Centre of Now

Downtown Dubai recently launched a campaign entitled “The Centre of Now”. It aims to highlight this area as the hub of what is seen as a global cultural movement focusing on fields such as architecture, business, cuisine and culture.

Currently living in this area, I am often subjected to the advertisement banners for “The Centre of Now”.  

Words are wrapped in layers of meaning waiting to be unfolded. For me, the words “centre” and “now” have connotations of mindfulness and so I look at the banners with perhaps an added appreciation.

Jon Kabat-Zinn states, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”.

Mindfulness calls us to be present right where we are. It invites us to be centered in our current now and to be aware of it. This practice assists us in arriving at what may be termed the “Centre of Now”.

Each person’s Centre of Now is unique, influenced by location, state of mind, feelings, culture, upbringing and worldview.  At the same time, there is a collective Centre of Now shared by us all. It is a place of stillness beyond it all, a whirlpool of possibilities, an invitation to creativity.

As I write from the city of Dubai, I am reminded of the Bedouins who knew what it was to have a centre which was always changing as they wandered through the borderless desert. Immediate movement was always a probability and wandering was an act of connectedness. The ecology of the desert was a reminder that life was interconnected. 

This is a century of mobility. Habitation is no longer seen as being fixed and global citizens are on the move. 

This century also brings with it a technology unheard of before. Connectivity and communication have been made possible in ways that boggle the mind.

As citizens of a global village, we need to seek in newfound ways, as global nomads, the centre the Bedouins were very aware of.

It will bring us to the Centre of Now, the heart of the present moment.

You are invited to watch the following video. I view the scene in it from my balcony. At the foot of the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai fountains dance to the music of “Baba Yetu” by Christopher Tin. The lyrics are in Swahili and are a translation of the Our Father. It epitomizes for me the hope I find present in a global city, where I daily experience amazing diversity and at the same time a feeling of great unity. Surely this will be present at the Centre of Now.




Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Presently living in Dubai, and feeling that the time is ripe to start up my own website, I begin this process by welcoming you to my blog, here2here, with the words, "Ahlan Wa Sahlan".

A very old Arab greeting, it is a phrase used when welcoming guests.

Ahlan literally means family or kinfolk, Sahlan literally means easy, and so translated loosely this greeting means, "May you arrive as part of the family, and tread an easy path (as you enter)." A door is opened for the other to become part of the family with the acknowledgement that the rights of the other will be respected to make the entering as trouble free as is possible.

One explanation I found put it this way:

Ahlan is to say "you're like my family";

Sahlan is to say "take it easy"

Conclusion: "you're like my family so take it easy"

I was immediately reminded of my late father when I discovered the meaning of Ahlan Wa Sahlan as one of his favourite sayings to me was "Take it easy, my girl".

Through globalization or alienation, many of us find ourselves living in countries other than the ones we were born in. The whole question of identity in a global family needs to be investigated.

Where is home? Is home a place? What does it mean to belong? What is the meaning of family? Who is my family?

These are all questions that invite new interpretation and reflection in the 21st century.

here2here will encourage online hospitality - sharing and listening in ways that promote trust, and encourage broadening of perspective and making place for the other in a growing global community.

In this special we-space, as we blog and comment on a plane beyond space and time, we are unable to hear the voice of the other or read body language as we communicate. The words of Saint Benedict become most applicable in this situation: Listen and attend with the ear of your heart .

It is from such a space that a new collective consciousness can arise, bringing with it potential for a new type of creativity.

Mindful of each post and comment along the way, may we all feel at home in here2here.

Ahlan Wa Sahlan.

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