The Holy month of Ramadan is just around the corner, and once again, it lands on the longest days of the year.
Starting off, it is always a beautiful feeling of community, peace and spirituality. But as the hours go by and the long summer days roll past, we can easily forget the positive aspects of fasting and get fixated on feelings of hunger and frustration.
To tackle these emotions and ground ourselves again, it might be a good idea to familiarise ourselves with an ancient Eastern art called “mindfulness.”
Mindfulness is dedicated to helping us clear our minds of modern clutter and learn to be thankful for what we have rather than obsessing over what we don’t.
The practice is often defined as paying attention to purpose, moment by moment, without judging, and in this case, it is remembering why we chose to actively take part in fasting.
Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, emphasises the importance of living in the present moment and avoiding thoughts of past or future.
“As soon as you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolves, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the simplest action,” he wrote.
Tolle’s theory and book, which is still on bestseller lists, has been recommended by Oprah Winfrey and translated into 33 languages. The book explains the philosophy, which originates from ancient Eastern practices and has become very popular in the West, and how to use it as a means to dramatically improve our wellbeing, performance and daily life.
Becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings and sensations may not sound like an obviously helpful thing to do – however learning to do it in a way that suspends judgment can have surprising results.
Imagine being able to practice awareness of your thoughts and feelings, to have complete control instead of feeling anxious, fearful or worrying.
Think of mindfulness as a way of responding to fasting – with patience, openness, and compassion.
It is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.
A special health report published by Harvard Health Publications, titled Positive Psychology: Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Personal Strength, and Mindfulness, shows that increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
The report states that practicing mindfulness is the key element in happiness that improves both mental and physical health, helps people to a place of acceptance and can bring astonishing changes to behaviours, habits, thoughts and emotions. It empowers people to feel more optimistic, positive, confident and patient.
And the best things about acquiring this skill set is that once you have learnt to manage your mind and be more mindful, you’ve got the skills for life.