Resources: Mindfulness for Adults

Resources: Mindfulness for Adults

~ at home, work, and in the community ~

While I am creating programs throughout San Luis Obispo County, I am compiling a list of important, informational articles and video resources for myself, as well as to share with others, all in one place, right here on this page. There are so many reasons why mindfulness is beneficial to us at home, at work, and in our communities. See our similar list of resources for youth.

I will continue to add to these lists over time so be sure to check back!  I have tons more to add to this list but it’s time for a mindful break! (Last edited 5/27/19)

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Why Mindfulness is a Superpower

“Mindfulness is the ability to know what’s happening in your head

at any given moment without getting carried away by it.”

~Dan Harris, “Why Mindfulness is a Superpower”

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Research and Benefits of

Mindfulness and Self-Care

5 Essentials of Mindful Self-Care: Promoting Mind-Body Resilience

7 Damaging Myths About Self-Care

Neuroscience Tips for Taking Charge of Your Mind, Body & Heart ~Daniel Goleman on Wellbeing

Different Types Of Meditation Change Different Areas Of The Brain, Study Finds

Eight Meditation Brain Benefits

Emotional reactivity lessens with mindfulness, brain study shows

Empirically Derived Profiles of Teacher Stress, Burnout, Self-Efficacy, and Coping and Associated Student Outcomes (Study)

From OM To OMG: Science, Your Brain, And The Productive Powers Of Meditation

Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain

How Many Teachers Are Highly Stressed? Maybe More Than People Think.

Intensive meditation practice reveals itself in the breath

MBSR and exercise both reduce cold and flu frequency, severity

Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain

Meditation can Change your Brain Structure

Meditation Health Benefits: What The Practice Does To Your Body

Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence ~ upgrade your internal operating system

Mindful people transition more frequently between brain states

Mindfulness helps to restore self-control over aggressive behavior

Not Talking About Mental Health Is Literally Killing Men

Science Confirms: Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation Are Legit

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Scientific Benefits of Meditation – 76 Things You Might be Missing Out On

Self-care and Mindfulness: You Are Enough

The Disease of Being Busy

The Skeptic’s Guide To Meditation

Vagus Nerve Is the Key to Well-being

Video game addiction is officially a mental health disorder

What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You)

What Meditation Can Do For Your Mind, Body And Spirit

When science meets mindfulness ~ Researchers study how it seems to change the brain in depressed patients

Why Silence Is So Good For Your Brain

~~~~ At Work ~~~~

4 Ways Mindfulness and Meditation Can Help You at Work

A Guide To Mindfulness At Work

From nonstop stress to workplace success: Mindfulness tips that transform

Three Simple Ways to Recover from Work-Related Stress

Want To Practice Mindfulness? Start At Work

Watch Your Brain at Work  (webcast)

Workplace Mindfulness Can Cut On-The-Job Stress

Workplace Stress: The Health Epidemic of the 21st Century

~~~~ For Educators ~~~~

Can Mindfulness Make Us Better Teachers?

CURRY STUDY: REDUCING TEACHERS’ STRESS LEADS TO HIGHER-QUALITY CLASSROOMS

Don’t Quit: 5 Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching

Do We Care for Our Teachers?

Edutopia: Burnout Isn’t Inevitable ~ Teachers are stressed—but schools can help

Four Things Schools Can Do to Keep Teachers Happy

Mindfulness for Teachers

Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers

Science Says Silence is Vital for Our Brains

Stopping Teacher Burnout

Study shows mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout

Teacher Stress and Health”

Teachers Tuning In

When Teachers Take A Breath, Students Can Bloom

~~~~ For Parents ~~~~

4 Self-Care Strategies to Avoid Parental Burnout

5 Mantras for Mindful Parenting

15 positive ways to help your child learn to manage their anger (on emotional regulation – yours and theirs)

How Mindful Parenting Differs From Just Being Mindful

‘Self-care’ is not enough to fix how much moms are burnt out

The 5 Main Tenets of Mindful Parenting

The Train Analogy That Will Completely Change How You See Your Crying Child

~~~~ For Relationships ~~~~

Happy Couples Focus on Each Other’s Strengths

How Mindfulness Can Help Couples Cool Down

Learn how to reduce the risks of stress in your personal and professional life.

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MORE FROM MINDFUL KINDFUL YOUNIVERSITY:

>>> Research and Benefits <<<

>>> What is Mindfulness? <<<

>>> Well-being for Parents <<<

>>> Well-being for Educators <<<

>>> Discover Our Adult Programs and Services <<<

You may also be interested in 

>>> Resources: Mindfulness/SEL for Youth <<<

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo County via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee is developing programs in our local schools and communities here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Mindfulness Skills for the 21st Century

Mindfulness In Education?

~ Skills for the 21st Century ~

Learn about our Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Enrichment Programs for your classroom or school, grades Pre-k thru 12, across San Luis Obispo County. LINK HERE

What’s 21st CENTURY SKILLS got to do with education? 

Some of you may question why we should be even be considering teaching mindfulness in schools. I happen to agree with those who feel education needs to be seriously transformed. Those proponents feel we are failing to include “21st century skills” in our school curriculums, yet these are the life skills, work habits, and character traits that have been found to be critically important to success in today’s world. If we are truly preparing youth for their future, it is important to cultivate these life skills in school and at home.

What are the 21st century learning and life skills? Here are a few, not unlike those we saw for Social Emotional Competencies:

  • Flexibility, Adaptability
  • Critical thinking, problem solving
  • Creativity, curiosity, imagination
  • PerseveranceResilience, self-discipline, adaptability, initiative
  • Communication (speaking, listening, awareness)
  • Social Skills, collaboration, cooperation
  • Leadership
  • Health and wellness

Patricia Jennings, author of “Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom” wrote in her book:

“Today there is a great deal of talk about 21st century skills. (T)wo factors rarely mentioned are adaptation and resilience. It’s a good bet that our children will need to be adaptive to succeed in their constantly changing economic, social, and cultural environment. Children’s brains are incredibly adaptive and resilient, but our current education system does not cultivate these faculties. Rather our schools drum out these gifts through an emphasis on rote learning  and rigid, fact-based testing. Furthermore, in most cases, our classrooms do not mirror how adults typically work in our modern economy. Most high level work today in every sector of our economy involves collaboration of individuals with interdisciplinary teams who have a variety of skills and abilities and coordinate their efforts to analyze and solve problems to create  innovations. This work requires a high degree of social and emotional competence, creativity, and higher order thinking. Because of the constantly changing social, cultural, and economic landscape, it also requires flexibility and adaptation.”

What’s STRESS got to do with education?

The challenge? Stress. Chronic stress. According to the World Health Organization, stress/anxiety is the health epidemic of the 21st century. Adults. Teens. Children. No one is immune. It shows up in different ways and for different reasons with different people. If you aren’t impacted personally, you likely know someone who is.

The following is from The Child Stress Epidemic:

“One in five children in the United States is growing up in what we call “the context of adversity” — a stressful environment characterized by poverty, chaos, or exposure to violence — and this context has profound effects on their neurological development. There is a connection between adversity and academic underperformance, a biological one that education reform efforts to date have failed to unpack and address successfully.”

“Studies show that children who have suffered from traumatic stress are more likely to have issues with attention, concentration, irritability, and organization. One child in a classroom with these attentional and behavioral challenges will often disrupt a lesson. Now, imagine 30 children with these kinds of struggles; they can shut learning down for everyone. Then consider that there are 47,000 schools in America located in high-poverty communities, where many more children struggle with adversity.”

From ACEs too High

“Many of our students have experienced some form of trauma. “The ACE Study looked at 10 types of childhood trauma: physical, emotional and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; living with a family member who’s addicted to alcohol or other substances or who’s depressed or has other mental illnesses; experiencing parental divorce or separation; having a family member who’s incarcerated, and witnessing a mother being abused. Other subsequent ACE surveys include racism, witnessing violence outside the home, bullying, losing a parent to deportation, living in an unsafe neighborhood, and involvement with the foster care system. Other types of childhood adversity can also include being homeless, living in a war zone, being an immigrant, moving many times, witnessing a sibling being abused, witnessing a father or other caregiver being abused, involvement with the criminal justice system, attending a zero-tolerance school, etc.

The ACE Study found that the higher someone’s ACE score – the more types of childhood adversity a person experienced – the higher their risk of chronic disease, mental illness, violence, being a victim of violence and a bunch of other consequences.

The ACE Study also found that it didn’t matter what the types of ACEs were. An ACE score of 4 that included divorce, physical abuse, an incarcerated family member and a depressed family member had the same statistical health consequences as an ACE score of 4 that included living with an alcoholic, verbal abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect.”

The following is from Mindful Schools, where I received my certification training: 

Healthy stress is a natural part of life, including childhood. Children and adults alike need to be challenged in order to grow and develop. However, in the modern education system, healthy stress is frequently displaced by toxic stress. Toxic stress occurs when life’s demands consistently outpace our ability to cope with those demands. Toxic stress impairs attention, emotion and mood regulation, sleep, and learning readiness daily in American classrooms. Even more troubling, prolonged exposure to childhood toxic stress has lifelong impacts on mental and physical health.

Toxic stress is challenging to work with because our stress response taps into some very old survival hardware in our evolutionary biology. When a 4th grader reports that she felt she “was going to die” from test anxiety, she’s telling the truth. The responses of her autonomic nervous system are the same whether she’s taking a math test or sensing actual physical danger.

Even children who have not suffered adverse childhood experiences may struggle with frequent “mismatches” between the severity of a stimulus (a routine pop quiz) and their response (loss of peripheral vision, sweating, nausea, terror and immobility). In children suffering from trauma, these “mismatches” become chronic and habitual.

“When we look at low performing schools it’s not that these children are unable to learn, it’s that very often they are unavailable to learn.” ~Jean-Gabrielle Larochette, elementary school teacher

What’s MINDFULNESS got to do with education?

Photo by Dee DiGioia, program in Folsom, CA

So we have stress at an all time high. What’s the solution? Teach the skills to cope, become adaptive to changing times, and become resilient, thereby being able to access learning.

Here is more from Mindful Schools:

 Because the roots of toxic stress lie deep in the nervous system, we need tools that go beyond the conceptual mind to directly target that system. To transform our habitual responses, we need to regularly practice our skills when we are not in “fight – flight – freeze” mode.

Two forms of training as the foundation for teaching other methods of stress management, emotion regulation and interpersonal skills:

The Development of MindfulnessThe development of mindfulness, a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, sensations and surrounding environment.

The Development of HeartfulnessThe intentional nurturing of positive mind states such as kindness and compassion.

Many of our children in school are not in the state of mind to absorb learning because they are in a chronic state of stress. Our emotions are continually changing. Difficult emotions like anger, worry, fear, and stress actually release chemicals in our brain that prevent us from learning, and can make us react and say and do things we didn’t want to. Mindfulness stops these chemicals.

“In discussing how mindfulness practice addresses stress and other problems in education, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that mindfulness can take us beyond the terrain of managing symptoms to a place where we are developing the deepest capacities of the human mind.”

SOURCE: ~MINDFUL SCHOOLS, MINDFULNESS IN EDUCATION

Mindfulness provides a foundation for education because it contributes to optimal conditions for learning and teaching. 

