Invitation to a Magic Tea Party (for kids)

Magic Tea Party (for kids!)

Online party on Zoom

Friday   *   March 20   *  10:00 – 10:20ish

This live event will be recorded and available for viewing at a later time if you are unable to attend. The link will be posted on this page.

Additional sessions to come. Stay up to date on announcements:

This is the first in our online series of live mindfulness and movement mini-sessions for children offering a you-nique mind-body-heart experience for nervous system regulation, resiliency, and well-being through the art and science of mindfulness, movement, and music during our “Shelter at Home” period. San Luis Obispo County has issued an executive order to “Shelter at Home” to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For those of you in San Luis Obispo County (like me), you can stay updated and informed on the evolving COVID-19 situation with resources from the SLO County Department of Health at the link HERE.

Parents! Let’s meet online with your child(ren) for our magic “tea party”! The targeted audience is elementary school-aged children but siblings of all ages are welcome to join in ~ grownups are encouraged to participate as well.

During this time of “shelter-in-place”, children (and their grownups) are going to feel a heightened sense of worry, anxiety, fear, or other difficult emotions. As adults we can provide a sense of safety to calm the nervous system through relationships and having fun to help ease those emotions. The magic is in the movement and refocusing attention on the the things that ground us. So get ready to play with me!

The only thing you need to bring is your imagination and curiosity! (Tea cup not required!)

Mindful Kindful YOUniversity offers mindful, kindful, peaceful programs for the well-being of individuals and the community as a whole, for anyone living in or visiting our community in San Luis Obispo County. Using the online platform, we can connect with others around the world!

Please invite your friends! Share our Facebook Event!

Join our scheduled Zoom meeting

LINK: https://zoom.us/j/614378822

Be sure to download Zoom ahead of time on your computer, tablet, or phone.

Computer will provide the best visibility for participation.

Magic Tea Party for Kids ~ Mindfulness, Movement, Music
March 20, 2020          10:00 – 10:20ish  AM (Pacific Time)

Meeting ID: 614 378 822

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This Zoom meeting is FREE OF CHARGE, however, DONATIONS IN ANY AMOUNT ARE WELCOME! Please consider supporting local small business solopreneurs, like myself, if you are in a position to do so. There are many of us small business entrepreneurs in your community that will be struggling financially due to our current national pandemic and the cancellation of our community programs and services – we are pouring our heart, time, and love into our new online offerings because we love our work and we want a healthy, happy future for generations to come. Many of us have lost 100% of our revenue stream “overnight”.  So I’m learning how to move to online classes to continue sharing my love of mindfulness and movement because I know how essential it is, now more than ever. So please consider a donation – no amount is too small! I still have to pay monthly fees for the large companies like Constant Contact to send out emails, to Zoom so I can record these new videos for you and your children, and I desperately need toilet paper (laughing but true!). If your finances are scary right now, no worries. Come enjoy the session for free! 

If you would like to send a DONATION:

 Venmohttps://venmo.com/Dee-DiGioia   or   Paypal https://www.paypal.me/deedigioia

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers 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!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Am I being too sensitive?

Am I being too sensitive?

“Am I being too sensitive?” The thought crossed my mind the other day following an upsetting incident near the end of my walk on the beach. I dug deep within and listened for my answer. What came up was a mighty voice roaring within — “I would rather be ‘too sensitive’ than not have any, or enough, sensitivity!” I was fighting through some tears and trying to calm my agitated mind and distraught heart.

I had just encountered three children, likely siblings, ranging from about 5 years to 12 years, who were taunting a very sick seagull. I had seen the seagull earlier when I first started my walk – I named him “Salty” because he reminded me of an old sailor who had a rough life at sea. He was discolored and looked like he may be blind on one side. And now I could see that he couldn’t fly because he was trying to escape from the taunting but all he could do was waddle and then he clumsily stumbled as the children approached closer and closer with youngest child repeatedly throwing fists full of sand at him. All 3 children laughed in unison at him as he fell head first into the dune and was desperately trying to upright himself. That laughter sent chills down my spine and I am tearing up as I write this. They continued to approach him and taunt him. When I first saw this I was a distance away and ran to catch up to them shouting “HEY!! STOP!!!” in hopes my voice would stop them. By the time I got close enough, they were just a few feet from Salty.

