Salam alaikum to all my brothers and sisters! The holy month of Ramadan is fast approaching, and you, like many others, may be reflecting on how the past year has unfolded. You may have made some resolutions last Ramadan and are now reflecting upon them. Are you on track with your goals? If you are, you may be feeling a sense of balance and accomplishment. However, if you haven’t yet managed to achieve what you set out to, there may be a sense of overwhelm or disappointment. It is quite possible to be experiencing the latter, especially if you have a lot on your plate, and the year didn’t quite go as you had planned. Sometimes life throws challenges our way, and we get distracted and aren’t able to achieve what we set out to. Challenges and disappointments can leave us feeling a little off-balance. With Ramadan approaching once again, now would be the time to reset our goals, and find ways to reclaim some peace and balance in order to insha’Allah achieve them.
Allah swt’s creation is always moving, and sometimes life moves at a pace where we just can’t keep up. You may already have a lot to do, and if you’re aiming to achieve some special goals during the month, you may be feeling worried or concerned about how achieving all that will be possible. If that’s the case, then you’re not alone. Of course, all that we have to do impacts our quality of life, but our own perceptions play an equally important part. How you gauge yourself on your performance will determine your level of contentment. If you sense that you are coping with things, then you may well experience a sense of calm and balance. Now that the holy month is coming around, you may not be able to do all that you can manage during the rest of the year. So, it may be time to reset some of your expectations so that you can reclaim a sense of calm and balance. Feeling content with whatever you get done, or how you will handle any challenging days, will make all the difference in how calm and balanced you will feel. So let’s look at a couple of ways in which you can reclaim your balance in order to make the most of Ramadan, insha’Allah.
The first step to achieving a sense of calm and balance is to actually be clear about what calm and balance means for you. Each of us has our own definition of what balance is, so take a few moments to do the following exercise.
Keep a pen and paper handy, and answer the following questions:
1. What does balance mean to me?
2. How do I know that I am off-balance? How do I feel, what do I do?
3. What have I previously done to regain my balance?
4. How well did it work/ not work? (Why/ why not?)
5. What will being balanced look like, and feel like during the holy month of Ramadan?
There is no right or wrong definition. Feel free to use whatever definition of balance that feels right for you. Also, once you have a sense of what balance will feel like during Ramadan, you will have an easier time identifying when you aren’t in balance; that way you can take some action to regain it.
Build up your reserves
Ramadan is a time when our energy reserves can become depleted. We often give more of ourselves during Ramadan, so if your tank is already running on empty right now, the chances of being overwhelmed are large. Also, we aren’t just talking about physical energy here; we are talking about emotional and spiritual energy too. What you will need to do is to carry out some self-care, even at the most basic level. Take a few minutes to do some deep breathing (as often as possible), make sure you are eating well, and get as much sleep as you can. Do something small to re-fill your heart. Focus on prayer, sitting still, or even talking to a loved one. Focusing on building your inner energy will help you with the fasting days that are coming ahead.
Address your relationships
Once your own energy reserve is up, you can now focus on other important aspects of your life. One very key factor that impacts our sense of balance is the quality of our relationships. We can feel very anxious, even ill if an important relationship feels out of balance. Imagine beginning the holy month with resentments or past upsets lingering around. What would that be like? So now’s the time regain balance in those important relationships.
First of all, divide your relationships into 5 categories:
1. Relationship with Allah swt (spiritual self)
2. Relationship with yourself (personal goals)
3. Relationships with family
4. Relationships within the community
5. Relationship with the world.
Take time to figure out which of your relationships feels the most out of balance. Identify which relationships need a little special attention. Next come up with one or two things that you will do to improve that relationship. Remember, if there is an unresolved conflict, it will result in anxiety if not dealt with, so find a way to get into conversation and resolve the matter- you’ll be glad you did.
De-clutter your environment
Clutter in our environment can make us feel disorganized and overwhelmed within. Take some time to clear out things you aren’t using, or organize your space if things have gotten out of place. In addition, if setting goals, scratch off any tasks that seem unrealistic, and set yourself a to-do list that will be achievable and realistic for Ramadan.
Bring yourself back to the moment
Do you multi-task on a regular basis? This behavior keeps the mind moving, and stops us from ever really being in the moment. We are going from one thing to the next, without even realizing.
These patterns lead to shallow breathing, more movement, and perhaps us going into fight-flight mode without realising it. Life is lived in the moment, but we often aim to live several days at once. We can’t repeat the past, or even live in the future. We only really have the moment we are in. If you find yourself feeling off-balance, then rest-assured your mind is somewhere other than the present moment. Reduce the multi-tasking especially during Ramadan and enjoy each moment as it comes. If you have a lot to do, then focus on the most important and urgent things, but aim to do one thing at a time. Also allow yourself some time to just breathe and reflect. It will make a difference to how calm you feel.
We all face challenges managing our time, given we want to do so much every day. Let’s hope that we can make the most of Ramadan by doing the important things and focusing on what’s truly valuable in life. I hope that these tips will be useful in helping you to regain some balance leading up to, and during the wonderful days and night of Ramadan, insha’Allah.
Editor’s note: Sayeda Habib is a coach to Muslims. She coaches individuals to help them reduce stress, enhance relationships, and to find fulfilment in their lives. For further information on coaching, or to get in touch with Sayeda, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email Sayeda@makelifehappen.com