Saffy’s firm recently went on a corporate board retreat at a swanky hotel in Sentosa. In the week leading up to the event, she went on a strict diet that involved cutting out any form of sugar and anything that was white in colour.
“Someone said if it’s white, it’s processed and when you eat it, it just turns straight into sugar!” she said one evening when we were having dinner at Tambuah Mas, waving away the offer of white rice.
“You don’t want rice?” the waiter asked. “Then how to eat all the curry?”
“I’m on a special diet,” she told him.
“Issit?’ he asked, though you could tell by his tone and the way his eyes raked Saffy’s body that he was a little unconvinced that eliminating the colour white was quite what was required.
“You know,” Amanda piped up, “Sadhguru says that after tens of thousands of years of evolution, the human race is the only species that still hasn’t worked out what it’s supposed to eat!”
Saffy’s eyes narrowed. “You’re telling me this now, why?”
Amanda shrugged. “Just saying.”
“But I thought you said after the Keto that you were never going on another half-assed diet ever again?” I asked.
Saffy’s bosom inflated as she picked at the vegetarian tahu goreng. “Well, that’s true, but now we’re going to Sentosa for the office retreat and there’ll be pool-side activities and I need to look amazing in my bikini!”
Amanda stared at Saffy over the top of her heaped spoon of tempeh. “You’re going to get bikini bod-ready in a week…” She trailed off.
Saffy sighed, and looked ready to burst into tears.
As it turned out, it rained the entire weekend, so no bikinis were ever revealed as everything was moved indoors. And at the last minute, Saffy was able to get in a yoga teacher to run a short course on mindfulness and meditation.
“Loretta? You got Loretta?” Amanda asked over the phone when Saffy called to moan.
“She’s the only one I could get on such short notice!”
“But she can’t even touch her toes!” Amanda pointed out. “And, she’s only just had the basic 200-hours teachers training course!”
“Oh, no one will know!” Saffy sniffed. “Are you kidding? Mr Chua’s so fat he hasn’t seen his toes in decades. Mr Sivalingam can barely walk 2m without breaking into a sweat. And Sharyn gets dizzy just standing up! And anyway, I’m getting Loretta to include a session on meditation, so that will be easy!”
The odd thing is that despite Loretta’s inexperience, something must have clicked because when Saffy came back from the retreat that Sunday night, she was unable to stop raving about the meditation session.
To hear her tell it, when the half-hour was up, everyone in the group opened their eyes and felt as if they were in a food coma, but in a good way. Saffy’s anxiety had disappeared. For the first time in years, Sharyn hadn’t thought about pushing her mother-in-law down the stairs — not once in 30 minutes, which apparently was an unheard of length of time.
Meanwhile, the other board members all reported various emotions that ranged from utter calmness to pure elation. “Mr Jones has piles,” Saffy said, “and he was convinced he wouldn’t be able to sit for half an hour, but he said after the first few minutes, Loretta’s voice was so soothing, he actually fell asleep while sitting up! And Mrs Lee said she started seeing swirling colours!”
Amanda arched an eyebrow. “Colours? Really?”
“Well, with her, it might have been indigestion. I watched her eat an entire plate of fried chicken wings at lunch before the meditation. But then, Melissa from accounts also saw colours, so there’s that!”
The only board member not affected by the meditation was Mrs Peters who, on account of her Christian faith, refused to take part in the exercise and instead, spent the whole 30 minutes outside the room praying for the salvation of all her fellow board members.
For her part, Loretta was somewhat shocked at the response. “I don’t know what I did!” she said the next day over coffee with Amanda. “I’ve never had this kind of feedback before! Normally, all the students who do my meditation classes start fidgeting after 10 minutes. This one time, two of them just got up and walked out the door and never came back!”
And like someone who’s just had their first crystal meth experience, Saffy has downloaded a meditation app with the goal of getting that same high. “If I can feel that good after just 30 minutes, imagine how I’ll feel after an hour!”
Meanwhile, the office gossip is that last Sunday, Mrs Peters was seen lighting up four rows of candles at Mass.