Maria Falzone was here once again. Her program, "Learning to Love Yourself So You Can Love the One You're With" was a huge success this past Wednesday. With nearly 300 members of the Hofstra community packed into the Student Center Theater, Maria started in a way no one expected: she told everyone to close their eyes and be present with their breath in the moment. She made us aware that our breath gets shallow as we run through our everyday lives.
As each of us became relaxed, we opened our eyes and listened carefully to Maria's message of "learning to love yourself." She had the entire theater engaged in one-on-one exercises on learning how to accept "no" for an answer and how to say "no" when we aren't comfortable saying "yes." Maria emphatically shouted, "No one can get inside your head unless you let them." "Erase 'should' from your vocabulary"… and the phrase 'only if.' Maria told us that we are living in our head, but we should be living in the here and now.
The message of respecting oneself was made clear in a demonstration that had us in stitches, though. She got us laughing as she brought two students to the stage to simulate the effects of alcohol on the mind and body. The audience was laughing as Maria put scarves, hats, sunglasses, coats, and gloves on their bodies and marshmallows in their mouths. It was clear that their ability to say "no" to each other and to realize what was happening was getting worse and worse as the scenario went on.
Everyone was able to laugh at themselves and the hysterical stories Maria had for us. We all left feeling a bit stronger in our ability to say "no" when we become uncomfortable in our friendships and relationships. It's clear that Maria's gift for comedy and teaching self-respect was the perfect mix that had everyone learning to love themselves so they can love the one they are with.
(To find out more about other safe Spring Break events, please visit hofstra.edu/safespringbreak)