Mindfulness During Ramadan  

  • Mar 27, 2024
  • Posted by Hala El-Shafie

Mindfulness During Ramadan  

As the sacred month of Ramadan unfolds, the practice of mindfulness and a focus on spirituality during the Holy Month becomes the emphasis for Muslims around the world. Ramadan teaches patience and humility, as well as compassion for those less fortunate than us. Through increased acts of charity and being grateful for what we have, Ramadan brings with it a wonderful opportunity to not only deepen our faith and nurture our spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing, but also an opportunity to establish positive habits as we move forwards. 

 

The Holy month of Ramadan is much more than the physical act of abstaining from food and water from dusk to dawn, Islam guides Muslims to deepen their faith and knowledge on the teachings of Islam and increase their acts of worship, leading to a profound exploration of our emotional resilience through prayer, reflection and introspection.  

 

Wellbeing benefits of Ramadan  

 Research has shown both physiological and psychological benefits during this time of heightened spiritual reconnection, such as improved lipid profile supportive of heart health, increased immunity, and positive impact on increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering insulin resistance, as well as improved mood and concentration to name just a few. 

Islam guides Muslims to practice gratitude and empathy for those who are less fortunate, encouraging acts of generosity and charity, it’s a means of worship and for Muslims to feel a closer and deeper connection with Allah (SWT). Empathy towards others through purposeful acts of generosity and charity has been highlighted through research to have a positive impact on how we feel about ourselves.  

Ramadan guides us to value that which we have, through reflection and give gratitude to every area of our lives, guiding us to be mindful of everything we do, including our thoughts, how we speak to others and how we treat those less fortunate than ourselves.  

Ramadan teaches us to understand what it means to go without and to learn patience and compassion for others, by removing our usual daily distractions.  

 

What if I cannot fast during Ramadan? 

A serious concern is when Muslims choose to fast when in fact this could in fact be detrimental to health. If you are exempt from fasting on medical grounds, know that you are safeguarding your physical and mental health which is clearly stipulated in the Quran.  For this reason, it is important to remember the intention of Ramadan and seek support and guidance from your medical team and Imam. 

 Very often people can experience misplaced guilt and overwhelm when they are not able to fast during the month of Ramadan. We encourage you to refrain from asking others if they are fasting, as this can leave people feeling misplaced shame and anxiety for having to justify their reasons. 

 

An opportunity for self-reflection and building new habits 

 Ramadan is a great opportunity for self-reflection and re-establishing new habits or routines.  This month provides the spiritual space to focus on the strength and courage to reflect on harmful behaviors which we feel may have become detrimental to both our physical & mental health or simply that no longer serve us. 

Through ‘Abstinence’ Ramadan teaches greater patience and humility, whilst also establishing healthier patterns for both physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing. 

The focus on charity and consideration for those in need is an essential focal point of Ramadan and research has shown that engaging in charitable endeavors has the potential to not only positively impact endorphin levels (the neurotransmitters associated with positive feelings), but also helps to overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation. Engaging in meaningful activities can have a positive impact on our self-worth and sense of purpose. 

 

Mindfulness at iftar 

Mindful eating as we break the fast is not only important, but also Sunnah.  ”The way of the Prophet” 

Islam teaches us to take a moment, give gratitude for what we are about to receive, whilst also pausing to ask Allah to accept our fast, an expression of gratitude for the blessings He has provided us and a moment to appreciate all that we have been blessed with. 

Being present, reflective, and maintaining mindfulness by eating slowly, and engaging our senses just ahead of Iftar allows us to give gratitude and appreciation for the abundance we have placed in front of us, including the wonderful aromas and visual presentation.   This offers several physiological benefits, including better digestion, increased awareness of fullness and hunger signals.  

Overeating and binge eating can be common challenges during Iftar, especially after a long day of fasting.  

Striking the  balance between enjoying celebratory foods whilst maintaining a mindful approach to eating, balance, and inclusion of all the food groups and the essence of what Ramadan sets out to teach us.  

Following the guidance below can reduce the risk of overeating. 

 

How to Mindfully break the fast:  

  • Offer a helping hand: If you’re not fasting consider helping prepare the food for those who are fasting or helping in some way if feasible. Simply expressing gratitude to the chef/cook and offering your Duas to them. 
  • Be present: Switch off all electronic devices if possible and being fully present with the food and people around you. 
  • Gratitude Saying Alhamdulillah and giving Thanks to God for His generosity and pray for His continued blessings on your household and your loved ones, providing abundance and nourishing food. Taking a moment to appreciate the food that you have placed in front of you whilst also acknowledging and remembering those that are less fortunate.  
  • Breaking the fast Start by breaking your fast with dates and ensuring you consume plenty of water to hydrate. Follow this by serving smaller portions of nourishing foods such as lentil soups, beans and pulses, lean proteins such as fish and chicken as well as lots of fresh vegetables and fruits rich in potassium to start iftar. Hydration is key particularly for those in the hottest climates. 
  • Mindful eating – Take the opportunity to notice the aromas, different flavours and textures and give gratitude for the blessing of the food you are about to share. Ensure to eat mindfully by chewing your food well and eating slowly. 
  • Hunger and satiety cues. It typically takes 5 to 20 minutes for your body to signal to your brain that you are full, so by engaging in mindful eating you can positively impact your ability to eat intuitively. 

 

Surat Ibrahim 14:7 ‘’ And ˹remember˺ when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more.’’ 

Written by: Hala El-Shafie

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