I hope that the start of the school year has been smooth and that you are all starting to feel the comfort that comes with settling into a routine. I write to fill you in on this year’s Student Life Symposium. Its focus will be mindfulness. Those of you who are returning may remember that last year the Student Life Office organized a Symposium on Gender. This year, aware of Deerfield’s busy pace and the inevitable anxieties that accompany high school, we think the opportunities for mindfulness practices and exercises are both timely and welcome.
Mindfulness holds many definitions but one that I find fitting is “paying attention to the present moment with acceptance and non-judgment.” With a heightened awareness of the present and of our own thinking, we are better equipped to enter difficult and stressful situations. The benefits of mindfulness are many—the practice can help us learn to approach a big test with greater clarity, speak to crowds without a wave of anxiety taking over, walk onto the athletic field with better focus, discover more about our surroundings and grow to be more empathetic beings (this list could go on and on). Here in the Deerfield community, where the pace of life can sometimes feel overwhelming, the practice of mindfulness has the potential to be a powerful and grounding tool for many people on our campus.
On August 30th, Dr. Christopher Willard introduced the faculty to mindfulness and its benefits in school communities and beyond. Additionally, he offered some practices for those who are interested in mindfulness for the classroom. At Student Leadership Training on September 5th, the Holistic Life Foundation led titled student leaders in a mindfulness training and gave them tools to share with the student community. As well, they provided effective exercises for self-care. Tomorrow, the Holistic Life Foundation will return to Deerfield to continue the Symposium on Mindfulness and lead us in practices you all may find useful. Before they arrive, I‘d like to briefly provide some plans and let you know that there will be plenty of opportunities to explore mindfulness and its benefits as the year gets underway.
Throughout the year, there will be many occasions – outside speakers and teachers, exercises in classrooms, visits to local meditation centers, yoga, etc – to practice mindfulness. As they arise, I will share details with you. While mindfulness may not be particularly appealing to every one of us, I encourage you to try your hand at some of these opportunities to see if your own experience works for you. It’s my hope that the year ahead will provide a solid foundation in mindfulness, an awareness of its benefits, tools to try on your own and opportunities for pause and self-care.
As always, please reach out to me or anyone in the Student Life Office if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns. In the meantime, please join me in welcoming the Holistic Life Foundation to school meeting tomorrow as we roll out the Symposium on Mindfulness.
Have an awesome week.