It was the dramatic change in her blood tests that ultimately convinced Rosa Mazzocca that mind-body medicine can have a profound effect on healing.
Rosa works as a counselor at Cypress Bay High School in Broward County, Florida. When a gunman killed 17 people at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School, Rosa went into high-drive, focusing her attention on helping students, staff, and faculty in her own school cope with the tragedy. Within months, Rosa’s own post-traumatic stress was so severe that she was facing an ominous medical diagnosis. But it took her some time to make the connection between the trauma and her own health.
In 2018, when CMBM brought its comprehensive wellness training program to Broward County, Rosa joined several hundred colleagues from across the district in the training. She tells us that she loves to learn so she enthusiastically agreed to enroll upon a colleague’s suggestion, but she came wearing “her counselor hat.” Rosa was simply prepared to learn some new skills to help her students and colleagues.
In the first few hours of the training, Rosa quickly realized just how much she personally had been impacted by the devastating trauma in her community.
That summer, as she was training with CMBM, Rosa was also working with her doctors trying to figure out what was causing her blood pressure to remain high and other blood chemistries to spike, as she describes, “into the red zone.”
As Rosa began to incorporate the evidence-based mind-body skills she learned through CMBM into her daily routine, she started noticing a real change. Blood pressure readings dropped and new blood tests showed marked differences – “all the levels that were in the red were now in the green.” The data convinced her:
“I finally found what I was praying for. I knew I needed something, I just didn’t know what. Then CMBM came to me and offered me a way to heal.”
Soon, other people noticed the changes in her too. One night at dinner, she bumped into Cypress Bay’s principal who remarked: “You look different, Rosa.” Rosa smiled and replied: “It’s this training. We need to bring this to the school.”
This conversation laid the groundwork for Rosa to launch a Mind-Body Ambassadors Club for students at Cypress Bay High. Inspired by an MSD teacher and parent who had created such a club there, Rosa wanted to teach high school students how to use mind-body medicine skills to reduce anxiety, improve mental health, and promote healthy relationships. She also saw the value in teaching the students how to share the skills with their peers. Her principal agreed, so Rosa recruited the first cohort of students.
Over the past four years, nearly 100 students have participated in the Cypress Bay Mind-Body Ambassadors Club. They learn and work together, leading 6 week groups for fellow students. They even kept the club going during the worst of the pandemic in 2020, converting their meetings to a virtual platform.
Rosa is proud of the club and the impact the students have had on Cypress Bay’s school culture. Club members lead students in a “minute to arrive” with guided soft-belly breathing over the school’s PA system every morning. And during Freshman Orientation, the Mind-Body Ambassadors are part of the core group that welcomes new students to school, alongside the band, the Student Government leaders, and the cheerleaders.