2022 Week 37 Update

The highest spiritual leader and former head of state of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama is the author of this week’s quote. The Dalai Lama reminds us of something so basic, but something we don’t see that often. He asks to choose to remain optimistic because it feels better.  Being optimistic means seeing a glass as being half full rather than half empty. So when one sees the good in every and any situation, we automatically start seeing the good as opposed to seeing the bad when we are pessimistic and this opens up our hearts and our lives. And for me especially, this quote spoke to me this week as I grapple with seeing some things happen and taking it positively as opposed to my usual pessimism.

This weekend, we celebrated BB & GG’s 19th birthday. Because they have different sets of friends, BB’s friends came yesterday and GG’s friends will come later today. And because the bulk of the children coming wanted Indian food, that’s what they got. We had a lot of fun yesterday and will do so today also.

According to the World Health Organization chief, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the world has never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we are not there yet, the end is in sight according to him, the most upbeat assessment from the agency since the start of the pandemic. It has also been reported that deaths from COVID-19 last week were the lowest since March 2020. We’ve moved beyond the emergency phase of the pandemic and today most governments  are now looking at how best to manage COVID-19 as part of their routine healthcare and surveillance.

Lessons I learnt from the Corporate World

We have been spending some time recently talking about work and the working life, especially since GG & BB will start their six-month industrial attachment next year and I thought that some of what we discussed could be of use to others, especially someone who is either just entering the corporate space or are a few years in and want to succeed in their careers.

In no particular order, here’s what I have learnt:

