A truly holistic approach to life, whether one is a child, adolescent or adult, respects the need to care for the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our existence: each dimension is of importance and although referred to separately, they interrelate entirely.
The degree of mental and emotional distress which people from all sections of our community are currently experiencing is a well-known phenomenon. ‘Mindfulness’ and meditation practices are now recognised to be of significant help in meeting these needs; many organisations, schools and individuals are adopting these techniques to assist their well-being. The value of the power of attention, the ability to recognise that the impact of experience will come to pass, and the deep ease which arises through resting in the simplicity of being, are all hugely beneficial to our entire existence.
Meditation and contemplation have been central to my own life since my mid-teens. During my nineteen year headship of St James School, I have developed a variety of practices for young people and adults from a wide range of spiritual, religious and non-religious backgrounds. The appreciation which pupils and teachers have expressed for this aspect of their education has been enormous. In many cases, it has transformed their lives; in most cases it has evidently enhanced their experience and achievements significantly. Access to deeper levels of being provides an inner strength which is unique. There is no doubt also, that people who have recourse to stillness practices have enhanced powers of intuition, insight and creativity as well as a greater capacity for empathy and compassion. In an increasingly harsh world, this is essential.
Experience has confirmed that it is possible to offer meditative practices in a whole-school context to pupils from a wide range of religious and non-religious backgrounds. I would be happy to share my findings with other headteachers and their teams, as well as individuals who work in other fields.