A while back, I was having one of those days when you feel like you are on a bumpy bus, holding the handrail so tight to prevent yourself from falling every time the driver hits the brakes, with each turn throwing you off balance.
I was a panel member at an entrepreneurship seminar, and left the stage feeling great. My mood then flipped 180 degrees when I received an angry text message about a project I was working on, that left me feeling angry as well, and ruined my night. The next day I had a television interview, and a little later I received feedback that I had made a lot of hand gestures when I spoke.
Each incident set my emotions flying in a different direction. What I thought of myself was a result of the incident I faced. I simply was a victim of the circumstance, and as a professional I could not let that rule my life.
I knew it was time to take some action. We have a saying in Arabic that goes like this: "Ignore in order to live". And so you praise yourself with positive incidents, and blame others for the negatives ones. My participation in the entrepreneurship panel? I rocked that stage. The feedback about my hand gestures on television? Who cares? Everyone else enjoyed what I had to say.
The problem with living your life according to that saying is that you sort of live in denial. Eventually reality kicks in and you have to face the music.
I knew I needed to equip myself with something more solid. I realised that the more projects I handle, the more incidents I will have to face.
It was not long before I read about it, and the great effect it had especially for people in the business field who faced similar situations to mine - meditation. So I thought I would give it a try.
I sat down in my room, shut my eyes, and focused on my breathing. And I noticed something I did not pay attention to before. I noticed my being. And paying attention to that detail changed how I deal with work.
By being, I do not refer to the person who was sitting on the Persian rug breathing, but the being watching her breathing. Your being does not change after you receive criticism on a project you worked on, and your self does not change when the whole world praises your work. You might experience different feelings after each incident, but you do not essentially become a different person as a result.
One of the main reasons successful people like Albert Einstein have meditated is to find their being in the midst of clutter. "The really valuable thing is intuition. Through meditation I found answers before I even asked the question," Einstein said.
How can you find your being?
Sit comfortably, shut your eyes, and breath naturally. Concentrate on your breathing and how the air enters and leaves your lungs, without thinking about anything else.
Not long after will you will notice your mind will start thinking about something. Maybe it is wondering how you look like all concentrating and focused, or maybe it is thinking that you did not lock your car. When you notice these thoughts, that is when you know that it is your being that is noticing things.
Similarly one should always differentiate between feeling an emotion and being the feelings they feel. For instance when you feel frustrated at a colleague's behaviour, you are in control of the situation and will know what step to take next. But when you are frustrated, that is when you have lost control of the situation.
It is important for leaders and those who juggle many tasks to identify their own being, to not let a feeling possess them and be who they are.
In the business world, failure is something that many will have to go through. it often feels bad, but you should not define yourself by it, and that kind of thinking is what motivates leaders to get up and try again.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati fashion writer and designer based in Abu Dhabi