Roots of Resilience Resources

Resilience is adapting to, and coping with, the inevitable challenges that arise in your lifetime whether it’s day-to-day challenges or major life-changing events. Resilience helps you to bounce back and even come back stronger. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.

(McDonald et al., 2012)
“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Carl Jung
When we have the skills to handle things that come our way, we can help ourselves, and our loved ones, thrive and flourish. While confronted with the unsettling, emotional challenges of life during the pandemic, the greatest gift we can give our loved ones is our presence – our well-nourished, balanced and healthy presence, like a well-rooted tree that can withstand the storm! Learn simple practices to transform stress into resilience in each moment of life as it unfolds. This is how each of us can contribute to a legacy of healthy, thriving families ~ beginning within ourselves ~ and modeling these essential life skills for our loved ones. Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful.

Behind every resilient person is some ONE that is there for them,

whether it is a parent, teacher, coach, mentor, friend. If you feel overwhelmed or like you are drowning, you don’t need to go it alone. Who is your light, your one, that helps you through difficult times? Who do you light the way for?
If you are not feeling like you are making progress, it’s important to reach out for help from a trained professional.
Twenty years ago, for several years, I was drowning in deep depression and felt intensely alone. That was before internet (OMG). Family relations were strained and no close friends. It was tough! Thank goodness I made it through – I could say that I was the “one” for myself but the journey is so much better having support from those who understand or those who can provide effective tools and techniques that are more effective than ill-advised family or friends who do not understand the psychology and root of your challenges.

Finding freedom from my own trauma are the reasons why I am so passionate about the programs and services I offer through Mindful Kindful YOUniversity.

My experiences have shaped who I am today and I now stand “on the shoulders of the giants before me” – passing along their teachings and wisdom that supported me, and now I can share to support you! Mindful Kindful YOUniversity is here to help inspire and support you whether it’s through TLC Personal Coaching, our Mindful Explorers membership program for kids and their grownups, School programs, Personal and Professional Development, or simply from an inspiration or meme shared on social media. Explore the resources below, explore this website, or reach out to me. You are not alone. I want you to know, that I am here for you, and your children.
May you and your loved ones be healthy.
May you and your loved ones be strong.
May you and your loved ones feel the power of love and peace.
~Dee DiGioia, Your Mindfulness Coach

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Let Nature Be Your Teacher ~

On a recent walk I discovered an amazing tree family on the edge of a cliff along the shore in Cambria that took my breath away. I might have missed the discovery if I had not taken a mindul moment to pause and “look, listen, and feel,” my go-to grounding practice in daily life. Trees often inspire me and this family did not disappoint. It had a story to tell and became my introduction to my “Roots of Resilience” webinar.

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”

– Elizabeth Edwards

“Roots of Resilience” Webinar Recording ~

“The Roots of Resilience” live webinar took place on December 2, 2020. Counselors Jill Lewis and Melissa Chitwood, Lucia Mar Unified School District, hosted this Wellness Webinar for parents and educators, with Presenter Dee DiGioia, Mindful Kindful YOUniversity. Below is my edited version of the webinar with extras (including extra notes and images, an updated version of the guided practice “The Willow Weathering the Storm”*, and an extra story about John Lewis “Walking in the Wind” which we did not have time for during the live webinar). In the webinar I cover 5 “seeds of resilience.”  When working with children I refer to these as “superpowers” that we are growing – to become mindful, kindful, peaceful (the skills for becoming resilient).
While confronted with the unsettling, emotional challenges of life during the pandemic, the greatest gift we can give our loved ones is our presence – our well-nourished, balanced and healthy presence, like a well-rooted tree that can withstand the storm! Learn simple practices to transform stress into resilience in each moment of life as it unfolds. This is how each of us can contribute to a legacy of healthy, thriving families ~ beginning within ourselves ~ and modeling these essential life skills for our loved ones. Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful. (Video ~54 min)

Guided Grounding Practice ~

SUBSCRIBE to “Mindful Kindful Peaceful Times” and receive a link to a guided grounding practice “The Willow Weathering the Storm” to help you withstand the storms in your life today. It was inspired by something I read in the book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, by Thich Nhat Hanh and another guided practice I have done called “Eye of the Hurricane” which I have found to be very helpful when things feel overwhelming.

Walking in the Wind ~ an inspirational story of resilience

This true story is from the late, great Rep. John Lewis. May his legacy live on through his example of how to live life ~ in our homes, and in our world ~ walking together, hand in hand, you and I, walking with the wind. Together, we can get through the storms and inevitable challenges in our lives, coming out stronger and wiser.

