One thing that every music executive and media members has in common is a "pedal to the medal" fast paced work environment; being an active member of both industries I can honestly say it feels like there are never enough hours in the day. As much as I love the perks that come along with working 60+ hours a week for my wonderful clients; I've finally come to terms that I am not in fact super human. After this years outrageous flu season taking over household after household in my local area this year; I'm convinced my customary 4 hour a day sleep regimen and no "me time" just don't cut it for my immune system. Work related stress is becoming more and more of an issue in the United States; this is a long known fact as The APA reported in 2011:
"Researchers have long known that there is a strong link between stress and overall health.* Year after year, findings from theStress in America™ survey have reinforced this research. Participants’ responses have revealed high stress levels, reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress and alarming physical health consequences of stress — a combination that suggests the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis."
So as I've embarked in my quest for a healthier stress free lifestyle my good friend Sasha suggested that I interview her client Diane Di Donato for my show/column "The Business Report"; Diane is the President of Inspirational Lifestyles and has an incredible "Relax 2 Go" CD series fit for EVERY lifestyle.
Admittedly I've always been a skeptic about a lot of what Diane and I discussed, but was convinced otherwise after my interview with her.
GiGi Capone: Diane; welcome to the Business Report; it’s such a pleasure to meet you and have you here with us.
Diane Di Donato: "First of all, I have to tell you that I love your name. My Mother’s name is Gina and I gave her the pet name of Gigi! Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share the exciting news about guided meditation and relaxation!".
GiGi Capone: Can you share with us a little about your background, how you got your start in relaxation and meditation?
Diane Di Donato: "I have a business and educational background in employment law, human resources and hotel management. I am a certified Aerobic Instructor with Fitness Ontario Leadership Program, University of Toronto. Studied NIA with a Black Belt Master in Vancouver and received an honorary blue belt. NIA is an expressive movement practice that uses the body's way to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness for overall well-being.
Then I began to study eastern mind/body techniques: tai chi, Chi Kung, aikido, tae-kwon-do, belly- dance, meditation, spirituality, feldenkrais, reiki, and hatha yoga. I was also one of the very few instructors in the province to teach Water Yoga. In 2004 I became a certified member of the Integrative Pyschology Association.
Gigi, I got started in meditation and relaxation because I was doing too much and was anxious. So many to do lists, demands, responsibilities; leaving me with no time for myself. I was travelling for business, had 2 young boys. Then I got high blood pressure and the Doctors wanted to put me on meds. I researched and found the most natural method to relieve stress and high blood pressure was through meditation and relaxation."
GiGi Capone: What exactly is Inspirational Lifestyles INC. all about?
Diane Di Donato: "Inspirational Lifestyles is a place where women come together for empowerment, social fun and feel the essence of inner peace, wisdom and insight. For me it is about Inner Beauty and the benefits of women’s friendships. We host a monthly breakfast club, and have delectable yummy brunch items, guest speakers spark our curiosity about wellness. I lead these beautiful ladies into guided relaxation and we share our experiences. It’s like a spa for the soul".
What are the various methods of meditation and how can we ALL benefit from it?
Diane Di Donato: "There are many types of meditation. Like prayer beads, rosary, Buddhist meditation, transcendental meditation, chanting, visualization, guided meditation, and prayer. Guided meditation is a way of quieting your mind and connecting with your inner self and your higher source. It is a tool to help you relax. It's like a mini retreat for your mind, body, emotions, and soul. In this place of peace, you will also discover answers and guidance. I've made it easy and fun with the "Relax to Go" series.
I’d like to share a story about testing the results of the Relax to Go series. All our guests and family that we invited to our house had the same response and sheer pleasure of listening to the audios. One example is my daughter-in-love. She is an exquisite event planner and has an overactive and detailed mind. She couldn’t find her sweet spot and I asked her; what is your favorite animal? She responded tiger! After listening just 2 minutes, she was in her zone. The benefits you receive are abundant and it is also scientifically proven! Meditation can change your life, Gigi. You are tapping into your ability to help your own self-evolution with your Higher Source. You gain insight and inner peace. It is beneficial with the emotional stuff of everyday life. When things go wrong, it opens your heart and makes you aware and the insight that arises from meditation. It is so powerful. Dr. Oz says “there is something you can do for 10 minutes a day – meditate! Just a few moments to yourself, not a lot, when no one can bother you to let it all slip away. It allows you to reboot your engine and get back on track.” And Oprah says: “I feel 1000 times better when I meditate!”
Here is a list of a few benefits:
- Your mind becomes clearer
- You have inner peace deep within
- You look and respond to situations differently
- It treats anxiety, depression, sleep
- Lifts moods
- Give your nervous system a mini holiday
- Reduces cortisol levels
- Increases the happy hormone, endorphins
- Builds self confidence
- Improves relationships
I can go on and on…. Celebrities, business people, athletes, my medical doctor. All use empowering techniques to help them. This fascinates me and I just want to mention a few of them:
Howard Stern – stopped smoking almost immediately
Paul McCartney and the other Beatles
When my 7 year old was 5 I walked outside and found him in full blown meditation under a blossoming tree in spring; I had no idea he even knew what it was. So when I asked him; he said that he learned it from Ben 10. At first I brushed it off as the latest cartoon trend, but my son to this day still enjoys meditating and seems to know more about it than mom. Do you think that’s it’s fair to say that children are able to relax and meditate a lot easier than adults?
