This phrase caught my attention enough in the last few months that I know it’s not merely a coincidence but a wake-up call.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s been exactly my problem – an awful lot of doing and not a whole lot of being. I called it by many names in the past: mindfulness, being present in the moment; the essence of it remaining elusive until I heard this: ‘more being – less doing’. After falling down the rabbit hole a second time in the last few years, I knew I had better change something and this was it.
I am a big time do’er. Aren’t we all? Especially us Plaid gals. Sarah Zink and Shivaun Palmer take heed! I am a do’er for my faith: a da’ee (someone who invites other to Islam), active in interfaith and public speaking. Heck, my whole company is an Islamic multimedia educational based outfit. I’ve been at it for a couple of decades now. Before this, music was my religion and I zealously exhausted myself in that career path, too, never taking much of a breather as I thrived on go-go-going, adapting, and growing.
But all that extracts an awful price as the years go by. Just ask me as to why I disappeared off this very monthly blog a while ago! Fortunately this Alice is out of the Rabbit Hole and is striving might and main to at least balance the being with the doing.
For a Muslim, ’being’ is all about the prayer. Prayer for us differs in what we might understand from other belief systems. Salah (Arabic for The Prayer), comes from the root verb ‘to connect’. Hence the purpose of prayer is to connect intimately and one-on-one with God. This for a Muslim occurs at a minimum requirement of 5 times daily. We stop what we are doing, wash hands, face, etc., in a prescribed manner as a preparation and purification, then find a quiet corner, or for men do one’s best to pray at the mosque, and connect with God for a few precious minutes. The prayer consists of specified words and motions that Muslims must do, with slight variations as to which verses of the Qur’an to recite aloud or to one’s self. Upon finishing, the Muslim sits quietly for a few moments, praising God and making personal requests. Then back to the rat race! This should recharge us and give us some blessed moments of peace, relief and a quieting of the mind.
Except that it’s darn hard to do!
Yes, we know we are standing in the presence of God. We are talking to Him directly and He is listening with all attention. But then our mind starts to wander back to the ‘doing’ stuff, like what I am gonna do for God next, or worrying about and/or planning for the usual life issues that preoccupy us. And that lovely connection is lost. Yes, we fulfilled our requirement but did we benefit from the connection at all? Not a lot. And although God is not in need of anything from us, we sure need Him. And so it goes until the body, mind and soul are worn out and we fall apart. Boom!
Exhaustion → Sleeplessness → Anxiety → Depression ↓ Rabbit Hole
A horrible place to be and I truly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
What finally pulled me out was forcing myself to slow down. And using all the resources at my disposal, which as a Muslim included a lot of dhikr (praising God), dua’ (personal supplication), reading and recitation of Qur’an, and getting up for night prayers when all is quiet in the world as man and nature sleep.
Then I read a terrific book called How God Changes Your Brain. There is surely something to be said for this (more later).
Whether you subscribe to religious reasons or just see yourself needing to breathe, we all really need to take that time to smell the roses, unplug from technology, do some yoga, meditate, and sit quietly in nature without the ever present ’surround sound’. Take time to reflect, ponder life, breathe, slow your heart, and be present in the moment. With the ever growing statistics of psychological illnesses, addictions to anti-depressants and anxiety meds, and the unthinkable of unthinkables, suicide, we need to slow down…
and just be.