Well-being is a skill and all skills require practice ~

Your well-being is the most important education you will ever receive! Learn, practice, and grow skillfully with us! Let me be your guide. MK YOU equips and teaches children, teens, and adults HOW to cultivate the inner resources, or “superpowers,” for coping with life’s challenges. By setting the intention to practice mindfulness and kindfulness in our daily living, we plant the seeds for transforming unskillful responses to life’s challenges into healthy habits for inner peace and happiness. As a result, each one of us is positively contributing to a thriving, resilient, compassionate and peaceful world beginning within ourselves, and positively impacting our relationships at home, school, and in our communities.

EXPLORE Programs and Services

for YOUTH and ADULTS

including our virtual Mindful Explorers Membership

for kids and their grown-ups at home or school.

Learn, practice and grow skillfully with us!

Skills for resilience and well-being

Additional Resources ~

I will be adding to this over time. Come back and check!

RELATIONSHIPS:

Behind every resilient person – research findings: the number one common variable – is some ONE that was there for them, coaching them, believing in them to move through the challenge. If you are interested, I provide Personal Coaching for youth and for adults. You do not have to go through this alone.

“During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, you may experience anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness and loneliness — to the point that those feelings become constant and overwhelming. Existing mental health conditions, including severe anxiety and major depression, may worsen. If you’re feeling hopeless and having thoughts about suicide, or you’re concerned about someone else, learn how to find help and restore hope. Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling like you can’t cope or recover when you’re faced with what seems to be an overwhelming life situation. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time of day.” Read more: COVID-19 and the risk of suicide

BOOKS / ARTICLES:

Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, by Thich Nhat Hanh ~ Book or free audio link (youtube)

We recently finished reading this in our Book Club. Fear is destructive, a pervasive problem we all face. Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar,  peace activist, and one of the foremost spiritual leaders in the world—a gifted teacher who was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.—Thich Nhat Hanh has written a powerful and practical strategic guide to overcoming our debilitating uncertainties and personal terrors. The New York Times said Hanh, “ranks second only to the Dalai Lama” as the Buddhist leader with the most influence in the West. In Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm, Hanh explores the origins of our fears, illuminating a path to finding peace and freedom from anxiety and offering powerful tools to help us eradicate it from our lives. “Written in words so intimate, calm, kind, and immediate, this extraordinary book feels like a message from our very own heart….Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most important voices of our time, and we have never needed to listen to him more than now.” ~Sogyal Rinpoche

11 Ways to Cultivate Resilience

How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times (this may not be what you think!)

How Mindfulness Boosts Resilience

Is Your Child Resilient?

Listen to Stress ~ Dee DiGioia

Mindfulness Is Essential to Wise Choices, Compassion Is Essential to Wise Action, Community Is Essential to Wise Coping, Our Practice Is Essential to Dealing Skillfully with Disappointments, Difficulties, even Disasters

Remembering Wellness ~ Dee DiGioia

Right Now it’s Like This ~ Dee DiGioia

The Most Difficult Year Ever as an Educator ~ Dee DiGioia

What Nature Can Teach Us About Resiliency

When Things Fall Apart ~ Dee DiGioia

 

VIDEO:

Dropping Anchor ~ Guided Mindfulness Practice ~Dee DiGioia

Heartfulness Practice ~Guided Mindfulness Practice to feel connected ~ Dee DiGioia

My Special Journey – Guided Mindfulness Practice ~ Dee DiGioia

R.A.I.N. ~ Guided Mindfulness Practice – Dee DiGioia

 

A Steady Heart in Times of Crisis | Guided Meditation – Jack Kornfield & Tara Brach

Insight and Resilience in Times of Change – Oren Jay Sofer

The Opportunity to Build the Circuits of Kindness and Resilience – Dan Siegel  – Opportunities for parents to help shape the minds of their children – so good!

 

MUSIC:

“Resilient” ~ Rising Appalachia

“The Keep Going On Song” ~ performed by Goeke/Staton-Marrero // and The Bensons original version

“Together” ~ King & Country

for kids: “Bounce Back

EXPLORE Programs and Services

for YOUTH and ADULTS

including our virtual Mindful Explorers Membership

for kids and their grown-ups at home or school.

Learn, practice and grow skillfully with us!

