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Wellbeing News – 16 May 2019

 

Mindfulness

Once thought of as a specialist activity for trained individuals, mindfulness is now growing in popularity as an accessible tool to enhance wellbeing in everyday life. With the Mindful in May movement becoming popular in the community as individuals and groups commit to the practice of meditation in order to boost their mindfulness capacity, May is a good time to learn about and reflect on the role that mindfulness can play in all our lives.

There are two key components of mindfulness. First, the practice of being fully present in the moment. This practice relies on the ability to pay full attention and to shift a wandering mind back to where we choose to place our attention. And the second is the attitude with which we choose approach this focussed attention. That is, allowing ourselves to view our thoughts and interactions with curiosity and in a non-judgmental way.

For many people the roots of mindfulness are recognised from within the Buddhist tradition and the practice of meditation. For others from the Catholic tradition, we can also mark our most significant mindful experiences and learnings in connection to developing our relationship with a steadfast God who helps to keep us centred. The experience of religious retreats, prayer, liturgical music, and focused service to others, all stem from the Catholic interpretation of mindfulness in being present with God, with self, with others and with the world. In the Catholic tradition, Jesus model personal mindfulness in moments when he takes time to separate himself from the crowd to pray as he did in the Garden of Gethsemane before his death. Jesus also models relational mindfulness when, in the story of Mary and Martha, he affirms Mary’s choice to be fully present in relationship rather than “busy” with hosting.

Mindfulness in modern research is credited with helping us to:

  • Better respond to the normal stress that is present in everyone’s lives.
  • Build resilience through the ability to regulate emotional responses.
  • Quieten anxious or negative thoughts and boost positive emotions.
  • Maintain focused positive attention and engagement in activities and relationships.

 

Below are some starting tips and ideas for those interested in practicing mindfulness. Many of these are encouraged can be a great starting point for discussing and sharing mindful practice with your family:

  • Breath! – Take 5 mins a day to sit by yourself and focus on your own deep breathing and feeling in your body. When thoughts intrude on this space, acknowledge them and shift your focus back to your body.
  • Self-inquiry – observe your feelings, label them and allow them to go without allowing them to rule your day. View your feelings with curiosity and wonder and avoid judgment about what you should or should not have felt in a situation.
  • Enjoy your meal – when you sit down to eat, make sure there are no other distractions like your phone or TV. Savour each mouthful and consider who prepared the meal, what had to go into getting it to your plate, what physical or emotional response do you have to the meal.
  • Really, really, listen – spend time with a loved one where there are no distractions (eg: phone or TV). Be conscious about hearing their stories without offering advice or judgment. Make eye contact, ask questions and reflect understanding about what they are expressing while keeping the focus on them.
  • Respond rather than react – next time you are faced with a challenge allow some time or even space between what has triggered you emotionally and what you choose to say or do. Rather than react in the moment, allow yourself to make a conscious decision about how you will respond.

 

Online safety and image sharing

Last week, a parent letter was emailed which outlines some of the risk on sharing images online and how families can help to minimise those risks. At a time when so many of us spend a significant amount of time online, our online or digital wellbeing is an important consideration.

Internet safety experts advise parents to talk with their children of all ages about the importance and practicalities of online safety.

There is a wealth of information and resources on the website of the e-Safety Commissioner which has been set up to provide information and support to families, as well as being a contact to report concerns about online damaging behaviours: www.esafety.gov.au.

 

21 Day Benefit Mindset Challenge Wrap-up

Thank you to all the parents who attended the parent information evening with Ash Buchanan to further explore the concept of Benefit Mindset which was featured in last week’s newsletter. It was a pleasure to hear from Ash Buchanan about his work in developing this principle, in particular his analogy of the ecosystem of wellbeing.

Ash’s work promotes the idea that the more active the community is at co-creating the conditions conductive for life to thrive, the healthier and more resilient every person can be. Ash uses this analogy to promote the idea that our wellbeing is intimately connected to the wellbeing of others and the wellbeing of our natural world.

In this way, Ash’s work links beautifully with our College Theme for 2019 We Grow Together which is about more than personal growth and achievement, but also about how we help each other to become our best possible selves. As in the Gospel reading that inspired our theme, we need “good soil” for the seeds of our work to grow in a healthy and life-giving way. And in creating this “good soil” we are creating a community where everyone can thrive.

Ash’s article about Regenerative Wellbeing is an interesting read on this topic

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