Learn more: What is Mindfulness?

Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds said in an interview:

“First, (the neuroscience research shows that) SEL skills are predictors of major life outcomes – for example: antisocial behavior, health, financial planning and success, and successful interpersonal relationships. The data clearly show that features of emotional intelligence are better predictors of life outcomes than traditional cognitive measures, underscoring the value and importance of SEL.

Secondly, neuroscience teaches us that the brain circuits that are important for SEL interact with circuits that are important for cognitive learning – so if one is anxious, stressed or emotionally unbalanced, this has deleterious effects on the circuitry for other types of learning. These circuits are intricately intertwined, suggesting that emotional balance and good emotional skills are really important for other kinds of learning.

“The circuits that are important for SEL exhibit high degrees of plasticity – these circuits are being constantly shaped by experiences, environment and training – and so the work we do in this space should be more intentional and we should take more responsibility for the healthy development of our children.”

In summary:

Our schools are under-resourced and this is having a detrimental impact on children in our schools today (as well as educators!)  For over 35 years in my work with children, I developed an interest in neuroscience to learn how the mind works and reacts to challenges that arise throughout the day while also understanding how outside influences add layers of complexities to the mix, such as having special needs & disabilities, trauma, poverty, divorce, abuse, etc. Having worked on the inside of schools in special education, I can tell you that our schools simply do not have enough resources to effectively address all the ranges of needs. Our youth need to have access to learning the 21st Century Life skills, and since stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century, then it is vital that these life skills be embedded in their learning to become healthy, functioning adults. The more they practice healthy ways of responding to life in times of calm, the more prepared they are to take in higher learning! These life skills essentially provide the foundation for all other learning to take place.

“Research has proven that mindfulness training integrates the brain and strengthens the important executive functions that support emotional and social intelligence as well as academic success. Offering mindfulness (training) for (youth) is a natural way to set them on the right course not only now, but for the rest of their lives!” ~DANIEL J. SIEGEL, M.D. & CLINICAL PROFESSOR, AUTHOR OF MINDSIGHT AND BRAINSTORM: THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF THE TEENAGE BRAIN

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Additional resources supporting

“Why Mindfulness in Education”

There’s no shortage of amazing videos and articles to help us understand the benefits of mindfulness

and social-emotional learning as it relates to our youth in schools.

The ones listed on this resource link (above) are just some of my favorites

on the reasons for “why” I teach (and practice) mindfulness.

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo County via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

Birthday Invitation

Birthday Invitation

~Dreams and Wishes~

It’s my birthday this week. The big 6-0! When I look back at old photos (like the one above when I was 2 years old) I have so many memories flood in. Some good, some not so good. But the best part is, I look at how far I have come in my persistent, quiet will to survive and rise above all the ugly tough stuff. I’m celebrating this journey this year, by stepping out of my comfort zone with 3 birthday wishes to ask of you. Yes, YOU!

Wish #1:

You are invited to take out a minute or two to read the following:

According to the World Health Organization, chronic stress/anxiety is the health epidemic of the 21st century. Adults. Teens. Children. No one is immune. It shows up in different ways and for different reasons with different people. If you aren’t impacted personally, you likely know someone who is. After working with children for 30+ years, I was inspired to launch Mindful Kindful YOUniversity  (MK YOU) which was founded to address the challenges youth face in school and in life, which interfere with learning, relationships, and mental well-being.

MK YOU helps youth learn HOW to cultivate the inner resources, or “superpowers” for reducing stress and experiencing more balance, resilience, and over-all well-being by integrating evidence-based strategies and practices of mindfulness, movement & yoga, and social emotional learning.  In so doing we develop the essential life skills of emotional intelligence, or “Sm’Heart skills” — the essential education for responding more skillfully to life in the 21st Century! These positive experiences will transform, not only inner peace and happiness, but also social dynamics at school, at home, and in the community! These are skills for life!

I have experienced and seen first-hand how impactful mindfulness training can be in my work with youth and adults, as well as in my own life. I am grateful to have the training, experiences, and resources to share the wisdom and evidence-based practices of mindfulness and movement which have proven over and over to lead to greater resilience, more joy, and peace in life, or what I like to summarize as more Mindful-Kindful-Skillful.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” –Unknown

Wish #2: 

You are invited to contribute to a very special fundraiser I have created to benefit youth in our local communities,

which also supports my dreams and vision of MK YOU: mindfulness education programs flourishing across each of our communities, with every community member having access to learning and practicing the essential life skills proven to potentiate well-being, happiness, and success throughout all stages of life!

With the prohibitive cost of effective advertising and marketing, your contribution of funds will help me begin to reach families in our communities that might not otherwise know about Mindful Kindful YOUniversity programs. My outreach has been minimal due to lack of personal funds.

With “back-to-school” around the corner, I would like to do an advertising blast as soon as possible — in the local papers and on social media to help parents know about some ongoing and new programs to support youth, including those with special needs. Programs include community classes, workshops, private coaching, film screenings, as well as classes & retreats for parents, educators, and community members.

$5, $10? No amount is too small, nor too great!

GoFundMe link to Mindful Kindful Communities Vision

By practicing mindfulness and compassion in our daily living, each one of us is positively contributing to a thriving, resilient, and compassionate world beginning with ourselves, and positively impacting our relationships at home, school, and in our communities.

Your thoughtful donations, in any amount, will be graciously welcomed and will make a ripple here on the Central Coast of California towards my vision for more compassionate communities. Thank you for truly making a difference, or what call leaving “heartprints”! May your generosity return to you in unexpected ways!

Wish #3:

Smile. Breathe. Love. Be happy, be kind, be well!

Our “Dragonfly Circles” kiddos!

$5, $10? No amount is too small, nor too great!

YES! I will DONATE NOW!

THANK YOU! A very special thank you goes out to Anne Baumgarten for our very first donation of $200!!!!

In deepest gratitude, Dee DiGioia

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” –C.S. Lewis

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

The Gentle Giant

Mr. Rogers, The Gentle Giant

I never realized how much of an influence Fred Rogers had on my life. Over the years I hadn’t given it much thought. It honestly wasn’t until recent years, when interest in Mr. Rogers seemed to resurge (or was it that I noticed more?), that I became more aware of what an extraordinary human being he was. There have been many great posts of his quotes floating around on social media that I, too, passed along to remind or ripple out to others. That’s when I began to really miss him. A few nights ago, after watching the documentary about his life, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” I left the theatre sobbing, and mourning his departure from this planet even though he passed away 15 years ago.

Image result for fred rogers

I’m quite certain I am not alone in feeling that the world today needs some positive leaders and role models, including the gentle, loving, comforting Mr. Rogers, who ensured that anyone watching the show felt loved and seen. “Whether we’re a preschooler or a young teen, a graduating college senior or a retired person, we human beings all want to know that we’re acceptable, that our being alive somehow makes a difference in the lives of others.”  He had an unwavering and recurring message that touched generations of children “You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There’s never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are.” Although his program was for children, I’m willing to bet that the messages he shared were also for the grownups who might be listening and watching as well. He wanted each one of us to know how impactful our words and actions are. “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”  I love the hopeful, magical feeling this fills me with. May my words and actions impact and enrich your life in some way!

I feel a kindred spirit with Fred Roger’s beliefs on children’s programming. He was appalled by what he saw in children’s programming and was inspired to begin his own children’s program to be a force for good. “I got into television because I saw people throwing pies at each other’s faces and that, to me, was such demeaning behavior. And if there’s anything that bothers me, it’s one person demeaning another. That really makes me mad.” He purposely chose a slow pace and mindfully paused in silence to counter the fast paced lives we are all caught up in or to show a different way of living and because “we don’t need to bop someone on the head to make drama.” One time he even asked the question, have you ever wondered how long a minute is? He set up a large timer to go for one minute and simply watched in silence! He said, “I always felt I didn’t need to put on a funny hat or jump through the hoop to have a relationship with the child.” I completely agree. Several years ago, as part of my bullying prevention campaign for “Caring and Courageous Kids” I wrote, directed, and produced a children’s movie, “Which Team Will You Choose?” I often laughed to myself that the style was very “Mr. Rogers-like”. I didn’t want lots of bells and whistles, just a simple story with a simple message to inspire standing up to bullying through peaceful and compassionate action, or as Mr. Rogers would say, to “make goodness attractive.”

Mr. Rogers was one of the few children’s programming shows I would let my boys and my home day care children watch 25 years ago! Mr. Rogers kindled a sense of belonging and community for his audience – inviting curiosity and awareness to everything and everyone on the show. And instead of distracting children from the tough headline news of the time, he would include it, knowing very well that children’s fear and confusion needed to be addressed and supported. He once said, “The world is not always a kind place. That’s something all children learn for themselves, whether we want them to or not, but it’s something they really need our help to understand.” His values of nonviolence, racial diversity, and equality were among the values I admired in him. “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered . . . just one kind word to another person.” He confronted tough questions such as “what is assassination” following Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. When inner city riots erupted following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Mr. Rogers added “Officer Clemmons”, a black police officer, to the cast, in the role of keeping everyone safe in the Neighborhood. They even both put their feet in the same wading pool to “cool off” on a hot day – this following a civil rights protest when blacks went in a pool and the white owner poured acid in the water. In my bullying prevention/intervention work, I encourage children to “keep going until you do find an adult who will help you!” If one teacher (for example) is too busy, then find another, and another. There is always someone that will want to help you, and that can be very comforting to know!

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” 

Image result for fred rogers pool

When I was growing up, the kinds of issues Mr. Rogers drew awareness to were the very ones my parents pushed under the rug. It was confusing and the world felt like a big mystery to me. And although he had a show when I was young, I was not aware of him until my children began watching the show in the 80’s. I particularly loved how he embraced learning about emotions, knowing full well of the significance of emotional intelligence which is the ability to understand and relate to one’s emotions skillfully, as well as to understand and respond effectively to the emotions of others. This impacts our relationships with others at home, at school, in the workplace, in our communities, and in the world! Many of us grew up with the messages like “don’t cry” or were not allowed to show our feelings. Here are some important messages from Fred Rogers which are fundamental to “Mindful Kindful YOUniversity”:

“Feelings are mentionable and manageable.”

“There’s no ‘should’ or ‘should not’ when it comes to having feelings. They’re part of who we are and their origins are beyond our control. When we can believe that, we may find it easier to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings.”

 “When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” 

“Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”

“People have said “Don’t cry” to other people for years and years, and all it has ever meant is “I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings: Don’t cry.” I’d rather have them say, “Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.” 

“At many times throughout their lives, children will feel the world has turned topsy-turvy. It’s not the ever-present smile that will help them feel secure. It’s knowing that love can hold many feelings, including sadness, and that they can count on the people they love to be with them until the world turns right side up again.”

For these reasons, and many more, I consider Fred Rogers, a “gentle giant” who left an enduring legacy of goodness and kindness that is woven into the hearts of each of us who were fortunate enough to share some time in his “neighborhood”. If you remember nothing else, remember this message from Fred Rogers:

“Love is at the root of everything. All learning, all relationships. Love or the lack of it.”

So practice love and kindness towards yourself. Practice love and kindness towards others. That’s the kind of community I want to help create for you and for children. Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful… and Skillful. 

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All italicized quotes are by Fred Rogers.

