Her youth is obvious at first glance. As she begins to speak, her sincerity and wisdom shine through. The audience is a mixed crowd, almost like being at a United Nations meeting. No two people are ethnically the same nor in age or gender.
The topic is Wellness and Mindfulness in Islam. The first session is a marriage workshop. She defines Mindfulness, and then wellness and then brings in scenarios that all of us who have been married have experienced numerous times. What is different is “the gap” The moment you hear something and the ugly head of a reactionary response raises itself, in-between the hearing and the trigger happy reactive response is “ a gap”, a space, it is in that space that one has to invoke mindfulness before opening the mouth in response.
How does one do that I think, in a day full of lists of things to be done that haven’t been completed, where coming in from the external world where love, caring and compassion are visibly absent, where corporate America sucks the last vestige of your energy, innovative thought and patience. You have given it all at the office in the 8, 14, 15 hours that you worked that day.
If you add that scenario to the husband and wife it makes for stress arrows zinging in the air of the home on entry with no one to stop them with kindness and compassion or take one or two on the arm. In these cases they go straight for the heart.
She talks about how to do and what to do: I think of myself, in order for me to do that I would have to have filled my inner cup of compassion, patience and the confidence that I am loved by the Divine and all that I do is to please him and indirectly that love may drips over to the human beings. How do I prepare my inner landscape for that to either field the arrows of stress coming from my spouse or refrain from shooting my own?
The program began with a poignant love story from the olden times……… bringing wistfulness and purity to the lives of those who live and work for the sake of and the pleasure of Allah and nothing else.
What is Mindfulness in Islam? It is a concept that is threaded into every act of a Muslim as instructed in the Quran and demonstrated in the Sunnah.
It actually begins when a couple thinks of procreating they make a supplication to Allah to bless the outcome of their procreation and protect it from the Shaytaan.
It goes on to the mundane tasks of life, like eating only what is needed and what is tayyab (wholesome, organic, halal), avoiding waste, and eating slowly thinking and blessing all those who brought the food to our lips and fill our thoughts with gratitude to Our Lord and Creator.
I look at the some of the weathered faces like mine in the audience and their expression I think mimics mine. I wish I had known this before………….hindsight is always 20/20.
It is almost impossible to be mindful only in marriage but not in the other aspects of life……She quotes from the Quran where Allah admonishes human beings and commands them to refrain from heedlessness, which is opposite of mindfulness.
In recalling the daily acts of living of our beloved Prophet Muhammad pbuh, she reminds the audience of how lovingly he took his wives questions or critic and did not remind them that he was the Prophet of Allah and they better listen to him or else……… The moderation in his lifestyle was illustrated by his advice to his extremely pious companion Abu Darda who had dedicated his days to fasting and nights to prayer vigil. When his wife commented on her husbands activity to the Prophet pbuh, he said: and I paraphrase, your family, your body and your sleep has a right over you, gently but firmly reminding his friend and companion of being mindful in his relationship with his wife, children, and the needs of his own body.
Wellness is so integrally related to mindfulness that it can almost not exist without it. Wellness is to attain optimal health, which is encouraged in the Quran, and guidelines are given to avoid what is harmful (alcohop and other products that harm the brain and body) and partake of what is beneficial and pure.
Thus no matter where one is in ones life and marital timeline, wellness is so interconnected with Mindfulness that it is impossible to lead a healthy life and have healthy, happy relationships without being aware of your Creator (Taqwa) and reflect on what is present (tadabbur) and ask Allah for Wellness (Aafiya).
For those amongst us who are left brain Prophet Muhammad pbuh gave us a supplication for each act that provides the positivity in the gap between thinking/hearing and responding. For those of us who are right brained there is so much more because the edges open out to infinity to pull in purity and peace and lay down the ammunition and destruction of stress by submitting to Allah with heart, soul, mind and body.