Respond Mindfully: Training, Coaching and Consultation

About Oscar Flores, M. Ed., IFECH-TMHP, RFP I, C.C.

I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for more than six years. I hold a master's degree in education with a focus in child and adolescent development, and have earned various certificates in business, mental health, and other areas.  I have a bachelor's degree in political science with a focus on international relations.

I was raised in the Monterey Bay Area, where I currently reside, and work for a local public agency overseeing investments in early childhood and parenting development services, including implementation of capacity building opportunities and systems integration efforts.  I enjoy running, biking, and kayaking.  I am also an active member of a local Toastmaster's club, a wonderful positive group that supports its members to develop as effective public speakers and leaders.  Most recently, I've been learning the alto sax, exploring backpacking, and developing my mindful eating and fitness skills.  I'm excited about deepening my fun and engagement in these new areas. 

My parents, both immigrants from Mexico, raised my siblings and me in a bilingual (Spanish and English) household, and taught me life skills that I once took for granted, such as social-emotional and home improvement/construction skills. At one point I remember thinking to myself, doesn't everyone know how to install tile or a door? As I've practiced mindfulness meditation, I’ve come to see that the skills and knowledge I once took credit for as "self-taught" are really an amalgamation of what others have shared with me, whether in person or by other means.

I found mindfulness after a long search for support for stress and anxiety stemming from a lifelong developmental stutter, and early traumatic experiences of having to read out loud in class. Since then I have not looked back. I have continued to practice, enrolled in various trainings, and learned from other practitioners.  Mindfulness helped me greet and accept my anxiety, which, over time and with practice, has waned.  In the past, I would feed my anxiety by suppressing it and blaming myself via negative self-talk. Practicing mindfulness meditation has also allowed me to see that negative self-talk is a part of our normal stress response, and that we have a choice to observe the stress, and not associate with it. These and many other mindfulness concepts have been powerful and transformational in my life.

Why Respond Mindfully?

"Respond Mindfully" encapsulates so much of what I felt I've been able to learn and apply experientially from practicing mindfulness meditation.  This phrase, if taken from a multidimensional perspective, reminds me that at the heart of wellness and health is a need respond mindfully, instead of reacting out of habit, to other humans, ourselves, and our environment.  When we truly understand this phrase, experientially (not just cognitively), I feel, wellness and positivity ensue.  By Responding Mindfully you or you organization/business can cultivate more authentic relationships, can help promote more reflective and flexible thinking, and reduce stress.  We can also look systemically at issues, and 

Education and Training

The Center for Mindfulness (CFM) at the University of Massachusetts has a rigorous teacher education program.  I completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8 Week Fundamental training (taught by Bob Stahl, PhD) and the Practice Teaching Intensive (taught by Bob Stahl, PhD, Christiane Wolf, MD, Carolyn West PhD, and Lone Overby), and are a CFM Qualified MBSR Teacher.  For more information about my mindfulness meditation practice, and training, 

In addition to formal training and education in mindfulness meditation, I have earned a Master's Degree in Education with a focus on child and adolescent development. My master's program provided a multidisciplinary academic experience, including anthropological, linguistic, psychological, and sociological theories to studying and understanding families, adults, children, and adolescences in school and life settings.  Further, since 2012, I have participated in Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health (IFECMH) training, and are endorsed as a Transdisciplinary IFECMH Practitioner. Endorsement is awarded to formally acknowledge that recipients are "...grounded in the core knowledge and training necessary to provide  family-centered, diversity-informed, and developmentally appropriate  services across the continuum of infant-family and early childhood  mental health.  I am also endorsed as a Reflective Practice Facilitator I (RPF) by the California Center for IFECMH.  As an endorsed RFP, I am able to "address both the  relational dynamics of direct service delivery and related  administrative issues... and play a supportive roles preparing staff to  work effectively with families. It is widely acknowledged that the  dynamics of the reflective practice facilitation relationship will in  turn influence provider/family relationships..."  Having formal training in child and family mental health allows me to present and educate on mindfulness mediation practices that are sensitive and informed by the realities that adult functioning is impacted by our experiences in early childhood.  

I have also earned a "Competent Communicator" designation as part of my public speaking efforts in Toastmasters International and a Certificate in Business Administration from a local college.  This combination of training and education has allowed me to better understand the intersection of mind-body health and everyday human functions (behavior, academics, work, politics/government, business, school, relationships, etc.) from birth to our golden years.

Additional Background Info: 

In addition to mindfulness-related experience, I bring additional experience that support my training and coaching work with individuals and organizations.

Early in my career, in high school and college, I was involved in outreach programs that exposed first-generation students to invaluable experiences, such as field-trips to visit colleges and universities, through the University of California system.  Through my participation in these programs, both as a recipient and mentor, I met and worked with Phil Angelides, California State Treasurer, in this Cash Management Division.  I was able to learn and understand the importance of supporting college-access programs.  My experience in the State Treasurer's Office allowed me to see the inner workings of State government, and the complexity involved in implementing legislation in a heavily bureaucratic system.

Previous professional experience also includes:

  • Coordinator for a private foundation project.  I oversaw development of computer programs for parents of elementary school children.  The program lent computers to families and provided training for parents to learn how to help their children with school assignments.
  • Retail store assistant manager for a national chain, responsible for employee customer service training and coaching.
  • Library services coordinator for city government, which included oversight and direct implementation of outreach programs, teen services, and early literacy programs.
  • Administrator for school district early childhood education program.  I was responsible for developing an all-inclusive and coordinated system of early care and learning for children 0-5 years old and their families, with the overall aim of eliminating the academic gap before children started kindergarten. 

I have been a member of the following professional organizations over 8 years, and participate in professional development offerings and subscribe to their academic journals: National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Council on Family Relations, Society for Research in Child Development, Zero to Three, and the American Psychological Association.