September 18, 2008 - Sona Bahri, teaches meditation at a spa and at home.  Lauren Lancaster / The National

 *** Local Caption ***  LL_Sona Bahri036.jpgLL_Sona Bahri036.jpg
Yoga and meditation can provide valuable coping tools for people living in a rapidly changing society, claims Sona Bahri.

Calming influence



Until recently, the simple fact of daily life was a constant source of stress, worry and anxiety for Tracey Davison. The 36-year-old nursery schoolteacher, who lives in Abu Dhabi, juggles her job with looking after her own two children, aged four and 18 months. "I was getting very stressed out with kids crying and screaming all the time," she says. "I was also having some problems in my marriage and we are trying to move house. That's when friends mentioned meditation."

Davison, from Glasgow, says that she is back in control of her life after taking up Raja yoga, a form of meditation aimed at managing the thought patterns which contribute to stress and anxiety. Now, she and her sister Jennifer, a horse trainer, attend weekly hour-long sessions; she also meditates by herself each day. "It just allows you to take a step back and think about things," she adds. "Things happen and I think I could really blow up with people or just be sarcastic, but now I think to myself that I don't have to do that. I normally worry about things a lot, but now I'm laid-back, and I realise that I can't solve everything in one go. My sister has seen a huge difference in my attitude."

She now meditates for 10 minutes every morning. "I set my alarm to go off before the kids wake up. It allows you to reflect and prepare, and it refreshes you for the day. I now feel that I'm in total control, relaxed and focused. I tried yoga before but it wasn't nearly as intense or beneficial. Now it's only the days when I don't have time to meditate that I start to feel a bit stressed." Davison's teacher is Sona Bahri, who arrived in Abu Dhabi after running a Raja yoga retreat centre in Australia. Bahri now teaches meditation to private and corporate groups in Abu Dhabi through the Sharanis Spa in Khalifa City.

Born in Mumbai and brought up in Italy, England and Chile, Bahri started to study meditation at the age of 16, when her family returned to India. "Learning yoga helped me be a much more peaceful, calm person, and it gave me a lot more perspective on the way I behaved. I got a lot of benefit from it as a student, because meditation helps to increase your attention span and focus." Unlike typical forms of yoga, which use breathing exercises and a variety of different postures, Raja yoga is practised with the eyes open and is designed to be effective anywhere.

Bahri says that, with the frenetic pace of life in the UAE, there is increasing demand for her services. She now conducts on-site workshops with employees from several large schools and companies. "At the moment, Abu Dhabi is in a state of rapid growth and change, which brings with it stress and uncertainty," she explains. "The development is great but it also brings deadlines and pressure to perform."

Bahri also says that while people spend a lot of time and effort on their appearance, some are only just beginning to acknowledge the need for a deeper understanding of stress. "We tend to think that if we can look after our bodies that everything will be all right. But no matter how much you polish your car, if the driver is not OK there is still an issue deal with." With the negative effects of stress on the mind and body now recognised by doctors and health care professionals, Bahri says: "These days meditation is being recommended for people with lots of different issues. Your state of health is directly linked to your state of mind, and if you look at things like high blood pressure, ulcers and migraines, a lot is now attributed to stress. However, even if stress has not yet shown up in your life in terms of a health issue, it may have shown up in a different way."

In her workshops, the stress of how to relate to other people has become the major issue that her students focus on. "Relationships, including work ethics and social difficulties, are a big issue here because there are so many cultures coming together," she says. "We all want to understand each other better but it's tricky to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see things from their perspective."

Bahri also understands that expatriates often experience added pressure thanks to working in an unfamiliar environment and frequently being away from their families. "When you're thrown out of your comfort zone it requires a lot of patience and a lot of positivity and strength to adapt," she says. The first thing Bahri teaches students is how to gain control of their thoughts. "The initial step in meditation is to be able to look within and recognise what is going through your mind," she says. "Then you can gently put those thoughts aside for a moment and pick up just one: 'I am peace.' Meditation gives you the strength to put a stop to negative and wasteful thoughts and to look at life from a different perspective. It helps you to connect with and experience that peace. Once you make this a regular thing, it becomes easier to create that state of mind even in very difficult situations."

Stressful lives are, Bahri says, "like riding a horse without holding the reins. Raja yoga helps you to pick up those reins and tighten your grip". In her workshops, she tries to look at the areas of people's lives where they can "create positivity" instead of indulging negative emotions such as anger. According to Bahri, such destructive feelings have become normal simply "because people don't know how to react in any other way".

The biggest obstacle to effective relaxation, she says, is that people rarely make time for themselves: "Meditation is actually a way of having time out for yourself. We spend so much of our days with people, with family, at work, watching TV and give so much energy to the outside world. Yet when you ask people how much time they spend with themselves, it's often not even a minute a day." It is Bahri's belief that today's society discourages introspection and that many people even associate it with depression or self-indulgence. In reality, though, she says that it is simply a way of acknowledging your feelings and dealing with them.

