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Art of mindfulness in Ramadan

 

DUBAI – As the month of Ramadan draws closer, several reminders can come to our mind. No, not slower or shorter days at work, or less traffic before sunset or even extended mall hours – although these are all great perks of the holy month!

What comes to mind for many when Ramadan approaches is heavily linked with what is also practised in therapy. Many Muslims see Ramadan, as a time of spiritual and personal reflection, a time for healing and forgiveness, for compassion and giving, a time for acceptance.

In addition, Ramadan encourages us to be more self-aware, as it is also a time for mindfulness in daily life; mindful talking, mindful action, mindful eating and mindful attention.

When we are more aware of our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviour, we are less emotionally reactive to others and situations, we are calmer and act with more purpose and intent rather than on autopilot or mindlessly.

Giving one specific explanation of mindfulness is challenging as it is often based on a person’s subjective experience. However, author Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”.

So, mindfulness is paying close attention to the present moment with intent, free from the anxiety and stresses of the future and released from the sadness and regrets of the past. Since much of mental and emotional problems and stress come from overthinking about past experiences or future worries, mindfulness would prove to be a valuable practice for everyone!

Mindfulness also encourages us to practice non-judgment.

This similarly is preached in Islam in relations with others. Certain verses in the Quran refer to negative judgments, assumptions or backbiting – talking negatively about others as a sin.

Several other verses in the Quran and the Hadith dictate a similar mind-set of non-judgment towards others. Mindfulness particularly focuses on awareness and non-judgment of one’s own thoughts and feelings and of others’ subjective experience.

Mindful breathing is also an integral part of mindfulness practice and meditation.

Muslim prayer, performed 5 times a day, is similar to mindfulness meditation, by bringing awareness to the present moment with intent and focus. In fact, you can do everything mindfully by bringing your awareness to daily routine activities, like household chores, getting dressed, eating, driving or whatever else you do during the day.

Being in the present moment not only helps you focus better but also helps you avoid unnecessary stress and worry while noticing more details around you. Next time you are stressed or are over thinking, try the following:

Become aware: Let go of those negative thoughts without judgment

Mindfully breathe: Bring your attention to deliberate breaths by meditation or yoga

Focus on the present: This will help you recognize and experience more pleasant moments-of joy and happiness

Practice gratitude: Note or write down three things you were grateful for that day

Take 10 minutes daily to do nothing: Just be present in the here and now

Observe: Take a look at what is going on around you, with curiosity

So, this Ramadan, when you are gathered around the iftar table, when you are eating, visiting family and friends, or performing your daily prayers or rituals, try to be more mindful and reap the many benefits! RE/Expat Media


About the author

Resha Erheim is a mental health counsellor in Dubai. She is a Canadian Certified Counsellor and a member of the Canadian Counsellor and Psychotherapy Association. She is also licensed as a Counsellor from CDA in Dubai.

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