29th November 2016 – A Night of the Self: Motivation, Meditation and Reflection


The jaunty meeting of the night began with such great energy! Cheers to the Sergeant-at-Arms, TM Awfa Nawawi, who, despite being under the weather, summoned vigour from both the room and from within herself by the power of clapping! That there was quite the audience that night certainly made a significant contribution.


Many were there a first-time guest, joining the meeting this night: Freda, Stella, Lin Wong, Rina and Zaki. Some of the Gaveliers were also in attendance.


List of the Evening’s Role Bearers


The floor was passed to the Toastmaster of the Evening, Competent Communicator Rahul Breh. One would then think the theme of the night was clapping (it wasn’t, of course), for he had called for more and greater applause from the crowd, just as TM Awfa did. Thus, began the opening routine of calling forth the evening’s role bearers.


First, the Table Topics Master, was none other than the charming villain, Toastmaster Mardi Hedus, who set the topics’ theme to “all about you”.


Second to be called was Competent Communicator, Nabil Kadir, who had answered the call of Tabletopics Evaluator for the meeting.


The grammarian role was then introduced, filled in by Competent Communicator, Advanced Leader Bronze, Aziman Nasir, who unfailingly reminded everyone his secondary role of collecting the guest fees. For the evening, he introduced to all in attendance:


  • Word of the day: Jaunty – lively, charismatic
  • Rhetorical tool: Epithet – a word or phrase that calls to attention a distinguishing trait of a subject. E.g. charming villain Mardi (who used his allure to bring “volunteers” for Table Topics, hence charming and villain)


The next to be called was Toastmaster Julius Hong, filling the role of Ah Counter.


He was then followed by the Timer and Tip, Toastmaster Dalton Lim, who urged fellow Toastmasters to bring a book with us everywhere, so we may record any ideas that we can use for content.


And finally, the evaluator of evaluators, the General Evaluator, Component Communicator Derby Teo.


Prepared Speeches


The meeting proceeded with the introduction of the first prepared speaker, Toastmaster Syatrah Roslan, delivering her CC2 project of “Organise your Speech”. With the title “What’s Your Carrot?”, she reeled us in when she opened her speech asking us about it directly. She then explains that the carrot was incentive.

Like the rider who encourages his donkey with the titular vegetable, she asked us what gave us the motivation to rise when things had pile on us so heavily. For TM Syatrah, it is the opportunity to gaze upon and work with that one cute guy at work.

She explained the importance of giving ourselves incentive, that all our plans would mean for nothing if something were to happen and rob us of our spirit (from an unfortunate event, or perhaps from procrastination). The incentive will then be our lifeline that pulls us through with our plans.

A simple example is her own endeavour to run every other evening, for 30 minutes. One day, after all her efforts on getting ready, she became absolutely winded on the first step of her porch. Fearing for her goals, she then promised to reward herself with a steaming, nose-tickling, spicy bowl of curry noodles. That keeps her running to this day.

Her closing remark was to urge us to find our own carrot, so that, at the end of a dreary day, it can be a little bit sweeter. Or spicier, if you like curry noodles.


The next speech “Why to Meditate”  was presented by Toastmaster Suneeta Pathak, her project being CC7, “Research Your Topic”. Whereas the previous speech dealt with finding our drive, hers was about finding our centre, as she attempted to both inform, and slightly persuade the audience. TM Suneeta began by explaining that the English word “meditate” comes from the Latin words “Meditari” – to think or reflect, and “Mederi” – to heal. She shared with us some of the more medical aspects and how meditation has helped patients.

One study TM Suneeta shared was done in the Massachusetts General Hospital, where patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) were asked to meditate for at least 15 minutes for 5 weeks. Reports stated that, as early as the 3rd week, symptoms significantly reduced.

Another study carried out by Sara Lazer from Harvard Medical School found that those who meditated had an increase in brain matter in 4 regions of the brain.

There are many forms of mediation one can adopt, said TM Suneeta. There are at least 23 broad categories set by one Swami Rama. 5 are of particular import: Yogic meditation, Vipassana, Guided, Transdental and, quite well-know, Zen meditation.

TM Suneeta herself practices Vipassana, which literally means “see as it is” and attended a course early this year. Vipassana meditation has the individual observe “noble solace” which was to sit without chatting, looking at fellow meditators and not even think! The goal is to achieve equanimity  with all our senses. She invited the audience to join her this January if anyone was interested.

TM Suneeta concluded that the outcome of practicing meditation all depends on what the individual wishes from this practice, be it finding peace of mind, body or anything else, and encourage those interested to find an experienced teacher.


