Throughout this school year, we will feature guest bloggers to share different perspectives on or experiences with boys education on our Head of School blog. Our next guest blogger is Lori Paredes, Regis Communications Manager, who writes about espacio and finding time for reflection during this busy time of the year.
As we fall back into the routine of everyday life after Thanksgiving break, it seemed like an appropriate time to reflect on the act of reflecting. Nowadays, 'mindfulness' is a buzzword we associate with reflection. A google search of the word returns 140,000,000 results ranging from definitions and studies on mindfulness, to books and apps on mindfulness, to how to practice mindfulness. The sheer amount of information available on the subject leads one to question, "Is it that hard?" The simple answer is, "yes."
Reflection and being mindful is an important aspect of Sacred Heart education. Each morning, our students join together for morning prayer assembly and observe a moment of espacio or space. These few minutes are meant to be a time for each of our students, faculty and staff members to practice silent reflection—something easier said than done. While we all hold our tongues during this time, it takes great effort to truly turn your mind away from the tasks at hand and reflect. Silence is something that we are not accustomed to in a school environment, and most likely, you are not accustomed to at home or work either.
Silent reflection is important though, maybe even more so at Regis. Our students are constantly moving because our methodologies promote this type of learning environment. It is also important to teach our students how to stop moving and listen too. To quote Sr. Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ and her blog post on espacio for the Canada and United States Sacred Heart website, "genuine listening begins in silence."
The incorporation of silence and reflection into the academic day is not a practice many of us experienced when we were in elementary and middle school. Although each moment of espacio for a student may not be solely reflective, he is learning the practice of reflection and making it routine in his everyday life. Time for reflection will not be an unfamiliar concept once he leaves Regis, and hopefully, it will be a practice that he desires to continue after he graduates.
It is not just in silence that our students practice reflection—they practice in writing too. Reflection allows us to not only be present in the moment but to contemplate and analyze events that have occurred in the past. Each year our students complete at least two service projects or drives. Each student's written reflection on the project becomes an important aspect of these activities. Without these reflections, service projects become more of a field trip or task that may or may not be remembered in the future instead of an opportunity to learn compassion for others and about how others live.
Finding this espacio as an adult is not easy. How lucky would we be if creating time for silence and reflection were something we learned starting at the age of 3? It is hard to tune out what is going on around you when you are at home or at work. For one thing, at work you are being paid to do a job and sitting idly most likely doesn't fulfill your job description. But, we can learn a thing or two from our students at Regis—being mindful and practicing reflection brings deeper understanding, silence provides space for contemplation, and being quiet allows us to be present in the moment. All of these things make our students better students and will make us better versions of ourselves. Reflect on your life last year during this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, analyze what made you happy and what didn't, deepen your understanding of what you hope to feel or achieve during this season of Advent, and make space for espacio in your life.
Bio: This is Lori's 5th year at Regis and first year managing communications. Lori attended graduate school at the University of Houston and undergrad at Louisiana State University. She holds an M.A. in Public History, B.A. in Communications, and B.A. in History. Prior to becoming a Regis Knight, Lori worked at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Menil Collection.