Free Online Meditation Resources

Awake Network Covid

As we all deal with the issues of the covid-19 pandemic, especially with the need for social distancing and the loss of human to human interaction, the effect for many is one of considerable anxiety and disturbance. there is an awkward irony that high levels of stress and anxiety cause increased cortisol levels – reducing one’s immunity levels.

In these circumstances, attention to mindfulness and the use of meditation is enormously valuable. Whether you’re an experienced meditator or someone who has been curious to try, this resource will be useful to you. The ‘Awake Network’ has collated an extensive list of free online resources;

The Awake Network – Free Online Meditation Resources

Rethinking Enrolment Due to Covid-19

Enrolment

The worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) has upended all sorts of assumptions in personal and professional life. Every industry and field is now grappling with the issues of how to redefine, how to serve customers and clients, meet needs and be viable to work towards the future.

Private/ International schools and colleges are in the same boat. There are all sorts of issues to be addressed and figured out in a very uncertain situation where not everything can be predicted. Among these issues are thoughts about how to handle enrollment of new students for the new academic year, in this new ‘virtual school’ arena. At least for the foreseeable future, all the old methods for reaching new students and their families, promoting the school and persuading them to choose your school are up in the air.

To help people work their way towards some clarity in their thinking and approaches, ‘The Enrollment Management Association’  is offering a page of links to ‘covid-19 resources’. These include a link to a free online course about rethinking enrollments in the current extraordinary scenario.

The Enrollment Management Association
(click on the link above to open the resources page on a new tab or page)

I stress, I have no association with this organisation, but do believe this could be a considerable help for schools and colleges trying to figure out their way forward.

Reading for the Lockdown

book

While people are on lockdown idle time can play games with the mind. And, there really are limits to how much time you can spend binge-watching Netflix. So, it seemed an opportune time to share a few ideas regarding books.

First off, a very good list of 12 recommendations from Next Big Idea Club. This Club is curated by Adam Grant, Dan Pink, Susan Caine and Malcolm Gladwell. The recommendations can be found here:

12 Great Books to Make the Most of Your Time
(Click on the link above to open it in a new tab or window)

Out of the 12, 5 are among my favourite books and one is on my shelf waiting to be read. During this time, i don’t recommend ordering hard copy books as the supply services really need to be giving priority to delivering essentials (on which point I’m very unimpressed with clothes companies who bombard me with mails at this time – like buying more new shirts and trousers are the most important thing in the world right now?)

Next, a long time ago i did mention in a blog post – but it’s well worth repeating now, about the services of Bookbub. They curate lists of books being sold in e-book form at bargain prices. They issue a new email every day with a new selection of books and all the selections can be seen on their website;

Bookbub Website

Finally for this post, for the children who are adjusting to being at home there’s great news with lots of companies making their resources available. I’m going to be curating a list of some of these for later, but in the meantime I want to highlight Audible for Kids. They have announced that, for the duration of the Covid-=19 crisis, their children’s audiobooks library will be open free of charge for children:

Audible – Kids Stories – Free

Kindness

Kindness vs Covid.pptx

About three months ago I started to tell friends, relatives and acquaintances that I had started work on the outline for a book I wanted to write. As is common in such situations, most responded by asking me what the book was about.

‘Kindness’ I replied.

At least nine times out of ten I’d receive a puzzled, quizzical look. Most times the person would promptly ask another question in order to change the subject. It seemed that, in their eyes, I’d just said something rather foolish and they wanted to save my embarrassment by moving on quickly.

I started to conclude that others thought it a rather foolish idea, a whimsical novelty of zero interest to anybody. For a time i was downhearted. When i went home and ruminated I became concerned  – what if they were all right and I was already wasting an inordinate amount of my time on something that would be of little or no interest to anyone. I must admit, my confidence in both myself and the book idea were hit quite hard.

After a couple of weeks reflection I concluded that I still wanted to write the book. The one thing I intended to change was, until the draft was complete, I would stop telling other people about it. One of the things that influenced my decision was hearing an old adage repeated in a podcast – that you write the book you need to read most at that point in your life. So, I would continue with this book, for me, and find out later whether or not anyone else was interested.