  • Be good to those below you more than those above you. Treat everyone with the respect you expect from them for yourself. Be nice to everyone, you never know when you are being judged.
  • Be careful when you work with friends, it may sometimes end badly
  • Keep your opinions about others to yourself and never share it with anyone else at work
  • Don’t Gossip! Especially in the pantry and public spaces, you never know who could be listening
  • Office politics is a fact of life and you can’t escape it. Learn to play the game
  • Network, network and then network some more. As you grow in your career, your networks will become more and more useful and informative.
  • Make your boss look good. That’s the key to success because they are the only ones who will battle for you and promote you. Make sure you know what your boss needs to accomplish and do your best to help them accomplish it.
  • Document everything! Your wins, commendations, compliments and learnings.
  • Train someone else to do your job and do it well. Because if you are irreplaceable in your position, you will never move up because there is nobody else to do what you are doing and doing best.
  • Any organisation you work for is not running a charity, they are here to make money and you have also been hired for that reason. You are hired because you have something that the organisation needs and any employment is a two-way process, one where both parties benefit.
  • Be reliable, be punctual and if you give someone a deadline, make sure you stick to it and in fact try to finish your work before the deadline.
  • Under promise and over deliver. It’s very simple actually. If you think you need 2 days to get a task done, ask for three days. This way, you have an extra day for any unforeseen circumstances that may come up and you are prepared and if all goes well, you get the task done ahead of your deadline, making you look super-efficient.
  • Become friends with all the secretaries, PAs and other co-ordinators. They will help you in tight spots and are also a good source of information that may not be found elsewhere.
  • Stay calm, cool and collected even if you are a withering mass inside. Be like the swan who looks calm and placid above the water, but is furiously paddling below it.
  • Leave your emotions at the door when you enter your place of work. Always think twice when you send emails or make phone calls when you are angry or upset. One tip I use during these times is to type your email first without typing in the email address and keep it aside for a while. Then when you are in a better frame of mind, edit the email, add the email address and send it.
  • Be well-dressed at work. Stand out, but not in the wrong way. If your work environment is conservative, then don’t wear outlandish clothes and vice-versa. Discreet jewellery, perfume and clothes which are classic will be better than fast fashion.
  • You are your own brand, so everything you do, say, write, dress, behave showcases the brand. So, create the brand that resonates with your work environment and maybe a couple of steps above your current role and stay true to your brand image at all times.
  • Have a life outside the office. You are not just a corporate drone, you should and must have a life outside of work. Have a hobby and do something that is totally unrelated to what you do at work.
  • Ask and encourage feedback from your managers because sometimes there may be something that you don’t see, but someone more experienced may instantly see.
  • Share successes, especially when you work as a team. When you do this, you let others share the glory and they will feel part of the successful project. Also, it never helps to have people think positively about you and your ethics. Giving others a chance to claim credit is an easy and effective way to magnify results.
  • Never stop learning. Every opportunity, good or bad teaches you something, even if it is what not to do, so don’t stagnate and become too comfortable in your job.
  • Always look at the bright side, and the positive side of things. Don’t get bogged down by pessimism. When days, weeks or even months are difficult, take heart and the hardest times will pass.
  • Focus on what you do best and try to compensate for your weaknesses. Nobody is perfect and everyone has some areas they are not good at, so amplify your strengths and work on the weaknesses.
  • Procrastination is something all of us are prone to, but procrastination has clear repercussions in the workplace resulting in challenges such as falling behind tasks. So, make sure you have clear daily goals which you tick off before you start slacking.
  • Failure is not the death kneel of your career. You will fail and multiple times in your career, but don’t stress about them. With no mistakes, there would be no opportunity to learn. Every failure gives you the chance to grow both personally and professionally.
  • Speak up. In meetings, in discussions and anyplace where you may have some input. This is not the time to be shy and refrain from speaking. If you have something to add to the discussion, make sure you put your point across. It may not be accepted, but for every ten points you put across, maybe one will be the one that is what was needed. But also ensure that when you speak, you understand what is being said and don’t speak illogically and nonsense.
  • Proactively seek new responsibilities, but only if you can handle. Conversely, don’t take up anything and everything that is thrown your way. Learn to say no to those above you if you are unable to manage or are hitting way above your weight and expertise.
  • Learn that everyone is expendable. If you don’t go to work, your organisation will not shut down, they will move on. But if you are not around, your family will be extremely affected and will find it very hard to move on. So don’t prioritise your job over your family.
  • Never burn bridges. You never know when you may have to go back to someone you have fought with, bad-mouthed or just generally been unpleasant to. People remember and will take their revenge when its their turn.
  • Work hard when you are at work, and when you leave the office, try to turn off. Most importantly have fun doing what you are doing and the eight or nine hours you spend at work won’t feel very long.
  • Stay two steps ahead. No matter what we do, success is less about any given moment and more about the next. Learn to anticipate what your manager or customer needs before they know how to ask for it and that’s one of the quickest ways to distinguish yourself in the workplace. Take initiative and don’t wait around to be told what to do, but at the same time, don’t make any assumptions, either.
  • Don’t take anything personally. Be professional, even when you think someone is out to get you.
  • Don’t trust anyone, especially at work. Everyone is looking out for themselves and a someone you consider a friend can easily throw you under a bus to save themselves. And at the same time, there’s a well know saying which is apt here to keep your friends close and enemies closer and is 100% true in a corporate setting.
  • Listen more and speak less. We have been given two ears and a mouth for a reason. So listen more than you speak and actually listen instead of rehearsing what you are going to say. At the same time, pay attention to what is happening around you and you will never be caught off guard.
  • Never betray anyone’s trust. Keep other people’s secrets as well as your own, and don’t share information that was given to you in confidence
  • Keep your social media to your social circle. Don’t ever add your co-workers and bosses to your social media platforms. You wouldn’t want them to know what is going on in your life which can give them ammunition to hurt or harm you. This doesn’t include LinkedIn as that is a work social platform.
  • Be flexible. Have an opinion, but don’t have hard opinions.
  • Don’t run after money. No doubt having money in the bank and being financially independent is important, but don’t let money dictate what you are in life and what you want to do in life. Let money be an accessory, not the focus.
  • Go the extra mile. Nobody ever achieved success by doing the bare minimum. Go above and beyond and you will be rewarded in one way or another.
  • Last, keep your goal in front of you and remember that whatever you do, you need to be true to yourself

So, there you have it, 40 lessons I learnt while in the corporate world. I am going to share it with BB & GG and their friends. Hope this was useful to you too. If you have more lessons from the corporate world, please share in the comments below.

