Taking two to five minutes out of the day can act as a reset button, an opportunity to refresh our way of thinking, being and doing, advises JASMINE KHAN.
AS children, we were constantly told that we should be doing something; a favourite saying was ‘the devil will find work for idle hands’. This has conditioned us to feel that we are contributing to our quality of life when we are busy.
The fast-paced, technological world we are living in has further contributed to our reluctance to be idle. We have yet to learn that taking time out of a ‘busy’ day to be still might prove to be far more beneficial and can produce increased productivity, and of a higher quality.
Always being on the go and not taking time for self is a toxic way to live, while being still can lead to better health. For many, the demands of work and life introduce unnecessary stressors into our lives. Too much stress can lead to problems with the heart, high blood pressure, weight loss and gain and emotional instability.
Taking two to five minutes out of the day can act as a reset button, an opportunity to refresh our way of thinking, being and doing. It’s an opportunity to shift focus from the negative and redirect it to more positive and productive thinking.
A few moments of stillness have enormous benefits to our mental and emotional states. Being still gives us clarity; we are drawn into the moment, our thoughts and ideas are clearer and will assist in choosing whether we take the wrong or the right path.
Consider the snow globe; move it around and the snowflakes dance wildly. Hold it still and the particles will settle. This settling is similar to what happens in our minds when we are quiet. It is not possible to gain clarity while we are running around in life.
Stillness and silence allow our brains to process what we feel and prevent the suppressing of unwanted feelings. It also gives us the necessary pause so that we respond to a situation instead of reacting to it. When we recognise and acknowledge what we feel, we are able to proceed with greater freedom and better health.
Stillness also improves our decision-making. Brain scans have shown that many people’s brains are overactive and are hardly ever at rest these days. This leads to sleeplessness and, in severe cases, bouts of anxiety. A brain that is hardly ever at rest will be unable to restore and regenerate, which will affect the ability to make the best choices. In stillness, we will have clarity to make intentional choices that will improve our quality of life.
Being still for short periods also has physical health benefits. For our bodies to heal, we have to be relaxed, and when we are stressed, our natural repair mechanisms are disabled. Our bodies are not independent of our brains, therefore, when we relax our bodies by being still, our brains will relax as well.
Cultivating a habit of stillness will lead to accelerated physical healing. In fact, making the decision to allow ourselves to be still is a direct intervention in our ability to heal and even prevent certain health issues.
There is another, very compelling reason to cultivate stillness. Allah SWT, in His infinite mercy, does not allow our innermost thoughts and feelings to be apparent to others. However, Allah knows and in Surah Yaseen, verse 76, Allah tells Nabi Muhammad (SAW), ‘So let not their speech grieve you. We know what they conceal and what they declare.’ The sincerity of a believer is a secret between Allah and the believer, and in order to cultivate that sincerity, we have to retreat to that private and quiet communion with Allah, deep in our hearts.
It is important that we have these sacred moments to take account of our feelings and actions so that we can be sure to meet our Creator with a sound heart. Certainly Allah promises us: ‘In the end, to your Lord is your return, when He will tell you the truth of all that you did, for He knows well all that is in [men’s] hearts.’ (Quran 39:7)
One does not need to be still for any length of time to reap the benefits of stillness. ‘Sacred pauses’ of a few minutes can be incorporated into the day. A good starting point would be before or just after the five daily prayers. For many it will be difficult, and it will feel strange to sit motionless but we must persevere in order to reap the mental and physical benefits. In addition, we are preparing ourselves for the life to come.
In the Holy Quran, Allah addresses us several times as people who reflect; one cannot reflect when in constant motion. Be still and listen to that voice within that has been drowned out amidst all the noise. It is the voice of our Creator.
- Jasmine Khan, Muslim Views columnist, “From Consciousness to Contentment”.