Now, fast forward to today and the calamitous turn of world events over the last few weeks. Suddenly, everywhere I look, as the world struggles to come to terms with the  turmoil caused by the coronavirus outbreak, people are talking about kindness. This appears to be at least as much about the sort of world people want to see after this is all over, as the need of the hour now as people wrestle with issues that cause great stress, anxiety and emotional upheaval.

So, I’m glad I carried on with the book research and writing. A part of me wishes it had already been finished by now, but you can’t have it all! i can’t give an indication yet on when it will be finished, but I certainly intend to push on whilst in enforced seclusion.

When The Wheel Stops Turning

Ferris Wheel

If you ride on a Ferris wheel and the motor breaks down, you neither serve your own needs or anyone else’s if you start trying to clamber back to the ground level. The only correct response is to stay where you are, wait it out and have some faith in the system. That said, we will still feel anxious until we are back on firm ground, but it’s still the best way.

As we seek to deal with extraordinary times and experiences, unlike anything before in our lifetimes, there are inevitably aspects that appear to be done automatically, but need to be questioned. My analogy above  is a way of referencing the actions around the world as the coronavirus challenge has unfolded of ‘rushing back to my own country.’ Why? Who does it serve and who does it harm? And, please remember that I write this as someone who is outside his country of birth/ origin/ passport/ nationality or whatever.

Just yesterday the British government issued an instruction to British citizens outside the country to rush back there. The UAE issued a similar order to their citizens outside and the US did the same earlier. While I might understand it at an emotional level I struggle to understand it at a practical or ‘hazard’ level.

Apparently, focusing on the British, estimates are that there are about 1 million of us. Well, if even 25% acted on the instruction, that would require nearly 1,500 airplane flights.  Considering almost every plane has now been taken out of the air in the last month or so, that doesn’t seem plausible. Worse, if the same happened with every country there would be millions of high risk people criss-crossing the planet over weeks.

Further, there’s a chance that some of the people getting on those planes could be infected with Covid-19 (and temperature screening before boarding isn’t enough to find them). If it’s not safe for non-nationals to fly in to a country, what makes it any safer for nationals to do so? In the close proximity of a flight, sharing recirculated air there’s a strong chance that more on the flights (including many who were safely isolating wherever they were) will be infected.

By way of example, I saw a report this morning suggesting that there are maybe 90 cases in Punjab, India – all resulting from people who flew back to the country from elsewhere. I just cannot see how that made sense even at the start of the pandemic, even less now. I continue to see reports in the media of this or that group pleading the case to their government to ‘rescue’ citizens of their country, to return them – all this is doing is moving at risk people around putting them and all they come in contact with at greater danger. It makes far more sense, to me, to ensure that they’re safe, secure and have access to their needs wherever they are.

I’ll be writing a separate article about the ‘nation(alistic) aspect of this mindset and how it may contribute to the sort of world we’ll emerge in to when this is all over. I, for one, have no intention of moving from where I am.

As an expat employee, we don’t go and live in a country to “do them a favour.” If our presence in a country is to mean anything, then we must see ourselves as assimilating in to the culture, the economy and the needs of that place – in bad times as well as good. Not simply fair weather friends. It’s why I didn’t think to leave Gujarat, India when a massive earthquake hit or when major rioting took place. It’s why I’ve never quibbled at the tax rates or system of any country in which I’ve lived. Simply, in my book, that’s what it means to be a global citizen.

 

Perfectionism and Procrastination

Dale-Carnegie

 

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear, action breeds confidence and courage, if you want to conquer fear do not sit home and think about it, go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

There are no end of reasons we can give ourselves for not taking action, for being immobilized and frozen. Profusion of options and possibilities, fear of failure, even fear of success (how will it change me and move me out of my comfort zone or beliefs about my own identity? Am I really worthy of success?)

