The Art of Mindfulness in Ramadan by Resha Erheim

We caught up with Resha Erheim, mental health counsellor in Dubai , to know her thoughts on the holy month and its relation with mindfulness..

“As 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 practiced 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.

And how would you describe mindfulness in your line of work?

Giving one specific explanation of mindfulness is challenging as it is often based on a person’s subjective experience. However, Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (1994). 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!

So in what ways can we practice mindfulness in our daily practice of Islam?

Mindfulness also encourages us to practice non-judgement. 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 by noting or writing down 3 things you were grateful for that day

● Take 10 minutes daily to do nothing, just be present- in the here and now

Observe what is going on around you, with curiosity (ex. People watching)

So, this Ramadan, when you are gathered around the ‘iftar’ (breaking fast) 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!
Wishing you a mindful Ramadan!

Who is Resha Erheim?

She is a CDA Licensed & Canadian Certified Counselor - 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. Having worked in Canada, Kuwait and Dubai, she brings with her extensive multicultural experience in clinical and educational settings.

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