Monthly Archives: December 2017

Changing the Paradigm with UZIT in Schools

By Janine Harris Degitz

Janine Harris DegitzThis past Fall, Susan Cunningham and I began offering Urban Zen Integrative Therapy™ (UZIT) oneday a week to the teachers, staff and administrators at a local elementary school in Central Ohio. The commitment in this school to progressive education and caring for the whole child is taking root in a new way. The administration’s support of UZIT says loud and clear to all of the staff of the school—you can’t take care of the children you serve unless you also take the time to care for yourself.

Through a generous grant from local donors, and as a community, we are setting down new self-care patterns at work. We are creating a place, within the workplace, for teachers and staff to pause and take 10-20 minutes out of their task-filled days of service to children to tend to their own well-being, which has shown remarkable results.

Wickliffe_UZIT 2
This week as I walked down the hall with one staff member to our small room next to the often-lively library, she reflected; “I associate work with stress and anxiety, and it is wonderful to have a place at work to come to that is relaxing and neither stressful or anxiety producing. Thank you for being here, it’s making a huge difference.” This client noted pre-session stress and anxiety levels of 7 on a scale of 10, and left after our 15-minute session with self-assessment numbers of 2 and 3. Changes like this in our nervous systems are central to the possibility of changing our work environments, transforming this critical workplace, which serves our children, to one that cares about all people involved, as well as the purpose of their work.

It takes time to undo our cultural training to overextend ourselves in
our work and home life. It’s a challenge because our North American culture tends to value being busy all the time and carries busy-ness like a badge of honor. Therefore, we need to make it a conscious part of our daily life to pause, set down the to-do list and the phone, breathe, listen and be quiet.

The messages in our heads are often very loud, “I need to be in crisis to ask for help,” “I have to work harder in order to be valued or worthwhile,” or, as one teacher mentioned before our session, “Well, I guess I’m really doing OK, maybe I don’t need to take the time….” It’s radical to make self-care the norm so that we know when we are out of balance in the moment.

How would it be to have 28 pairs of children’s eyes staring at you and know that you have tools and the space to breathe. That you can come back to the moment, notice your breath and your body, and share your gifts with our youth from a place of wholeness. It only takes a few minutes to shift from overwhelmed and anxious to ready and able to meet the rest of your day.

Life doesn’t wait for us to be ready, it’s happening each and every moment. Building skills of self-care and self-awareness is how we re-tool ourselves to be the best we can be in our lives. As a friend recently told me, “Fold up your super-hero cape neatly in the bottom drawer of your dresser – it’s not needed anymore”.

Janine Harris Degitz 
lives in Clintonville with her family. For the past 25 years she has deepened her passion for living in harmony with the earth and community through supporting local farmers, fermenting food, teaching and sharing natural and sustainable beekeeping, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy and compassionate communication. All things that bring her back into connection with her own being, the earth, the food that nurtures us and the love, compassion and interconnectedness of life itself.

Janine became a certified Urban Zen Integrative Therapists in April, 2014 and became a staff mentor/ teacher for the Yoga on High Urban Zen training classes beginning in 2015.  Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) uses multiple modalities to address the symptoms and stress of everyday life. The modalities include gentle movements, restorative yoga positions, body awareness meditation, breath awareness practices, aromatherapy and Reiki.


Meditation and Middle School Science

by Stephanie Estice

71 people talk about mind egoThe Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight by Lorin Roche, PhD
Sutra 71

People talk about mind and ego.
Let’s just drop this whole conversation.

Consider instead:
There is no mind.
There is no ego.

There is only the vivid reality
Of this surprising moment
At play, beckoning.

atom-1674878_1280 Pixabay CCOI remember the day in middle school science class when we learned about the vibration of atoms, and within them electrons, protons, and neutrons. We learned how these were the parts that resulted in solids, liquids, and gases. My science teacher’s voice faded into the background as I stared at my desk and imagined all the space in that “solid” which I couldn’t see. I gently touched the table; it felt solid. I looked at the air in the room. I almost didn’t dare, but I then looked at my hand. At this point, I was so focused on space, vibration and expansion, it was as if my teacher and the other students no longer existed, though I knew we were all still together in that science class and I could hear the teacher’s voice off in the distance. I felt fully immersed in my experience of that moment and, as my attention expanded to re-include my classmates and teacher and my experience of space in solid, I had a sense of shifted awareness.
Years later when I started a meditation practice as an adult, I thought I needed to learn something. Like so many, I felt meditation must be the answer to what was feeling out of control in my life -- my thoughts, my emotions. Life seemed to be running itself, in ways that weren’t comfortable, and I thought if I figured out this meditation thing, then I was sure my life would be perfect.

Now that I have spent many years practicing meditation, I feel like I’ve come full circle. All the variety of meditation practices which I’ve explored are simply revealing the possibilities of human experience, and how we have an opportunity in each moment to be with that experience of being human.

When I rest and trust in that which I already know, I can be with all that is happening, in and around me. As I look at the world around me, I can be open and have focus at the same time in a new way.

We all have experiences like this that we can share, and many of you may be nodding your head in recognition. And, at the same time, you may be wondering how did you get disconnected from what you know?

In classes, one of my favorite questions, often after we have experienced a brief meditation, is: “When do you experience Presence in your life -- that surprise of knowing ‘I am here, in and of this world, experiencing this moment’?” For years I asked this question many times in my private client work, too, and I would hear the same examples of human experience. I won’t write them here…you know the answer. If you’re not sure, ask a friend, a family member, or someone you admire. When you have your examples, seek opportunities for more. The more we see the opportunities for Presence in every moment, the more our lives reflect that experience we are seeking.

“…there is only the vivid reality of this surprising moment at play, beckoning.”

Stephanie Estice teaches meditation and mentors students and clients in private sessions. She can be found at Yoga on High Teacher Training Institute or onsite around central Ohio. For more information, look here or email here.


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