My adrenaline was running high and I was trying my best to remain calm, but firm and “be the teacher” – at this point just trying to get them to stop from throwing sand and terrifying Salty any further. Inside my mind I’m screaming “Stop being so mean!” but when I spoke, I blurted out things like “that’s unkind — he’s sick– how would you like it” … They looked a little startled but then seemed to ignore me, moving away a bit but simply changing their route and circling around the mound where Salty was still trying to upright himself. OMG- if only I could scoop him up and take him to a safe place! I could see that their parents were a distance away, out of range of being able to talk to them, but they had their eye on me. “Why were they not getting up?” I wondered. Conflicted whether to continue protecting Salty from the children with my “I’m watching you” stares or leaving to talk to the parents, finally the father got up and came to me. I explained to him what I was saying to the children, thinking that he might thank me. He told me I “didn’t need to do that” and it’s “just kids being kids chasing birds”!!!! I’m pretty sure he wanted to tell me “Don’t be so sensitive…” I argued that I did need to say something because it hurt my heart and I wanted to help the sick bird who was unable to fly away. I could see we weren’t going to agree on this matter — he just didn’t seem to care that his children were doing this — so I finally walked away after arguing my point. It looked like the kids had stopped approaching Salty… I’m not sure – I had to leave because my heart was bursting with a flurry of pain, frustration, anger and I just wanted to scream to the world “BE NICE!!!!”

This situation brought up lots of pain for me. The children taunting Salty reminded me of my younger days of being bullied. It reminded me of my students I have worked with who have been bullied. It reminded me of my two ex’s who were unkind and taunted my dogs and treated me with disregard. It reminded me of my “ex” stalking me and me running in fear. It reminded me of the insensitivity in the daily news across the world. The father’s callous response reminded me of family members when I was growing up telling me “don’t be so sensitive…” as though being “so sensitive” was a negative trait. That father’s insensitivity reminded me of my own father who told me not to be “so sensitive” and yet he would become enraged and whip me with a belt. It reminded me of the judge who ignored my plea a restraining order against an “ex”. I tried to explain, in my then small voice, that he often taunted my dog, which was one of many reasons for leaving. Any judge should understand the patterns of abusive behavior:

Studies have shown that children learn cruel and violent behavior from those around them, and that animal abuse often precedes violence toward other people. Indeed, in almost every major act of violence, from the Columbine massacre to serial killings, authorities have found animal abuse in the perpetrator’s background. This common origin of violence perpetrated against animals and against people makes it imperative that we teach compassion and demonstrate concern for all living things. By the time young people exhibit cruel behavior toward animals it is often very difficult to change that behavior, making it essential that adults in every part of the community help children learn to treat animals with kindness. While not every child who is cruel to a pet grows up to be a criminal, there is a strong correlation between cruel behavior toward animals and lack of empathy for human beings. *

*From Be Kind to Animals: Encouraging Compassion through Humane Education

I have healed many layers of trauma over the years, but every now and then, a situation like this triggers trauma stored deeply within and I have to take some time to gently navigate through the waterfall of emotions. I have grown to embrace my sensitivity and have learned that I actually am considered a “Highly Sensitive Person” (see resources below to learn more). This gift, yes, gift, has helped me attune to others, especially in the work that I do as a life coach. And this sensitivity seems particularly heightened with animals. I am no longer ashamed of it. I still cry if I let myself think about the Bambi story or the Dumbo story. I can’t go to a circus or a zoo. I can’t watch any commercials, shows, movies about animals suffering. When my two now grown-up sons were little, and also when caring for my daycare children, I always modeled and taught kindness, compassion and respect for animals. I never allowed them to taunt animals or even to chase birds — I know — some of you are thinking “don’t be so sensitive” or “it’s normal and what kids do” – but I didn’t allow or tolerate it and I’m not sorry. I always used this as a learning opportunity to help my children, or children in my care, cultivate compassionate hearts. I simply explained that it would be terrifying for the birds and taught them to be curious and to fill themselves with awe and wonder, and to observe rather than chase. My two sons, now adults, are the most compassionate and kind human beings. MK YOU’s youth programs provide a great opportunity to discuss compassion towards people and animals. I am honored to work with many highly sensitive children and teens in my personal coaching program. And I will never hesitate to stand up and educate when opportunities like this arise, especially when others, like Salty, do not have a voice.

As I walked away from this situation I was trying not to cry. But I did. As a salty tear rolled down my cheek I sent some loving wishes and said “This one is for you, Salty – may you be free from suffering! May these children think twice about their actions in the future. May all children and adults be more sensitive.” 