Adaptability: The Simple Secret to Success and Survival

Today’s world is fraught with risk and uncertainty, of risk and unstability. You just have to look at 2020 to see what I am talking about. Our world is constantly changing and we can’t remain as we were, because if we do, we run the risk of losing out.

According to the Cambridge English dictionary, Adaptability is an ability or willingness to change in order to suit different conditions. What this means is that you need to change or be willing to change yourself so as to adapt yourself to the different situations you will come across in life.

So why is adaptability so important today? I believe it is a life skill that if not innate, should be learnt and fast so that as an individual you are agile and are able to tackle any issues or problems in your life, be it at work or in your personal life. Actually we are constantly adapting. The easiest example I can think is in the kitchen. Sometimes you don’t have all the ingredients at hand while cooking, so we substitute ingredients, adapting in the process.

Adaptability is not just about changing something or adjusting to a situation. It encompasses being able to effect changes in a course of action with smoothness and timeliness, without any major setbacks. For as long as there are many uncontrollable factors in our environment such as laws and economic factors, it is necessary to acquire this skill. It is one of the key skills or factors that keep many multinational companies running and the reason why some professionals are always in demand. This skill is important because as new technology evolves, employers are looking for employees who can demonstrate strong adaptability skills and become company leaders.

Adaptability in the workplace means being able to change in order to become successful. In the work environment, adaptability is a soft skill that refers to the ability to rapidly learn new skills and behaviours in response to evolving circumstances. Employers typically look for adaptability when hiring new staff, and the skill is increasingly included in job descriptions due to its importance for growth and development within a role. Someone who demonstrates adaptability in the workplace is flexible and is able to respond effectively to their working conditions, even in situations where things do not go as planned. They typically work well on their own and with team members. The need for adaptability in the workplace – to learn and unlearn – is crucial to future success.

People in leadership positions are often expected to manage unusual situations without explicit instruction. Therefore, an adaptable leader must be able to resolve problems in a fast-paced environment and trust their judgment when making tough decisions. However, at the same time, still recognising that what worked before may not necessarily work every time. So adaptability is a critical leadership skill and potential leaders need to be adaptable and flexible at all times to succeed.

How important can being adaptable be? Well, the short answer is very, as it’s a skill that has no bounds in the ways it can be applied in the workplace. Being adaptable means working without boundaries, and being open to finding diverse and unexpected solutions to problems and challenges in the workplace. Without limitations on thinking and actions, challenges become something not to dread, but to seize and enjoy working through. An adaptable person gets to engage a variety of people with diverse skills to get the job done and builds broad networks of highly engaged and capable people. An adaptable person also becomes a better leader because such people know that change is inevitable and don’t shy from it and remain positive in the face of adversity, keeping their teams and employees focused and motivated through tough or lacklustre periods. Those who are adaptable and willing to change or shake up conventional ways of doing things will remain relevant throughout their working lives because they’re comfortable experimenting. Workplaces are changing faster than ever before, and if you’re not willing to constantly adapt, then expect to be left behind.

Everyone can all benefit from adaptability but, in an ever-changing world, it is particularly crucial for leaders. Leadership roles become more complex as you progress through an organisation, requiring more subtle influencing and persuading skills. Additionally, as a leader’s seniority increases, they must learn to empower, delegate, form strategic alliances and let go of some of the skills that enabled them to perform effectively in previous roles.

