It is 10 PM on Sunday night here in Geneva and I just returned to the hotel after meeting with my old friends. It has been a fantastic week – packed with a lot of activity, but calm and mindful. I feel that I am a very different person in these 7 days that I have been here – I could sense that there is something different about me. I seem to have more energy and I feel more connected to the Creator. This week of positive snowballing,I guess, started with the flight from Chennai to Dubai and then Dubai to Geneva.
This time, in the flight, I decided to practice mindfulness. The whole journey was about 14-15 hours. I decided that the key to making my journey easy on me is to have control on 2 aspects – food and sleep. In flight, it is very easy to overeat – they give a lot of food, and they keep giving food again and again.But many a times, we don’t need so much need. Somehow this habit is preprogrammed in many of us – we just can’t say no to food, especially if is something we feel that we have paid for.
In Acupuncture, we are taught that you should take food for your need, not because food is available or is offered to us. Here I was tested with knowledge – would I act on the knowledge or would I just obey my ‘Nafs’ and give in to the temptation?
You might ask ‘What is Nafs?’. There is no easy word to translate this Arabic word into English – we can call it ego or the temptation or desire . It is the part in each one of us that calls us to do evil by making it seem small and inconsequential or by making it seem pleasurable or attractive. Whenever we obey Nafs, we feel bad or guilty soon afterwards. When my Nafs asks me to eat when I am not hungry, the bad effects start very quickly and then my Nafs starts beating me up for having so little self-control. And when I receive signal from my stomache that it is enough, Nafs wants to take one more bite of that tasty item – after all, it is one bite, what harm can it do? Yes, even one more bite does result in a lot of harm in the body and mind and most of us don’t even realize it. I have been through this test many times before and each time I obeyed my Nafs, all I got was discomfort in the body and lot of guilt. This time, I received strength and guidance to act on the knowledge and it was the starting point of a great journey.
I was also mindful of the other signals my body was giving so I took rest when needed and was reading when I felt like reading. The key is to listen to the body and act. I kept watch on my sleep as well as I wanted to just go and settle into the new time zone without experiencing any of the jet-lag business. If I sleep too much in the flight (which was easy to do), then I would arrive in Geneva fully awake and I would not settle into the night and day rhythm here. Practising mindfulness in the flight served me very well as I arrived fresh and energetic even after long hours at the airport and in flight. And a few hours later, I was overtaken by tiredness and went to sleep. The next day, I woke up before the alarm rang and it was such a fantastic feeling. The next few days also, this gift of waking up before the alarm rings was given to me, till I decided to mess up one day by coming from work very late and messing up my early sleep cycle. Hmmm…Some people don’t seem to learn from their mistakes easily :).
This week, I would cut short the update as it is around 11 PM now and I am beginning to feel the tiredness in my body. Overall, this has been the best week in a long time, despite the many factors in the travel that could have easily turned this trip into a difficult and distressful week. I am grateful that I have been guided to start on this journey of mindfulness and experience its wonderful benefits.
In terms of the weekly score on PQ reps, I got 5 out of 7. There were 2 days when I felt my mindfulness dropped a little bit – the common pattern that I saw in both the days was that I was in back-to-back meetings, all the time with people. I need some private time on my own, I guess, to retain my calm state. This is an area to watch out and improve as I am going to be in back-to-back meeting in this week also 🙂
Before I close, I want to thank each one of you who reached out to me in different ways regarding the mindfulness habit – I feel good when I hear that the knowledge I have been given has been useful to others in some way. All praise goes to the Almighty, the All-wise, who is the mastermind behind every good thing.