About Waking Women + Jacquelyn Dobrinska
Who am I to talk about body image?
I’ve been asked that more than once. And every time I am struck. The statement says that the other person knows my inner world, my her-story, my relationship to myself based on the way I look. It makes me into an object instead of a human, and as we all know, you can never judge a book by its cover.
Yet, if you were to open the pages that is the inner world of most women, you would find that approximately 90% of us struggle to love our bodies. No matter what she looks like - tall, thin, large bodied, short, young, old - most woman have an inner struggle going on.
Mine started at age 13. I never had the Goldie Hawn body my family so admired, but as I reached puberty and started to develop, my body was growing curvier. It was a source of great shame. It wasn’t the valued female form of my household, my school, or anywhere in my culture for that matter. I tried to find a solution…but hormones are hormones and will do what the do despite my will.
Still, I searched, until one day I found what I thought was a solution.
It came in the form of an after school special on bulimia. Instead of scaring me…it tragically inspired me.
I spent the next 17 years standing in front of the fridge, or the toilet. I would throw up about 20 times a day. The disease consumed every single aspect of my life. I felt such shame. Such disgust. Such helplessness to stop.
I tried to “fix” it by seeing therapists, going to spiritual programs, and using willpower. Nothing worked. I was desperate as the things I ate, and then unate, ate me.
At the age of 30, I was told of women in their 70s who were still bulimic, and I realized that I might never “grow out of it”. I might have to live with this thing for the rest of my life. So I asked myself, “Jackie…how are you going to live with it?”
The answer came in a flash…“I am going to learn to love myself anyway!”
And so for the next few weeks, I would be curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor, sobbing because I continued to do this thing I hated, but now I was armed with my new mantra… “and I love myself anyway…and I love myself anyway…and I love myself anyway….”
Things progressed quickly. I still binged, but as I chanted my mantra “I love myself anyway…I love myself anyway…” I realized that didn’t actually have to throw up. Yes, I would have to sit in the discomfort for a while…but I wouldn’t have to do the thing that proved how horrible I was.
A few weeks after that, as I continued to chant, I realized I could stop eating before I was in such pain. I asked myself “but what would I do if I stopped eating?” The response? “ANYTHING else.” So I started playing bad guitar and drawing silly butterflies.
I had struggled to stop throwing up for 17 years, and NOTHING had worked. After I decided I would simply accept myself, flaws and all, it took 3 months. THREE MONTHS! Three short months after a lifetime of hell. The power of self-acceptance…well…it changed my whole world!
I found hobbies. I found passion. I found nourishment. I found relief.
In the past 13 years since that day, I have developed a beautiful and open relationship with food. In the course of healing, I also had to come to terms with the body dysmorphia that most women in our culture face. And while I still don’t have it all figured out, I certainly know that self-acceptance is the key for healing.
So…I don’t want to change anything about the way you look…or how you eat…or how you age…or make you love your body if you don’t. I don’t care if you get botox or binge. If you count calories or carbs or love cupcakes and soda. If you hate your thighs and hide them at the beach or belly dance in the public park. = I don’t care if you wear heels and the highest quality make-up or grow your pit hair and wear Patchouli oil. It doesn’t matter and frankly it’s none of my business.
What I do want to do is empower you to see yourself more clearly. To accept that you don’t have to change — be thinner, younger, brighter, fuller, or reach some unrealistic standard of perfection — to be okay or lovable.
I promise you, if you are willing to do the sometimes slow but brilliant work to accept yourself, flaws and old, you will become entirely more free! You will begin to wake up to the beauty that you are…and have always been all along…without having to change a thing.
When I first started talking openly about body image I was shocked. Powerful, shamanic, wise, successful women and influencers — women I respected, admired, and wanted to emulate —would come to me in hushed voices and share their struggle with body image. It became clear…most women suffered…but most of us did it in isolation thinking we were alone.
When a woman I love, and influencer in the community, asked if I would teach a series on body image…I heard that inner voice again. This time it was a clear “YES!”
Everything else I had taught before - herbalism, yoga, nourishment - I had models for. This was something new. I knew I wasn’t the teacher…I was a curator of content and a space holder for all women to bring their wisdom, experience, strength and hope.
Quickly I realized this work is SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST BODY IMAGE. It is about women’s self-esteem, self-respect, power, purpose, and passion. It’s about where we place our attention, our time, money, and resources. Ultimately, it is about the fate of the world….and I’m not being hyperbolic.
The Dalai Lama tells us that it is Western Women who will save the world. But studies show, Western Women’s number one goal is to lose 10-15 pounds. There are real reasons for this epidemic, but girlfriend…we have more important things to do than worry about our thighs.
And I’m not saying the weight of the world needs to sit on our shoulders. I’m saying that when we feed our passions, the world will inevitably be better. That when our deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger, whole systems might grow and collapse.
I mean think about it. Women have POWER!!!
Here are a few examples….(mostly) women give the diet/fitness industry is a $7 trillion per year. Women (and some men) give the anti-aging industry $270 billion dollar per year. In comparison, the State Department, the agency in charge of diplomacy and peace negotiations for the US, has a $54 billion dollar budget.
If women took half of the time, energy, money, and power that focus on changing ourselves, and put that towards endeavors we felt passionate about…just think how the world would change. Whole industries would go out of business.
Finding acceptance for your body is not just for the world. It’s for you too!
Imaging if every tine you looked in the mirror your first thought was “Damn, girlfriend…you look great! I love your (fill in the blank.) Now go…shine your light in the world today. It matters! You matter!” How would that change your day?