Skills for resilience and well-being

Resources supporting “Why Mindfulness in Education” and Resources – Mindfulness for Adults

 

Stay up to date on all of our announcements:

SUBSCRIBE TO MK YOU NEWS

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs online and 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!

 

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:

When Things Fall Apart

When Things Fall Apart

One day, in January of this year, my “sweetheart’s” life changed abruptly ~ life as he knew it, life as we knew it. His body began a chaotic fight within. Symptom after symptom began showing up and he made various trips to Urgent Care centers. He doesn’t have a primary care doctor because he is normally so healthy and fit. The doctors kept sending him home with “it’s just a virus” and “there is nothing” they can do. I have a love-hate relationship with doctors. Maybe it’s more accurate to say I don’t always trust in them. It’s complex, and some of that is from layers of complex trauma – my mother died from a sepsis infection in the hospital, a podiatrist screwed up my foot surgery, and on and on.

I have been so scared that the doctors were missing looking deeper because this is so out of the ordinary for him: rashes, intermittent fever day in day out for weeks and months, debilitating joint pain, swelling moving throughout his body like an alien within. A week ago he had some symptoms that I insisted he go back again to get checked — that voice within that knew it was serious, and long story short, it WAS serious and he was admitted to the hospital.

Trust that inner voice. Trust that gut feeling. Go with it. Sometimes it is difficult to discern between what is over-worrying or what is a genuine concern. It’s important to really go deep within. Listen.

He was released from the hospital with no real answers yet, other than ruling some things out. It looks like he may be experiencing autoimmune challenges, and the ER doctor told him to see a specialist. (August is the soonest he can get an appointment – argh!) At least we have some ideas of what this could be: an auto immune disorder. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes the immune-system misfire. (Source Autoimmune)

It’s been quite the emotional ordeal for me to see my beloved suffering and my feeling so helpless in providing any ease. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), and with my trauma being activated, and the normal worries of “what if’s” about his situation, my nervous system has been in chaos! I’d like to say my mindfulness practices have helped, and they have to some degree, however, mindfulness also teaches us to be with whatever is arising, and the fact is, sometimes it feels like things are falling apart, and we fall for a while. It feels like this sometimes. He has had some things under control and seems a bit more himself in the last few days so I am also feeling relieved and better able to re-focus on my work and my own self-care. I’ve had to let go of some planned things, and I may have to let go of some more, and hopefully people will understand. Some won’t – I’ve already disappointed some people with cancellations, and that hurts too, but I know I am doing my best and have to let go of the judgments of others, too.

What I’ve been REminded of in these past very long months is that things are impermanent, and no matter how hard we fight to keep things the same, the fight is what creates the tension and struggle in our lives. Whether we are talking about the weather, or our feelings, or our health, or our relationships, things change. They just do. And to fight this reality is to create our own suffering. And so I realized I can still share a sunset with my beloved and if he is unable to open his eyes because he is in pain, I can take it in for him and send him my warm wishes. I can still pour a cup of tea for both of us and we can feel the warmth of the mug on our hands, and sip the healing ingredients. I can still laugh with children at school, and I can cry my tears as I go out the door in the morning hoping he will be ok on his own while I am away at work.

It’s important to REmember that gratitude is an essential elixir – in fact he was the one to say “you know, I can’t complain – I have had a very good, active life and I just may need to make some adjustments but I’ll be alright.” He has even been asking me for help with mindfulness and meditation, something he hasn’t done in the past, so I get to share my passion with him and feel like I can be helpful after all. I am currently training in Subtle® Yoga — Subtle Yoga is a sustainable yoga practice that adapts to varying needs depending on your health, lifestyle, age and energy. It’s therapeutic and balancing with postures that are accessible and adaptable. I also recently finished my Restorative Yoga training ~  the timing couldn’t be any more serendipitous. These will be so perfect for him. And for me.

Learn more >>> Slow Yoga for Resilience

In a book I read years ago, “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”, Pema Chödrön writes:

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

And in another book I have, “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness”, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes:

“Catastrophe here does not mean disaster. Rather it means the poignant enormity of our life experience. It includes crises and disaster but also all the little things that go wrong and that add up. The phrase reminds us that life is always in flux, that everything we think is permanent is actually only temporary and constantly changing. This includes our ideas, our opinions, our relationships, our jobs, our possessions, our creations, our bodies, everything.”

He also tells us

“We all have limitations. They are worth befriending. They teach us a lot. They can show us what we most need to pay attention to and honor. They become our cutting edge for learning and growing and gentling ourselves into the present moment as it is.”