And here, the meeting took a moment’s respite, where everyone was invited to the refreshments prepared by our hard-working Sergeant-at-Arms


Table Topics Session


The break ended with the introduction of everyone’s favourite session of off-the-cuff speaking! There were eight participants, thanks to the TM Mardi’s affable charm. After a speech of on one’s self and giving one a reason to rise each morning, it was then time to sieve through one’s experiences to exploit for Table Topics!


The first to volunteer was Competent Communicator, Advance Leader Bronze Farhan Jafar Ali, who was asked “If you can be the president of your own country, what would be the first thing you do?”

CC, ALB Farhan opened by how he always wanted to be “up there”, from Principal, all the way to Minister. He wished to see leaders born from schools, and what better way to do see that happen than being Minister? And so, his answer to the question was to make joining Toastmasters compulsory improve the education system, so it incorporates more emphasis on leadership activities such as camping (teamwork) and public speaking (communication).


The lucky second speaker was Freda, a first-time guest, who was given the question of “what would be your perfect day”.

Freda framed her speech by sharing with the audience that, she would have to spend her time at school  from 8 am to 7 pm! The poor girl! It is then understandable to see why her answer was a lazy day at home, “sitting on the sofa, watching TV, and drinking tea”. I would suggest lavender tea. Lovely stuff.


The next speaker was  another first-time guest, Stella, who was asked what her dream job would be.

She began by saying that she was having an enjoyable time during the meeting, expecting and wanting to simply watch the proceedings unfold. Having been put there on the floor she answered with little hesitation that she wants to be a lawyer. She explained that this was due to the pay, with which she can “invest” in a large, very comfortable house and 30 cats.


TM Awfa was the next to be invited to the floor to share her response “if she was only given one wish”. A little cold isn’t stopping this young lady from participating.

TM Awfa admitted that just having one wish would simply be not enough! She had far too many things to want and too much difficulty in selecting which takes top priority. World-class baker, world-class artist, world-class speaker! She wants to be amazing so others can be inspired by her! In the end, however, reflecting on the Disney movie “Aladdin”, TM Awfa would do what Aladdin did with is final wish, “to free someone from suffering”.


The next in line of the myriad speakers was Kendrick, a member of the Brunei Gavel Club. The question presented to him was to choose and explain the choice between three activities; skydiving, shark-diving, or bungee-jumping.

Kendrick admitted to being far too terrified to attempt any and would gladly give the chance to someone else. However, if forced to select one, he would take up sky-diving. The strongest appeal to him was being able to see the world from a different perspective. He shared with us how the daily sights and sounds grew dull and dry, so the chance to see things from a new angle was something he would risk sky-diving for.


Following this, Distinguished Toastmaster Shawn Narcis was then asked to the floor to share his insights when given the question “if you can do it all again, what you change?”.

With this DTM Shawn made no pause as he dived straight into the question by saying that he would change himself 20 years prior, for this was the time he had joined Toastmasters. 20 years ago, DTM Shawn was a slacker, having little to no drive to do anything. For most of his life, he had it easy, being able to get something from nothing. Then, someone saw something in him, and asked him to join Toastmasters. From there, he learned and saw the value of helping others, allowing him to be the person he is today.


Toastmaster Edy was then asked to come and share her thoughts on what she sees herself doing in 10 years from now.

TM Edy first shared with us that she began as an average teenaged Bruneian studying in school. Expectations of her were conventional, she said, “study hard, then get a job in the government”. If it wasn’t with the government, then it would probably be in the private sector of oil and gas- the industry she’s working in. As the years went by, she felt that something was not right and that something should be different. Edy was inspired by a few of her friends who delved into entrepreneurship. That was when she decided, that in 10 years’ time, she would have her own business empire.


The last of the speaker was myself, and I had the pleasure to be asked about what is my greatest fear.

I had to be slightly deft with this question, because my ultimate fear was religious in nature, so I really can’t talk about it that much. Spiders, well, they are horrifying (and cool) but I think I can get over it. One day.

The answer that I then opt to give was the fear of being a disappointment to myself, “letting myself down”.


Award Recipents of the Evening


For the Best Table Topics speaker, it was no surprise that DTM Shawn Narcis had received the ribbon, proving the title of Distinguish Toastmaster.


The Best Evaluator was given to Competent Communicator, Advanced Leader Bronze, Aziman Nasir, who gave a most comprehensive Grammarian report which was within time.


And as another highlight of the evening, the club itself was given a trophy, the “President’s Distinguished Club”! A top-tier award that can be given to a Toastmaster club.


The closing remark was given by the Vice President of Education, Competent Communicator, Competent Leader Gerald Goh. He brought to attention that the jauntiness of a certain Table Topics Master was well-felt and utilised by the Table Topics Evaluator, and so remarked synergy was important.


Written By:

TM Faiz Zailani

Photography By:

Gerald Goh, CL/TM Rahmat Tarsat


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