Bedalians practice mindfulness

Mindfulness, which is a secular form of meditation training, is taking off around the world. It is used in training by the US Army, Google executives, Harvard leadership programmes; a growing group of MPs meet weekly to practise, and it was high on the agenda of delegates at the recent World Economic Forum. My assembly on Monday was exploring the evidence for benefits of mindfulness practice for reducing anxiety and improving ‘executive function’ – the capacity to exert control over our thoughts and focus, and to regulate our emotions more effectively. A disturbing statistic: the average level of teenage anxiety now is equivalent to the level considered ‘clinical’ in the 1950s, which would have seen a referral to a psychiatrist. Regular mindfulness practice has been shown to be highly effective at reducing anxiety, as well as holding out great promise for academic achievement. Greater focus and control over one’s emotions is clearly beneficial to learning. People who are stressed perform less well. Bedales, ahead of the game as ever, has been teaching mindfulness to Block 3s and 4s for two years now, so this was a plug for older years as they face their exams. A healthy group of contemplative wannabes met the following morning for 15 minutes of stillness and breath control. I plan to make this a more regular fixture as exam season approaches – there seems to be plenty of appetite for it!

By Alistair McConville, Director of Teaching and Learning


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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