This post is about exploring how spirituality has been the fuel for my growth over the past few months. I know spiritual talk isn’t for everyone but it is something that is important to me so naturally I do touch on it occasionally.
I have been hesitant to write this post because I feel like our spiritual journeys are so beautiful and private but sometimes sharing our learnings is important.
Late last year, I began to feel really disconnected spiritually. I felt so lost and disengaged. At the time I contacted a spiritual mentor and also spoke to someone who I thought could help. Despite that, this pattern of feeling detached continued for the remainder of the year and into the new year.
Then talk of Ramadan began and in my heart, I felt two things. One was dread and another was hope. It is embarrassing to admit but I want to be completely transparent and honest. I don’t know what that feeling of dread was but it was just a niggling feeling of not looking forward to it, despite desperately needing it.
Connecting to God
So day one of Ramadan came and I was alone for Tarawih (Nightly prayers) as my husband was at the mosque. I sat on the prayer mat and I felt vacant. I felt almost like I may as well not be there. Without any real heart or emotion I began to speak to God. Almost robotically. However the more I spoke, the more my heart started to wake up. That slowly turned into a really vulnerable and honest outpouring about what was going on in my mind and all the guilt associated with that. I off loaded like I hadn’t in a long time and I found so much comfort in doing just that. The tears flowed. I felt reconnected. I felt a burden lift. I felt more positive about my state.
From that day forward, I felt like God guided me and almost gently navigated me in the direction that I was meant to go. I saw exactly what areas I needed to work on, where I had gone wrong and just how compassionate and merciful he is. That knowledge and that feeling brought me to my knees several times this Ramadan. Knowing that the all Merciful who has billions of people turning to him day and night, heard my prayers. It was truly humbling to feel and know that I had been heard. The knowledge that no matter how many times I fail, he calls me back to him over and over again made me so emotional this Ramadan. I had never felt more loved then when that realisation hit me.
Surroundings and Companions
What I hadn’t realised though is the impact that some of the activities I had been taking part in before Ramadan were having on me. Including watching trash TV.
What we surround ourselves with matters so much because we absorb at least some of it. Nowadays, online interactions and scrolling come into this.
On companionship, in the words of the Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ:
“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows.. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.”
What was I thinking about all day?
I had become obsessed with reading and learning about my areas of interest, to the point that it was all I thought about. This concept of ‘What have you made your Illah?’ that Yasmin Mogahed talks of, springs to mind. She asks, what is the thing that you think of the most and the thing that last made you cry? I knew that for me, it was nothing to do with spirituality or thinking about my soul, and that had to change.
So, I started to listen to talks that would be beneficial for me spiritually. I started to relearn everything that I had forgotten. Once that foundation had been strengthened (by the will of God), i began to pour back in to myself and fix my relationship with myself.
I gave myself what my soul desperately desired by listening to what it needed. I allowed myself to be still, I journaled a lot, I meditated, I did a lot of work around affirmations, I walked in nature and I was just all round kinder to myself whilst staying connected to God at the same time.
After I had nurtured myself a little, I was able to do more for myself and focus on projects and things that I love without getting distracted. Before I just felt so lost, overwhelmed and preoccupied with things that added no value to my life. I was constantly looking for another thing to fill that void. Something else that would make me feel like I was enough..
How I feel today
My journey continues and loving myself is something I have to focus on daily. For me spiritual connection is part of self love, healing and growth. I know that might not be the case for everyone but to me I need it as the foundation and if I don’t connect with God throughout my day, I feel like something is missing. I feel like alone time reflecting, praying and meditating is a way of giving to myself and it is the fuel I need to get through any day!
I think different things work for different people and I am very lucky in that, people in my life send me constant spiritual reminders. So I was able to pick things that worked for me. I also feel like I was guided to slow down and implement certain things in my life.
The biggest changes I have made are:
- A morning practice of certain Duas that work for me
- Tuning in to my inner voice and being kind to myself
- Waking up for Tahajjud when I can
- Istigfar and Dhikr throughout the day
- An ‘Unexpected Barakah (Blessings) list in my phone (That I add to) – To expand on this, we have blessings in our lives all of the time but some times, a blessing comes out of nowhere and is completely unexpected. This can be as simple as someone buying my children a snack.
- Noticing the good in everyone – EVERY SINGLE person has some good in them and by focussing on that one good, I am able to pick up something that I can improve in my own character whilst overlooking their flaws.
I don’t claim to always get it right. I deviate, fall down, fall short and get drawn into stuff that is not beneficial for me, but I am trying to focus on myself and improve on myself every day.
I am working on spending more time looking inwards which means I have less time to focus on scrolling and looking at the lives of others.