Diane Di Donato:
"If you want to learn to relax, watch children. There are no demands, responsibilities, or anything to worry about. Children are able to relax because they are in the moment and not focused on the past or worried about the future. They don’t stay angry for too long either. Watch them sleep and watch their breathing. Most people are shallow breathers… In general, yes children are able to meditate and relax a lot easier. However, the Relax to Go Series I have created is so fun and easy, it takes 15 minutes to enhance your well-being. Put on your headsets and find a comfy cozy place. This is not reserved for monks and pious people. Push the play button and listen to the delightful music each track has to offer. You will hear my soothing voice, and the music I have chosen is from harmonic instruments around the world. I have embedded subliminal messages, characteristics, and sounds from the animal kingdom. Wow, I am so impressed with your Son!!! They intuitively know that it feels real good to meditate and relax!".
GiGi Capone: Tell us about the children series you are developing?
Diane Di Donato: "I have had many requests from parents and also seeing my own grand children and how they sometimes are afraid to go to sleep. I will be using the symbolism of the animal kingdom along with mythological characters. The alluring music will be infused with my soothing voice and subliminal messages. An audio story if you will, a guided meditation for sleep and relaxation".
GiGi Capone: Going from running the Hiltons Marketing and Sales to teaching meditation and relaxation techniques is a drastic change; the environments are polar opposites. What was the deciding factor that made you turn your back on the high pressure of corporate america?
Diane Di Donato: "You said it high pressure!!! Do more, make more, give more time. More, more… I had tripled my corporate sales quota, worked overtime and they wanted me to work more, do more. It’s funny because after I left, they hired 2 more people! My granddaughter arrived into my life. So I made a decision to leave my high paying executive position and be with my beautiful granddaughter. I also learned self empowerment techniques and shared them with our members at Inspirational Lifestyles".
GiGi Capone: One of the things that stood out in particular to me when i was researching on your website is your heavy involvement in the community and community service. In particular; “StreetLight Support Services” hot my soft spot and had my immediate attention. There are not a lot of people or programs even in this day and age who CARE to help the kind of women this program caters to. Please tell our audience about the program and about what your involvement was with such a wonderful program.
Diane Di Donato: "Streelight is a Charitable organization led by the Metropolitan Toronto Task Force on Street Prostitution, for people who choose to leave the streets. They come face-to-face with victims of human trafficking – the illegal trade in human beings for commercial sexual exploitation and the second largest organized crime world-wide. A $42 billion annual black market industry that is more than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined. Streetlight Support Services is an exit program for individuals wanting to leave the sex trade industry. They use a non-judgmental, holistic approach of the emotional, cultural, economic, and broader social issues that affect individuals".
- workshops, for those wanting to exit
- Counseling Services
- Workshops: empowerment, life and skills development
- Arts and Crafts, art therapy programs
- Food and clothing bank
- Client Case Management: Housing, Addiction, Mental Health, Medical Referrals
"I was and Executive Member on the Board and organized an elegant outdoor party, raising money for the House. We had a live band, dancing and delicious food for over 300 guests. We also donated supplies and clothing".
GiGi Capone: What inspires you to work so closely with women and children?
Diane Di Donato: "This is a matter close to my heart; my childhood. I had a single Mom and my brother and I grew up desperately missing the love of a father figure. We had to deal with the emotional trauma and abandonment as well as we were equipped to as children. Our mother worked hard as our Father didn’t pay for support".
GiGi Capone: You had the chance to meet Clinton & Bush... what was that like?
Diane Di Donato: Gigi, It was exciting and fun morning. There was a lot of security that morning and only 100 people were in attendance. When we were about to take the picture, I turned to Clinton and said have you seen the fashion magazines lately? He said are you talking to me and I said yes. Bush was really interested in what I was going to say to him and reached in to hear me. Everyone else was walking on egg shells and calling them Mr. President. Clinton said why? I said, Bill our school cross guards wear fluorescent orange vests, the same color as your tie. The security guys burst out in laughter and Bill and George were laughing so much. Bush turned to me and said I could call him George and asked me if I liked his tie and I said yes, it is very elegant. He turned to Clinton and said see, she likes my tie. It was a great morning and it was wonderful to see the playful sides of the Presidents. Did you see the picture and how much all 3 of us are smiling?
GiGi Caqpone: What can Diane Di Donato fans expect from you in 2013?
Diane Di Donato: I am creating the Relax to Go kit. I am in the midst of developing an aromatherapy roll on. Design a distinctive animal line of jewelry. Also I will be starting a gratitude blog on my website and sending out weekly inspirational quotes. Additionally, I will be receiving Inspirational Stories and posting them on my website. I have done this in the past and one of our members won a trip to see Oprah in New York, accommodation and flight paid. We had so much FUN! I also provide an individual empowerment telephone session.
GiGi Capone: What is the best way for someone who is interested in learning more about your services or receiving them to get in contact with you?
Diane Di Donato: Go to my website www.inspirationallifestyles.com
After meeting Diane Di Donato and learning more about her story; I began to realize just how important it is to take time out for oneself to mediate or relax; even if only a few minutes a day. My next mission is to book a spa day and take one of Diane's CD's with me to check out just how effective they can be for me and my busy lifestyle. Rest assured I will be back with a full review on the inspirational lifestyles "Relax 2 Go" series for The Business Report once I've put them to the relaxation test, so stay tuned for more on Inspirational Lifestyles!