If it feels like your life is falling apart, may your day be blessed with many mindful moments of joy and full catastrophe living! Don’t hesitate to reach out for help! That’s what I train to do, even as I journey through my own challenges.

UPDATE April 6 ~ I wanted to share an update on how my beloved is doing. He has a strong will and an indomitable spirit and is taking charge by doing things to promote his well-being. Many of his symptoms have subsided, while many symptoms continue but he is resilient and has found ways to manage these symptoms. He is much stronger, more clear-headed, more “himself”, and is able to get out on longer and longer walks with me. I also wanted to introduce him to “Earthing” so we watched the documentary and he spends time off and on throughout the day and stands in the sand in our backyard with bare feet to get grounded. He feels it is helping him reduce the inflammation + swelling and is very optimistic! I am so grateful that this turn-around has happened during this COVID-19 pandemic period so we can luxuriate in gratitude for our health and all the things that support us, in spite of the challenges this pandemic and “shelter-at-home” brings.

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:

Are YOU a Peaceful Warrior?

Are YOU a Peaceful Warrior?

Calling all warriors to our upcoming retreat.

Recently I attended a workshop on “Breaking Down Resistance”, based on the book “War of Art – Winning the Inner Creative Battle” by Steven Pressfield. The speaker started out saying that we are at war every single day. War? C’mon! Isn’t that a bit negative?  I found myself cringing as I consider myself a practitioner of nonviolence. No! I’m not at war! Couldn’t there be better way to say that?  But I realized that I was battling the presentation and let go so I could be more present with the talk. She went on to share from the author, “The enemy is RESISTANCE. Resistance is ANYTHING that is keeping you from doing your work.” (1) Oh ~ I see where this is going! And, yes, I admit I have resistance that I am… uh, fighting, or trying to win over in my daily life. Don’t we all?

The foundation of what I teach in all my beginning classes and workshops is about the “stress response” because, for me, it helped me to understand what I am trying to conquer in my life (stressors). “The body has a built-in automatic emergency response that uses the nervous system and endocrine system to enhance the body’s performance when danger is perceived. Think of it as an emergency mechanism that the body mobilizes to give us an extra edge or “super-strength” when dangerous situations occur.” (2) For millions of years, there is a part of our brain that has helped us survive as a species. In a very simplistic description, we could say that if a saber-toothed tiger is attacking the caveman, his stress response kicks into fight or flight for survival. He either goes into fight mode to “kill or be killed” or into flight mode to escape ~ either way this increases the likelihood of his survival. This primitive part of the brain is still very much a part of our modern day brain and although there may be no more saber-toothed tigers, our brain responds to any “threat” – whether it’s from the piles of bills on our desk, to trying to fit in all our to-do’s, to handling our children’s arguments and tantrums, etc. The sympathetic nervous system is activated to immediately provide the resources to the parts of our body needed to fight danger (or to retreat to safety). Ready for battle! So, yes, it could be said, we are at war every day. 

Stress shows up in many guises ~  angry outbursts at the very people we love, tossing and turning in bed, irritability and impatience with the car in front of us, or the person taking up space in the grocery aisle with their cart, worrying about how to cover next month’s rent, lack of focus or motivation, and more.

For me, and for so many others, emotional pain and resistance are what show up on our mental battlefields daily. These are the contributors to the stress in our lives. When emotional pain, such as shame, anger, loneliness, fear, despair, confusion, shows up, we may resist (causing tension in body and mind) or allow ourselves to be conquered. We may become self-critical and end up in battle with ourselves. “Why can’t I cope?” ”Why me?” “What’s wrong with me?” We are often kinder and more compassionate to others than to ourselves. We’re often harsher and more unforgiving to ourselves than anyone else in our lives. So we tend to avert our attention away from our difficult emotions. We push them away, yell them away, even drown them away with business so we don’t have to face them. W. B. Yeats once wrote:

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

Is it any wonder that, at times, we feel like retreating from life?

Emotional pain can be our daily landmines. And then there are the stressors of all of our “to-do’s” to keep up with ~ personally, professionally, and in our families or relationships. Is it any wonder that at times, we feel like retreating from life?

To retreat:

~withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat

~an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable

In article “The Disease of Being Busy” (3), Omid Safi writes, “How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life? This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is… destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.”

