Ramadan is here and it’s the perfect time to kick-start your spiritual connection. Think of it as a boot-camp, a retreat, a time to focus inward as well as outward. If you are able to consciously internalise your thoughts and turn them into actions then you stand to score all round and are able to achieve more than just a feeling of hunger and sleep deprivation. You can mobilise yourself towards outward action by serving your immediate family, yourself and your community; and in doing so, your Ramadan days would have a more meaningful and productive spin to them.
You may wonder, why now? Why in Ramadan? I’ll tell you why.
Firstly, the past is already gone and the future has still not arrived. But since Ramadan is NOW you’d have a great head-start and opportunity to grab on to. Secondly, fasting in its own right takes strength and discipline; it is challenging and requires some serious mental and physical stamina. We know that disciplining the body and mind are one of the best ways to exercise self-restraint. Naturally, when you fast you are already training yourself to restrain from that which you love. By default you are already challenging your body and mind, so taking the next step should be simpler than starting from scratch, out of Ramadan.
Third, we know that in Ramadan the rewards for our actions are multiplied. So mathematically this is the perfect chance to score more points with no extra effort on your part. The rewards for your effort will be felt immediately as well as being accumulated for the next life. We know this from various passages in the Quran. Here is one such example:
Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward (in the Hereafter) according to the best of what they used to do (Al-Na’hl, 16: 97).
Finally, another great reason to start here, now, in Kuwait is that we have been granted more time off work officially by the government. So prior to, and after Ramadan this perk will no longer exist. You would need to scramble to find time for yourself and the development of your inner being.
Now that it all makes sense, start your journey towards self-realisation and soul rejuvenation now. Some parts of the process have already begun. So here’s an idea how to move deeper towards finding your soul, becoming more mindful and living more consciously this month and thereafter.
The first step to take now would be to understand the soul. What is it? What do we know about it? And how does it affect us?
The Webster’s Dictionary defines the soul as: ‘an entity which is regarded as being the immortal or spiritual part of a person and which, having no physical or material reality, is credited with the functions of thinking, willing, and choosing’.
According to Salman Al Odah: ‘The dualism between the body and soul is very clearly evident in the physical world. The body is subservient and the soul is in charge; however both are indispensable. It is just that the soul is the master while the body is the obedient servant. People have a habit of letting themselves become fully absorbed in fulfilling their physical needs to the utter disregard of their spiritual ones, which are rarely so much as contemplated’.
Coming back to why Ramadan, why now? The dualism spoken about above is what needs to be balanced. Often with the social media influence and current lifestyle trends, there is a lot of focus on the physical/outer bodies than there is on inner traits and values.
Depriving your body of innate desires such a food, and intimacy (in Ramadan) means you are already using your soul to take charge of our body and mind.
Mindfulness experts recommend some practical and easy-to-implement ways to find the balance between the dualities of body and mind. Some notable ways are to:
- Practice gratitude
- Eat lighter foods
- Meditate/ ponder
- Reconcile and accept yourself, your past and things you can’t change
- Do things that bring you real and lasting joy
- Embrace that you are not your thoughts and therefore disconnect from identifying as such
- Open your heart, to be yourself, to let go of your ego
- Send positive notes to yourself
The Islamic approach to nurturing the soul has 2 components.
1. Your obligation to God. This is the personal spiritual connection you build and maintain with God by carrying out rituals and acts of worship such as fasting, prayer, praise and becoming consciously aware of His presence, and so forth.
2. Your responsibility to humanity. This encompasses fulfilling the rights you owe to other human beings, animals, the environment and all of creation.
In finding a balance between your personal relationship with God and the one you have with everything around you, you will find peace, a heightened level of conscious living and enlightenment. Below are a few basic steps to set you on your path towards mindfulness as you search for your connection to your soul.
Take a moment to draw up two columns, one being the personal obligations to God and the second column for our obligations to humanity. Then list what you can realistically start working on today. Commit to at least five in each column. These can become your set of Ramadan goals. Start implementing them now and notice how your confidence, contentment and satisfaction begin to flood you. I wish you the most amazing and soul satisfying month of Ramadan. Naseera< Back