11 September 2017

Stillness, Silence and Nature

Over the last two weeks of last term and the first two weeks of this term, a number of students in Years 10-12 have taken part in a course we have named "Tackling Exam Stress". It is run by Helen Heppingstone and engages the boys in controlled relaxation techniques that combine elements of yoga and meditation.

Stillness - it is so rare for us these days to have the sensation of stillness, whether that is physical or within our mind. Our bodies are in a constant state of flux, and our posture is something we neglect. And everyone seems terribly aware that we are constantly "on" mentally. It has got to the point where some of us are afraid to go without the technological props of modern life.

How wonderful, then, that these young men were willing to forego movement and to clear their minds of the constant stream of information racing through there. To be silent, and to be in a silent environment as well, is also an unusual experience.

As our Year 11 and 12 students go into their exams, I hope that these techniques, focused on our breathing and on releasing the tension which subconsciously healthier, more beneficial manner.

Students and parents may wish to take a look at the Smiling Mind website for some meditations they can try, or Headspace for some advice regarding exams. I am happy to talk with your son about these things if he wishes to come and see me.

At the end of last term, some of our Year 12s attended a breakfast seminar at the Claremont Quarter which was sponsored by GPs on Bayview. The presentation by trained psychologists emphasised some key aspects to living well - the same elements that assist in coping with exams: regular exercise, good sleep, healthy hydration and diet, and keeping a balance. To this list, I would add sustaining positive contact with friends and family.

Please encourage your son to take regular breaks from his study. Encourage him to get outside, and to find a bit of nature if he can. This may be in your own back yard; it could be taking a 20-minute walk around Lake Claremont or a local park or piece of bushland, or along one of our beautiful beaches. And if he takes the dog for a walk, please encourage him not to take his phone. Let's get them to listen to the world around them, rather than their iPod.

My final comment relates to the importance of maintaining perspective. Whilst we want our boys to do as well as they can, exams can sometimes assume epic proportions which are out of step with the reality of the situation. It is our job to gently remind them that things are never as bad as they seem, and that there is always a way forward, even if it is not the one they might have imagined.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student & Staff Wellbeing