Peaceful Warrior ~ Mindfulness + Kindfulness

Mindfulness teaches us a different way of relating to emotions in a healthier way. Put down the fists, drop the self-judgment, and instead of fighting emotions, we can be a witness to any difficult emotions arising, and to our own pain. We can then learn to respond with kindness, compassion, and understanding. This is an approach-state, moving toward a challenge, rather than away from it will help us to get through difficult emotions. 

“Respond to your pain with the same type of kindness you would show to a friend you cared about… we’re often harsher and more unforgiving to ourselves than anyone else in our lives.” ~ Kristin Neff

YOU are INvited ~ Retreat for Well-being

Join me for our upcoming mini-retreat (see link for date/info) for learning and practicing together the essentials of mindfulness and self-compassion to re-nourish YOU!  Enlist to become a peaceful warrior to free yourself from unhealthy, unhelpful, or destructive thoughts, emotions, and habits! 

A Retreat:

a quiet, private place that you go to in order to get away from your usual life;

a period of time when someone stops their usual activities and goes to a quiet, peaceful, safe place;

refuge ~ something to which one has recourse in difficulty

“All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.” ~ Herman Melville

The seeds of self-compassion already lie within you — learn how you can uncover this powerful inner resource and transform your life. Cutting-edge research shows that self-compassion is not only a skill anyone can strengthen through practice but also one of the strongest predictors of mental health and wellness.

Mindful habits and attitudes can positively impact and support you in responding to life as it is — the good stuff, the tough stuff, all of it– with grace and skill. Get your questions answered, receive guidance on challenges you may have, and get immediate feedback that you won’t get from an app or a book! You don’t need to do this alone! I will guide you along the way. 

This content is based upon the work from Kristen Neff, leading researcher on Self-Compassion, Tim Desmond, Christopher Germer, and more!

>>> Learn about our next Retreat <<<

“I don’t have time!” says Resistance.

Is your resistance telling you that you don’t have time? Carve out the time. You’re right – you don’t have time. You make time. For you, as well as for those in your life. 

“Resistance is ANY act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity – or expressed in another way – ANY act that derives from our higher nature than our lower.” (4) 

“If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves,

we cannot take care of the people we love.

Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.” 

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Benefits of Practicing Self-Compassion~

  • feel less stressed
  • improve ability to regulate and defuse intense emotions and depression
  • suffer from less maladaptive perfectionism
  • feel less shame
  • have less performance anxiety
  • have less body dissatisfaction
  • have less eating disorders
  • generates positive emotions and reduces negative emotions at the same time
  • increases happiness
  • increases coping and resilience
  • increases motivation
  • increases concern with others, more present and compassionate with others
  • increases health behaviors
  • increases immune function

In the few randomized control trials of the program, we’ve found that participation in the program increase self-compassion quite a lot, actually – by 43 percent. One thing we are really excited about is none of the gains we made in the program were lost after a year. Once you learned how to practice these skills, once you build that muscle, you can still continue to use the skill later on.

*Source of benefits above: Finding the Friend Within: The Science and Art of Self-Compassion  

By practicing mindfulness and kindfulness 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, work, and in our communities. Come learn and grow with us! 

Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offers Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Programs 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:

Sources:

1, 4 – “War of Art – Winning the Inner Creative Battle” by Steven Pressfield

2- What is the Stress Response?

3- The Disease of Being Busy

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.

Resources: Mindfulness for Adults

Resources: Mindfulness for Adults

~ at home, work, and in the community ~

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

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

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Why Mindfulness is a Superpower

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

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

~Dan Harris, “Why Mindfulness is a Superpower”

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Research and Benefits of

Mindfulness and Self-Care

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

7 Damaging Myths About Self-Care

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

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

Eight Meditation Brain Benefits

Emotional reactivity lessens with mindfulness, brain study shows

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

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

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

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

Intensive meditation practice reveals itself in the breath

MBSR and exercise both reduce cold and flu frequency, severity

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

Meditation can Change your Brain Structure

Meditation Health Benefits: What The Practice Does To Your Body

Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence ~ upgrade your internal operating system

Mindful people transition more frequently between brain states

Mindfulness helps to restore self-control over aggressive behavior

Not Talking About Mental Health Is Literally Killing Men

Science Confirms: Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation Are Legit

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

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

Self-care and Mindfulness: You Are Enough

The Disease of Being Busy

The Skeptic’s Guide To Meditation

Vagus Nerve Is the Key to Well-being

Video game addiction is officially a mental health disorder

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

What Meditation Can Do For Your Mind, Body And Spirit

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

Why Silence Is So Good For Your Brain

~~~~ At Work ~~~~

4 Ways Mindfulness and Meditation Can Help You at Work

A Guide To Mindfulness At Work

From nonstop stress to workplace success: Mindfulness tips that transform

Three Simple Ways to Recover from Work-Related Stress

Want To Practice Mindfulness? Start At Work

Watch Your Brain at Work  (webcast)

Workplace Mindfulness Can Cut On-The-Job Stress

Workplace Stress: The Health Epidemic of the 21st Century

~~~~ For Educators ~~~~

Can Mindfulness Make Us Better Teachers?