Don’t miss his documentary out now at select theatres! “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”

More resources:

  1. Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children
  2. Seven Lessons from Mister Rogers That Can Help Americans Be Neighbors Again
  3. About the video below: Fred Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications to challenge the cuts for public broadcasting proposed in 1969.

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo County via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee is now developing programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

 

 

 

I see you

I see you

Hey, little girl, I see you! I see you trying to be small, unnoticed in class. I see you cringe ever so slightly when the teacher looks your way, hoping she won’t call on you. I see your slink down in your seat a bit when she does, and then, with all the courage you can summon, you either shrug your shoulders to indicate “I don’t know” or you respond in a teeny tiny voice and then sigh with relief when the teacher moves on to another student. You look around to see if anyone noticed but you didn’t see me. I see you observing all the chatting, laughing children around you, unsure of how to be a part of it. I see you awkwardly trying to join in with others, and when it is unsuccessful, I see walk away and eat or play alone because it so much easier! I see you when you have a puzzled look on your face because you don’t know how to move forward with a class assignment, and everyone else is busy at work but you are frozen in your seat, debating with yourself whether or not to let the teacher know you don’t understand the directions. Sometimes you don’t and you just wait for the bell to ring. No one else notices. But I do. I see you. I know you. I was you. 

Once upon a time…

I was a self-described “painfully shy” little girl. Growing up I spoke comfortably at home but outside the home it was agonizing to do so with most people, except my close friends. Just a few years ago, in my work as a Speech-Language Therapist, while assessing a student at my school, I ended up researching about “selective mutism” because the student spoke to no one at school and it was “not cute” anymore in 3rd grade where it was expected to speak in class. In my research, it suddenly dawned on me, that I, too, had selective mutism as a child!  It all makes so much sense to me because Selective Mutism (SM) is an anxiety disorder, which may include social anxiety. That was undeniably me!!! The “letter” I wrote above is based on observations of children I see in school.

There are different degrees and levels, but in general, a child who is Selectively Mute may talk in one social setting or with only certain people, such as home or with just mom but not dad, and not speak in other social settings or with other people, such as at school or even extended family outings. If the child does speak in these other settings or with certain people, it may come out as a whisper. It is an actual fear/anxiety and is not willful refusal or “being shy”.

“The majority of children with Selective Mutism have a genetic predisposition to anxiety. In other words, they have inherited a tendency to be anxious from one or more family members. Very often, these children show signs of severe anxiety, such as separation anxiety, frequent tantrums and crying, moodiness, inflexibility, sleep problems, and extreme shyness from infancy on.” (1)

Perhaps you know someone who may have Selective Mutism in your classroom or home!

“It is important to realize that the majority of children with Selective Mutism are as normal and as socially appropriate as any other child when in a comfortable environment. Parents will often comment how boisterous, social, funny, inquisitive, extremely verbal, and even bossy and stubborn these children are at home! What differentiates most children with Selective Mutism is their severe behavioral inhibition and inability to speak and communicate comfortably in most social settings. Often, these children show signs of anxiety before and during most social events. Physical symptoms and negative behaviors are common before school or social outings.” (1)

Just the other day I saw someone on tv who said she didn’t speak to her dance teacher for 8 years!!! She is now a vibrant young adult dancer who speaks openly about this ~ music and dance was her way of communicating!! For me, I was very boisterous in my family but outside of that, such as extended family, or going to church, it was terrifying for me. I can even remember crying when people said “hi” to me because it provoked that much anxiety in me!

“It is common for many children with Selective Mutism to have a blank facial expression and never seem to smile. Many have stiff or awkward body language when in a social setting and seem very uncomfortable or unhappy. Some will turn their heads, chew or twirl their hair, avoid eye contact, or withdraw into a corner or away from the group seemingly more interested in playing alone.” (1)

As a child, going to my best friend’s house next door was tortuous. She had 4 big, older brothers who seemed to have a mission to get a reaction out of me. They would hang me upside down by my feet or squeeze me inside their armpit, all in good fun, but for me it was hell. I wouldn’t say a dang thing! I froze (which is like what animals do to feign death so the predator will leave them alone) and I wished my friend would hurry up and put her shoes on so we could get out of there! In high school I loved “theatre” but only worked behind the scenes in the props department. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago when I got into community theatre acting. Me! Onstage! It was life transformed!

I always thought of myself as “weird” and wondered what was “wrong” with me while growing up. I knew my reactions to people and life were unlike those around me. I felt different and alone in my challenges. What I didn’t know as a child, is that there are ways to deal with an anxiety disorder. I know that now and it is my passion to work with youth who are suffering with anxiety using the skills and techniques I have accessed and learned over the years. Although the incidence of Selective Mutism is quite low – only about 8 in 10,000, the incidence of anxiety is far greater – as much as 33% of teens (ages 13-18) have an anxiety disorder.

“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses among children and adolescents. Our main objective is to diagnose children early, so they can receive proper treatment at an early age, develop proper coping skills, and overcome their anxiety. Because Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder, if left untreated, it can have negative consequences throughout the child’s life and, unfortunately, pave the way for an array of academic, social and emotional repercussions such as:

  • Worsening anxiety
  • Depression and manifestations of other anxiety disorders
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Poor self-esteem and self-confidence
  • School refusal, poor academic performance, and the possibility of quitting school
  • Underachievement academically and in the work place
  • Self-medication with drugs and/or alcohol
  • Suicidal thoughts and possible suicide” (1)

If you suspect your child has anxiety, or even possibly Selective Mutism, it is important that your child learn skills and techniques to cope with the anxiety. Intervention can be a life raft for your child. I nearly drowned and struggled for years with some of the “bullet points” above in my youth, teens, and young adulthood. “Anxiety disorders can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.” (2) Fortunately, through sheer determination and my love of learning, I was able to overcome and learn how to cope with many issues that cause anxiety.  Mindfulness has really been the great missing piece, and peace, that came much later in my life, and is the reason I am so passionate about sharing it, especially with children. I truly wish someone had taught me about mindfulness way back then, however I am grateful that my experiences also allow me to work compassionately with youth who experience anxiety. Mindfulness, movement, yoga, and the Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques I teach are all grounded in science which research has demonstrated again and again to lessen anxiety and improve self-regulation.  Your child can come to learn that experiences don’t have to overwhelm her/him and she/he can learn to remain calm and centered through life’s ups and downs. It also important for you to learn how you may be negatively reinforcing the anxiety through “rescuing” your child. Give your child an edge to be ready for the new school year with a whole new set of life skills because “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

Hey little girl… I see you growing stronger. Strong mind. Strong heart. Strong body. 

I will send you heartful wishes so you can learn to send them to yourself:

May you be happy.

May you be healthy and strong.

May you be safe.

May you be filled with loving kindness.

That’s me, Dee, and my best friend, Maureen. We are safe in my house away from her big scary brothers!!!

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Mindful Kindful YOUniversity Services you may want to consider:

*If you decide to seek my services through Personal Coaching or Community programs, please do not “ask” your child if they want to go. Your child will say “no”. It’s not because they don’t like going, but because there will be anxiety in the transition to get there, and in settling in to the class. Don’t worry, I create a safe, supportive, and accepting environment to help each student feel confident to try new things, discovering his/her gifts, reaching new heights in physical, mental and emotional well-being, by adding choices and supportive tools! Make this very important adult decision for your child so that she or he can benefit from these essential life skills for well-being! 

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.

Out of a fear of the unknown,

they prefer suffering that is familiar.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

You may also be interested in blog “Am I too Sensitive?”
Resources:
(1) WHAT IS SELECTIVE MUTISM?  A Comprehensive Overview
(2) National Institutes of Health: Any Anxiety Disorder

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Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Personal Coaching and Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs across San Luis Obispo County for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century! Contact Dee to learn more.

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Listen to Stress

I ignored my friend, my body, my being. I ignored the stress lurking in the shadows and chipping away at my well-being. My body, inner voice, kept trying to tell me “slow down” and “take some time out for yourself”. But I ignored the messages. I ignored the redflags of exhaustion yesterday, and the day before, and the day before…

I tend to rationalize ~ “well I am trying to get a new business off the ground so when else am I going to get things done if not after my day at school or on weekends?”  That’s because every entrepreneur knows that you have to keep going if you’re going to get anywhere!  So I get on the hamster wheel and have endless tasks to take care of. And then one more thing. And another.

And then I get the message. The plug is pulled and my “battery” is drained. Regardless of my intentions to keep going, a drained battery is a drained battery. Like when my computer shut off on me last night. Also like when I got to school today only to realize, this isn’t sleepy-exhaustion that I’m feeling, it’s I’m-sick-exhaustion. Oops. I did it again. The funny thing is, I was aware of the symptoms about a week ago. I had been pushing myself but I tried to bargain with my body: “just get me through this next event and then I’ll slow down!” Hmmm… stress won again. The very thing I teach others about, I ignored the signs. So today I dragged myself home to do the only thing I can do. Rest. Nurture. Slow down.

Well, dear friend, my body, my being, I have a new message for you: “Thank you for the reminder. I’m sorry I didn’t listen. And I’m sorry that I didn’t take better care of you. Can we start over?”

Do you know what my body responded? “Thank you. I love you.” 

Sometimes, we all need reminders to slow down and listen to the messages our emotions and bodies and telling us. Mindful~Kindful~Skillful!

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

 

Makes Sense

Makes Sense!

Today, as I was working one-to-one with a student at school for math time, she was particularly fidgety and unfocused. Math is certainly not her favorite subject and I was trying to push through some review questions for a pre-test. Our time together was short today and I thought we would whiz right through the few problems we had since she had done fairly well with this chapter. However, today this little one had a different plan and tried every “work-avoidance trick” in the book!

After some time, I was noticing that I was feeling frustrated and getting a little grouchy and impatient.  I became aware I was meeting resistance with resistance and so I dropped everything and told her we were going for a walk around the building. She was a bit surprised but happily bounced out the door, feeling victorious in escaping the work. As we walked, I asked her questions related to using her senses which is a “grounding” strategy in mindfulness practices. I began to ask her questions such as “What colors do you see?” …”What do you hear?” …”What else?” …”What does the air feel like?”… “Can you smell anything?”  We did this “game” as we walked around the building which took us just a few minutes. We then went back into the room, resumed working on the math problem we had abandoned, and within 30 seconds she finished the problem! It’s moments like this that I wish I had an ongoing video recording of our sessions together, or that some researcher sat behind a double mirror and had documented what just took place.  It’s jaw dropping to see the difference! It’s micro-moments like this that remind me why I love to learn about and practice mindfulness. It’s simple, yet not always easy to remember to do! It’s grounded in science and has been proven over and over to make a difference. Using the senses, a quick little brain break in school, really makes sense!

May this be a REminder to YOU how we can easily integrate mindfulness throughout our day!

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my sense put in order.”   ~John Burroughs

Check out our upcoming Film Screening of

MAY I BE HAPPY: Mindfulness in the Classroom & Beyond

at Shell Beach Elementary school on May 14

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

The Invitation

YOU are INvited!

Here is a beautiful inspiration called “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. (I added the images, from Pixabay.) 

