly stage-matched email nurturing – two times per month you will receive an email based on what you are currently practicing (this is determined by which educational materials you have downloaded)

Monthly group meeting – this is where we will share our experiences of how practicing our new health paradigm is going

Immediately at enrollment you have access to:

Benedictine CARE Chapter 1 “Stability of Intention”: the education materials are the core of our work together; you will read them when time permits for you and then you are invited to talk about them on the private forum throughout the month, and most importantly, start practicing the information provided. (one new chapter will be available each month)

The Benedictine CARE private member-only forum: the forums are for you to use in any way you’d like. Share ideas, talk through questions about the materials, or just connect to build community. The forum is a resource for members to talk amongst yourselves; however, if you have a question for Teri as you read the materials or practice in your kitchens, you are very welcome and encouraged to reach out via the forum

The full CARE Weight Loss and Lifestyle Program materials: In addition to the new Benedictine CARE program content, you also have access to the existing CARE Weight Loss and Lifestyle Program materials

Your monthly group meeting

Once per month you are invited to attend a 90-minute group meeting focusing on contemplative practices and sharing your experience of practicing your new choices throughout the month. The In-Person practice group is limited to 20 individuals but new groups will be formed as the waitlist requires.

NOTE: For the continued protection of the Sisters, the Monastery does require proof of vaccination from all CARE In-Person Group members at the first meeting; masks are also required when in common areas (using the restroom, etc).

Two meeting options are available

FAQ

Is Benedictine CARE affiliated with a religion or church?

No. Though Benedictine Spirituality is rooted in the Catholic Tradition, it is firmly ecumenical and encourages interfaith community building. Benedictine CARE does not bring forward any discussion on theology, bible study, church doctrine of any kind (from any religion), or on comparative theology (the differences between Western and Eastern Traditions). Benedictine CARE is only a space to re-explore internal silence and how to be curious about our humanly-complicated relationship with the Divine. We sit, we listen with the ear of heart, and let each individual’s story unfold, uniquely and privately to them. And then we play with what to do in the kitchen, which meal ideas made getting out the door easier, and how we are going to stay active when we’d rather not!

How does Benedictine CARE differ from mindfulness and other forms of meditation?

Contemplative practices in Benedictine Spirituality have the sole purpose of nurturing one’s relationship with the Beloved (the Divine, God, source of Love, whatever name is right for you). Relaxation, feeling calmer, and physiological health benefits could results but that is not the aim. Contemplative practices are mindful and meditative. The difference in terms is based on what one’s aim is with their practice (as a psychological or relaxation technique or nurturing a relationship with the Beloved).

Who is Benedictine CARE best for?

Benedictine CARE is for individuals that want to bring their spirituality into an active role in their health. Even if they don’t really know what that means or how to do it. Benedictine CARE is also for those that find learning with others deepens their own experience.

Will there be Benedictine nuns at the meetings?

Potentially. The In-Person meeting is at St. Paul’s Monastery. You will eventually (and most likely sooner rather than later) meet a Sister. (And fun fact for your next trivia night: Nun is the European term for a woman vowed religious, in the US they are Sisters.)

Is this a one-time class or limited duration program?

No. Benedictine CARE is an ongoing wellness program. It has ongoing open enrollment allowing individuals to join when the time is right for them. We will also add new group meeting times as the waitlist requires. Benedictine CARE is created out of the monastic tradition of Community to strengthen individuals formation and learning through ongoing support, group study, and companionship. The duration of participation will be unique to each individual.

What is the online format like for the education materials?

Once you enroll (Sept 1st for those that pre-enroll), you immediately get new navigation menus on the Perfectly Produce website. You get instant access to the member areas which include “Program Materials” and “Benedictine CARE Community Forum”. In the “Program Materials” area, you will be given a step by step list of topics. When you click on a step, you are provided PDFs to download (just like chapters of a book). These materials provide education, goals, and resources like cooking ideas, charts, etc. It is a very simple and comfortable process. Then, during the week, Teri will also be emailing group members with additional guidance and support.

