The Power of Reflection

In this year's Upper School Choir concert, one song in particular caught my attention. Titled, "As We Move Forward," by the Family Crest, two lines rang loud and true to me:
All of us are in this life together;
All of us are in this spin forever.
Even without the context of the music, these words invite us to pause for reflection—
Often in life, we become engrossed in the 24/7 news cycle and other related stressors, courtesy of our devices, the hustle of the holiday season, the academic race to college, and a myriad of other perceived pressures and expectations.
As adults, we can recognize these moments and have the ability to keep things in perspective through exercise, reading, journaling, listening to music, or simply a night out with family and friends. These moments of reflection allow us to see the interconnectedness of our lives—that our communities are stronger when we exist in support of one another. Reflection allows us the ability to make sense of the 'spin' in which we are forever immersed.
Recently, I asked a number of middle schoolers if intentional reflection is part of their lives. The answers varied, but by-and-large reflection does not seem to be a daily part of the lives of our students. Some discussed how they process in the car, and others talked about reflecting on sporting events with coaches and parents, but few revealed any intentional reflection practices, such as mindfulness activities, walking/biking, yoga, or even post-dinner conversation with parents.
Further in the conversation, though, one astute eighth-grader stated that reflecting upon conversations and activities informs how we might respond to similar conversations moving forward. This, in fact, is the true power of reflection. Taking time to consider the words and actions of another person in order to formulate a positive and thoughtful response is indeed the key to healthy communication. In this way, through reflection, we can encourage students of all ages to make a difference in the world, one interaction at a time.
As I wrapped-up my various conversations with students, I left them with three questions to consider during this holiday season; I invite you to find a way to reflect on these questions as well:

--Am I taking anything for granted?
--Am I putting enough effort into my relationships?
--Am I living true to myself?
Best wishes for a peaceful holiday season. Find ways to make reflection part of your family routine—it may be the best and biggest gift we can give our children.

Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a rigorous, meaningful, and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.