Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in Sep-Oct 2018

Balancing mind, body and soul

Aamna Haider Isani on juggling people, home and work.

At 44, I am at a time in my life, in a space in my career, where I think (if I ever have any free time between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.) that I have forgotten something. In this mad jumble called life, I try to juggle people, home and work (which by the way don’t always fall in that order); a daily management that keeps me busy 24/7.

It would have been hard to master this balancing act (I confess I struggled), but a life-changing trip to a Yangshuo Traditional Tai Chi School in Guilin, China, three years ago changed my perspective and once I understood that all I needed to do was find a balance between mind, body and soul, life became as easy as ABC. All I had to do was detox my mind and body of negative thoughts and inhale optimism and positivity. My tool: prayer.

The trick is to keep the mind on its feet, which is why doing what you love is so important.

I started working at a fashion magazine in Lahore in 1995, while studying for my Master’s at Government College Lahore. I would get to college at seven in the morning and stay there until two, get to work at three and leave only when there was literally nothing left to do. Then I would go home and study. Working my way through marriage and two babies, I continued doing what I loved and was lucky to find more to love every year, be it people or work.


I have to confess that I am an extremely ironic person; I like to think I am deeply spiritual but I am also just as deeply dependent on material joys. My spiritual dependency leads me to half an hour of prayer every night (I haven’t been able to find a better insurance policy in life). This half an hour conversation with God is unconventional (I don’t pray five times a day) but so soul satisfying that I feel I would not have survived the ebbs and flows of life without it.


As Editor of Instep at The News, a publisher of Something Haute and a partner at Haute Shop (an online store created as an extension of Something Haute), my mind often feels overworked. But it’s the content that drives me as well as the publications. ‘Critique’ has turned into a bit of a dirty word, but it is actually constructive to tell brands what their products are really like; this applies to fashion and films as well as to personal care brands. We love reviewing salons, restaurants and beauty products, as well as sampling new products.

Great teams on both sides ensure I can juggle the two efficiently, which is why I believe that at the core of any work balance is the investment you make in your relationships with people. I am lucky that this always came naturally to me; I still meet Habib – the peon at Libas since 1995 and who still works there today – with a salaam, a smile and an exchange of good wishes when I meet him at fashion week. I feel blessed.

Getting home from work is never a straight line and a medley of grocery, laundry, domestic errands and chores later, I find myself entering my front door no earlier than half past six.

My evening begins with a light supper with my family, a phone call to my mother (who lives in Lahore), catching up with my domestic staff (mostly planning the following day’s menu, maintenance and all that jazz that keeps the home running efficiently) and then finally settling down with my laptop. As an editor, it is important to keep updated and so I say hello to online news about global fashion, entertainment and celebrities. I skim through my own pages and social media properties to see what we have covered and what we missed and finally, at around half past nine, I pull the plug on all mind games and the journey into my soul begins.

I have to confess that I am an extremely ironic person; I like to think I am deeply spiritual but I am also just as deeply dependent on material joys. My spiritual dependency leads me to half an hour of prayer every night (I haven’t been able to find a better insurance policy in life). This half an hour conversation with God is unconventional (I don’t pray five times a day) but so soul satisfying that I feel I would not have survived the ebbs and flows of life without it. That meditation eases me to bed; I sleep well and wake up to birds chirping every morning. Even when there are no birds, I feel blessed.

The irony? I am just as dependent on material joys. I love my family; but I realised several years ago that I need to love myself more (thank you, Samantha Jones). “I have been in a relationship with me for 44 years and that is the relationship I need to work on most.” Sounds selfish? Not at all. A happy me ensures a happy family, and so far no one is complaining.


“Happy people are productive people” is one of the many mantras at EZBuy and I would like to be considered a positive, productive and progressive person. It’s not that difficult if you put your mind to it.


And certain things help me stay happy. Skincare. I switched from L’Oreal to Kiehl’s last year; my ageing skin needed some extra therapy and the half hour sensory nightly regime of cleansing, toning and moisturising has become essential. The fresh fragrance of Kiehl’s Calandula facewash and toner takes me to a happy place, the heady smell of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate takes me to bed with a wide smile and a spritz of Bath & Body Works’ eucalyptus and tea pillow mist takes me to seventh heaven, as I drift into sweet slumber. My bedside table has a stack of creams and potions: an almond hand cream, an olive body butter (both from The Body Shop), refreshing eye drops, the pillow mist et al. A bottle of water and my tasbeeh complete the bedside essentials. I am not into diamonds and pearls; it is the little things that make me happy.

I have to admit the ‘little things’ are becoming bigger with time. I love to travel and I have made a resolution to visit one new place every year. Anyone who knows me also knows how much I love clothes. My wardrobe acts as a storage space for staples from Sania Maskatiya, Sonya Battla, Misha Lakhani, Body Focus and now, Chapter 2. My formals are classic pieces from Elan, Shamsha Hashwani and everyone mentioned above. I love fashion and I am lucky to do what I do because it makes fashion so accessible to me.

Now here is my Achilles’ heel. It is the ‘body’ part of the mind-body-soul triangle that I struggle with. I have always been overweight and although this (and great parents) never hampered my confidence, it was always something on the agenda to do and fix. I did manage to drop around 60 pounds but I feel the body needs a lot more than weight loss and my to-do list is topped by the word ‘exercise’. Someday.

A final trick to staying happy. Post nine in the evening, I strictly avoid any form of news or Pakistani dramas (usually just as depressing as the news). I watch anything that will make me laugh: Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen DeGeneres, an old Imran Khan interview with Moin Akhtar, a rerun of Friends. A feel-good playlist consists of music from my past: a lot of disco and seventies swinging, plenty of dance and happy, happy songs.

“Happy people are productive people” is one of the many mantras at EZBuy and I would like to be considered a positive, productive and progressive person. It’s not that difficult if you put your mind to it.

Aamna Haider Isani is Editor, Instep and The News and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Something Haute. aamna.isani@gmail.com