Adaptability skills are skill sets that encompass a person’s ability to adjust to changes in their environment. Being adaptable in your career can mean you are able to respond quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes at work. Being adaptable also means possessing soft skills like interpersonal, communication, creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

As a soft skill, adaptability requires a number of other soft skills in order to be applied successfully. You must be able to learn quickly and put that learning into practice. Additionally, you must be able to recollect what you’ve discovered, so you can identify trends and make decisions accordingly. So what constitutes an adaptability skill?

An ability to learn: People with adaptability skills are never discouraged by failure. For them, failure is just a part of learning. These people are always learning and willing to take risks, as long as it means that they can develop personally and professionally. Skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, research, show continuous Improvement, have an attention to detail, be observant and have a great memory.

Persistence: People who adapt well rarely feel the pressure to quit. Every challenge is exciting, and remaining dedicated to their job means pushing through even when things get hard. Likewise, they are able to stay positive and encourage their team members to stay focused during difficult times. Skills that are emblematic of persistence include resilience, positivity, tolerance to stress, motivation and being able to manage expectations.

Resourcefulness: Often the goal is clear, but the path to get there is not. The traditional way of conducting business may not be possible or effective, because there may not be sufficient funding or staffing. That’s where adaptability can be an asset. An adaptable person will be able to source new resources and techniques that less-adaptable colleagues haven’t considered. An adaptable person will show resourcefulness by demonstrating skills like the ability to notice patterns, be creative and innovative, a problem solver, show initiative and curiosity and budget well.

Curiosity: An adaptable person doesn’t get scared by anything different. If anything, it makes them more curious and they want to investigate it further. They are not afraid of ideas, suggestions, or constructive criticism and often demonstrate open-mindedness, investigation, positivity, active listening, nonverbal communication skills and diversity.

Other skills that showcase adaptability include leadership, integrity, determination, team building, analytical, inductive and deductive reasoning, project management and team work, empathy, resource, conflict and time management, problem solving, strategic thinking and being able to conceptualise, flexibility and commitment, being proactive and open and having excellent negotiation, oral and written communication skills.

Being adaptable can depend on how effectively you communicate with your teammates and managers.

Adaptability is a natural skill, but it can be developed and mastered as well. Here are some tips to help improve this skill:

Observe and monitor changes in the environment: People do not see the need for a change until they notice changes in the environment. Adaptability must not be easy, but timely as well. Always make a conscious effort to monitor trends, values and attitudes and compare present observations with past ones and find out what has changed.

Develop a growth mindset: Being adaptable also means being willing to learn and try new things. Developing a growth mindset can positively influence the ability to take on new challenges, find new opportunities to develop knowledge and contribute to new projects. The willingness and motivation to keep improving skills can also show potential and current employer a commitment to professional growth.

Be willing to learn: Observation alone is not enough. If the result of observations suggests a need to learn something new, do not hesitate to do so. While people can learn some things on their own when furnished with appropriate educational resources, others may require tutorials from specialists. Don’t decline to use the services of a professional tutor if necessary.

Avoid procrastination: Don’t just be willing to learn. Take the necessary course of action. Remember that adaptations are more effective when the action is taken earlier.

Acknowledge the fact that changes are bound to occur: Though it is difficult to let go of norms, it is people who matter, not an individual.

Set goals for one’s self: Another method that can help develop adaptability skills might be to set personal goals to improve those aspects of the skillset that are felt to be lacking so the individual can improve their overall ability to adapt to changes in the workplace.

Ask for feedback: As people develop throughout their your career, they might think about requesting feedback or constructive criticism from managers to help them improve on their weaker skills. Positive and constructive feedback can be beneficial for setting goals and achieving success in their career.

Learn to acknowledge and accept change: It can also be highly beneficial to accept change as it occurs. Learning to acknowledge changes in their career can help prepare and adapt to differing circumstances. Additionally, learning how to be willing to accept change can be an effective step toward recognising when adjustments need to be made to make transitions smoother.