Is there a self-guided version of Benedictine CARE? Do I have to join a group?

The monthly group meeting is an essential way that Benedictine Spirituality is woven into the program. The Benedictine Tradition is rooted in formation happening through Community. It will be through this community experience that individuals share and learn the process of consistently making desired lifestyle changes. Many feel that health is personal and that dietary changes are individual choices and to be done independently. We eat and care for ourselves and then we connect to the community. But this is the very vulnerability that we see in clinical practice; the lack of connection to others with similar intentions inhibiting long term adherence to health goals. And this is where the Benedictine value of Community will be supportive. In addition to the monthly meetings, the community aspect will also be nurtured online through private member forums where continued discussions and sharing of tips and ideas will continue.

If I join an In-Person Group but miss a meeting, can I join the Zoom meeting that week?

We are requesting a commitment to one option or the other. The Benedictine value of Community is an important foundation of the program so having consistent members in the groups is to help foster important peer to peer learning and sharing of experiences encountered throughout the month. Stability and consistency within groups is to help develop those relationships. With this being said, all members of CARE will be a part of the same community (in-person groups are in community with the Zoom groups) and we do want you to feel comfortable and have flexibility. There are a couple of options available. Firstly, in the event that you are finding it a barrier to drive monthly, you would be welcomed and encouraged to switch your membership to the Zoom option at any time. Secondly, if you do have a month or two with circumstances that prevent your drive you could certainly join the Saturday Zoom group for that month. Just email [email protected] for the Zoom login credentials.

What if I know going in that I have a conflict with either Zoom or In-Person meeting times?

As mentioned in the previous question, we want this to be comfortable and accessible for as many people as possible. If you want to participate but know you won’t be able to attend specific months, please just email us at [email protected] to make arrangements to join the Zoom meeting or In-Person if space allows (in-person groups are limited to 20 participants per meeting). As interest increases and spaces do fill, we will also be opening additional meeting times.

What if I want to join Benedictine CARE but also might need private consultations?

Individual consultations can be a helpful complement to the program. Benedictine CARE members are encouraged to schedule individual meetings as/if needed. Personal medical history can be reviewed during 50-minute appointments.

What results can be expected in Benedictine CARE?

A guiding principle in CARE is that goals, rate of progress, and rate of weight loss are determined by the individual. Number of pounds lost, the rate at which they are lost, and the duration for how long they stay off, as is true of any lifestyle, is determined by the individual and their personal choices and their own personal wellness journey. Benedictine CARE is about being a guide and resource on that journey not a mandate of changes that must be made. Therefore, every single person will have different results, as it should be. You can read more about how to set a personal rate of weight loss goal here: https://www.perfectlyproduce.com/weight-loss-goals/

How does Benedictine CARE differ from other Benedictine Healthcare services?

The Benedictine’s have a long and important role in providing healthcare services to their communities. Hospitals and senior care facilities are landmark initiatives that we are excited to build upon. In these existing healthcare systems, the practitioners (doctors, nurses and techs) and administrators are taught Benedictine values bringing that essential presence to their care. However, Benedictine CARE is excited to teach the individuals, the patients, those responsible for making the long-term changes, these powerful Benedictine values to see how they might assist them in their daily lives.

My question isn't answered here...

We encourage you to reach out to get all your questions answered to ensure you are comfortable before moving forward. You can email your questions to [email protected] or schedule a free 15-minute Program Discovery Call. 

Please note: Benedictine CARE is a health-education program and does not provide medical nutrition therapy. Individual 50-minute consultations are available at an additional charge for review of medical history if requested. The Benedictine Center, St. Paul’s Monastery, and Perfectly Produce Nutrition Services are not held liable for the information provided. Program members assume all liability when implementing the education provided through CARE programs and assume all responsibility in confirming with their medical doctors that there are no considerations with prescriptions, current medical conditions, or medical history.