If you ask me what one skill I wish I had not had to teach myself in life, my answer is easy: sitting still. That is, being able to sit in quiet and reflect on my inner life.
I remember many times growing up when I was asked to sit and listen to someone else, but rarely if ever, was I ever asked to listen to what was going on inside of me.
Instead, I grew up learning to fill my life with activity first and foremost, whether that was the “productive” activity of learning in school or the “frivolous” activity of electronic entertainment.
Now as an adult, however, few abilities have been as transformational for my quality of life as the quiet awareness practiced in prayer and meditation. Nor is that unique to me. Mindfulness—that is, paying attention to one’s experience without judging it—has been found by psychologists to have benefits including decreased anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as increased memory retention, ability to focus, and relationship quality. Just as important, that ability to foster inner awareness and reflection is the foundational building block of a healthy spiritual life and relationship with God.
As important as these skills are, though, they are difficult to foster in the modern world.
So at De Smet Jesuit, we are taking advantage of the new Formation Fridays to teach our Spartans the basics of a habit of reflection.
While spiritual formation has always been a key component of a De Smet Jesuit education, whether through daily prayers like the Examen, common worship at the Eucharist, or retreats like Kairos, now over the next month we will be presenting to the students a series of lessons and activities (participated in both on site and remotely) designed to help give our young men the foundational skills of reflection and mindfulness to get even more out of these practices. In order to teach our young men to reach their full potential both spiritually and humanly, we have to make sure they leave De Smet Jesuit with the ability to slow down, quiet themselves, and foster their awareness of themselves and God.
So ask your sons about their experiences learning how to meditate. Encourage them to practice these good habits when they are stressed. Maybe even find a meditation video on YouTube to try yourself! It is an exciting addition to the well-rounded formation here at De Smet Jesuit.