Other than the above, some additional tips to help adaptability skills in the workplace include asking for clarifications from peers and superiors to help better process transitions when there are changes to processes, procedures or operational practices. Offer to request for opportunities to work on tasks that may be new or offer to take on responsibilities that require creative approaches. If sharing your ideas with colleagues is something that causes anxiety, set a goal to contribute to team meetings and collaborations. Try getting all aspects of work organised like documents, paperwork, projects and other work information, so everything is prepared in case there are transitions within a job.

An individual can also highlight adaptability skills on resumes or cover letters by showing concrete examples of successes due to these skills. During an interview, highlight adaptability skills by providing the interviewer with examples of how these were applied in past roles and use past experiences and achievements to help answer the interviewer’s questions in a way that shows adaptability.

Being someone who is adaptable is a skill that will stand in good stead all your life, whether in the personal or professional life. Learning how to adapt to change is a soft skill that will not only make the individual a top candidate when applying for roles, but one that has the capacity to give them a renewed optimism about work. It’s a brilliant life skill that has great application in both personal and professional life, so if an individual does not yet have those skills, its time to start implementing these tips to strengthen the adaptability skills today.

Life Lessons to GG & BB on their 17th Birthday

Today GG & BB turn 17! I can’t believe the tiny babies who were placed in my hands and were just about an arm’s length now tower over me. They are their own individuals who have their own ideas about life and who are now on the cusp of adulthood. I usually write a letter for them for their birthday and I have written one for their previous birthdays and while writing this post, I actually went back to read my old posts and I am amazed how much they have grown over the years. I do send them the link to my posts and ask them to read and even share if they want to with their friends.

Since they have now started tertiary education, I thought this could be the perfect time to share some life lessons. And since they are 17 today, I’ll do 17 such lessons grouped into different categories:

  1. Sleep: Sleep at least 7 hours a day, your body will thank you 40 or 50 years down the line. At this point in life, you may think you are invincible and can’t get by with the bare minimum of sleep, but your sleep debt is accumulating. Sleep plays a critical role in helping our bodies and minds recover and rejuvenate. Sleep promotes cognition and memory, facilitates learning, recharges our mental and physical batteries, and generally helps us make the most out of our days. With plentiful sleep, we improve our mental and physical health, reduce stress, and maintain the routine that is critical to healthy daily functioning. This habit, if healthly followed will stand in good stead in life, when you may not get the optimum level of sleep, but then you would not have accumulated so much sleep debt.
  2. Look after your health: You have only one body in this life, so look after it and keep it in optimal condition. Have healthy eating habits, eating more fresh produce and less junk food. Try to give up sugar if possible, it will do wonders for your health and also do not snack mindlessly. Make sure you do some exercise each day. It’s best if you do something you enjoy like dancing or running, but whatever you do, just do something! Not only will it mean having good health all through life, it also means when you present yourself in front of others, you are confident about your body and therefore about yourself. In the same vein, look after your external looks too. Take care of your skin and adopt a good skincare routine, irrespective of your gender. Makeup only conceals and covers, but with a good skin, makeup will enhance what you already have.
  3. Appreciate your family and close friends: Listen to what your parents and elders have to say. They know much more than you, especially at this point in life, and only have your best interests in mind when they give you advice. Most of the advice they give you is most probably from experience and they have gone through the exact same situation you are now in. At the same time, don’t listen to them blindly, your parents are after all human beings and can be wrong, so listen to them and then do some further research before you decide to take or not to take their advice.
  4. Learn life skills: These are skills you need to lead your life which include skills like cooking, cleaning, doing your laundry etc. Learn them now while you are still living at home and can get tutored from your parents on how best to do these chores. If you don’t learn them voluntarily now, you may be forced to learn them (maybe without someone teaching you) at a later stage.
  5. Learn to love IT: Artificial Intelligence is taking over the wold and with this many jobs will become redundant in the future. Learn to code and embrace AI so that your job becomes more secure. You will also have a plan B should the job you are in at any point be made redundant.
  6. Never stop learning: This is self evident. The day you stop learning is the day you start to stagnate. Learning stops the day you die and so never stop learning. Learning does not only come from a book or by going to school, every incident in life is a learning opportunity, so learn from all your successes and failures, learn from family, friends, coworkers and even the random stranger you meet may teach you something, so keep learning every second of the day.  
  7. Grab every opportunity that comes your way: In fact, I would say, go out of your way to find and look for opportunities. Look for internships and projects which will boost your resume and bring you front and centre of those who make hiring decisions. Many opportunities are never advertised mainly because these are filled because someone recommends a suitable person. Become that suitable person by showcasing what you can bring to the table by your work. Acknowledge your mistakes, own them and learn from them.
  8. Find a mentor: Search and find a good mentor who has the experience and knowledge to guide you. In fact, I would advise that you look for multiple mentors who can guide you in various aspects of life. Of course you don’t only take from a mentor, you should also give back to your mentor and help where you can. A mentor who is willing to help you does that because he or she sees that elusive spark in you. They have the connections and access to important people which you will not have at this point. A good mentor will lead you by pushing and encouraning you to get where you want to go and with their suppoer and encouragement, you should be able to succeed.
  9. Read: Reading is incredibly important and you should read widely and across a variety of genres. You access new worlds and learn so much from reading that you should set aside a dedicated time each day to read. Reading reduces stress, stimulates your mind, improves your vocabulary and memory and makes you know a lot about many many things that others are ignorant about. It also improves focus and concentration and hones your analytical and critical thinking skills and when you read more, you automatically become better in your own writing which will be an asset everywhere.
  10. Life’s passion: Try to find something you can be passionate about all your life. This will make life a bit easier when you spend half yor day or more at work. Of course, passions change and you need to refine your passion as you grow, both at work and in life and when passions change, try to make sure you are in the right position to take advantage of this change in passion.
  11. Learn to say No: This is another important life lesson. Most times, we are afraid to say No to the people in our lives – be it our family, friends, co-workers or managers. We take on more than we can do and afraid of confrontation, we end up saying Yes. If you find it difficult to say no, start practising with low stakes – like a stranger accosting you in the MRT station or someone trying to sell you something. Say Yes only when the opportunity aligns with your long-term goals. Another way to say no is to couch your refusal in very polite terms.
  12. Privacy Matters: Be aware of and ensure your privacy. There is no need to overshare on social networks, what is on the internet stays there forever, you never know when a post or a photo or a video can come back to haunt you. So be very circumspect in what you post online.
  13. Be financially literate: Financial literacy is important because it will equip you with an understanding of basic financial concepts so that you make sound real-world financial decisions. With this knowledge, you are in a better way to be able to manage your money, make sound decisions, and maintain healthy spending and budgeting habits, which over time can lead to financial wellness. Start a savings habit as early as possible and remember the power of compounding!
  14. Lead a purposeful life: What does this mean? It means not to go through the motions of life, the life you lead should be one in which life has some meaning, a life where you are connected and engaged with those around you. Do something for the less fortunate in society and learn to give back to those who need it, it need not be money, you can give your time, your skill-set and sometimes even a listening ear is enough. In this same vein, I would also recommend starting a meditation practice daily. Spending a few minutes each day with just yourself and your breathing will do wonders for your mental health and life equilibrium.
  15. Focus on what is important at this moment: Today it is school and tomorrow it will be your career. Focus fully on what is in front of you. Also at this point, you can and should take some calculated risks in life, specially since you are cushioned by your family and don’t have family and financial commitments as yet. Be competitive, but don’t make the competition a one-upmanship show. Be your own competitor and try to be a better version of yourself than what you were yesterday. Don’t indulge in petty politicking at work or school. Stay away from gossip and cheap talk and let your work speak for itself.
  16. Don’t be a sheep: Don’t accept instructions blindly or sign documents just because someone tells you to do so. Do your own research, ask questions before making a call and use caution before taking any decision. Also, it will help If you can talk to people close to you, especially your parents.
  17. Be Ambitious: Be ambitious and reach for the stars. In fact, aim for the stars and you will reach the moon. Aim for something slightly over your reach and go all out to achieve it, you will eventually get to it. You are also the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so choose friends wisely. Also remember that there is no shortcut to success. All those successful people you see, they had to hustle for years and work hard before they became ‘overnight sucesses’. Lastly be scrupulously honest, both with yourself and the people around you. Lies have a way of catching up and keeping up with the many falsehoods you may have said will definitely catchup one day!