~~ The Invitation ~~

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

“The Invitation”, By Oriah © Oriah Mountain Dreamer from the book The Invitation

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Grateful Moments 2018 Challenge

JOIN the Grateful Moments 2018 Challenge

For the first time in my life, I realized I actually stuck to a New Year’s Resolution for an entire year! Actually, it should not be a surprise since this time around I set intentions rather than goals. Setting intentions means aligning myself with how I want to be. How do I want to be? Mindful. Kindful. Skillful. Grateful. And healthier. It was one year ago today, I decided to begin a daily gratitude journal. I journaled for the entire year!!! Yes, I missed some days here and there, but the overall practice cultivated new deeply engrained habits, or “habits of mind”.
“An intention cannot fail, because it happens right now. With an intention, there is no required result—we are simply connecting to our chosen course.”

~Ed Halliwell, Meditate With Intention, Not Goals

Why did I set “gratitude” as my intention for the year?
Well, it’s good for you/me/us! In my mindfulness training and in my ongoing research, I repeatedly read about the benefits of practicing gratitude (for example, see “Why Gratitude Is Good” from the Greater Good Science Center) and I wanted to shift my health and attitude about work since I was struggling with both of these in 2016. Practicing gratitude through journaling was to be one more inner resource for myself to cultivate resilience, joy, and greater well-being in my life, even when life felt overwhelming.  In so doing, I have, indeed, cultivated an “attitude of gratitude”, thereby shifting many things in my life for the better! Afterall, what we practice grows stronger!
“Grateful living can help to re-train the neural pathways that looked for something wrong to now look for things that are going well, or at least to identify opportunities available to us.”

~From “Training Our Trains of Thought”

The key to keeping up with this intention? I kept a journal next to my bed and wrote in it each night. I wanted these thoughts to be the last thing I thought of before drifting off to sleep!  Dr. Laura Markham tells us “Researchers have found a concrete way to raise your happiness set point. Every day — as you fall asleep at night is a good time — think of three positive things that happened that day. People who do this get happier almost immediately, and stay happier for as long as they continue this practice.” Why does it work?
  1. The state of gratitude is very similar to love. Scientists say it shifts our heart into a more “coherent” (healthier) rhythm. Meditators might say it opens our hearts.
  2. Focusing on the positive makes us happy. No matter how bad things are, there is something to be grateful for. And the better you feel, the more effectively you can respond to any challenge.
  3. We program our subconscious to create more of what we’re appreciating, especially when we hold a “picture” in our mind that makes us feel good.”
“What you are now is what you have been but you will be is what you do now.” ~Buddha 

 

HOW TO JOIN THE GRATEFUL MOMENTS 2018 CHALLENGE:

I will be continuing a Gratitude Practice in 2018 and would like to invite you to consider doing the same!

  • Begin a personal Gratitude Journal. Here’s how to get started: Gratitude Journal
  • Share any of your grateful moments on our Mindful Kindful YOUniversity Facebook page or on your own profile! By sharing, you may inspire others to do the same. And together is better! I’ll be using these hashtags – feel free to use them as well! #gratefulmoments2018   #habitsofmind   #mindfulkindfulgrateful
  • Create a daily ritual with your children at home or in your classroom! See Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids.  We practice a routine of gratitude at the end of each Dragonfly Circles class.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Feel free to add your comments below! I love hearing from you! ~ Dee DiGioia

Additional Articles:

8 Wellbeing Benefits Of Practicing Gratitude

10 Ways to Become More Grateful

Six Habits of Highly Grateful People

The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier

4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience

VIDEOS:





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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

An Incomplete Education ~ What is Missing?

A high school student raised her hand and proclaimed, “I think mindfulness should be taught in high school just like any other class like math or language arts.” My heart danced. Another student in the class asked “How long does it take before you notice a change (when practicing mindfulness)?”  I silently celebrated and told her it was a great question. After class was over, a third student came up to me. He was a bit hesitant and timidly said, “You know that part you said about having difficulty sleeping? That’s me. Last night I couldn’t sleep and kept having thoughts that wouldn’t go away.” My heart stopped. He began to choke up, eyes misty. I could tell he wanted to say more but he didn’t. Maybe he was exhausted. Maybe something was going on. Whatever it was, it tugged at my heart. Students were moving on to their next class, and he looked at me with a yearning. He was looking for a lifeline.

As best as I could, I offered some sage advice and my business card inviting him to reach out to me, hoping it was enough for now, but it felt inadequate. Incomplete. (Afterwards, I also asked his teacher to check up on him.) This was just a one hour presentation as a guest speaker and I would not be back to follow-up. Maybe another visit months away. But for now, students like him will use their minds to learn math, science, history, and even how to use computers and technology, but they will not be taught about their own incredible minds and the very things which interfere with learning, relationships, and well-being ~ about their unending thoughts, their emotions, about why they think/say/do the things they do. 

Most schools are failing to teach the essential life skills of mindfulness and social and emotional intelligence, which have been proven over and over to be the foundation for learning, and more importantly for overall well-being, leading to success in school, at work, and in life. 

Raising Awareness Globally and Locally

Like others around the world, this week I presented four free workshops to celebrate the first annual “The HEART of Mindfulness for Youth Week”, a global event to raise awareness on the benefits of mindfulness programs in schools and youth groups in our local communities: workshops for two high school classes, one for a group of 18-25 year olds in the California Conservation Corps, and another was for parents and educators. Each workshop was well received and participants were enthusiastic about wanting more by the end of the workshop, including parents asking how to get a program in their school, or young adults asking me to “come back every week”!

Are you on “auto-pilot”?

Our minds are used for learning, creating, communicating, and more. At times learning and life is in a flow state, and other times it’s like we are switched onto “auto-pilot” with our emotions and thoughts running “the show” of our lives. For example, have you ever said something you wish you could take back? Done something that you later regretted?  Felt angry and out of control? Been in a bad mood, didn’t even know why, and couldn’t get out of it? Questions like these are asked of the participants in the workshop, with each person asked to raise their hand or nod their head if they can relate. Additional questions include, have you ever had trouble falling or staying asleep because your mind kept spinning? Had trouble focusing/spacing out during class/meeting and you get called on or in a conversation and you get asked a question and you have no idea what they were talking about?  Been forgetful? Felt like your mind kept thinking about something that’s bothering you over and over, and it wouldn’t stop?  Felt like you needed a break and just want everyone to leave you alone because you are exhausted, overwhelmed, STRESSED?* Most participants in the workshops raised their hands for each of these questions, sometimes raising both hands, or standing up, for emphasis! We had a good laugh over it… and then faced the reality. Any one or more of these occurring regularly in our lives may have a negative or consequential impact on our lives. 

It’s good to see we are not alone in this common experience of being on “auto-pilot” or what Jon Kabat Zinn, author of “Full Catastrophe Living” describes as “functioning mechanically, without being fully aware of what we are doing or experiencing.”  How is it that some of the time we are “in the flow”, focused, and doing what we need to be doing, and other times we are mindless, distracted, stuck in thoughts of the past or future, stressed, blue, or grumpy and we don’t even realize it? How do we take control for having some input with how to respond to life, learning, and relationships with others and ourselves!?!? How do we get unstuck from chasing thoughts over and over like a puppy chasing its tail? 

Mindfulness ~ The Missing Piece 

Seeing the commonality and the frequency of these challenges can indicate a strong need for all of us to learn the skills to have more control in our lives. Mindfulness is a way of training our minds to respond to life more meaningfully. We begin with learning to observe the mind. Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment by noticing our thoughts, emotions & feelings, physical sensations in the body, and/or surrounding environment. With training and practice, we can learn how to quiet the mind rather than chasing every impulse or distraction inside or outside of ourselves. This self-awareness is foundational to emotional intelligence, which is the ability to understand and manage your emotions, and to understand and respond effectively to the emotions of others. This is deeply impactful in supporting us throughout the stages in life, whether you are 5 or 50! We can learn these skills through classes, just like math, to learn how to use our minds in ways to flourish socially & emotionally, which will lay the foundation to succeed in all area of life. Mindfulness is the missing piece in education!

Can’t ignore the findings!

As rewarding as it was to provide the workshops, mindfulness will not be learned effectively during a one-time event just as you would not expect to play Beethoven in one sitting, or to play in a sports championship without repeatedly practicing. Mindfulness is simple, yet complex. With training, with practice, with the understanding of how this can help us, over time, mindfulness moves from a practiced state to becoming an actual trait or way of being. 

Mindfulness research has shown repeatedly that mindfulness practice actually changes the brain. The very areas of challenges students have in school, impacting availability for learning and positive relationships, is what mindfulness has been shown to improve, including, but not limited to: self-awareness and impulse control; emotional regulation including stress, anxiety, anger management, depression;  focus & attention; empathy, compassion, cultivating positive states, and more. Mindfulness practices puts us in the driver’s seat, bringing us out of “auto-pilot” and leads to greater well-being. Since we know the challenges students have in our schools, and since we have the statistics on mindfulness showing that it can help support students with these challenges by empowering children with the core competencies and essential life skills and habits necessary to achieve this, then we must stop making excuses (such as money and time) and start creating ways to include this essential education for our youth.

Planting seeds:

Where I live on the Central Coast of California, it is considered an important agriculture area. I often think of myself metaphorically as a “farmer” or gardener of sorts, for mental health and well-being. This week I planted some seeds and yet I still have much to do to see those seeds come to fruition. Like the weekly Farmer’s markets around our communities, I hope that soon, mindfulness programs will be showing up in every community, in every classroom, or at the very least in programs throughout our communities (see my “Dragonfly Circles”).

Parents who attended this week’s workshops “got it” and want mindfulness programs in their schools and want to learn for themselves and their families. Students “got it” and want to learn more. Young adults “got it” and want more. Let’s not fail our children any longer. Let us transform the educational model to include teaching evidenced practices of mindfulness and emotional intelligence. We need to take personal responsibility for mindfulness in our own lives. Parents and educators must help our children/students access it for a more complete, holistic education to develop the skills and access the inner resources needed for every stage of life.

Now how do we move forward?

The seeds are planted. Do we take action and responsibility to offer mindfulness programs? Many people this week want it! Or do we go back to life on “auto-pilot”?

It’s up to you! If you are interested in being a part of a master mind group to get these programs going, please contact me!

Mindfulness has transformed my life personally, professionally. I have seen, firsthand, how it has impacted the students I have shared it with, as well as the impact it has on fellow teachers. Mindfulness has changed the way I look at what is fundamentally important in raising and educating youth at home, in schools, and in  our communities. I would love to show you how. Here is what one teacher had to say about my recent workshop in his classes. He “got it”.

