I met the amazing Mandy Sciacchitano (pronounced: shock-uh-TA-no) this year, through a community of professional women committed to helping each other succeed. During our weekly online discussions, Mandy would always bring a great perspective to different topics like personal resiliency, managing unconscious biases, balancing work & life, and achieving goals in uncertain times.
Mandy is a life coach and breathwork facilitator who guides women into deep connection with their values, souls, emotions, and intuitions. She teaches boundaries, conscious communication, and emotional responsibility so that women can strip away people-pleasing and perfectionism and have deeper, more vulnerable, and more honest relationships with themselves and others.
Mandy, thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with us. We would love to know more about you. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Thank you for the invitation! I’m so honored to be able to share my story and my work. My name is Mandy Sciacchitano, and I am officially credentialed as a life coach and breathwork facilitator, but I don’t love the term life coach. I prefer to think of myself as a mentor and a space holder for people’s deep soul work.
My work really centers around my stand for womxn to reclaim their personal power, their emotions, and their worthiness so that they can live more vibrant, full, and empowered lives. I got into this work because for all of my life I felt like I was both “too much” and “not enough” at the same time. I was told I was too sensitive, too emotional, too dramatic, too bold. I was a hard worker, a straight-A student, and followed all the rules and excelled in most things, yet somehow it seemed like no matter how much I did to be a good person and please everyone, it was never enough. I was constantly setting new goals and looking for the next accomplishment or person or project that would make me feel happy and good about myself.
Now I show womxn how we can find our voices, our power, and our inner liberation by unravelling the stories we have been living by to learn who we truly are in our core, and claiming, accepting, and loving all of our pieces. I help women identify the stories that are making them feel not good enough and help them redefine what it means to be a good person in a way that includes themselves, their needs, their values, and their dreams.
Wow, isn’t that amazing! So many people before Covid-19 felt over-scheduled and underconnected. With the stay-at-home orders, some non-essential workers have been able to start enjoying a less hectic life and reconnecting with some aspects of their lifestyle that they were probably missing out on. However, this does not exempt these same people from facing anxiety, fear, or even burn-out whilst working from home. What would you recommend to people during this time to fully reconnect with themselves?
I think the stay-at-home orders that we’ve been under have really exposed a lot of things: they’ve exposed unhealthy patterns of staying busy to avoid what we are feeling or even to prove something. They have exposed all of the ways we fill our lives with meaningless activities to try to fill a void. And they’ve also exposed how disconnected from our needs and our bodies we live on a daily basis.
What I recommend people do is to pay attention to their bodies. We spend so much time living in our heads, overthinking things and contemplating what we “should” be doing, and most of that is based on unrealistic expectations that don’t actually serve us.
We think that anxiety, fear, and overwhelm are solely mental health issues, but they are also patterns and sensations that we experience in the body. So what I recommend people do is carve out time every day to get back into their bodies and connect with themselves and their breath. If you don’t have a meditation practice, even just taking 5 or 6 deep breaths into your belly and consciously feeling the bottom of your feet can help ground you into your body.
And from there you can ask yourself what I call the trinity of questions: How do I feel? What do I need? What do I think? Scan your body and witness what sensations are present. Where are you feeling the fear in your body? What do you need to process it and be well? What are you thinking about it/what is the story that you are making up to go with it?
We need to be creating time to be in connection with our bodies and to respond to our needs. I always say, what is best for you is best for the world. You can be a better partner, worker, friend, citizen, and human if your needs are met.
“Normal” was not always good for everyone especially with work and social commitments, work-family conflict, stress management or even dissatisfaction with a job. Easing the lockdown means that some people may have to get ready to go back to situations that maybe made them unwell. What are some tools that can help people navigate these changes?
The tool that I just shared about the daily check-ins is really important during this transition, especially the second question: what do I need? It only creates frustration if we are aware of discomfort or incongruence and not taking action to do something about it.
There is a practice that I do with my clients called “Daily Non-Negotiables.” It involves mapping out: what are the things that I need every single day in order to support myself to show up as the best that I can? For example, for me I need some sort of movement or exercise scheduled into every day, I need screen breaks every 3 hours, I need boundaries around social media time, I need daily prayer/meditation/journaling, and I need at least one healthy, veggie-dense meal per day in order to feel my best. Once I know these things, I can build them into my schedule in order to support myself.
If people are noticing that simple self-care and mindset work isn’t enough because the things that are making them unwell are much bigger, then I recommend they seek out support, such as a coach or therapist or group that can give them support and accountability to make bigger changes.
As a life coach, how do you think your skill set is going to be useful in this process of transition for many people who are going to embrace change or be forced to embrace it?
We tend to fear change because it is unknown or out of our control, but change is the only constant and control is actually an illusion. So how can we smooth out these transitions and feel more empowered stepping into the unknown?
For me, the answer is self-belonging. If I am rooted deeply into who I am, what I stand for, and I know that I have my own back, I am in my power because I know that I can handle anything that comes my way. I can regulate my own nervous system. I can act strategically instead of react. I can trust my intuition and decision-making.
I think supportive communities are also important for this, so I am actually putting together a community mentorship group right now to assist a group of people in navigating this major transition in a really supportive way.
Another aspect of your work is to also help people establish boundaries in their life. Why do you think that setting boundaries is not as easy as we think? How do boundaries actually help people make their life better?
I think boundaries are not easy because we have been socialized to believe that setting boundaries means cutting people out. We think it means that we’re mean and selfish and egotistical. We haven’t been shown examples of healthy boundaries that actually strengthen communities, so we run away from them.
But a boundary is not a wall; a boundary is not an ultimatum. Essentially what a boundary does is establish where you begin (ie what is your responsibility), what you stand for, and how you want to be treated. If we do boundaries right, they create a container for us to best love ourselves and show others how to love us too.
During one of our squad meetings, you mentioned “breathwork”. That was my first-time hearing of breathwork. My curiosity led me to read more about it. However, I am not sure everyone knows what it is. Some describe it as the latest trend in wellness. While I do not feel comfortable describing it as such, could you explain to us what breathwork is in your own words and what are its key benefits?
Breathwork is an ancient practice and a super underutilized tool. There are a lot of different styles of breathwork, but when we talk about it in an overarching sense it basically means connecting with your breath in an intentional way. Now, from there, different styles of breathwork have different purposes, and they create different results in your body.
If you have a hard time meditating and calming down racing thoughts, breathwork is a great place to start because your body shuts off your conscious brain for you. There are SO MANY benefits to breathwork, but some of the most important are: reduces stress, creates deeper trust and connection with the body and intuition, clears brain fog, processes emotions, and helps you connect more deeply with your spirituality.
What is a session of breathwork like with you ?
I lead both 1-on-1 and group breathwork practices, which are all online now. In a group breathwork circle we gather together on Zoom and I present a theme for the night that has been placed on my heart. It’s usually related to the moon cycles or astrology or current events. I explain the pattern of breathwork and I just show you how to do it. And then I have a curated playlist designed to take you through a journey with your breath.
So you lay down in your home, you breathe with me watching on camera, and I cue you the whole time, with different questions to ask yourself and different things to think about. And then at the end I give you a journal prompt, and we come together for some community discussion afterwards. That part is always optional. In a 1-on-1 session it’s very similar, but I tailor the playlist, the cues, and the journal prompts to what you’re going through specifically.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. How can the readers get in touch with you?
Awovi is the founder and editor-in-chief of Consciously, Awovi. She is also the cheerleader-in-chief in her loved ones’ life. She loves travelling, writing, art, thrifting and cooking. During the day, she helps companies and businesses become more socially and environmentally responsible in how they conduct business operations.