Waking up early morning at 5 am in the boarding school, the warden doing her best to wake us all shared a wisdom, while I was debating whether to roll under the cot or slide into a cupboard. I was only in the sixth grade. Would do anything to catch few more minutes of sleep.
The lady who was fondly called Yashodha teacher explained, “Do not let your body control your mind, let your mind control the body.”
I looked at her, listened because I still remember her words, but the mind was also doing the multitasking of whether to go under the cot or into a cupboard. For a sixth grader there is not much more to worry about other than the forgotten homework suddenly rushing into realisation when the subject teacher enters the classroom. That is when the blood drains from the head for a second and the mind gets activated to figure out the best of excuses.
Yashoda teacher went on to become a great mentor as there were many occasions for her to give us advice and tips on life. Her job was definitely not easy. There were quite a few of us with our own little personalities and orientations as well as nationalities and backgrounds.
She, however had a knack of holding us together. But that morning, one of the first few days in the boarding school, I gave up the spots - under the cot and inside a cupboard, instead quietly followed her outdoors. It was exercise time and as we removed our footwear the dew covered sand tickled us to our wakefulness. She was not a tall and slender aerobics instructor but a sari-clad grandmotherly, but brisk and strong trainer who made me feel energetic to follow her counts eagerly. That is until the next morning when others and I again contemplated about the cot and the cupboard. But it is during these exercise sessions where I have seen some of the most beautiful scarlet sunrises. This is also where I learnt about the mind. If the body is stiff, with a strong mind set on trying and not giving up, it is possible to achieve flexibility within days. It is also where I observed mind can speak to mind that is to make decisions and change your mind even under temptations to stand back and give priority to values by letting conscience take over in important decisions.
It was only later I realised how much of her time she had been investing on us. Her life was all about discipline and every year, come summer holidays, the seniors bid her goodbye and years later I bid goodbye too, and she looked at me and said, “When you go abroad you are not just representing your - family, you are an ambassador of your nation.”
Suddenly she had handed over responsibility. This responsibility had a way with the mind. She taught in that one sentence that there is importance to one’s existence.
Years later, the topic mind, has come back with Oman Observer Podcast named, ‘Let’s Talk Mental Health’. This week the topic has been, Food for Thought’. In the era of the pandemic where people learnt to find comfort in food and home delivery during the lockdown and at the same time went through guilt trips about bingeing and then ending up in workouts that are above the normal level and not to forget eating disorders. Dr Hamed al Sinawi, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, explains why we develop these syndromes and how to overcome it. The podcast is on the social media platforms and is also at www.omanobserver.om.