Meet the Duo behind Gravity Initiative

August 31, 2016

Together, Will and Em started Gravity – a not for profit initiative that aims to improve student wellbeing at universities across Victoria. As students ourselves, we felt there were inadequate services available to university students that worked to encourage conversations surrounding mental health and provide students with preventative mental health approaches and a positive, supportive community.

Gravity is a not-for-profit initiative that is run by students, for students. We are building an energetic, dynamic community that promotes mindful living through practices such as yoga, meditation, and social activities. We passionately believe that students can hugely improve their university experience by developing strategies to help tackle the stress of day-to-day life.

Can you tell us a little you…

Will: I’m 25 years old and grew up in Melbourne. I’m currently studying a Masters of Chemical Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

Em: I’m 22 years old and grew up in Geelong. I moved to Melbourne a few years ago for uni and am currently finishing off my last year of a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in psychology.Aside from uni, we’re both passionate about being active, travelling, and going on new adventures.

Aside from uni, we’re both passionate about being active, travelling, and going on new adventures.

How did the idea come about?

We are great friends and have a shared passion for mental health, so the partnership came around naturally. I think we were studying late one night, stressing over the study for our respective exams – and started throwing around some ideas as a way to procrastinate from studying. From there, it took us a bit of research and a lot of meetings with mentors to fine tune our ideas and transform it into an achievable model. We settled on yoga, meditation, mindfulness and social connection, as it was what we enjoyed and had benefited from the most on an individual level. We felt it could have the biggest impact. An added bonus is that there’s some great research out there to back up the benefits of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation in terms of mental health, so we knew we were onto a winning combination.

We run events weekly, alternating between Monash University and Melbourne University for 50 to 100 students (depending on the venue we have available). The session consists of a 50-minute yoga class, followed by a group meditation, after which we usually just play music, chat and connect with everyone there. We’re passionate about destigmatising mental illness, encouraging preventative mental health strategies and promoting a more mindful community.

Why do you believe it is important for students to be conscious of their health & wellbeing?

Uni can be a really stressful time with big workloads and assignments, in addition to it being a big period of change and personal growth – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. Being conscious of your health and wellbeing and taking steps to improve it wherever possible can help students manage the stress of uni and life before it gets to a tipping point. Everyone can benefit from focusing on their health and wellbeing.

3 encouraging tips you can offer fellow students on how to bring balance into their every day – particularly while studying?

  1. Make time every day to do an activity that you love
  2. Start practicing mindfulness and meditation. ‘Smiling Mind’ is a great app to get you started.
  3. Try to step away from technology every so often and connect with nature or your mates – free from distractions.

Have you always been conscious of your own health and wellbeing? If not, when did the change happen?

Will: I’ve experienced some periods of severe depression over the past few years and this really inspired my focus on my health and wellbeing for myself. I started practicing yoga and mediation daily and found that it dramatically improved how I was feeling. I wanted to share my experiences and in doing so help others with their mental health and wellbeing.

Em: I’ve always had a keen interest in psychology and mental health, however, it wasn’t until a year or so ago when I stumbled across the field of positive psychology that I made more of a conscious effort to take care of my own health and wellbeing. I’ve found that focusing on promoting my own wellbeing has allowed me to navigate any challenges in life more effectively and enhanced my relationships and overall enjoyment.

What are the most important things you’ve experienced so far with Gravity Initiative?

The most valuable and loved moments we’ve had with our Gravity journey so far is bringing people together and creating a real sense of a powerful, positive community that’s working together to tackle mental health issues. We absolutely love connecting with like-minded people and organisations and have made some incredible friends along the way so far!

What’s next?

We’ve got some big dreams to take Gravity World wide! We’d also love to see the Gravity Initiative running in schools, to encourage an open dialogue surrounding mental health from an early age and teach the kids wellbeing and preventative tips.



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