Norland has added a further dimension to its extensive training by introducing a mindfulness course to help its students and staff improve their health, wellbeing and resiliency.

Led by former monk and meditation expert David Behrens, the four-session course has been specifically designed for Norland students and staff and offers practical ways to restore self-regulation and emotional balance during challenging times.

Over four weeks in November and December, students and staff have explored the scientific and psychological nature of stress and wellbeing and developed a deep knowledge of the practice of mindfulness breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques and how to effectively build these into daily life.

“Practising gratitude and teaching them about the power of breath are certainly areas that I aim to use in my practice.”

First-year student Morwenna (Set 44) found the course beneficial for managing the stresses of everyday life and will use the techniques she has learned to help the children in her care in the future.

“During the mindfulness sessions with David, we learnt a range of things. These included the power of sitting comfortably in order to listen to our bodies, as well as a range of breathing techniques and how to calm our minds by practising these regularly. We also practised gratitude, where we thought about what we are grateful for, particularly after this challenging year.

“One thing that I learnt over the course of the four sessions is that taking some time out of our day, even if it is only for a couple of minutes, is beneficial for our wellbeing. Our lives are so busy that we often forget to take time for ourselves.

“Practising mindfulness is something that I aim to do on a regular basis, as I am certain it will help me in the long term, with the stresses of everyday life and studying for a degree. It is definitely something that I will try and teach the children I look after in the future. Practising gratitude and teaching them about the power of breath are certainly areas that I aim to use in my practice.”

a heart that 'says don't try to calm the story, calm yourself. The storm will always pass'

Experienced Norlander Elizabeth Harvey, who teaches practical masterclasses and manages large events such as graduations and the annual Heritage Day celebrations, found the sessions helpful for her role.

“The sessions with David made me consider how to take a short time to recentre and ground myself in a busy day”, said Elizabeth.

“Having the skills to focus on yourself, even for a few minutes, is energising. Every day with children is a whirlwind of activity and with the techniques that David shared, early years professionals will not only support their own wellbeing and resilience, but the children in their care will also benefit from a calm, rounded carer.”

She adds: “The first thing David shared with us was to ‘get comfortable’. This makes so much sense as if you are physically comfortable, the mind will follow. I have now started some lectures by inviting the group to ‘get comfortable’. I think it is a welcoming start to a session.”

The sessions have also helped Elizabeth to deal with a traumatic experience in her personal life when she was hit by a lorry while driving on the motorway. “This made me nervous and rather jumpy when driving or even being driven. It was only when reflecting on the four weeks with David that I realised the breathing techniques had been particularly beneficial for me. Having breathing exercises in my toolkit has certainly improved my confidence when in a car.”

a heart that reads try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud

Julia Gaskell, who heads up Norland’s Agency and Alumni and Training and Consultancy departments and is herself a Norlander, was delighted to introduce the course to students and staff.

“The course provides practical training and techniques that can be fitted into our busy lives, enabling us to cope and thrive amid our usual day to day stresses as well as with more difficult life events, such as those we’ve experienced this year”, she says.

“It’s essential that our students and staff have the tools to improve their own health and wellbeing so that they in turn can nurture these skills in those they care for. This is at the heart of Norland – the health and wellbeing of the children we care for – that’s why our students undergo such extensive training.”

About David Behrens

As a former monk with 27 years of practice, service and reflection in an Eastern spiritual monastic community, David Behrens is a uniquely qualified mentor, guide and teacher. For more than a decade he has been collaborating with psychotherapists, psychiatrists and functional medicine practitioners to combine the wisdom of ancient Eastern spiritual traditions with the strengths of modern therapeutic clinical practice. Through his compassionate, steady and knowledgeable approach, David has supported thousands of individuals in expanding their capacity to manage stress effectively, to maintain a stronger mind and healthier body, and to build better emotional health.

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