A teacher who “got it”:

“Dee visited my high school students today and made an amazing connection with them.  I have guest speakers in my CTE classes quite often, but she engaged the students in a way that none of my prior guests have done.  Dee’s presentation on Mindfulness was very well-prepared and engaging for the students, and full of visuals and interactions that connected perfectly with the students.  While brief enough to fit into a class period, it was just the right amount of knowledge to pique the students’ interests towards a practice that can benefit them (and anybody) tremendously.  We know that our students are exposed to numerous stressors at school and at home, but we do very little as a school to address this, or to give them the tools they need to deal with these stressors.  From Dee’s presentation, it is clear that the practice of Mindfulness is a much needed tool for our students and staff alike.  Kudos to Dee for her effort to help these students and others that she is reaching through “Mindful Kindful YOUniversity.”  While mindfulness can sometimes be a difficult practice for the beginner, Dee’s approach was interesting and easy enough for the students to grasp.  I highly recommend that other schools and organizations consider her mindfulness program.  As a teacher she is very much in touch with the challenges that students and others face in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven society.” ~ Kurt Lindgren, Nipomo High School

And from Shell Beach: “I loved the science and research behind mindfulness. I can currently think of 6 students who need this! I love this.” ~ Amber W, Shell Beach Elementary Teacher

Thank you to the following for hosting my workshops for “the heart of mindfulness for youth week”: Kurt Lindgren & Nipomo High school, bellevue santa fe charter school, california conservation corps of san luis obispo.

update: we had Two MOre workshops following this blog with “parents helping parents” in slo and at shell beach elementary (for staff).

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Inspirational Resources from Others:

Some of these are videos I shared or wanted to share at the workshops.

Why Aren’t We Teaching You Mindfulness? (video)

Why Mindfulness is a Superpower (video)

Mindfulness: Youth Voices  (video)

Just Breathe (video)
Also see What our students are saying about mindfulness (in their words, including more videos)

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

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Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

*questions sourced from Mindful Schools Curriculum

Guided Visualization: A Magic Wand?

“I felt really calm,” said one 7th grade student. “I felt like I was far away from the problem. It felt really good,” said another. “I didn’t want it to end,” laughed another. It seemed as though a magic wand was waved over the 35 students in our “Circles of Compassion” class (in Northern CA). Seriously! On a meter for energy they went from a high of 10 to a calm of 1. Just ten minutes earlier they were buzzing with heightened energy and chatter from our previous activities and were having difficulty settling into this activity, laughing with self-consciousness and uncertainty. What was the magic wand? Guided Visualization. I was looking at 35 students melted into their chairs or places on the floor like wax dripped off a candle. There was no longer any chatter or case of the “sillies”, no wiggling. Only complete, sweet calm and stillness.

Guided visualization

Guided visualization, also known as “guided imagery” or “guided meditation”, is one of the most powerful techniques for positive change which can be tailored through storytelling and relaxation techniques to help participants accomplish specific goals such as deeply relaxing the mind and body, decreasing stress and anxiety, healing, personal transformation or achievement, and so much more.  It allows participants to develop their imagination while integrating emotional and cognitive experiences.  During our class, with eyes closed and listening to relaxation music in the background, the students listened to the imagery described using all the senses (“What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like?”) to create a mental images like a movie to experience and affirm safety, calm, and peace. They were then guided to send compassion to an event that may be replaying in their minds about what someone may have said or done to them which may be impacting them negatively (our focus for this class was on bullying awareness and intervention through compassion work). With effective breathing techniques also supporting the process to work its magic, their bodies began to melt into deep relaxation.

Social emotional learning

Self-management or self-regulation is a critical piece in social emotional learning. When it comes to bullying and relationships, sometimes the things people say and do can get us “off our game plan” because we feel hurt, sad, angry, or scared. It can lead to feeling powerless and upset. Amazingly, our mind cannot tell the difference between an actual ‘real-life’ event and a vividly imagined one.  The body responds physically, emotionally, and mentally whether it is responding to events actually happening (for example, being bullied) or being visualized (replaying the incident of being bullied). When we can get stuck in our thoughts about the negative experience it can have a negative impact on our bodies and minds over time. Mindfulness helps us learn how to relate to thoughts in a more helpful and positive manner.

Feeling in control

Today’s guided visualization allowed students an opportunity to experience an effective life-skill for feeling in control of thoughts and feelings in a proactive, positive manner.  By experiencing a positive guided visualization we actively choose which thoughts we focus on and our conscious minds become programmed by our subconscious minds by focusing on creative, possible, peaceful outcomes, as did the students in this activity. In just 10 minutes the students experienced mindfulness in a body scan to release tension; sent a bubble of love and caring to surround their personal incident to release aggressive thoughts and replace them with compassionate intentions in their practices to get “Compassion-Fit;” and affirmed the belief within themselves that they have the power to choose their thoughts and outcomes, while connecting with their goodness by acknowledging “I …am …calm”; “I …am …peace”; “I …am …kind”; “I …am …compassion”; “I …am …changing the world.” I was no surprise when they shared positive responses during our follow-up discussion: “I felt like I was far away from the problem. It felt really good.” One student explained how he was able to remove himself from an unpleasant experience and choose a peaceful, healing response to it.

You Can’t Be Peaceful and Aggressive at the Same Time!

One of the profound results from this activity is moving from thoughts and feelings of anxiety and stress (brought on by such things as bullying) to experiencing and enjoying the feelings of inner peace. When we are stressed due to the actions of others we give up our power for experiencing peace. When we proactively use strategies to shift our thinking and responses, we take back our own power. Feeling in control can positively impact all areas of our lives, emotionally, socially, and academically. The control, in this case, is for positive purposes where it is used for positive intentions. We can’t feel at peace and we can’t experience peace if we are having thoughts or images which are aggressive, angry, sad, worried. We get to choose. The benefits of guided visualization are long lasting, including feelings of deep relaxation, emotional and physical healing, enhancing creativity, increasing creativity, improving performance and skills, increasing confidence, self-empowerment, developing compassion, and so much more. Wouldn’t it be amazing to start the school day in classrooms school-wide with youth being able to release stress and feel peaceful while opening up their hearts and minds to prepare for learning?

Practice, practice!

We are filled with a wondrous resource within ourselves to draw upon anytime it’s needed to experience calm and peace as though a magic wand was used. This gift often goes unopened or ignored yet it can be one of the best gifts we use when opened. It’s tucked right there within us. By practicing this with our youth they will grow up understanding the benefits because they have actively experienced it! “I …am …calm”; “I …am …peace”; “I …am …compassion”; “I …am …changing the world beginning with myself.” 

THIS BLOG IS A REPRINT AND REVISION of “Guided Visualization the Magic Wand for Teens: You Can’t Be Peaceful and Aggressive at the Same Time!” which I WROTE ON Dec 18, 2013 ON MY OTHER WEBSITE CARING AND COURAGEOUS KIDS. SEE MY NEW VIDEO “7 QUESTIONS EVERY SCHOOL SHOULD ASK”

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#whyIteachmindfulness is a tag I use on my FB page Mindful Kindful YOUniversity ~ discover more reasons as I share them!

Guided visualization is just one of many activities we will be doing in my new community classes “Dragonfly Circles” in Arroyo Grande and Los Osos. Tell your friends!!!

Parents, Educators, and Community members are invited to my FREE workshops in November to celebrate “The Heart of Mindfulness for Youth Week.” Tell your friends!!!

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Why I Teach Mindfulness

“…because it’s amazing!”

When a 2nd grade student describes mindfulness as “amazing”, I think administrators, teachers, and parents need to sit up and take notice. See video below:

Two years ago I had the privilege to go into the classrooms of all the Kinder through 5th grade students where I was also serving a the district’s Speech-Language Therapist. The year before that I was also going into these classrooms to teach my version of social-emotional learning skills to increase compassion and kindness, while hoping to reduce violence and aggression in relationships. Many of these students (maybe even it’s accurate to say that most of these students) have a lot of challenges in their lives — low socio-economic circumstances which includes poverty, violence in the homes or neighborhoods, and race-related discrimination challenges that are rampant in today’s world. There were many students in our school identified as Emotionally Disturbed due to the trauma in their lives. This created classrooms which were challenged with high dis-regulation of the nervous system, one student or several students may impact an entire class’ sense of well-being and safety. I had been integrating mindfulness into my therapy work and in my Caring and Courageous Kids bullying prevention work for several years but felt the time was now to really dig deeply into it so I went through the certification training with Mindful Schools and then taught the Mindful Schools curriculum to these k-5 students over the past year.

The circumstances were far from ideal with my already huge personal caseload of therapy students. I needed to fit in teaching two classes of each grade which meant I could only see each class approximately once every two weeks. Add in holidays, testing days (of which there were many!), and prep days for testing, and special events, I did not see the students nearly as much as I would have liked. However, this opportunity was one I would call “amazing” as well! I felt that most of the students were intrigued with this topic of learning about their brain and how to help it develop attention, focus, and more importantly, how to experience peace in a moment. Practicing the calm helped them to experience a changing, more positive relationship with themselves and with others not only at school, but at home as well!

Throughout the year I continued to plant these seeds of the lessons and practices of mindfulness. It wasn’t until we did the year-end activity of having the students in the classes write or draw about how mindfulness has helped them that I really got to hear from each student on how it impacted them. It was deeply moving and heart-opening.

This video is just one of many “testimonies” from the children which confirms to me how valuable it is to teach this incredible life-skill that I wish I had learned when I was in my youth! This child took something she learned at school and had the awareness to put this valuable life skill into practice to help contribute to peace at home and in herself. She is taking what she learned and sharing it with her family! This 2nd grader said that her picture was about “flipping your lid” which is a term we learned about months before (and reviewed) about how the brain reacts when activated with the strong emotions of fear or anger (see our video: Don’t Flip Yo Lid). When we know about how our brains work, and when we practice how to counter that activation with simply taking deep, calming breaths, then we can have a more positive outcome that is aligned with our hearts and inner goodness. By practicing this in the classroom, as a classroom together, then it becomes easier to remember to do in times of need. When we forget, we can be reminded to try it again next time. This little girl noticed how she was feeling and actively chose to take deep, calming breaths so she wouldn’t “flip her lid” when feeling angry! Noticing the siblings she drew in her picture, I asked if she taught anyone in her family about mindfulness to which she replied “yes”. I have had many students in the classes share examples of this as well. When asked what her family thought of mindfulness, her reply (whether it was her own thoughts or their thoughts, I can’t be sure) was that “it was amazing”. THIS is one of the many reasons why I teach mindfulness. Sometimes the world feels peaceful and in an instant it can all change. For some students it can become overwhelming. When we have the tools to help us feel calm and centered, it is, indeed, amazing!  I find great joy in helping children discover how it can feel when they have are able to calm themselves and help restore peace in their corner of the world no matter what comes their way! It’s just a breath away.

#whyIteachmindfulness is a tag I use on my FB page Mindful Kindful YOUniversity ~ discover more reasons as I share them!

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

This blog is a reprint and revision I wrote on July 13, 2016 on my PREVIOUS website “Caring and Courageous Kids”. See my new video “7 Questions every school should ask”

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful. Kindful. Skillful. Transformational.

7 Questions Every School Should Answer

7 Questions Every School Should Answer

~because our children deserve a “sm’hearter” education ~

Transcript for video:

We hope that our students’ stress levels will fall and physical awareness will rise but how often do we teach students how to create these changes?*

We hope that our students will be able to pay attention and tune out distractions but how often do we teach students how to do this?*

We hope that our students will be happy and able to regulate difficult emotions but how often do we teach students how to achieve this state of being?*

We hope that our students will be kind and refrain from judging others but how often do we teach students how to achieve this state of being?*

We tell our students to be aware of what is happening in the world and be good stewards of the earth but how do we teach students how to engage in these practices?*

Our schools hope to provide an education which will prepare our students for their future success but a focus only on academics is INCOMPLETE.

