Hi there! So this week it’s Ramadan. It’s Ramadan, the world over for Muslims that are celebrating the Holy month of Ramadan. And no I’m not a Muslim but I do live in a predominantly Muslim country. I live in Bahrain in the Middle East, in the Gulf and we are really immersed in the celebrations here every year which is actually really quite special to me.
Initially, when I first moved here I didn’t really understand much about it, and it was just more of an inconvenience because I wasn’t able to drink water in the gym. I wasn’t able to wear my sleeveless gym clothes around in public areas when it was really hot and I wasn’t able to eat in public. I just really had to kind of re-situate myself when it came to my normal day to day life. So I didn’t really understand too much about it.
But having lived in this area for almost 10 years now I’ve really been able to understand more about the meaning behind Ramadan and also celebrate it with my Muslim brothers and sisters. I’ve really seen it be such a beautiful time of the year for everyone around here. Actually, It’s no different, I don’t feel to the traditions or the cultural habits or rituals that we have ingrained in us in the Christian culture with Christmas. Some of us aren’t even practising Christians and we still celebrate the Christian holidays or Christmas and Easter where we get together and it’s very much about family and being of service, coming together, love, bringing out the best in one another. So, yeah I like to look at it like that.
I, also on a deeper level feel a strong connection to the spirituality of Ramadan. My husband and I were married during Ramadan in a church here in Bahrain and it was so lovely. We ended up having our wedding reception as an Iftar buffet, which is the meal that you have to break your fast every evening at sunset. So, Just imagine; Christmas feasting for the uninitiated, Christmas feasting every day for a month. That’s part of the enjoyment of Ramadan.
A lot of it is also giving back to the needy and giving your time and donating food. So a lot of the feasting that goes on, a lot of that food is also given to the poor, during that time as well. So for those that don’t really understand what Ramadan is, basically it’s a time for Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset so that they can get closer to God, so they can reconnect to their spirituality, they can work on being more charitable, and of service and obviously praying for you know getting closer to God. Reconnecting basically.
So, even if you aren’t Muslim or aren’t even religious, you can also use this time too, if you’re living in the area because obviously, it’s pretty hard to escape the fact that all the restaurants and cafes are closed during daylight hours. Some shops are closed and you’ll find the malls are a lot busier after Iftar meal. They have extended trading hours where they’ll open till past midnight. I think even supermarkets open later. Some schools will finish earlier. And government offices have amended their trading hours as well. So it is really difficult to escape it when you do live in a place like this. But it’s also an opportunity for those of us that aren’t practising, to reconnect to ourselves.
We can express our own spirituality whatever we believe, and you know I like to think of prayer and meditation as interchangeable if you don’t believe in God, you can use meditation to get closer to yourself, and be of service to others and just slow down, Slow down from the day to day tasks and things that we do sometimes unconsciously, without really thinking about it.
So this is what I plan to do during Ramadan: I’m actually taking four weeks off social media. Just to quieten the mind so that I can make space for other things that are more important in my real life, like my family, my extended family back home. I will still be using technology obviously to keep in touch with them but I’ll be putting a lid on social media for the four weeks. Also, my social life will be reduced quite a lot, purely because a lot of places won’t be as available. I’ll still be seeing my friends I think it’s still really important to maintain connections but there’s not going to be the same level of socializing that there has been.
It’s also easier too because it’s really hot weather here at the moment. A lot of people tend to hibernate in hotter months here. So I tend to use this time wisely for the benefit of myself and my loved ones. And to really align myself with those things that I really really want to focus on that often gets relegated to the bottom of the pile because I’m doing other things which are less important. So it’s a time for me to realign and do some reflection.
So I’m inviting you as well during this time too.
You could do this anytime a year. I find living in this region it’s probably a little bit easier to do because everyone else is doing it around you. And even if they’re not, the opportunity to be distracted are fewer. So, even if you’re not living in the Middle East and you’re not Muslim and you’re not going to be practising Ramadan or celebrating Ramadan, have a look at the things that you could probably mindfully cast aside to focus on some other things that you’ve been neglecting or procrastinating on.
It might be your health. It might be a really exciting project that you’re procrastinating on working on. It might be on something you want to do with your children, If you’ve got kids, it might be a house project that you’ve been putting off because you just don’t have the time. It might be actually going and spending some time with some girlfriends that you don’t get the chance to see because you’re either too busy working or exhausted from working. So yeah, think about those things that you feel that you really want to spend some more time on and you need to create some space in your life to get to do that. Now is the time no matter where in the world you are. To create some space and spend some time reflecting on things that are very important to you that we sometimes neglect. So that’s my little chat for Ramadan. I’ll still be releasing my podcast every week during Ramadan as I have a few backlogs for you.
I’ll still be going on my walks. I might reduce my consumption of information. I’m walking right now talking to you. I really do enjoy my uninterrupted walks where I could just kind of think of them as like a walking meditation. But yeah, I think that everyone will benefit when we start to slow down and start to move the shift those things out of our lives that aren’t really serving us. For now, it doesn’t have to be forever.
You don’t have to get rid of social media if you want to do that like me, you don’t have to get rid of it forever. You might just find that by having a bit of a detox for some time that you don’t need to be on it as much, going forward
So I’d love to know what you decide that you want to do for the next four weeks. Whether it’s during Ramadan or whether it’s any time of the year. Where you’re going to create some space in your own schedule.
Just to be and to slow down and to reflect. To be of service, and to be more present with yourself and with your loved ones.
Let me know. And I’ll check to you again next week.