Participants of the Emotional and Spiritual Quotient training program in Delft, the Netherlands, conduct exercises lead by the program’s trainers. (JP/Alpha Amirrachman)
In a time when competition is high and a hedonistic way of life sometimes pervasive, a training program recently tried to inject new spirit into people's lives at an Indonesian Diaspora meeting in the Netherlands.
The Emotional and Spiritual Quotient (ESQ), founded by Ary Ginandjar, is a multi-media training program to encourage personal growth in leadership, well-being and Islamic spiritual values.
The three-day course is conducted in a theatrical manner, sometimes directly engaging -- and challenging -- participants.
"Do you love your children or God?" yelled trainer Syamsul Rahman against the backdrop of a movie of the Prophet Ibrahim, who was instructed by God to slaughter his son Ismail.
Syamsul said that after the training, participants would not be bogged down with despair over the loss of loved ones or when they fail to reach their targets in work.
"There is always a blessing in disguise," he said on the sidelines of the presentation, adding that participants were gently encouraged to reflect on many aspects of their life, both the successes and failures.
Syamsul was flown in from Indonesia to deliver the recent training in a huge sport gym in the city of Delft, between Rotterdam and the Hague.
Creative leadership exercises and games were also presented to pump up the intellectual, social and entrepreneurial aspects of the participants.
William Satriaputra de Weerd, an Indonesian living in the Netherlands who organized the training, said there had been 350 ESQ alumni in the country since it was first conducted in 2006.
"Thirty-six participants today are from around Europe such as the Netherlands, France and the UK," said William, who has lived in the Netherlands since 1974.
Couple Mujilah and Hans Ham from Amsterdam said the training had given them time to reflect on their everyday lives.
"It releases us from our regular stress," said Mujilah.
"The training is a breakthrough in examining the human mind; it goes beyond contemporary approaches," said surgeon Hisham from London.
His wife, IT consultant Azlin, said they had promising careers and money but something had been missing. "We have found it here," she said.
Ahmad Fathan Aniq from Leiden had a slightly different perspective. "While I don't really agree with using scientific explanations for the Koran, because it restricts the holy book into time-space bounds, the leadership and emotional development in the training is really mentally refreshing."
"I feel that I have been able to revitalize all the positive values that are already embedded but underdeveloped deep in our psyches," he said.
The first day of the training fell under the theme Inner Journey, where participants joined interactive dialogues filled with philosophical stories, exercises and games to enable them to identify their personal potential.
The second day was Outer Journey, introducing participants to the vastness of the universe and the unlimited potential it offers our lives.
The last day focused on Building Creativity, exploring possible action, missions in life, character building and self-control.
While a majority of the participants were Muslims, anyone was welcome in the course, William said.
"Now there are around 500,000 alumni in Indonesia and 3,000 of them are non-Muslims," Syamsul added.
Syamsul said due to the increasing demand, founder Ary was now in the process of designing "ESQ Universal" to reach wider audiences including non-Muslims "so that everyone can fully benefit from this program".