This leads to the 6th question…

Does your school teach a curriculum supporting social-emotional development skills…or does your school just HOPE students will learn “those other skills” on their own?

Emotional intelligence develops by learning and practicing skills.

SOLUTION: Mindful Kindful YOUniversity

A program which integrates evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social emotional learning to develop the essential life skills of emotional intelligence, or Sm’Heart Skills!

Meet Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity (MK YOU) and Certified Mindfulness Educator.

Dee has spent 30+ years working with children with social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and communication challenges. (Former Speech Language Therapist specializing in Social Emotional Learning, Social Challenges; Bullying Prevention Specialist & Author; Preschool Director, and more!)

MK YOU educates the whole child and provides the life skills to help students flourish socially and emotionally, which will develop the foundation to succeed academically.

MK YOU was founded to address the challenges students face in school which interfere with learning, relationships, and mental well-being, such as:

  • stress, overwhelm;
  • self-awareness;
  • distraction, impulse control, difficulty focusing;
  • bullying and social issues;
  • difficult emotions — anger, anxiety, depression;
  • and bringing these skills to social dynamics at school, at home, and in the community;

… and to equip students with the inner resources for reducing stress and cultivating the skills needed for balance, resilience, over-all well-being, as well as being mentally “available for learning”.

Last question.

What are you waiting for?

Sign up YOUR classroom/school! Mindful Kindful YOUniversity Enrichment Program for Grades K – 12 in San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara Counties

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

THE FIRST 5 QUESTIONS: Daniel Rechtschaffen ~ The 5 Realms of Mindful Literacy (“The Mindful Educator Workbook”, pp 105-107)

Activate Your Personal GPS

A few years ago, I moved to where I am now living on the beautiful Central Coast of California. I seem to have a “gypsy soul” because I have actually have moved a lot in the last 15 years (at least 10 times)! Each time I move I love to look at a map of the surrounding area and study where everything is, such as stores and restaurants, as well as nature areas for exploring (the green areas on the map)! Surely that comes from the days of growing up traveling to various places for summer vacations as I leaned over the front seat of the car (no seatbelts back then – yikes!) while my mom read the map and provided instructions on where to turn next — the “old fashioned GPS”! I still feel a vibrant energy thinking back to those days of going on a new adventure!

These days I rely heavily on my technological “GPS” navigation device to find my way around, especially after a move, until I am confident I can get from “point A” to “point B” without assistance. After a while I try going without the GPS to get to my new favorite hike, for example. At first there is an awkwardness and lack of confidence, but determination, in getting there on my own. Sometimes I make a wrong turn and am on the wrong course, but after many trials it becomes easier and eventually effortless because the pathway on the road is now mapped out in my brain. That’s called creating a “neuronal pathway”. 

Mapping and the GPS makes a perfect metaphor for our journey to experience a happier, healthier, and more balanced life. GPS = Generating Positive Steps for Well-being:

  • moving from stressful living towards balanced living;
  • from being unwell towards vibrant health;
  • from difficult relationships towards peaceful ones;
  • from negative attitudes towards “gr’attitude”;
  • from distracted towards focused, and so on.

Each of us has something in our lives that we would like to move away from, and move towards, to enjoy a better “place” of being. When we get “off course”, when we’re feeling lost, or finding ourselves making a “u-turn” towards old habits, we can use our map to head back in the direction we are going. 

Just like the GPS is a tool, so, too, there are mindfulness “tools” available for us to use that have been proven over and over to improve our well-being. The practice of mindfulness in daily living strengthens our brain and balances our bodies and minds. Some of you are still unclear on how mindfulness can help you, while others of you still feel “awkward” at integrating it into your life. I love to help guide people to move from your point A to your point B, whatever that may be. The paper maps we used on our traveling trips when I was growing up were marked with highlighters by the people at the AAA Auto Club to help us find our way. Let me highlight the way for you! It’s okay to ask for help when we need it as we journey along along!

If you have some experience with mindfulness, you understand that you continually need to keep charging up that “GPS tool” or it won’t “work” for you. Simply knowing mindfulness tools are available is not enough just like having a GPS in our car won’t do us any good if we don’t get in the car and turn it on and GO! When we take action to get to point B, that is what creates the changes in our lives that we desire or want. That’s our personal inner GPS resource or tool to Generate Positive Steps on your journey to well-being.

Here’s an example of a GPS~ 

How do you want to live, be, show up in the world today, tomorrow, the next day or week or year?

Mapping out Intentions:

      • I would like to experience more peace in my life (in myself, in my relationships, in my surroundings). 

Action Tools:

There are many, many ways to practice mindfulness and to increase resilience:

        1. Deepen my learning about mindfulness; 
        2. Develop greater self awareness ~ for example ~ notice when tension arises (awareness improves with mindfulness practice); 
        3. Practice reducing stress through grounding and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (Take a break; deep calming breaths; meditate; mindful movement; etc);
        4. Cultivate positivity through positive mindset, practicing gratitude, compassion;
        5. Connection to others (choose those who will help you spiral UP).
        6. and more!!!!

Result:

    • Feel more positive & balanced; overall happier; sleep better; and more! (See benefits)

When we respond more skillfully to life’s challenges by turning on our inner GPS, we are activating well-being that would have otherwise remained stuck in low gear! 

Relating the GPS to children:

Let’s go one last step further with this metaphor (it’s so much fun)! It is important for parents and educators to understand that WE are the child’s navigational system, helping them while their brains develop, while they learn about their emotions, and how to respond to life’s challenges because their brains are not fully developed until their mid-20’s. Our role is to help guide children until they have mapped out their own way (then we can be the backseat driver, with occasional directions)! Be like the GPS. The GPS doesn’t yell when we make a wrong turn – it simply restates the direction in a neutral voice. We too, as parents/educators, can be there to support our children as they navigate through difficult terrain and maybe pull over when the road feels bumpy and let someone else have a turn at “driving”.  

Are you ready?

If you ( or your family, your classroom) are ready to experience life in a whole new way, I will support you in setting your intentions to Generate Positive Steps towards activating your well-being. Discover your inner and outer resources to help you navigate from where you are currently, to where you want to be.

I invite you to check out my upcoming programs and services for children and for adults to help you highlight your map for planning your journey. Join Mindful Explorers virtual self-paced, nature-based mindfulness program for kids (elementary school ages) and their grown-ups at home or in school.

But remember, it’s YOU who holds the keys. It’s you in the driver’s seat!

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being ~ online and throughout San Luis Obispo County via Mindful Explorers (online), community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee is currently launching programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Creating a Cascade of Positive Change

Did you ever have a “light bulb moment” and want to run to the top of a mountain and shout it out for all the world to know? Yeah. Me, too! I’ve actually been having a cascade of those moments in the last year or more and just the other day I had another big one which I would like to share with you…

and the world!

June marked the end of a chapter for me in special education to move forward with my vision of creating mindfulness programs for youth in schools and in the communities in and around where I live on the Central Coast of CA. Why would I leave a “comfy” paid job for an unknown future? Because mindfulness has transformed my life, the stress of my job was affecting my health (as mentioned in my last blog), and mindfulness has also changed the way I look at what is fundamentally important in raising & educating our children at home and in schools. Mindfulness has a myriad of benefits which I have seen first hand with the youth (and adults) I have already shared it with (in special education and in my mindfulness program initiated at an inner city school in Sacramento, CA). 

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

~Albert Einstein

Problem ~ creating awareness:

Most educators, administrators, and parents today are unfamiliar with mindfulness. Mindfulness has been my area of focus for many years now, and I find it invaluable in my work with students and with the adults I have shared it with so I have been trying to figure out the best way to create awareness and help parents and educators understand the benefits of  “mindfulness” for youth (as well as for themselves). Schools around our country are already implementing successful programs and recognizing its tremendous benefits. By creating this awareness, it will help mindfulness become more mainstream as a viable and essential option in education. Mindfulness provides a foundation for education because it contributes to optimal conditions for learning and teaching.

Solution ~ (here’s the light-bulb moment):

I made a decision to launch a global campaign initiative and I have invited mindfulness educators from around the world to help with the planning stages. Let me introduce:

The Heart of Mindfulness for Youth Week

~ An international collaboration of mindfulness educators in our local communities

to raise awareness on the benefits of mindfulness programs in schools and youth groups in our communities.

The first annual event will be held November 11-17, 2017.  Although it is an international event, each local chapter will plan their own ways of celebrating in their communities which may be one day to all 7 days. Right now we are in the planning stages and I will share more details very soon!!! If you would like to help me organize for this weeklong event for our community in San Luis Obispo/Northern Santa Barbara Counties, please contact me!!! I am very excited for the potential impact these ripples could create. May it become a cascade of positive change!

“Vision without action is merely a dream.

Action without vision just passes the time.

Vision with action can change the world.”

~Joel A Barker

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

 

News Story on Digital Citizenship is Timely Again and Again

Yesterday when I saw the news headline “What The Michelle Carter Conviction Means For YOUR Kids” my heart hurt deeply for all the humans impacted by this horrific event of bullying. If you aren’t familiar with the news, Conrad Roy commit suicide after a series of texts from his “girlfriend” urging him to do so. “The ruling states that Carter’s “virtual presence” at the time of the suicide and the “constant pressure” she had placed on Roy, who was in a delicate mental state, were enough proof for an involuntary manslaughter charge.”

The author urges discussions, including “We need to keep an open dialogue with our kids about this stuff.  Was there anyone else out there that could have helped Conrad Roy? Was there anyone else out there who could have helped Michelle Carter?” Yes! These are the questions we must never stop asking. The topic is timely again and again and again until these events stop happening.  More importantly, there are ways to build these discussions into daily life in our classrooms and in our homes and in our communities while also providing the tools and life skills to support the well-being of everyone. Everyone.

“Mindful Kindful YOUniversity” featured in the article “Digital Citizenship” ~

“New Times” of San Luis Obispo County

Last week I was interviewed for the article “Digitial Citizenship” ~ (you’ll find a full piece towards the end: “A deep breath in”). I love how the author Karen Garcia thoughtfully raised some important questions on the use of, and the responsibility for, using technology.  The resource officer she interviewed said that “impulse control is something missing from a lot of the students he interacts with.”

The research shows that mindfulness training over time integrates the brain and strengthens the important executive functions that support emotional and social intelligence, including impulse control. This is why I teach mindfulness!!! The research on neuroscience has the potential to revolutionize education while it validates the importance of whole-child education. Mindfulness programs in school will provide the learning and practice opportunities throughout the day to cultivate self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making which are the five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioral competencies identified by The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

In the “Digital” article, Garcia writes about me~  Sitting in Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café, customers chat and push buttons on their keyboards while employees wash dishes and take orders. DiGioia closes her eyes and then opens them, taking in a breath, she shifts her focus to “the really pretty flower paintings on the windows” of the café—blocking out the commotion all around her.”  What she didn’t explain is that I was demonstrating a simple grounding technique when feeling stressed. The power of a few slow, deep breaths shifts our brain from the stress response, or the sympathetic nervous system, to the parasympathetic nervous system. Also by looking around and coming into our senses such as visually identifying something you see (the flowers), smell (the coffee), hear (the music), feel (the cool air from the fan) ~ all of this is grounding us or signaling our brain “all is well”. These are the kinds of techniques that can help anyone during difficult every day situations.

photo by Dee DiGioia ~sunflower

DiGioia noted that mindfulness is hard to quantify, so schools often hesitate to implement such programs. “Schools want measurable test scores that display progress, but mindfulness aids in personal growth over time,” she said.

