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Victoria University’s motto is know your mind. We are studying at a world-class institution with vast collective academic intelligence, one well decorated with degrees. But, what does know your mind really mean when we reflect on our self as a whole person?
What’s it feel like to be you today? Are you cheerful, calm and vigorous? Did you wake up feeling rested and refreshed? Is your day filled with things that interest you? Nearly half the students at university (45%) aren’t feeling that way. They are telling us they are feeling stressed, anxious, isolated, and depressed.
Let’s reflect more deeply on know your mind in light of the above statistic. How many of us really have an idea of who we are? Without that knowledge, we cannot have a peaceful mind that is a friend, as opposed to an enemy that constantly drags us about with mental concoctions and sorrowful states.
Knowing our own mind requires understanding. The body and mind are material, and therefore temporary and changing. Yet, we may become overwhelmed with thoughts that can lead to anxiety. Most distressing experiences are due to a conflict between our body and mind, when we don’t pay attention to what we need. When we are taken over by anger, lust, greed, envy, and sadness it can fog our view. This cycle can spiral into pools of depression and dissatisfaction. Instead of focussing inward, we try to change our external situation to escape the mind. Yet it travels with us everywhere, weighing a heavy burden over our tired selves.
Our essential identity is the “I am” that stays stable among all the flickering changes of body and mind. Mindfulness and meditation is a growing phenomenon, with many experts recognising the need to look inwards and connect with this part of our-self. This is one way we can bring the mind under control, understand our identity, and in that way attain peace of mind. Attending to our bodily health, our whanau, and our spirituality are others ways to increase our wellbeing.
So what about those 45% of students who aren’t feeling it, what’s being done for them? Victoria has an integrated approach to student wellbeing, supported by senior staff and communicated in the university’s Strategic Plan. Victoria staff and students have partnered on a number projects and initiatives focused on student achievement, development, and wellbeing. Student representatives make valuable contributions on behalf of their peers.