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

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

Do We Care for Our Teachers?

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

Four Things Schools Can Do to Keep Teachers Happy

Mindfulness for Teachers

Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers

Science Says Silence is Vital for Our Brains

Stopping Teacher Burnout

Study shows mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout

Teacher Stress and Health”

Teachers Tuning In

When Teachers Take A Breath, Students Can Bloom

~~~~ For Parents ~~~~

4 Self-Care Strategies to Avoid Parental Burnout

5 Mantras for Mindful Parenting

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

How Mindful Parenting Differs From Just Being Mindful

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

The 5 Main Tenets of Mindful Parenting

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

~~~~ For Relationships ~~~~

Happy Couples Focus on Each Other’s Strengths

How Mindfulness Can Help Couples Cool Down

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

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MORE FROM MINDFUL KINDFUL YOUNIVERSITY:

>>> Research and Benefits <<<

>>> What is Mindfulness? <<<

>>> Well-being for Parents <<<

>>> Well-being for Educators <<<

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

You may also be interested in 

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

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

Stay up to date on announcements of classes and events:

Mindfulness Skills for the 21st Century

Mindfulness In Education?

~ Skills for the 21st Century ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s STRESS got to do with education?

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

The following is from The Child Stress Epidemic:

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

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

From ACEs too High

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s MINDFULNESS got to do with education?

Photo by Dee DiGioia, program in Folsom, CA

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

Here is more from Mindful Schools:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE: ~MINDFUL SCHOOLS, MINDFULNESS IN EDUCATION

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

Learn more: What is Mindfulness?

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

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

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

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

In summary:

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

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

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Additional resources supporting

“Why Mindfulness in Education”

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

Birthday Invitation

Birthday Invitation

~Dreams and Wishes~

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

Wish #1:

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

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

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

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

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

Wish #2: 

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

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

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

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

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

GoFundMe link to Mindful Kindful Communities Vision

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

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

Wish #3:

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

Our “Dragonfly Circles” kiddos!

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

YES! I will DONATE NOW!

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

In deepest gratitude, Dee DiGioia

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

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

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

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

The Gentle Giant

Mr. Rogers, The Gentle Giant

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

Image result for fred rogers

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

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

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

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

Image result for fred rogers pool

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

“Feelings are mentionable and manageable.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All italicized quotes are by Fred Rogers.

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

More resources:

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

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

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

 

 

 

Listen to Stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

 

Makes Sense

Makes Sense!

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

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

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

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

Check out our upcoming Film Screening of

MAY I BE HAPPY: Mindfulness in the Classroom & Beyond

at Shell Beach Elementary school on May 14

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

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Mindful ~ Kindful ~ Peaceful

The Invitation

YOU are INvited!

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

~~ The Invitation ~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

Grateful Moments 2018 Challenge

JOIN the Grateful Moments 2018 Challenge

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

~Ed Halliwell, Meditate With Intention, Not Goals

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

~From “Training Our Trains of Thought”

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

 

HOW TO JOIN THE GRATEFUL MOMENTS 2018 CHALLENGE:

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

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

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

Additional Articles:

8 Wellbeing Benefits Of Practicing Gratitude

10 Ways to Become More Grateful

Six Habits of Highly Grateful People

The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier

4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience

VIDEOS:





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

Subscribe to MK YOU News!

Sm’Heart Skills: The essential education for responding

more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

An Incomplete Education ~ What is Missing?

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

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

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

Raising Awareness Globally and Locally

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

Are you on “auto-pilot”?

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

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

Mindfulness ~ The Missing Piece 

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

Can’t ignore the findings!

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

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

Planting seeds:

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

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

Now how do we move forward?

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

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

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

A teacher who “got it”:

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

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

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

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

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Inspirational Resources from Others:

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

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

Why Mindfulness is a Superpower (video)

Mindfulness: Youth Voices  (video)

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

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

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.

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.”