What I have found so invaluable is the actual carved out time to have the important discussions with youth of all ages on bullying, feelings, compassion, etc. More importantly, it is essential to provide the opportunities to practice the skills to develop these competencies.  If we are preparing youth for their future, I can’t think of anything more important than providing educational programs to address the emotional intelligence skills! Research also shows that people who have high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) skills are the ones who are happier and more successful in all areas of life because they will be better equipped to handle and overcome any challenges that come their way by responding to situations from a positive, calmer, more centered space. These skills can’t help but impact every area of life and in every growth stage of life from youth to adult.  I have no doubt that mindfulness and social emotional learning programs positively impact youth because I had the opportunity to provide these programs where I lived prior to moving to the Central Coast of CA and children self-reported how mindfulness and our classes helped them!  This is why I am now more passionate than ever for creating programs for youth (and adults) in schools and in our communities to learn and practice these essential life skills. Mindful. Kindful. Skillful.

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Also in the news today~
The iPad is a Far Bigger Threat to Our Children Than Anyone Realizes  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen-time for children under two and a maximum two hours a day there-after. This is not just due to a proven link between screen-time and attention disorders, but because it eliminates other activities essential for building healthy bodies and brains.”

 

Surviving “the most difficult year ever” as an educator

Laying crumpled on the floor, tears flowing, an overwhelming sensation of chaos and hopelessness was sweeping over me. “This is impossible!” I was screaming inside myself (or maybe it was aloud). It was only a few weeks into my job as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) at a new-for-me school. I had just moved to a new location to slow things down and practice having more balance in my life. I had moved from Sacramento and although there were many reasons to love it there, it was time for this gal to get out of the city.  I realized living near the ocean or in the mountains was important to me, so it was back to the coast for me. I began my new school year filled with enthusiasm and hope for the “best year ever”. But within the first month of school, I felt completely unbalanced and enthusiasm was shattered.  I felt like I was standing at the bottom of my “Mount Everest”. And I had no idea how to scale it. That is, until I remembered…

I have been studying and practicing mindfulness for many years while working with special needs students with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Their challenges with attention deficits, impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, trauma, nervous system dysfunction, etc., often interfered with their ability to learn or engage with others successfully or effectively. As my students began to embrace mindfulness practices, I, too, became a student in order to benefit from and embody that which I shared with my students.

Move forward to my Mt. Everest situation. There were many reasons* to feel overwhelmed. Knowing my frustrations, several of the staff members confided in me “this is  exactly why we continue to have turnover of our SLP’s every year”. I thought to myself “Oh good, I’m not the only one who feels like I’m climbing Mt. Everest with a safari suit and a fanny pack.” A few other newbie colleagues at my school shared these stressful feelings as well. In fact, nationwide there is a shortage of SLP’s. Actually in general, in the field of education, forty-six percent of teachers report high daily stress, which compromises their health, sleep, quality of life, and teaching performance. At my school in Sacramento it seemed like there was a teacher/staff member dropping out every month if not weekly (not kidding)! But I digress. What I would like to share is how mindfulness helped me survive “the most difficult year ever” as an educator. 

Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is is awareness of the present moment by noticing our thoughts, emotions & feelings, physical sensations in the body, and/or surrounding environment with curiosity and kindness. It is a beneficial approach to life’s challenges for all ages, supporting our well-being.

Dr. Susan Kaiser Greenland adds that “Mindfulness moves brain activity from the emotional part of the brain into the problem solving part of the brain so it can do it’s job. It can work the other way too. If you can get the problem solving part of the brain really strong, it can turn around and quiet the emotional part of the brain.”

There is a tendency to associate mindful meditation with peace and calm because, quite often, that is the “side effect” when we sit in stillness and practice breathing, however mindfulness is about noticing what is going on in the present moment as it already is: even when having difficult emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Our tools and techniques help us navigate through these stormy times. Like the tides, feelings come and feelings go. Situations are happy and then they are not. Everything in life ebbs and flows.

REmembering:

It’s easy to feel happy when things are going well. For several years as my studies and practices in mindfulness progressed things were going very well. What’s not so easy is to keep going when the going gets tough. For my two previous school years I worked in an inner-city charter school in Sacramento, and despite working with some very challenging students (some with difficult backgrounds living in notoriously tough neighborhoods) and working under rigorous and difficult conditions, these were incredibly rewarding years in education. The kind of experience that brought such deep meaning and passion to my work. I was fortunate to be able to implement a mindfulness program for the k-5 classes while also doing my speech therapy work. I also began sharing with staff district-wide through professional development and after-school support groups to try to offer solutions for stress and burnout. But the city life was not for me so I moved on and was faced with a completely different experience and I found myself having feelings of regret about my decision to leave the previous school.

When I noticed those feelings of regret, I needed to REmind myself WHY I came here: balance and slowing things down for my well-being. “REmind” or “REmember” is simply bringing back to mind that which we already know but forgot for a moment. Stress and adversity will impair memory. As I stood humbly in the shadows of my Mt Everest I refused to be defeated. And so I began my journey with REmembering the things I have learned and REminding myself that I have the resources within me ~ the very resources I have shared with students and staff about mindfulness!

Curiosity is one aspect cultivated in mindfulness. John Welwood said,

“What deeper resource is this adversity calling on me to bring forth?”

This became my north star for navigating through the year. I began to practice and deepen my curiosity to uncover the lessons beneath the obstacles in my journey. Ryan Holiday, author of “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage” wrote:

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.  Each time, you’ll learn something. Each time, you’ll develop strength, wisdom, and perspective. Each time, a little more of the competition falls away. Until all that is left is you: the best version of you.”  

Yes! The best version of me!  And so my work began, picking myself up off the floor, and moving forward on the path towards self-awareness and growth in wisdom, in order to come out stronger, better, and balanced. Mindfulness can be a state of mind in the present moment, and over time it can become a more enduring personal trait or disposition, or a way of being. I began to recognize how my traits were becoming a way of being that was changing my life for the better. I made it through the year, proud of my efforts to persevere and come out stronger for it.

Perhaps, in time, I will share more some time about what some of those challenges were!

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo County via school and community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

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*Many reasons for Burnout of SLPs

The speech therapist gets sick: Burnout syndrome and hospital speech therapy – a review

Crispy on the edges but not burned out

The 10 Biggest challenges of being an SLP

(1) Teacher Health and Stress Study

 

Resources supporting “Why Mindfulness in Education”

Resources supporting

“Why Mindfulness/SEL/Movement in Education” 

(“Why I Teach Mindfulness”)

Photo by Dee DiGioia, program in Folsom, CA

“When we look at low performing schools it’s not that these children are unable to learn, it’s that very often they are unavailable to learn.” —Jean-Gabrielle Larochette, elementary school teacher

While establishing Mindfulness-based Social Emotional Learning (SEL) YOUth programs throughout San Luis Obispo County, I am compiling a list of important, informational articles and video resources for myself, as well as to share with YOU, all in one place, right here on this page. There are so many reasons why mindfulness is needed in our schools and communities. Let’s do this! Contact me, Dee DiGioia, for help getting programs in your schools (during or after school) or organizations in San Luis Obispo County! See our similar list of resources for adults.

I will continue to add to these lists over time so be sure to check back!  I have tons more to add to this list but it’s time for a mindful break! (Last edited 2/4/2020)

These first few resources are a few of my favs and, therefore, at the top of the list!!!
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Why Aren’t We Teaching You Mindfulness | AnneMarie Rossi | TEDxYouth@MileHigh (video)

Why Mindfulness is a Superpower (video)

MAY I BE HAPPY: MINDFULNESS IN THE CLASSROOM AND BEYOND

Schedule a screening!

Mindfulness in Education ~ Skills for the 21st Century ~ by Dee DiGioia

MORE RESOURCES:

7 Questions Every School Should Answer (video by Dee DiGioia)

10 Reasons Teens Have So Much Anxiety Today

A 19-Year Study Reveals Kindergarten Students With These 2 Skills Are Twice as Likely to Obtain a College Degree (And They Have Nothing to Do With Reading)

Aces Too High

ADHD & Mindfulness: An Interview with Lidia Zylowska MD

Anxiety in Teens – How to Help a Teenager Deal With Anxiety

Behaviour management: it’s all about the brain

Can Mindfulness Help Kids Control Their Emotions?

Children in Schools: Safe and Secure

Daily Meditation: A Bold Approach to Reducing Student Stress

Effects of Mindful Awareness Practices on Executive Functions in Elementary School Children

Embodied mindfulness is critical for empowering teachers to support student well-being in an unstable world

From Anxiety and Avoidance to Brave Behavior

Generation at risk: America’s youngest facing mental health crisis

Healthy Habits of Mind (video)

Help hard to find for teens struggling with mental health, thoughts of suicide

Here’s how mindfulness helps schools address depression and anxiety

How Daily Meditation Improves Behavior

How Emotions Affect Learning, Behaviors, and Relationships

How More Social and Emotional Learning (and Less Academics) Actually Builds Academic Success

How SEL and Mindfulness Can Work Together

How Teens Today Are Different from Past Generations

How to Increase Self-Control in Children – And Why It’s So Important for Their Success

How to Teach Kids About the Brain: Laying Strong Foundations for Emotional Intelligence 

Implementing Mindfulness in Schools: Reflections From a Principal

In High School, the Kids Are Not All Right

Integrating Mindfulness Into Education

Integrating Mindfulness & Social-Emotional Learning Programs 

Into Light (video)

 “Into Light” features four teens who successfully use mindfulness to help battle depression.

“Just Breathe” (video)

Low-Income Schools See Big Benefits in Teaching Mindfulness

Making Time for Mindfulness: A new study shows how mindfulness education in the classroom can reduce students’ sense of stress and lengthen attention spans

Meditation Helps Lower Truancy and Suspensions

Meditation transforms roughest San Francisco schools

Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students

Mind-Body Practices Like Meditation And Yoga Help Teens With Anxiety, Study Finds

Mindful children have more brain flexibility, imaging study shows

Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence ~ upgrade your internal operating system

Mindfulness and Yoga Help Kids Cope With Stress In Low-Income, High-Crime Neighborhoods

Mindfulness at School Improves Critical Learning Skills

Mindfulness curriculum promotes prosocial behavior in preschoolers

Mindfulness Exercises Improve Kids’ Math Scores 

Mindfulness in Education, Research Highlights 

The link above is an annotated bibliography of studies of mindfulness in education from the Greater Good Science Center (2014). Although research on mindfulness is still in early stages, studies show that mindfulness holds promise for positive effects on student health, well-being, social skills, and academic performance; read how mindfulness practices may also reduce stress and burnout for teachers and administrators.

