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News From The Deputy Head

Assembly and Tutorials

In assembly this week, Mr Imbrah introduced us to his meditation practice and meditation was this week’s theme for tutorials.

Our theme was timed to coincide with Vesak Day, on 16 May. Vesak Day is a Buddhist festival celebrating the day on which The Buddha was born. Today there are 535 million Buddhists around the world.

One of The Buddha’s central teachings is the importance of dhyāna, or meditation. The aim of meditation is to achieve total absorption into our own mind, excluding the external world with all its stresses and stimuli, as well as our own desires. Instead, we are taught to focus purely on maintaining inner calm and balance. This idea has spread well beyond Buddhism, and today hundreds of millions of people practise meditation to deal with the stress of everyday life and achieve greater self-knowledge.

Breathing Meditation

Here’s a simple meditation script using breath as the focal point.

Today, we’re going to use breathing to help us focus our minds. First, let’s get settled. You can sit in a chair or on the floor. Keep your back straight. Take some time to make sure that you’re sitting comfortably. Place your hands on your knees or on your tummy. When you’re ready, close your eyes.

Take a deep breath, deeper than you usually take. Let it out slowly. Let’s take two more deep breaths. Now, let’s settle into our normal breathing. In … out. In… out. Place your hands on your tummy. Feel how they rise and fall with every breath you take. Focus on how you can feel your breathing with your hands.

If your mind tries to think about something else, gently bring your focus back to your breathing. You may have to do this more than once. That’s okay. Thinking is the what the mind does.

Let’s count ten breaths, starting with our next breath. One… two… three… four… five … six …seven… eight…nine … ten.

Now, let’s put our hands beside us. Breathe in and out. Notice where you can feel the air come in and out of your body. Choose one place and focus on that. No matter how many times your mind wanders, keep bringing it back to focus on your breathing. Notice the quality of your breath. Does it feel the same? What differences can you feel.

Let’s count ten breaths, starting with our next breath. One… two… three… four… five … six …seven… eight…nine … ten.

We’ve reached the end of this meditation exercise. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Yoga

As part of this week’s tutor activities, I led a yoga practice with Ms Bjelica and Mr Vindbjerg’s tutor groups. Yoga, meaning union, is a mind and body practice where we link movement with the breath. A regular yoga practice can promote endurance, strength, calmness, flexibility and wellbeing.

Miss Proudlove, Deputy Head