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:

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!

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*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!!!
l

Why Aren’t We Teaching You Mindfulness | AnneMarie Rossi | [email protected] (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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Magic Breathing Ball

Student demonstrating our “magic breathing ball” during an individual therapy session.

 

At the start of this school year, I introduced mindfulness to four different special education preschool classes of students with a variety of levels and spectrums of “special needs” for a weekly “Circles” group. I have been used to integrating mindfulness with older students so I really wasn’t sure how it would go but I wanted to try. My focus would be on something visually interesting and something functional and simple. The breath. Why? Because slow, deep calming breaths signal the brain to calm the nervous system. Many of these young students are are challenged with dis-regulation of the nervous system. By modeling a simple breathing technique, the young students get familiar with the word “breathe” and experience how it feels when doing this and participating in a group activity where everyone else is doing it.  At the same time, it provides the teachers and their paraprofessionals a tool to use throughout the day with these littles (as well as for themselves).

With eager, but nervous, anticipation, I asked the teacher and paraprofessional aides to gather the children to come sit in a circle on the floor. Some of the children joyfully jumped on their spot while others fussed and protested this transition. We had not yet developed a relationship since I was new to the school. As they were getting settled I turned on soothing, rhythmic grounding music which caught the attention of all. I then took out my “magic breathing ball” (Hoberman sphere or expanding ball, as in photo above) and began expanding and contracting the ball. I began to synchronize my breathing to the rhythm of the music while also matching it to the slow expansion of the ball for inhalation, and contraction of the ball for exhalation. The adults, who were part of the circle, were encouraged to model this as well, by joining in the breathing and using hand movements to match the expansion and contraction of the ball. Breathing in… (about 3 secs) and exhaling (about 4-5 secs)…..The energy in the room began to shift.   When your exhale is slighter slower than your inhale, this creates changes in the brain to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and deactivate sympathetic (stress) nervous system.

The “breathing ball” was passed around the circle for everyone to try, including the other adults who served as perfect role models. This simple activity has so many emotional intelligence mini lessons within. In addition to practicing a self-regulation calming technique, each student is also learning impulse control for waiting their turn, they are learning imitation and modeling/leadership skills, and they are learning turn taking (it’s difficult giving up this really cool expanding ball!) As a speech-language therapist it also assists in breath control for speech production. Many of these students are typically difficult to engage because of their severe disabilities but most of them were instantly drawn to this entire simple activity. 

An interesting observation was that many of the students had challenges with inhaling and exhaling with a slow deep rhythm at the beginning of the session but when I closed the session with the expanding ball again, most of them demonstrated breathing in and out with much more ease. It was beautiful to witness the change in just one short lesson. One of the aides remarked that she never saw “Johnny” so interested and participatory in “Circle Time”! Another aide said she wished we could do this every day! And another aide shared she was so relaxed afterwards. The children, though unable to voice their opinions, undoubtedly experienced something positive from this activity judging from the smiles and calm bodies compared to when we first sat down. 

This was a promising start and the “magic breathing ball” has become part of our opening routine to our weekly “Circles” class. It is my hope that these mini lessons will provide ideas for the teachers and paraprofessional aides to use with our students, and for themselves, throughout the day as needed to bring back balance and calm, and the many other benefits breathing has for our bodies and minds. I invite you to take 1-3 deep breaths now! It just may be the magic you need this very moment!

You can use the image below which is similar to the magic expanding ball.

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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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“By practicing mindfulness kids learn life skills that help them soothe and calm themselves, bring awareness to their inner and outer experience, and bring a reflective quality to their actions and relationships. Living in this way helps children connect to themselves (what do they feel? think? see?), and maybe to something greater than themselves.