Sensitivity: sensitivity to emotional feelings (of self and others) // sensitivity leading to easy irritation or upset // refined sensitivity to pleasurable or painful impressions // emotional or moral sensitivity (especially in relation to personal principles or dignity) // insight, perceptiveness, perceptivity, a feeling of understanding // the experiencing of affective and emotional states

“If you have men who will exclude any creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”  –Saint Francis of Assisi

Updates:

I have disabled comments on my blogs due to ridiculous amounts of spam. If you would like to share your thoughts or have questions about my services, feel free to email me. ~Dee

After sending out my blog in a newsletter, I received this email response:

No you’re not too sensitive! You’re One of God’s lightworkers who’s here to teach others how to show LOVE. And in that situation you did the best you could. That Dad is lucky I didn’t come across them or he would’ve gotten an earful – some people are so maddening. They see cruelty as children playing. So sad! Think how they must treat those children and deal (or more like not deal) with their emotions. My heart went out to old Salty in that story. Poor old bird being tormented by poor neglected (emotionally at the least) children. Glad you were able to derail their sick “play”. Ugh it’s just so sad people think cruelty is perfectly fine. Stay sensitive Dee. ~VM

See related and follow-up blog:

Leave a Mindful Message

More resources on this topic from others:

This song always touches me deeply:

Nurturing Children’s Love for Animals

Teaching Children Compassion Toward Animals – The Most Important Lesson of All

VIDEO: The incredible story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit – Anna Breytenbach, “animal communicator”

21 Signs That You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

What It Means to Be a Highly Sensitive Person

Your Highly Sensitive Child Is Normal. No Wait, She’s Extraordinary.

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers 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!

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Remembering Joy!

Remembering Joy!

What happens when we get disconnected from joy in our daily lives? How can we ensure that our kids never lose their connection with their inner joy? I invite you to watch the video “Alike” below and reflect on these questions, as well as your own, and then continue reading below! 

Mindful awareness shines a spotlight on what is important in life, if we are paying attention, revealing micro-moments of joy and gratitude. But we can often spend time stuck in routines or complaining about what’s wrong while suppressing moments of pleasure and joy or having thoughts that there is no joy in life. Where did the joy go? Why did it go? What covered it up?
What if, instead, when there was a micro-moment of present-moment-awareness of something that warms or excites your heart, that you stayed fully present in that moment and allowed it to soak in. Could you give it the space to deepen? Joy is ever-present. It’s already there. If you are fortunate enough to live with or work with children, they are here to remind you! Allow them to remind you, before, they, too, begin to lose their sense of joy and wonder.
The photo above was taken while I was on a meditation retreat in British Columbia. I was walking through a forest of dense trees and came upon this spot where there was a hole in the canopy and the sun shone through brilliantly like a spotlight. This micro-moment of joy took my breath away!

I hope you enJOYed this! I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

  • What brings you joy? Take a moment to stop and look around you – is there something in this moment? or in life- what is your default joy setting?
  • What happens when you get disconnected from what brings color and joy into your life? How can you bring it back (at work or home)?
  • How do you ensure that your kids (at home/in the classroom) never lose their connection with their inner joy? Or how have they reminded you to “stop and smell the roses?”

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We have lots of joy-filled moments in our current community program

“Dragonfly Circles”

and YOUnique Fitness for Special Needs

Now in Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, and San Luis Obispo!!!

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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

I have served youth for 30+ years, including those with social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and communication challenges in my roles as a Speech-Language Therapist, Autism Movement Therapist, Preschool Director, Bullying Intervention Specialist, Author, and more. Founded “Caring and Courageous Kids” in 2009 (bullying intervention), and founded “Mindful Kindful YOUniversity” in 2017. Pioneered a mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms at an inner city charter school in Sacramento, CA, and am developing youth and adult programs where I now live on the Central Coast of CA. Made a decision to follow my own advice for well-being by leaving the stresses and challenges of working in special education in the public school setting. Following my heart and calling to share mindfulness and well-being programs to address the challenges youth (and adults) face in school and in life, which interfere with learning, relationships, and mental well-being. I believe mindfulness is the missing piece (and peace) in education and am bringing my vision to fruition! I am grateful to have the experiences and resources to share the wisdom, science, and evidence-based practices of mindfulness and more, which have proven over and over to lead to greater resilience, more joy, and peace in life.

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

 

 

 

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.

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

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.

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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!

 

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.

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