COVID 19 has done some amazing transformation in our lives. Take it as you may but this is how I view it as. Being a curious learner, I had the opportunity to have dialogues with 5 amazing women in our first episode of BER5 Mindful Webinar that was held on 6th April 2020. All 5 women were asked the same question to understand how they lead their professional and personal life by being mindful especially at these present times.
My first guest, also my mentor is Yasmin Ahmad. She is the CEO of NeOOne Associates, a global learning provider based in Kuala Lumpur. Below is the summary of the dialogue that we had on BER5 Mindful Webinar on 6th of April 2020, 9 pm to 10 pm (GMT +8). All doodles are done by Yasmin Ahmad
What is Mindfulness to you?
Everyone has their own answers. So what is mindfulness, in general, is getting you to be present and aware, to be here. John Kabat who is the mindfulness experts said mindfulness is a practice where you are able to be present with the intent to just be and not judging. For me, it is where I am able to be aligned with my mind, body and soul at this present moment. Applied Mindfulness Practice takes the essence of aligning my mind, body and soul connected with God. I apply mindfulness practice when I am designing programs, journaling, drawing, meditating and when I perform my prayers.
Everyone seems to be talking about mindfulness even more. Why mindfulness is becoming even more important now? Why are we amplifying mindfulness so much? Is it necessary?
Mindfulness has always been there. Research shows mindfulness helps to regulate your emotions. You start to notice your feelings and thoughts…it teaches you to be calmer. It distresses you as well. Mindfulness generates healthy cells which makes you healthy and balances your hormones. It increases your focus, your immune system. If you are new to mindfulness, here is what you can do. Train yourself to observe yourself by noticing your heartbeat.. notice what you are thinking right now.. notice how are you feeling right now. Mindfulness helps you to be present, be in the now…
I have known you for 2 years. I have always observed how you build a relationship with people and your family. So how do you practice mindfulness with other people? How do you build that connection with someone where you can sense what that person is feeling?
That is a very good question. I will share with you what I do. First things first, it is you who needs to be centred first. You cannot be present with other people if you are very anxious. Start with yourself first. Acknowledge how are you feeling right now, what are you thinking. Before my training, I will have a grounding session, a centering session with my facilitators and each one of us will share what we are thinking, what we are feeling and what we are looking forward to this session. Once you are present, you can sense and feel the energy. You can do this by observing their body language, their movement, the words that they use. When you are present with the environment, there are few things that will emerge for you – words that are being spoken and unspoken. You will be able to see what they are hiding. When you recognize this, there will be opportunities to offer support so that people will open up towards you.
With COVID-19, we know what to anticipate regardless you are employed or an entrepreneur. You mentioned a lot on how we can be present, centered and sense our environment. But with all the stress that is building up on the financial and economical situation being faced globally..how do you remain present at this moment?
I always get this question where people ask me aren’t you anxious or nervous? Well, I have bills to pay, I have 2 centre’s that are running where my landlord still wants full rental, I have my employees to pay and work that needs to be done..a lot of things that are going on. I remain grounded by being grateful that God has given me the opportunity to stay alive, to be with my loved ones, to still have food on the table, to have my spouse with me, caring people around me, my parents. Regardless of your situation, you need to be grateful. When you are grateful, you will arrive at this emotion of calmness and see things objectively. I always ask myself what is the worst thing that can happen? Let go of things that you cannot control. If my landlord is not open to negotiation, the worst thing, I will lose my centre but you have a choice. Do you want to dwell into all this negativity or pause and ask given the situation I have what is possible for me to do now? Look at possibilities instead of negative situations. There is a solution to everything. Let go of expectations. Surrender and process your emotions. Do not suppress your emotions.
One of your signature program that I enjoy very much is Plan the Year and Creative Visualization Practice. Goals that were set at the beginning of the year are now shaken because no one expected COVID 19 to happen. Looking at the current situation, we need to have a different set of goals now. So how are you mindful of your goals and aspiration?
COVID 19 to me is a rebirth of new earth on how we are going to live. I still have what I want to achieve, I have faith that God will grant me whatever I wish. I feel blessed because one of my goals was enrolling in a PhD program. I achieved it ! But be mindful with your conversations with God. I remember saying this to God…I have so many training to deliver…when am I going to complete writing my book? All I need is a good solid time in April. Look at me now, I have all the time to write my book! So yes be mindful with what you wish for and what you say. I am so blessed because I enjoy every day working on my book. Just have faith everything will fall into place.
To summarize, how much of what you do in your professional life is being implemented in your personal life? Could you give us more examples?
Let me talk about things that I am not mindful of. When comes to declaring goals I am totally opposite! I just declare what I am feeling. I don’t think of what people will say or think about me. When I set my self free from other people’s expectations, I feel free in expressing and believe in what I want to do. When I declare to everyone what I want, it pushes me to achieve it, not in the sense of what people will say if I don’t achieve it. What people say does not affect me. When you want to achieve something, place that thought in your mind, then ask how do I feel about it .. sense how your soul and energy feels about it…sense what your heart says about it…. I do this in every aspect of my life.
Thank You, Yasmin, for your time. I would like to thank the entire BER5 team and MaGIC community for supporting this live session and to all our audience who came in today. To watch the full interview click here. After watching the interview please do spare a few moments to fill up our feedback form. This will help us to improve our next sessions. Click here for evaluation form.
Sameeta Sparks is a Therapeutics Art Practitioner from CiiAT. Besides running her own art therapy sessions, she is also a lead volunteer at BER5 Mindful Webinar. BER5 Mindful Webinar is for a social cause to support people in personal growth through mindfulness. Personal growth is essential as it helps us see challenges through a different lens. BER5 Mindful Webinar is endorsed by CSED and lead by art Wellness. Our April collaborators are NeOOne Associates, Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre, Asian Centre of Applied Positive Psychology Centre, Protege Advisory, HMO. Inner Voice and Linkedin Local Kuala Lumpur.
Yasmin Ahmad resource for mindfulness is as below :
- Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective by Mark Epstein
- Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki
- How to Have a Good Day: Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Working Life by Caroline Webb
- The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance by George Mumford
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
- Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh & Dr. Lilian Cheung
- Buddha’s Brain: Happiness, Love and Wisdom by Rick Hanson
- Better Sex through Mindfulness by Dr. Lori Brotto
- Mindfulness by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
- The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thích Nhất Hạnh
- Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
- Rest – Why you get more done when you work less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
- Creative Flow – A year in my mindful life by Jocelyn De Kwant
- Stop Look Breathe Create by Wendy Ann Greenhalgh