Pausing, living in the moment, being mindful … That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Most of the time we run from one appointment to the next one. Between the appointments we quickly check emails on our smartphones and in the evening we are in readiness to receive. Our smartphone is next to us all day long. Very often we don’t know where our head is.
We all have physical and psychological limitations and cannot keep up with the unstoppable development over the long term. To protect us from illnesses such as burnout, depression etc. something else is needed. Pausing and enjoying the moment have become immensely important these days.
When it comes to ‚enjoying life‘ or ‚living in the moment‘, people in the Orient are ahead of people in the West: most of them still know how to live in the moment and sometimes to forget about time. Scenes come to my mind: people sitting in cafés playing tawla (backgammon) together, or smoking their shisha delightfully and just forgetting the time. An Arab saying puts it in a nutshell: ‚Europeans have clocks, Arabs have time.‘
Praying is a way to pause
I remember a situation in my time in Egypt: I was working on the computer with a colleague. Suddenly he said: ‚Annette, just continue on your own. I’ll be right back, I’m going to pray.‘ This is a normal situation for Muslims, for me it was just one thing at this moment: admirable. Taking time to pause, taking a break at work to pray to God is simply beyond description.
I also feel that people in the Orient are sometimes more appreciative of each other, people support each other and take time for each other. It seems that people there laugh more with each other, and less at each other. Togetherness is more important than self-realization and individuality. The ‚we‘ is the focus, not the ‚me‘. And that’s what gives them strength which we all need so much.
Recharging batteries in the Orient
Personally, I am often asked why I am so interested in the Orient, often traveling there and even lived in the Orient … Rational this question cannot be answered. Most of the time I answer: ‚When I first traveled to Egypt with my family many years ago, it felt like coming home‘. The best place for me to recharge my batteries is the Orient. So I have to go to the Orient at least once a year to take rest and to ease. It may be incomprehensible to many people here, but that is how it is.
And in the age of digitization, it is perhaps the Orient and the African states that are preventing us from drifting completely into insanity. They are almost a counterbalance to progress, profit and process optimization, to higher, faster, further … In my eyes, they should not follow the example of the West, because then they would lead a life that is not theirs. I believe it is important that the Orient preserve its originality.
Pausing and being oneself by doing handicrafts
Take the craft as an example. When we walk through the souks of Marrakesh or the Khan el Khalili Bazar in Cairo, we still see people doing a certain craft. There are many goods really made completely by hand. It is not always about maximizing profits, but it’s about originality. And working with their hands helps people to be with themselves and to rest in themselves. Maybe that’s why things like needlework, knitting or pottery have become in fashion again. Yoga schools have been popular for years. It is precisely that pausing and being with oneself, is what we all are in need for in this fast-moving time.
We have forgotten how to listen to ourselves
In recent centuries, rationality and mind have become very important to us. But at the same time, we forgot to trust in our feelings. Women got more rights and more responsibility, human rights were improved. But at the same time we forgot our inner selves, to listen to our instinct and to ourselves. I believe that we can learn a lot from our new fellow citizens, from the refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, African countries etc. and of course from other people from these cultures, namely soft skills such as pausing, togetherness, being there for each other and taking time for each other. It is important to see the other side of the medal and to take advantage of the positive aspects of the flow of refugees and to become more an more multicultural in Europe.
And basically, we have much more in common than we think … I noticed that as a young girl at the age of 17. I was fortunate enough to be sent to Boston for an English language course at Bentley College by my parents. We were about 100 language students from all over the world: France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Morocco, China, Japan, just to name a few. We lived together on campus for a month, learning English together and spending time together. Already at that time, I realized: It does not matter where we all come from. After all, we all have the same dreams and desires: a dear family and good friends, a nice home, a job that fulfills us and, of course, time.
In this sense: Don’t forget taking time for each other and living in the moment.