Personally, in the last two years I have struggled with the fact that I look at my experiences and say – well, nobody will expect anything of me now. All will excuse me if I’m not delivering, not fulfilling my potential or delivering all that i should to the world. Often, I can actually feel it (or imagine strongly that I feel it??) when interacting with others – whether they’re people I’ve known a long time or people who i meet and who come to know of my more recent life experiences – he’s a really nice guy (i hope they’re thinking this!) and he has a great past professional record of achievements.
BUT, business is business and while he seems OK, sorted and normal on the outside, who knows how all this has impacted him. He may just not be the risk I want to take any more. But, of course, we all wish him well.

So, then, it’s no real surprise when lots of talk, lots of discussion of possibilities doesn’t really result in concrete progress and real steps forward. There have been times this has caused me to question whether ‘Professional Mark’ is basically over.

In answer to all of this;

a) I don’t believe my professional contribution to the world is anything like over and that I actually have, if anything, more to give than has been seen to date,
b) Recognising that others’ reticence and caution is perfectly understandable and fully justifiable, I know that I’m ‘still a good bet’, haven’t collapsed in to a flaky, unpredictable mess. However, in order to prove this to the world I have to back me, not wait for anyone else to have the faith in me.
c) Restarting, beginning again is challenging at any age, but they say it’s more so as you get older. That said, i don’t feel particularly old and feel my energy, enthusiasm and drive are as good as many people a good deal younger than me.
d) So, in short – I back me. As a result, in recent weeks I’ve been working on a couple of initiatives and intend to be in a position to reveal these very soon!

WATCH THIS SPACE !!!!!

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”

John A. Shedd

Updates on Some Recent Posts

I wanted to share some further materials and tyhoughts regarding a couple of earlier posts I had written this year.

Sleep

sleep tablet

The first concerns the issue of children’s sleep, particularly in relation to the reduced amounts, their relationships with media etc. The two earlier articles garnered quite a bit of feedback and discussion including some exchange of mails with readers and discussions on social media. So, the following article from The Guardian hit me very starkly. It highlights the massive increases in the numbers of children in the UK for whom medical interventions are being sought to address issues of sleep deprivation and resultant issues that are impacting the children:

The Guardian – Sharp Rise in Hospital Admissions for Children with Sleep Disorders
(Click on the link above to open the article in a new window or tab)

Whilst the article flags up issues of sleep apnea (which are frequently linked to issues of being overweight or obese) as the cause of some of this increase, a lot of the blame is also focused on media, smart phone and tablet use by children. As well as the article itself, there’s also a link on the page (just above the picture) to a case study of a seventeen year old boy, whose mother actually works in a sleep clinic.

Here are the links for the two original articles related to this issue:

Sleep and School Start times
Going to Bed

Climate Change  – Responses to Environmental Issues

Climate Solutions

Another article i wrote earlier this year looked at the issues of how we address manmade climate changes that are leading to global warming. To date, so many of the responses, especially taught in schools have been about what people should stop doing, do less of or change in their personal lives and habits in order to bring about change. In my article I acknowledged my own gradual realisation that these ‘killjoy’ approaches will never be the solutions – telling people to stop doing things, to go without things they enjoy or to refrain from aspiring to the things they see others enjoying are just not going to be realistic. Rather, we have to look at the positive steps that can be taken. These are based in science and focusing on them changes the debate. Now, our focus needs to be on ensuring that governments are creating the right environments, incentives and investment climates to support ventures in these areas. Also, there’s a need to ensure that up to date information is shared and readily available to innovators and business people so that their interest in these activities result in real change and tangible actions.

So, I was delighted to see that there have been initiatives in this direction to bring to the fore in the public domain the information about what those scientific advances are and how they can be harnessed to address the issues and reverse atmospheric warming to prevent the worst of man-made global warming. That research comes in a report from Project Drawdown.

Here are two articles that share information on the key findings from Project Drawdown:

Science Alert – 76 Solutions Available Right Now to Slow Down Climate Change
Fast Company – Project Drawdown – 76 Solutions

This was the original article I wrote, right at the tail end of last year on which I’ve received a fair bit of feedback;

Global Warming: The Way Forward

This reinforces my belief that the answers lie at least as much in the focus in science (and STEM generally) teaching, as well as building public awareness and political lobbying to ensure that these kinds of initiatives get the right support to ensure that the world’s problems get addressed effectively.

 

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