“The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom”.James Allen
I woke up this morning with a promise to remain calm no matter what comes my way. Over the years of self-discovery and creative attempts to increase peace and calmness in my life, I often open my eyes with this thought. Of course, to expect this state all and every day, would be completely misleading. Life does not play out in uniform and certainly human beings are complex multifaceted creatures who face sadness, joy, pain, hope, relief, hurt, anger and sometimes many at the same time. After all we do have a rainbow of emotions to choose from. To isolate, deny, or suppress any would not only be dangerous, but would be moving away from the exact things that make us real-human.
However, my goal is to be able to tap into a calm state through out my days, despite the varying circumstances and obstacles that are thrown at me.
The quote “men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound” by James Allen, a British philosophical writer, speaks volumes about human nature. Once you come to the realization that change starts from within, and take the steps towards it,you will notice something magnificent unwrapping inside of you.
Verily, Allah swt does not change the condition of people until they change what is within themselves. Ar-Ra`d 13:11
Envision for a moment how blissful it would feel to feel calm and peaceful within yourself in the face of ups and downs. A state where the choice of reaction is yours, and calmness is easily accessible. A couple of years ago these thoughts would have been ridiculous. But when I look at myself today and how much I’ve grown, I can truly imagine a day like that in my future, and so can you.
How my journey began
Of course like all my other ventures, my incessant love to read brought me to some very insightful books. I came across various thoughts and philosophies, and one simple yet mind boggling concept caught my attention. A simple PAUSE ! Sounded very simplistic at first, yet in my initial attempts i found it extremely difficult. I was unable to control my racing thoughts, fluttering emotions, and heightened physiological responses at almost any point in my day. I lived from one reaction to the next. I was so used to mechanically responding, feeling, and moving, that just pausing in my moment was strenuous.
I decided to take on this grueling task anyway. I firstly started to pause throughout moments in my life and just observed my self and my surroundings. Over time (months to be exact) I noticed myself becoming more self aware. And with this new awareness I was able to, for the first time reflect on my reactions towards: my husband, my children, family members, friends, people in the streets and drivers on the road, things all around me-life and lifeless.
My reactions to a traffic jam, a rude comment, a child’s massive mess, an overload of dishes in the sink, work deadlines, a loved one’s hurtful comments, although all felt uneasy, my perpetual need to react was not as powerful anymore.
Regardless of this magnificent discovery, there was something incomplete. Although now I was able to choose my feelings, and not set of my bodily reactions more so, I felt the need to connect with something at a deeper level. We are human, created with an innate need to rely on something greater than ourselves. For me it was Our Creator!
I’ve always heard scholars talk about the benefits of Dhikr (the remembrance of Allah swt). And although I always practiced this after my five daily prayers, I realized its usually played out in a mechanical fashion. I had to make an effort to be more aware and conscious when I mentioned His names, His attributes. With the ability to pause I was able to reflect on my present emotion, and if uneasy I simply asked him with the best of His names to relieve me of it. On the other hand if it felt good, I accepted and showed gratitude.
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. (Qur’an 13: 28)
“The parable of a person who remembers his Lord and a person who does not; is like the one of the living and the dead” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim).
The remembrance of Allah swt carries with it the meaning of total dependence upon Him. Who else can promise to always be there for you, always answer your call, unconditionally? I can’t urge you enough to repeat His blessed names, mention His praises, and ask of him in moments of distress and moments of happiness. I promise you will find peace seep into your days.
“Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Become acquainted with Allah in prosperity and He will become acquainted with you in adversity. Know that whatever surpassed you was not going to reach you, and whatever reached you was not going to surpass you. Know that help comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.” (At-Tirmidhi).
These simple pauses in moments throughout my day enabled me to connect with my lord, reflect and notice my reactions, emotions, feelings, physiology and ultimately allowed me to slowly regain control of myself. I was able to choose how to react, if I want to react, how much time I want to react for, and how much energy I want to give it. This in turn gave way to many creative and meaningful endeavors.
Of course to sustain this type of thought process is not easy at first, it’s a journey. For me it’s been a long haul and still a work in progress. Regression is part of life, there will always be something or someone to push me back down. However, I’m okay with that, and am ready to build each time I fall, inshallah.
If you’re a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a neighbor or have any other role in life and struggle because you react every little and big event, are usually stressed about things to do, what to do, how to do, or simply are unable to be at peace throughout your day, then learning to pause and create a self awareness is a journey worth delving into. I promise you won’t want to get out.
He has succeeded who purifies the soul, and he has failed who corrupts the soul.
Surah Ash-Shams 91:9-10