~Susan Kaiser Greenland, Author of “The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate”

Right now, it’s like this

m-apply-within
Several years ago I began learning about mindfulness so I could teach it as a calming strategy for my students with challenging behaviors. As it turns out, we were learning together because the more I studied about mindfulness, I also became the student and began deepening my own practice. Learning about the neuroscience behind human behavior became the most important piece (and peace) in my own life by having a positive impact on my own challenging behaviors (or reactions) to life! The practice of mindfulness involves cultivating awareness of our experiences from moment to moment with curiosity and with non-judgment, leading to a greater understanding of ourselves and of others. It is the noticing of what is happening at this moment as it really is and not trying to change it. I have loved this description by James Baraz: 
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see young children taking these life skills into their own lives: practicing taking a pause before responding to challenging situations, deep breaths for calming, living in gratitude, sharing kindful compassionate wishes to others, and so on. These are the skills which will be needed throughout life and actually become traits of living mindfully. Learning and practicing never, ever ends. Each moment, each experience, each interaction with others, each thought, each choice of words and actions is a learning experience. How we feel about it is how we feel. It is what it is. We feel sad, happy, upset, stressed, grateful, angry, terrified. It’s what we do next that can be cultivated or not. We can allow our brains to be on auto-pilot and simply react to everything, or we can learn to notice and pay attention to how we are feeling, what is happening in our bodies, and create the space to observe with curiosity and then proceed with creativity.
I work in a school setting as a speech-language therapist with a very high caseload and enormous heaps of responsibilities and expectations for one person to carry. It is what it is. Some moments of the day I am feeling joy-filled (usually when I am working with the students) and some moments I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed to the max! I had to laugh when I saw this description by Richard Siken: 
“Eventually something… is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”
In that moment of awareness of the feelings as they are, and the situation as it is, we have made a conscious shift. Each time we shift to the present moment as it is, we are creating new habits of the mind. We let go of trying to control an experience. It’s not supposed to be anything. Right now, it’s like this.  David Beach explains:
“It is not that way. It is this way. It is like this. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s just this. Just this. Understand, we are not allowing it to be like this – it already is. It does not need our approval to be any certain way. Our practice is to open up. To wake up into the now. The vast empty now. And see it for how it actually is. To see that, it’s like this.
And like this…
And this…”
Throughout my day, no matter what I am feeling, I have cultivated “awe” in my life. I love that moment of shifting and awakening to a grateful moment ( #gratefulmoment ) when, no matter how I am feeling, I become aware of something awe-inspiring. The photo at the top of the page is an example of this. As I walked to my car feeling exhausted after a very stress-filled week I noticed the sun shining brightly on this wall, casting shadows of the delicate flowers. And yes, that wall could use a fresh coat of paint. Smiling. 

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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!

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Mindfulness Seeds of the Heart

M Heart, 2nd gradeLast school year I had the privilege to teach a mindfulness program at an inner city elementary school in Sacramento where I was also serving as the district speech-language therapist. Each morning I started the day with a 30 minute class “Circles” class alternating among grades K-5. This school was probably the most challenging group of students I have ever worked with, but honestly it became one of the most rewarding experiences. So many of the students had severe behavioral challenges stemming from trauma and chronic stress. Working here was one of the reasons I decided to pursue the certification program through Mindful Schools as I knew these children could potentially benefit from mindfulness training. Research has been showing promising results. “Studies find that youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life. For example, social skills in kindergarten predict improved education, employment, crime, substance abuse and mental health outcomes in adulthood.” (1)

At the end of the school year I had the students draw or write about what they learned or liked best about mindfulness. It was deeply moving to see the pictures the children drew. One of the second grade classes was particularly endearing to me. I was so moved by their responses that I asked the teacher if I could interview the children to make a video of what they drew about. The video below is one quiet little girl’s response. This is why I teach mindfulness. We never know what seeds we are planting!  We are empowering children with resources that are right inside of them! They won’t know what they aren’t taught. When we can practice in a safe and calm classroom, they will develop the resources to draw upon as needed.

Enjoy…

Dee DiGioia, Mindfulness Coach

“Develop inner peace. You get world peace through inner peace. If you’ve got a world of people who have inner peace, then you have a peaceful world.” ~Wayne Dyer

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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(1) Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early Social-­Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105 (11), 2283–2290.

For more research go to http://www.mindfulschools.org/about-mindfulness/research/