“Many of us may be finding that we are feeling overwhelmed”
Benedictine Tips for Productivity
As the school year draws to a close many of us may be finding that we are feeling overwhelmed. Those pending projects that have been hanging over our heads for weeks are begging to be brought to a conclusion. We know that we cannot sit on creative projects forever. We need to study. We need to write papers. We need to write tests and quizzes. We need to grade things. On top of that, we have been in e-learning mode for over a month and, to be honest, learning and teaching from home may have slowed down our momentum a little bit. Here are some tips from the Benedictine tradition to help us with our productivity, sanity, and overall sense of self.
First, the life of the Benedictine is a life of structure. As a creative and perhaps mildly chaotic person, I find structure difficult. It is precisely because of this that I have learned that I need it in my life. Monastic men and women lead structured lives. Prayer, meals, and recreation are all built into the schedule. For students, faculty, staff, and parents that have grown accustomed to going off to school and work, the regularity of the bells and the punch-in clock, it might be helpful to create an horarium much like the monastics use. Stick to it. Create some normalcy in your own lives. And by create – I mean be creative! Don’t forget to set aside time for fun, hobbies, exercise, and keeping up with the people you need in your life.
Meditation is also very helpful because it trains the mind to deal with intrusive, negative, and impulsive thoughts. During meditation, it is important to remember that thoughts will come. They are not good or bad. They are just thoughts. When they come, name them. Say, “this is a thought,” and let it pass by like a leaf on a river. Without delving too much into the mystery of what happens during meditation, by this very simple practice I believe that we tap into a deeper sense of who we are beyond our passing thoughts. Often, we realize the thoughts were about trivial things, external objects, relationships, or worries that did not really deserve the attention they seemed to demand. With practice, this very habit will spill over into our active life: when we are working, and speaking with friends and family.
The Rule of Benedict is clear about the stewardship we should practice when it comes to the tools of our occupation. Stewardship is all about caring for things so that they will last, and so that other people can use and enjoy them as well. I would extend this to, not only the tools we need to do our job well, but also to our own bodies, minds, and spirits. Care for your house with gentleness. Care for the people that make it a home. Care for yourself.
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Br. Lucian Lopez, OSB
Director of Campus Ministry
Saint John’s Preparatory School
Br. Lucian Lopez, OSB is the Director of Campus Ministry. He brings a wealth of experience to the position as well as a deep love of Saint John’s Prep. Br. Lucian taught Theology, Spanish, and ESOL at Prep from fall 2013 to spring 2016 and rejoined our faculty in 2020. He holds Master’s degrees in Theology and History and studied Philosophy and Spanish as an undergraduate student. In addition to his Campus Ministry responsibilities, he also teaches Philosophy for our International Baccalaureate Programme.
In his spare time, Br. Lucian is an amateur herpetologist and arachnologist. He has over 12 different species of snakes and tarantulas.
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