Why We All Need Time to Refresh, Restart, and Refuel
Imagine driving a car at 100 miles per hour for 24-48 hours straight, not stopping for any traffic light, stop sign, or pedestrian crossing. What would happen?
You’ll most probably get into an accident, or run out of fuel, or die from exhaustion, or end up in the wrong destination because you didn’t notice the sign that said “Detour”.
As insane as the above example sounds, for some of us, this is exactly how we’ve been living our lives, always full speed ahead, not taking the time to pause and reflect or enjoy the scenery and the people we’re with. Throughout the day, we are bombarded with anxieties, which may include: How am I going to submit my project on time? How long will I be able to keep my current job? Do I have enough money to pay my rent this month? When will this pandemic end?
Let’s look at another scenario;
Imagine, while working on a term paper that is due next week, you get a phone call from your doctor, telling you that you only have a couple more days to live and that you need to start packing up your luggage in preparation for your long journey to the afterlife… what would you do?
Ok, I just said IMAGINE! May Allah protect you and your loved ones and grant you a long life that is full of health, wealth, and imaan, ameen!
So back to our example: You freak out, start calling friends to seek their forgiveness, what mattered so much before no longer matters; you may rush to do wudhu and start praying and probably try to make up the ones you missed 10 years ago. You check your wallet and your bank account and start sending donations left and right; you jump to your Qur’an – it’s been a while since you’ve opened it – and begin reading profusely…
You start trying to take things off your bucket list, you want to experience what it’s like to truly live. You’re mindful of your every breath, you’re much more grateful and appreciative yet awfully paranoid that it might all soon come to an end…
Bernard Jensen says, in his book The Science and Practice of Iridology, “The doctor of the new day will recognize that a man’s most important workshop is not the physical body, but the mind that controls it.”
Mindfulness is our ability to pay attention to the present moment without getting carried away by all the distractions, emotions, thoughts, and feelings we experience.
We usually forget our need for this. How much we need to simply pause and breathe.
Pausing does good things for your soul.
When you pause and listen to your surroundings, you realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things. You sense the wonder of things around you and in doing so, you appreciate His Attributes. Don’t wait for your doctor’s phone call before you appreciate life.
Pausing to take note of your life through breathing creates a sense of gratitude. You notice your lungs filling with air and feel your heartbeat within your chest. You become more thankful for those simple bodily functions we so often take for granted. The gratitude increases your focus on the good things in your life, good things that He has blessed you with and you savor your blessings more readily.
Allah Says in the Quran; An-Nahl [16:18];
And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Counting our blessings helps us to not only be grateful for what we have, but it also reminds us that we are much better off than millions of others, whether that is in terms of our health, family, financial situation, or other aspects of our life.
In pausing, you savor moments. It’s like when you emotionally hold your favorite ice cream flavor in your mouth resulting in an involuntary ‘mmm’ that escapes your lips; that gastronomic ecstasy. True bliss.
Perhaps you don’t know this or maybe you might have forgotten but He loves you. It might not seem like it now but I promise you it’ll be okay. Just breathe. 🤗
There’s a particular verse in the Qur’an that always stops me in my tracks. It’s made of a simple, yet profound, question where Allah says:
So where are you going?
[Qur’an: Chapter 81, Verse 26]
Subhanallah x10. Where are we rushing to? Why are all these insignificant things causing us sleepless nights? Why are we unnecessarily triggered? So many Whys.
Personally, when I’m on a plane, I never think about pre-flight procedures, how much gas is in the plane, whether the landing gear is working well, and so on. I don't need to think about those things because someone else is consciously focused on them.
These are people I have never met in my life but I trust them enough to take care of things to the point that I don’t even think about those things. So, why don’t we trust Him enough?
It is important to remind ourselves that we don't control all the variables in the world. God does. He is the Wise, the All-Knowing.
Sometimes our limited human faculties are not able to comprehend His wisdom behind what happens to us and to others, but knowing that He is in control and that as human beings we submit to His Will, enriches our humanity and enhances our obedience towards Him.
Our mind is like a reel, constantly playing thoughts in our head. It is our duty to play it and control it steering it to the right direction.
Anticipating goodness has been found by modern psychologists to be a primary factor to start a positive change. Positive thoughts have been proved to have the power to create positive outcomes. Think positive. In every experience, there is a Divine wisdom.
How do we balance our free will and self-determination with a belief in qadr (destiny)?
Self-help guidance often says that we need to have an internal locus of control in order to master our self and take control of our personal development. And yet deeply embedded within the Islamic paradigm and the worldview of a Muslim is that we have an external locus of control, that Allah is the One who is ultimately in control of our outcome. The secret to success in this endeavor of development as a Muslim is to embrace both of these realities, rather than choosing one, it is to embrace the paradox, by which we can witness tawhid (Oneness of Allah).
Here’s a breathing exercise for you to carry out (hope it helps);
Inhale for a count of 4
Hold your breath at the top for a count of 4
Exhale slowly for a count of 4
Hold your breath at the bottom for a count of 4
Encountering sonder during the pause reminds us we’re not alone. Remembering how small and insignificant we are, reminds us of how big our Creator is. Emotions that we let overwhelm us are equally as insignificant, we can control them; at least to an extent. Believe that Allah has a plan for you and that He knows what you’re going through. He is our Protector, and if people wish us harm and it is not written for us then it will never happen. Therefore, pause, breathe, relax and enjoy life.
O Allah, it is Your mercy that we hope for, so don’t leave us in charge of my affairs even for the blink of an eye. And rectify all of our affairs for us. None has the right to be worshipped except You.