Mindfulness in Education

Mindfulness in Education Research Highlights 

Mindfulness in the Classroom: How it helps kids regulate behavior and focus on learning

Mindfulness Meditation May Help Students Combat High Levels of Stress, Depression

Mindfulness practices buoy students in Sacramento’s Einstein Middle School

Mindfulness Programs In Schools Reduce Symptoms Of Depression Among Adolescents: Study 

Mindful Revolution: Exploring How Mindfulness Can Transform Education (video)

Mindful Youth Leadership Transforming School Culture at El Cerrito High School

Mindfulness: Youth Voices (video)

Miserable Children, Workforce Resilience and Why We Need Mindfulness In Schools 

More Focused, Better Behaved Kids, Through ‘Mindfulness’ 

More Mindfulness, Please: On Bringing Mindfulness into the Classroom 

Not Talking About Mental Health Is Literally Killing (Boys)

Philly school’s new ‘calming room’ offers yoga mats, drawing, and a ‘brain break’

PS7 Presents “Don’t Flip Yo Lid” (video by Dee DiGioia)

Release (video)

Risking Peace at a Troubled School

Room to Breathe Film (video ~ Mindful Schools)

School replaces detention with meditation

School Stress: Rescuing Our Children

Scientific Evidence for School-Based Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness Practices

Screen Time Syndrome: Brain Images Explain Why Kids are Moody, Impulsive, & Can’t Pay Attention

Sixth Graders on Mindfulness (video)

SIMPLIFYING CHILDHOOD MAY PROTECT AGAINST MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Slowing Down to Learn: Mindful Pauses That Can Help Student Engagement

Stress is making our children ill; here is what we can do about it 

Stress: It’s Not in Your Head, it’s in Your Nervous System

Stopping the Next Shooter: Could Teaching Kids Empathy and Mindfulness Really Help? 

Student Stress Is Education’s Overlooked Crisis

Teaching meditation to kids in Chicago swiftly reduced crime and dropout rates 

Teach Mindfulness, Invite Happiness

Teachers Are Stressed, And That Should Stress Us All

Teaching Peace in Elementary School 

Teaching the ABCs of Attention, Balance and Compassion: Susan Kaiser Greenland at TEDxStudioCityED  (video) 

Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to Students Affected by Trauma and Violence (interview)

Teaching Your Impulsive Child to “Pause” 

Teen Brain Benefits from Mindfulness Training

The 1 Skill College Students Wish Their Parents Taught Them

The Amazing, Tumultuous, Wild, Wonderful, Teenage Brain

The Child Stress Epidemic

The decline of play in preschoolers — and the rise in sensory issues

The Elephant In The (Staff) Room – Why We Need To Talk About Teacher Wellbeing

The Limitations of Teaching ‘Grit’ in the Classroom 

The Mindful Revolution: Exploring How Mindfulness Can Transform Education (video)

The Power of Mindfulness: How a meditation practice can help kids become less anxious, more focused ~ The Child Mind Institute

The Powerful Impact of Stress

The Skills Colleges and Employers Are Looking For

The 3 Arguments for a Focus on Well-Being

THIS TIME WITH FEELING: INTEGRATING SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND COLLEGE- AND CAREER-READINESS STANDARDS

Two studies reveal benefits of mindfulness for middle school students

UW-Madison helps students learn through well-being exercises (video)

Vagus Nerve Is the Key to Well-being

When Mindfulness Meets the Classroom

When science meets mindfulness ~ Researchers study how it seems to change the brain in depressed patients

WHY ARE KIDS IMPATIENT, BORED, FRIENDLESS, AND ENTITLED?

Why Are More American Teenagers Suffering From Severe Anxiety?

Why Children Need Mindfulness Just As Much As Adults Do 

Why meditation should be taught in schools 

Why Mindfulness Belongs in the Classroom

Why Our Children Should Be Taught to Meditate in School 

Yoga in schools has ‘profound impact’ on behaviour

And in the news:

This is What Kept the Thai Boys Calm While Trapped in a Cave

Video game addiction is officially a mental health disorder

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Additional resources on

Research and Benefits

and

>>> Resources: Mindfulness for Adults <<<

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo County via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee is developing programs in our local schools and communities here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

ABC’s of Mindfulness

The ABC’s of Mindfulness

for all ages!

The rewards of practicing mindfulness have the potential to transform your attitudes, values, behaviors, and physical & emotional well-being in a very positive and powerful way, which you may hardly notice, that is… until you notice them! Research is proving this over and over again! Here at the “YOUniversity”, we are learning and practicing our ABC’s of mindfulness, from kids to grownups. Join us! Decide how you want to “be” or show up in life.

Is there a mindful quality you would like to strengthen or empower in yourself? Why not select a mindful quality from the list below that you would like to notice and practice just for today, or for this week, or month!

What is your superpower?

“I am…” “My practice in this moment is to be…”

Aware, Attentive, Accepting, Appreciative, Attuned, Authentic, Adaptable, Alert, Accountable, Awesome

Balanced, Breathing, Beautiful, Brave, Being (Not Doing)

Compassionate, “Compassionfit”, Caring, Courageous, Calm, Connected, Centered, Curious, Creative, Content, Capable, Committed, Considerate, Cooperative, Confident, Contemplative

Dynamic, Disciplined, Deep, Deliberate, Discerning, Determined, Dependable

Empowered, Energized, Embodied, Emotionally Intelligent (EQ), Enriched, Empathetic, Effective, Ethical, Extraordinary

Focused, Flexible, Forgiving, Flourishing, Friendly, Fortitude

Grateful, Gracious, Generous, Growing, Guiding, Gentle

Heartful, Happy, Healthy, Holistic, Honorable, Helpful, Honest, Harmonious

Intentional, Inspired, Inspiring, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Inquiring, Insightful, Intuition

Joyful, Judicious

Kind, Kindful, Knowledgeable

Loving, Lovable, Leader, Listener, Letting go, Limitless

Mindful, Magnanimous, Modest

Non-judgmental, Non-violent, Non-harming, Nurturing, Noticer, Non-striving

Optimistic, Open, Open-hearted, Open-minded, Observant, Objective

Positive, Peaceful, Passionate, Patient, Present, Playful, Powerful, Principled

Quiet, Questioning

Resilient, Relaxed, Response-able, Reflective, Risk-taker, Reliable, Resourceful, Respectful

Skillful, Sm’Heart, Self-compassionate, Self-aware, Socially-aware, Self-disciplined, Strong, Silent, Still, Sage, Safe

Thoughtful, Transforming, Trusting, Trustworthy, Truthful, Thankful

Understanding, Upstanding, Unfolding

Virtuous, Versatile, Vibrant, Venturesome

Wise, Welcoming, Well, Warm, Willing

Xenodochial (friendly to strangers)

YOU, Yes(!), Youthful, Yogic

Zestful, Zealous

Are there any you would add? Let us know! Post in comments below!

This list will be updated from time to time and was last updated 1/18/19.

 

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo County via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Follow our Facebook page Mindful Kindful YOUniversity. Now on Instagram, too!

Look Upstream

Look Upstream

The following story is dedicated to all who feel like they are drowning in this crazy thing called life: parents overwhelmed with parenting, teachers stressed out with the expectations and demands of teaching, children having to grow up way too fast and facing issues unknown by any other generation. I have experienced overwhelm in my own life, and on my journey I have also found solutions which I share through my programs for youth and for adults at “Mindful Kindful YOUniversity.”  My dream is to help create school-wide mindfulness wellness programs for students, staff, and parents. ~Dee DiGioia“Once upon a time”… that opening line still evokes such treasured memories from my youth. It meant a wonderful story was about to capture my wild imagination. I think of my fuzzy pj’s and my shredded blankie in a child-sized rocking chair reading my “Little Golden” books or special books from the library (oooh how I loved the smell of the pages!). I loved how, in the end, there was almost always a happy ending.

When I was growing up, the art of storytelling was indeed an art form.  Books were not always needed. In fact, I couldn’t wait for our summer camping trips when we met up with other families and spent dark, mountain nights around the crackling, and sometimes smokey, campfire while the “elders” took turns telling stories. Or on our camping hikes down mysterious dirt paths in the woods, my camping buddy, who was a year younger, used to beg me to tell her stories! I loved weaving an imaginary tale and having her plead “tell me more”!

I recently heard this story about a village along the banks of a river. The current was very strong and potentially life-threatening. One day a fisherman saw a person crying for help while being swept downstream by the river. Luckily the fisherman was brave and also a very strong swimmer. He did not hesitate to jump in and pull the drowning person ashore. He carried the young mother to safety in the village center. The next day a teacher from upstream nearly drowned being carried by the same raging waters but was rescued by another villager and the villagers rejoiced. In fact, in the next days and weeks and years, more and more people nearly drowned being pulled downstream. The villagers worked together by setting up nets to catch them. Hundreds of thousands of people were being pulled from the water. Even children! The villagers set up shelters and hospitals. They were proud of their accomplishments in becoming more skillful in rescuing the folks who were swept downstream.

Early one morning, a woman from the village, Ms. Henny, sat on the edge of the bank, sipping some warm tea, appreciating the warmth and colors of the sunrise, and noticing how the droplets of water on the safety nets sparkled from the sunlight. As she drew in a slow, deep breath, of gratitude her attention turned to wondering about all the people who nearly drowned. She tried to imagine what their lives must have been like before and after the near-drowning. Questions began to flood her thoughts. How are they doing today? Are they okay? What will prevent them from drowning again? Why were they drowning? Are there others who are drowning who we don’t know about yet? Have others slipped by that we were unable to reach or did not know about? And then it dawned on her.

Ms. Henny ran to the village center and asked one of villagers “Shouldn’t we be looking upstream to find out what is happening?” The villager replied, “I don’t have time for that, I’m mending all the nets.”  She ran to another and said  “Surely there must be some things upstream to prevent or save people from drowning?” The villager scowled, “I don’t have time for that, I’m re-supplying the band-aids.”

Dissatisfied, Ms Henny ran to another villager on his way to the river and repeated her questions with more urgency. “Shouldn’t we be looking upstream to find out what is happening? Surely there must be some things upstream to prevent or save people from drowning?”

The villager rolled his eyes and said, “We don’t have time for that. That’s just the way it is.” The woman cried, “NO! It does not have to be like this. We can look upstream!!! That’s where we need to start.” The villager shook his head and muttered, “It can’t be done.”

As he shuffled away, Ms. Henny put her hands on her hips and declared aloud, “Then I shall do it myself!”

“Thirty years of research and, more recently, brain science, offer compelling evidence to support the use of mindfulness in education. The application of mindfulness by students and educators has the potential to improve academic achievement, mental health, and inter- and intra-personal relationships. We recently released early results from the largest study on mindfulness and children to date, involving 915 children and 47 teachers in 3 Oakland public schools.” ~ Mindful Schools

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Dee DiGioia, Certified Mindfulness & Life Skills Coach and Consultant
MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for youth, educators, parents, and community members using evidence-based practices of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being in San Luis Obispo & Northern Santa Barbara Counties via community programs/classes/workshops, personal coaching, professional development, mini-retreats, and more. After pioneering a successful mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, Dee hopes to develop programs in our local schools here on the Central Coast of CA.  Contact Dee to learn more.

This blog was inspired by

(1) “The Parable of the Downstreamers” by Donald Ardell;

(2) by the timeless fairy tale “The Little Red Hen”;

(3) personal experience;

(4) and by all the amazing folks out there who are demonstrating that working upstream is what will make a difference in helping children and adults deal with today’s pressures and challenges in life.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” –Walt Disney

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