Take a deep breath, unclench your fists, laugh a little — you’ve got this! While a new school year can be daunting and you may not be able to control all the events that will happen to you, you can decide not to let them ennoble or diminish you. The journey ahead is an awesome one, and we can and will give you the skills and capacities to succeed. I have five tips to offer that are entry points to becoming “a just community of learners.” I invite you to practice them over the coming weeks.
- Know your value.
You may think you’re small, but you’re not. In fact, we like to imagine ourselves as small, inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But we’re not — you’re not. Your thoughts, ideas, and actions matter. So does your character and integrity. And they have the potential to shape others and the world. Never assume someone else is going to solve the problem or take up the cause — YOU are that someone.
- Cultivate a beginner’s mind.
When you look at things with fresh eyes — even things you’ve looked at or examined hundreds of times before — you see them differently. Don’t get stuck in opinions, assumptions, or biases. In fact, begin to bring awareness to your biases and judgments. Simultaneously, take risks, embrace opportunities, and don’t let failure or the fear of getting something wrong inhibit your growth.
- Practice non-striving.
We spend so much of our time tackling our to-do lists, achieving new goals, and aspiring to higher heights. Sometimes, though, we need to do less, not more and simply allow life to unfold, moment to moment. We need to protect our bodies and minds from a tendency toward perfection — that illusive, dangerous goal. We need to remind ourselves that good enough is good enough.
- Remember to say thank you.
Bring gratitude to the present moment. There is so much we take for granted, and yet we are here, together, in this remarkable community, embarking on this incredible journey. Expressing gratitude leads to growth in oneself and in relationships. Expressing empathy does as well. Don’t rush past other people’s needs or contributions to your life. Consider also how you can give yourself to others. Be kind, be thankful, be humble.
- Slip into Savasana.
Slow down, play, reflect, enjoy, sleep, exercise, eat well, absorb, experience. Find places and spaces to restore and recharge. Invest in relationships, get lost in ideas and projects, disconnect to connect. And find moments where you can lay on your back, chin tucked, spine flat, feet open, palms up, eyes open and just breathe. At it’s core, mindfulness is about heartfulness. And when we pay attention on purpose to our experience of the world and the experiences of others, we can see one another’s humanity.
Post by Liz Schmitt, Chief Enrollment and Student Affairs Officer