So who am I to talk about body image? I am a woman who has struggled to love her body and found some grace. I am a woman who loves other women, and doesn’t want them to strangle themselves in the internalized corset another second longer. I am a woman who loves this world…loves the polar bears, the salamanders, the butterflies and the bee…loves the children of every nationality…loves justice and peace, awe and wonder…and know that for the world to survive it needs women who are fully embodied and fully alive.
The time is Now.
As a Wise Woman Practitioner, my mission is to empower women to claim their wisdom and accept the inner radiance they already possess, without having to change themselves to be different.
Too often women feel like they need to change - be better or more or less - in some way before they can live their passion and radiance…lose 10 pounds, get one more certification, clarify their goals , increase their income, build their business…
This is a very subtle inner voice, driven by media culture but inherited from our herstory, which tells us we must keep striving, improving, reaching for something beyond us before we are allowed to share our wisdom and power. This voice also tells us we are arrogant, vain, or self-centered when we claim our wisdom, power, beauty. These are lies.
Luckily, we can heal this dynamic. Not by continuing to drive ourselves to perfection and exhaustion, but rather by taking the radical step to turn and face ourselves in this moment and decide to love ourselves as we are. It is how we reclaim our inherent birth rite as vibrant, vital, imperfect, wise and powerful individuals, constantly in process of becoming as we midwife our worlds.
While I have spent 15 years teaching wise woman practices at universities, colleges, prominent retreat centers, and festivals (see below), I now consider myself simply a facilitator. I know I don’t have all the answers, but realize that together we do. The gurus or hero models can deny us our inner wisdom. What we need now is a willingness to retrieve and share our collective wisdom together.
As a facilitator, my goal is to keep the focus on deep nourishment, radical self-allowing, earth-based healing, and sacred inner beauty. My passion is to facilitate groups that let every single woman wake up to the fact that SHE IS ENOUGH AS SHE IS RIGHT NOW!
For when sleeping women wake, mountains move. And right now, our children, rivers, oceans, and wild places, need us to wake up and reclaim the power, beauty, and wisdom that we inherently are. Without having to change a thing.
Southeast Wise Woman Herbal Conference [2014 - 2018]
· Everyday Health: Body Image & Yoga
· Everyday Herbalism: Backyard and Kitchen Remedies - 5-day program
Lawrence University [2016- 2017]
· Everyday Herbalism: Backyard and Kitchen Remedies - 5-day program
The Himalayan Institute [2005 - 2016]
· The Sadhana of Herbs - 45-hour herbal certification program
· Self Transformation Program
Warren Wilson College [2013- 2017]
· Everyday Health: For Common Ailments - Semester-long programs
Bend of Ivy Retreat Center [2014 - 2017]
· BodyWisdom Reboot & Retreat – 4 and 3-day programs
Lake Eden Arts Festival [2012 - 2016]
· The Remedies in Your Spice Rack
· The Remedies in Your Liquor Cabinet
· Herbal Aphrodisiacs
South College [2015- 2016]
· Meditation curriculum
Mission Hospital [2011- 2014]
· Everyday Wellness: Strategies for Health & Wellness curriculum
Asheville Yoga Center [2012-2014]
· Women Centered Yoga – 3-day program
Black Mountain Yoga 
· Yogic Lifestyle & Wellness Strategies
Green Lake Town Square 
Everyday Herbalism: Herbal Series for Chronic Conditions
Asheville Community Yoga [2013-2014]
· Workshops on meditation, pranayama, koshas, vayus and more.
Yoga Journal Conference Midwest 
· Assisted Sean Johnson
AB Technical College [2010- 2016]
· Yoga curriculum & continuing education
Namaste Yoga Center [2007- 2010]
· Developed and taught 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training Program
Mentor + Apprenticeships
Corinna Wood (Wise Woman Tradition)
Pandit Rajamani Tiguniut (Himalayan Tradition)
Rod Stryker (ParaYoga)
Doug Silsbee (Presence Based Coaching)
Mayatitanda (Wise Earth School of Ayurveda)
Oscar Miro-Quisado (PachaKuti Mesa Tradition)
StarWolf (Venus Rising Institute)
CoreyPine Shane (Blue Ridge Herbalism)
Lynn Andrews, Matthew Fox and many others.
New England Academy of Herbal Medicine
· Various monographs on herbal profiles.
· Tips for Mental Clarity (8/15); Quick Tips for Better Digestion (5/15); Herbs for Meditation (4/15); Surprising Health Benefits of Holiday Spices (11/14); Seven Steps to Love your Body (10/14); Three Traditional Herbs for Immunity (10/14); Four Herbs for Thyroid + Adrenal Health (9/14); Six Herbs for Insomnia (9/14); Three Herbs for Hormones (8/14); and other articles.
· Monthly wellness column including: Balancing Blood Sugar (11/16); The Lymphatic System (9/16); Nourishing Vitality in the Darkness (12/15); Supporting Yourself Through Sickness (11/15); Stopping Sickness at its Roots (10/15), Eat Weeds? Are You Kidding Me! (05/15) and other articles.
The Mountain Xpress
· Founded the Health and Wellness column which is now a regular weekly feature. Articles included: Om Is Where the Heart Is (5/11); Tea for Health (2/11); Why I Grow: Herbal Remedies (3/14); The Gift of Serenity (11/10); Moving for the Fun of It (9/10); An Inside Job (12/10); A Matter of Health (8/10); Fly Through the Flu Season (10/10); and other articles.