Mindfulness Training – Week 5 Progress Update – Stormy second week at Geneva

I said in one of my earlier posts that it is calm after the storm. The opposite is also true, I guess:). After such a calm and mindful during my first week in Geneva, the second week here has been a rollercoaster  – packed with activities, deadlines and surprises at work. I was running around most of the days, with a feeling of trying to catch up with things in a reactive way.

Sometimes, I felt like I did not even remember this habit of mindfulness that I am supposed to practice – but as one of my favourite authors Thomas Sterner says in his book Practising Mind says that the goal is to be aware of when you are drifting from the present moment and as long as you realize that you are slipping, you are still in practice – no need to despair. I tried to read a few pages of this great book to help me to focus on the present moment. By the way, this is another great book on this topic of mindfulness – it is short (around 100+ pages), but packed with wonderful wisdom.

In terms of the PQ reps, I was not consciously counting to 100 reps as I felt that I was easily doing 100 reps many days – but looking back, it is a mistake. Especially when I am building a new habit, it is better to stick to the script until the habit is fully entrenched. So, from today, I am starting to keep track of my 100 reps.

Even though it was a stormy week, I was able to practice mindfulness throughout the week to keep me focused and calm on the current task I was doing. This week, I ran an Excel/PowerPivot training for 3 days for an UN agency at Geneva – I love teaching and when I teach, I feel such a sense of satisfaction! Even though this is a class I have taught many time before and I had a very detailed agenda and script to guide me through the sessions, I still wanted to prepare before every session. But during these 3 days, I also had to work on another urgent deliverable and that is where lot of my stress originated – should I spend time on the urgent deliverable and spend as little time as possible on the preparation for the course? Or should I sacrifice my sleep and work long hours to make both happen?

When I am faced with a situation like this, the choice seems very easy – sacrifice sleep and work long hours and make both things happen. But I had one more challenge – during those 3 days, I also felt very tired – So, my body was not only asking me to sleep early, but my body wanted longer sleep than usual. So, it was a tough call.

In the middle of all this stress, I saw an insight – it is a test from my loving Lord to see what I would do. I was also reminded of an advice I received from my Acupuncture teacher regarding how to handle multiple projects that seem to land at the same time. My teacher told me “When people are working on something simple and unexciting, more exciting projects are put in front of them to see what they would do – our job is to focus on what is in front of us and complete it to the best of our abilities with full sincerity and not worry about the other projects, even if it seems that we would lose them if we don’t attend to them now. If the new projects are written for us, they would not go anywhere. But, if we ignore what is in front of us in our greed for the new and exciting things, then  many a times, both are taken away”.

So, I decided to give my highest priority to the training as that was the task that my Nafs suggested to take it easy. And I also decided to listen to my body and respect the signals it was giving. During the past 3 days, I had the longest sleeping hours I have ever had in my entire life – around 7 – 8 hours each day. I put my best possible effort in preparing and customizing my training for the current batch of students – each set of students I get are unique in some way and I like to customize the course to adapt to their needs and abilities. For the other deliverable, I was asking Almighty to help me in some way to make a miracle happen. And it did happen – by Friday, I was not only able to complete the training with a lot of satisfaction (and to the satisfaction of my students), I was also able to have a draft deliverable which was satisfying for me and my client. My client had his first meeting scheduled on Friday afternoon with his new boss and he needed the deliverable for that meeting.

And I was reminded of the great principle that Henry Ford used to practice – if you focus on what is in your control and not worry about what is not in your control, by the time you reach the critical point where the item-not-in-your-control would affect you, it is either gone or taken care of. In this case, I was able to work a few hours on the deliverable during the time my students were working on their in-class assignments. But the strange thing was that my client never even got a chance to show this deliverable to his new boss as the focus of the meeting shifted to something else 🙂 – Many a times, it works like this. We run around chasing things, that in the end, make no difference – that reminds me that this life is like a mirage.

All praise to the Almighty for helping me to stick to the principles. This is a week where I felt that connection with the Almighty in terms of prayers and supplication really helped me to stay calm. And it is fall time in Geneva – one of the most beautiful time to be here. I feel so good to watch the beauty of the nature around – More about this in the next week update, God willing.

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