Because people are so caught up in what is going on around them, Bahri argues, they spend a lot of time thinking about things of very little importance, or going over the same thoughts again and again. "Meditation brings you into the now, which means you can put a stop to thoughts of the past and the future and attend to the task in hand with your full energy. It helps people in their jobs, it helps students with their studies, and it helps mothers not to worry too much," she claims.

Sharon Moore, the managing director of Sharanis Spa, says that the running of meditation workshops by companies in Abu Dhabi also proves that employers are recognising the importance of looking after and retaining their staff. "Employees who practise meditation are more productive because they know how to deal with their emotions. It's often a very challenging and stressful environment here and some people work so hard that they eventually end up leaving the country. No company wants that. Meditation is quite a new culture here so it's great to see businesses setting an example."

rbehan@thenational.ae

The specs: 2018 Audi Q5/SQ5

Price, base: Dh183,900 / Dh249,000
Engine: 2.0L, turbocharged in-line four-cylinder /  3.0L, turbocharged V6
Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic / Eight-speed automatic
Power: 252hp @ 5,000rpm / 354hp @ 5,400rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 1,600rpm / 500Nm @ 1,370rpm
Fuel economy: combined 7.2L / 100km / 8.3L / 100km

'Brazen'

Director:+Monika Mitchell

Starring:+Alyssa Milano, Sam Page, Colleen Wheeler

Rating: 3/5

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Recycle Reuse Repurpose

New central waste facility on site at expo Dubai South area to  handle estimated 173 tonne of waste generated daily by millions of visitors

Recyclables such as plastic, paper, glass will be collected from bins on the expo site and taken to the new expo Central Waste Facility on site

Organic waste will be processed at the new onsite Central Waste Facility, treated and converted into compost to be re-used to green the expo area

Of 173 tonnes of waste daily, an estimated 39 per cent will be recyclables, 48 per cent  organic waste  and 13 per cent  general waste.

About 147 tonnes will be recycled and converted to new products at another existing facility in Ras Al Khor

Recycling at Ras Al Khor unit:

Plastic items to be converted to plastic bags and recycled

Paper pulp moulded products such as cup carriers, egg trays, seed pots, and food packaging trays

Glass waste into bowls, lights, candle holders, serving trays and coasters

Aim is for 85 per cent of waste from the site to be diverted from landfill 

ENGLAND TEAM

England (15-1)
George Furbank; Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (capt), Elliot Daly; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Courtney Lawes; Charlie Ewels, Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Joe Marler
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, Ollie Devoto, Jonathan Joseph

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League quarter-final, second leg (first-leg score)

Porto (0) v Liverpool (2), Wednesday, 11pm UAE

Match is on BeIN Sports

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

'Manmarziyaan' (Colour Yellow Productions, Phantom Films)
Director: Anurag Kashyap​​​​​​​
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal​​​​​​​
Rating: 3.5/5

HWJN

Director: Yasir Alyasiri

Starring: Baraa Alem, Nour Alkhadra, Alanoud Saud

Rating: 3/5

Pakistanis at the ILT20

The new UAE league has been boosted this season by the arrival of five Pakistanis, who were not released to play last year.

Shaheen Afridi (Desert Vipers)
Set for at least four matches, having arrived from New Zealand where he captained Pakistan in a series loss.

Shadab Khan (Desert Vipers)
The leg-spin bowling allrounder missed the tour of New Zealand after injuring an ankle when stepping on a ball.

Azam Khan (Desert Vipers)
Powerhouse wicketkeeper played three games for Pakistan on tour in New Zealand. He was the first Pakistani recruited to the ILT20.

Mohammed Amir (Desert Vipers)
Has made himself unavailable for national duty, meaning he will be available for the entire ILT20 campaign.

Imad Wasim (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders)
The left-handed allrounder, 35, retired from international cricket in November and was subsequently recruited by the Knight Riders.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

TEST SQUADS

Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed.

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson and Jackson Bird.

FA Cup fifth round draw

Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester City
Reading/Cardiff City v Sheffield United
Chelsea v Shrewsbury Town/Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United/Oxford United
Leicester City v Coventry City/Birmingham City
Northampton Town/Derby County v Manchester United
Southampton/Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City
Portsmouth v Arsenal 

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency in the world. It was created in 2009 as a new way of paying for things that would not be subject to central banks that are capable of devaluing currency. A Bitcoin itself is essentially a line of computer code. It's signed digitally when it goes from one owner to another. There are sustainability concerns around the cryptocurrency, which stem from the process of "mining" that is central to its existence.

The "miners" use computers to make complex calculations that verify transactions in Bitcoin. This uses a tremendous amount of energy via computers and server farms all over the world, which has given rise to concerns about the amount of fossil fuel-dependent electricity used to power the computers. 


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