Vernon, the Wodehouse Library’s resident chameleon, often attracts attention because he isn’t apparently doing much. Boys – and staff – linger by his cage waiting for something to happen. Eventually they have to move on as the day’s timetable waits for nobody but Vernon, well, Vernon goes about his life at a comparatively more leisurely pace.
Watching Vernon, even when he’s moving at top speed (which is really quite slow), does tend to draw one into the moment and we appreciate him all the more for the distraction he presents from otherwise busy days.
The pace of modern living, as Sarah Griffiths writes below, has prompted DC to experiment this term with Mindfulness and we’ve added a link to one of our e-resources, The Day, so that you can explore further through its articles on the concept:
Mindfulness at DC
‘Mindful awareness is about learning to pay attention, in the present moment, and without judgement. It’s like training a muscle – training attention to be where you want it to be. This reduces our tendency to work on autopilot, allowing us to us choose how we respond’
Prof Mark Williams, Oxford
With modern technology providing us with ever more ways of occupying our time, our lives have come fuller and perhaps busier than ever before. Rarely do we find ourselves sitting with nothing to do, no emails to read, no videos to watch and no one to text and this is having an effect on our brain and on our stress levels.
Awareness of ourselves and the world around us – called Mindfulness – can improve our emotional wellbeing, using techniques like meditation, breathing and simple movement. It allows us to clearly perceive thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, sensory experiences and events as they occur, engaging our full awareness and all our senses, meaning that we’re better able to manage our emotions. Learning to focus on the present also has an immediate, universal benefit for studying and the exercises act like a toolkit that can be dipped into for the rest of our lives.
The scientific evidence to support the use of Mindfulness is young but strong and is taking place at a number of world-class universities. Mindfulness has been shown in numerous research studies to:
- improve memory, reaction times, and mental and physical stamina
- promote happiness
- decrease anxiety
- reduce key indicators of chronic stress
- boost resilience
- develop compassion
Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world, Williams, Penman 2011
Mindfulness is achieved through repeating simple exercises that make us aware of the present moment – in our bodies, in our environment, in our sensory experience. Exercises can last from a few moments to 30 or 40 minutes. It’s a technique taught to US Marines as well as encouraged with staff on Google, Apple and Facebook. A number of schools are now using Mindfulness with their pupils and staff and here at DC we’re currently experimenting with Mindfulness in a range of contexts across the 5 schools to see how our community can gain from this technique.
The Day Take a look at Mindfulness by searching for the term on the website.
You can access more of our e-resources from the main menu: http://mydulwich.dulwich.org.uk/Pages/OnlineLearningResources.aspx