So there you have it, 17 life lessons which I hope are useful to them.

Meditation – To open your eyes, close them

Wikipedia defines Meditation as a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them.

Meditation has been practiced since 1500 BCE antiquity in numerous religious traditions, often as part of the path towards enlightenment and self realization. The earliest records of meditation or Dhanya as it is called in Sanskrit, come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism. Since the 19th century, Asian meditative techniques have spread to other cultures where they have also found application in non-spiritual contexts, such as business and health.

Meditation may be used with the aim of reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perception, self-concept, and well-being. Meditation is under research to define its possible health benefits which could be psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular as well as other effects.

Meditation has been associated with all the major religions of the world, be it Hindusim, Islam, Jainism,Buddhisim or Christianity. There have been many religious practices which has its roots in meditation, be it chanting the lord’s name with a rosary or sitting in one position and comtemplating the infinite.

I have written about meditation previously, but even though I have tried meditating in fits and bursts, after a few days, I usually find myself starting to slack. Earlier this year, I restarted meditating again. It started with someone asking if I was interested in being a part of a group for Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation course. Intrigued, I said yes and started the programme. During the programme, I also came across an app which was giving free access to all their meditation programmes for a year because of the current situation and I decided to take them up on their offer. Initially, I used to meditate at night before bed, but soon started falling back on old habits and trying to miss one day thinking it was no big deal. Then I switched it up. I started waking up about 30 minutes earlier daily to meditate and to my big surprise, this really worked for me. I found that I really liked being awake early enough when the house was in silence and the 15 minutes I spent on my practice started paying off. These days, I find myself waking up early even on weekends and public holidays, when I would normally sleep in, just because I want to meditate in silence and darkness (or with minimal light). I have now been consistent with my practice for more than two months and it has done wonders in my own behaviour. I feel that I have become less anxious and also feel more positive these days, with the cloud of negativity that usually hangs around me, lessened to a great degree. I am also trying to be more grateful to things around me, which is a positive thing.

Mediation is a practice and you only get better the longer you practice it. Every meditation practice is unique in its own way and even if you feel you did not have a good practice, incrementally you are getting better. Meditation is great for both physical, mental and spiritual well-being. It lowers your blood pressure, improves blood circulation, lowers heart rate, reduces anxiety, slows down your respitory rate, reduces anxiety, lowers blood cortisol levels, reduces stress, gives you feelings of well-being and improves and deepens your sense of relaxation.

Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.

Meditation is not as difficult as we think. All we need to do is sit in a quiet place with no distractions. Close your eyes and start focussing on the one thing we all have and do – our breathing. Just breathe naturally, there is no need to to changeyour breathing style and technique. If you mind wanders, and this is common and natural, just acknowledge it and go back to focussing on your breathing. You may also feel phantom itches and perhaps pain. When this happens, again acknowledge it and go back to your breath. When you start, you can start at 1-2 minutes and then once you become comfortable, slowly start increasing the time and you can go as long as 15-20 minutes. The longer you practice meditation, the more your focus becomes sharper and you can after some time, focus on your breathing without your mind wandering for the entire duration of the meditation.

During times like this, when we are anxious on so many levels and worry about our health, finances and scores of other things, a meditation practice will help you manage your anxieties and help you get a grip on things so that you don’t get overwhelmed.