The Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death is an inspiring and nurturing professional organization dedicated to furthering the development and professional skill set of those called to hold space for mindful birthing, living, and dying.
Founded in 2015 by Amy Wright Glenn, the Institute was created to bring those drawn to the caring professions of birth and death work together with professionals dedicated to teaching mindfulness based living skills.
The Institute is a pioneering force offering monthly webinars on themes relating to compassionately holding space for birth, breath, and death as well as providing quality in-person and online trainings/workshops for the heartfelt engagement with these topics.
“Today, wise and creative cultural pioneers lead a burgeoning movement in applying key elements of the birth doula model to train people to companion each other in death. Given that our experience of death has become so institutionalized and medicalized, applying the doula model of care to death and dying represents a sane and needed grounding in the wisdom of compassion, companioning and proven comfort measures.”
Interview with Dillan DiGiovanni
Integrative Identity Coach, Storyteller & Writer
Wednesday, October 23rd 7-8pm Eastern
*Open to all Institute members.
“What is identity? Is it inherent or created? How do we know what is innate or learned, natural or nurtured by our environment or predetermined by something we’ll never be able to measure or know? What do we mean by the self. How we do come to know who we are, either for ourselves and in community with others? And what do we do as we discover this throughout our lives?
Finding answers to these questions has been my path for the past 25 years. It wasn’t until I underwent a massive external transformation that my internal transformation, a journey I began many years earlier, gained significant momentum. After years of experimenting with external changes to my identity and adopting labels like, “activist” “vegetarian” “teacher” and then “entrepreneur”, I felt very comfortable taking on a new challenge: to transform my very existence on the planet: my name, my physical appearance and my gender identity.
Only I made an innocent error in my ignorance: I compared that transformation to ones that had preceded it, relying on evidence with relatively “easier” changes to inform my leap into the Great Unknown.
And what happened once I leapt is what transformed me, spiritually and emotionally, from the inside-out. It took me on a journey into the very nature of Self and identity, with revelations that can inspire anyone willing to take on the process of self-inquiry since we all possess an identity and all undergo processes of change, some chosen and others not.
Our identity is who we know we are but also who others perceive us to be. And we are dynamic entities, constantly shifting and evolving and expanding via choices we make. We are also more than we even know or understand about ourselves until we are given opportunities for such profound exploration.
I came to know this when, in 2012, I took on the process of changing my gender identity which plunged me into a deep ocean of sociological, psychological, cultural and, most importantly, spiritual and existential changes that I never could have known or anticipated otherwise. Perhaps serendipitously I had also entered graduate school at the same time and my self-designed academic study of change theory, sociology and cultural anthropology supplemented my experience as a multicultural educator and certified integrative health coach.
The existential crisis I then faced and subsequently overcame only happened through constant vigilance of prioritizing my own self-care and intense courses of personal development and spiritual retreats which led to a breakthrough about the relative and relatable challenge of self-acceptance and resilience in a constantly changing and challenging society.
And on the other side of that tremendous experience, I seek to share my insights about identity, gender, health, the process of coping with change and the self as a manifestation of our thoughts and words and actions. Identity is both an internal reality and a cultural construct of who we’ve been and will become and how we express it to the world. It’s an awareness of cultural expectations that shape and may even constrict us unless or until we’re aware of them and what we do as we gradually awaken that keep us from or brings us toward self-actualization.”
Dillan DiGiovanni is a person who inspires self-acceptance and resilience through self-awareness and better well-being. His innovative message and mission as an integrative identity coach blends his 25 years of experience and best practices in the fields of integrative health, multicultural education and leadership development. Dillan is a professional change agent, helping people learn who they are and want to become, providing inspiration and guidance to overcome internal and external limitations and simplify life to thrive more. His unique voice and perspective as a transgender person makes him a relatable teacher for people of all identities as they navigate life transitions and transformations.
Dillan is a two-time TEDx speaker and has been featured on PBS. He consults with companies like IDEO, Microsoft, General Assembly and ActBlue and he’s a Global Mentor for WeWork Labs.
Dillan earned his B.S. in Education from The College of New Jersey and his self-designed MEd from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. He now lives in Greater NYC after living in New England for 12 years. He runs on all things 80s, good coffee and always needs to eat more greens. His favorite movie is The Karate Kid and he would definitely beat you in a lip-syncing contest.
*Links via the AnyMeeting platform are sent to members 24-hours before the webinar begins. All members are welcome to join live and participate in a dynamic Q&A session. Recordings of monthly webinars are made available to members.
September 2019’s Institute Webinar is open to all.
Every year, Amy opens one Institute webinar to the public. Usually, monthly webinars are created for, and viewed by, Institute members. However, in September 2019, Amy interviewed Cara Belvin, the founder of empowerHER and Amy chose to lift up their conversation and open access to all.
Cara Belvin founded empowerHER in 2013, inspired by her own experience of grieving the loss of her mother who died of breast cancer when Cara was 9-years-old. Her work to empower young girls who have also lost their mothers has been featured on many media outlets including Parents magazine, PBS, and the Boston Globe.
How can we best support bereaved children? How does an organization like empowerHER help transform our the discourse around death and dying in our culture? How can one become involved with local chapters of empowerHER?