During the week of November 16 to 20, all St. Mary’s juniors participated in Mindfulness Awareness Week, which was inspired by their study of the Transcendentalist movement in their English classes. Transcendentalism was a philosophical and literary movement of the 19th century that encouraged people to live simply and reflectively according to the integrity of their convictions. Several of the transcendental observations and concerns persist today, especially in relation to growing anxiety around how our fast-paced, technologically-enhanced society is impacting human relationships with one another and with the self.
Over the course of the week, students enjoyed a variety of activities focused on mindful practice and self-reflection, such as writing letters to friends by hand, coloring or sketching while letting their minds wander, walking to the PSU art exhibits and through the beautiful park blocks, meditating quietly, and journaling in reaction to various prompts. At the end of the week, while about one-third of the juniors attended the Encounter Retreat, which offered further opportunities for reflection and discussion, the remaining students created “Mindfulness Challenges” for one another, including small steps to take each day to practice living in the moment and encouraging more self-reflection.
Junior Sierra Cleary even offered to lead a 45-minute yoga and meditation session for many of her peers, which was an inspiring and restorative experience. The following week, right before the Thanksgiving holiday, junior English classes held rich discussions about their experiences while sharing a simple meal together. Feedback from students, parents and faculty regarding Mindfulness Week was quite positive. Our community expressed gratitude to have a venue in which to discuss and explore the importance of cultivating authentic relationships with one another and with ourselves. We are already looking forward to next November’s Mindfulness Week, and we hope to expand our offerings and activities to facilitate further discussion and reflection.