Hey girl hey. And boy.
Ramadan officially started and I’m really excited to see how it turns out this year. Ramadan kareem everyone!! ❤ Today’s post is a collab with the beautiful Hiddenzzz who will be doing a self-improvement post for this Ramadan so definitely check her post out. My post will be divided into two parts – 1). a reflection on ramadan and 2). the actual post but if you want to read one or the other, that’s cool with me! Check out Hiddenz’ post here and let’s get starteddd.
A reflection on Ramadan
I talked a bit about Ramadan in my last post but recently, I came across this concept called the dopamine detox, which aims to cut out high leveled dopamine stimulants in order to restore natural dopamine levels in the brain. And it reminded me so much of what Ramadan does to the mind. Now the rules are a bit extreme with no food for 24 hours or talking or books (books!!?) but the author of the article, Jari Roomer said something super interesting:
“We have so much time in a day to do amazing things and make real progress. If only we didn’t numb, distract and choke ourselves by the weapons of mass distractions. We are addicted to fake pleasures that take our focus away from the things we really desire.”
We’re constantly surrounded by dopamine enticing activities that just numb the pain of our souls and the ability of our intellect to overpower our desires that it’s become difficult for many Muslims today to simply worship God or stand in prayer (I’ve definitely been there and still struggle with focus) This is one of the only opportunities we’ll get to combine Ramadan and quarantine to truly bring our souls and minds to balance.
Similarly, I was looking at cancer and the cell cycle in Biology class, and when I was not losing brain cells over assignments, I came across super cool connections. As the cell moves through the cell cycle in a process called interphase, it continues to grow and obtain nutrients. But stationed in different parts of the interphase process are checkpoint proteins that assesses a cell and passes it along to the next process once everything is in check. If any mutations or errors are detected, tumour suppressor genes will stall the whole cell cycle to fix the error and send it out to the cell cycle again.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s almost like a metaphor for Ramadan. Throughout the year, we’re faced with so many high dopamine enticing activities that create bad habits for our well being, negligence of our Lord and an overall imbalance in our lives. Ramadan is that one month that deep-cleanses the soul and brings balance and serenity into our lives again. It’s almost like a “you good? keep growing.” checkpoint protein.
Quarantine has also been that cell-cycle stalling protein that stopped everything its tracks in order to repair the earth, family structures, levels of gratitude and just the decluttering of the mind. Having these two together is a huge blessing if you think about it and hopefully you and I can start making the changes that we really want for our faith awareness and well being.
But with quarantine cutting off a lot of distractions like hangouts with friends and after school activities, there are still a few things that can distract us from making the most out of this year’s blessed and unique Ramadan. This is a post I’m writing indirectly to myself but if any one of these are things are things you are willing to snip out of your life this Ramadan, definitely join me! And yes, I really said snip. So without further ado, let’s get snipping.
5 Things To Cut Out of Your Life This Ramadan
Okay now this is a bit of a controversial topic but I never realized until reading the book “The Music Made Me Do It” how clear-cut it is in Islam to just not listen to the music that is so normalized today. I definitely recommend reading this book as it provides so much scientific evidence of the impact of music on your mind. It was so eye-opening to see links between music and immorality, mental health issues and violence. It’s really difficult to let go of this one and I feel you as I had to gradually remove it from my life by switching to cleaner music and finally to no music at all. But it’s possible and as much as everyone says “oh I can’t live without music”, you can do ittt. And today is the perfect time to start.
Alternatives: I won’t leave you here without any alternatives so here are some in the order that I gradually let go of music in – nasheeds, podcasts, matn (arabic poetry on the sciences of Islam), wird (supplication). Each will link you to my favourite of each category.
You hate me, I know. I used to looove watching TV shows. Riverdale was my life and Turkish dramas were my oxygen.
2 years earlier: “Remember that Turkish drama I binged from my short story depression? 😂 Well, my friend, Farah, told me about it (it’s called Tatli Intikam) and it’s SO good! I finished it in 2 weeks like ugh what am I doing with my life? 😂”
But if I was able to stop, I’m 105% sure you can too. TV shows are time drainers and all they do is create fantasies in our mind and false conceptions about what life, love and pain is all about. The last thing you want to do this Ramadan is binge-watch tv shows and movies. Finish up the TV show you’re on and just stop your Netflix subscription – it’ll be hard at first but trust me with time, you’ll be like “what was I doing with my life?”. Life is too short for Netflix and this is a reminder to myself first. Make it gradual but if you can snip it off just like so, then snip it off. just. like. so.
- Islamic lectures – nouman ali khan, yasir qadhi, hamza yusuf are all English-speaking teachers I love and their lectures are actually engaging I promise you won’t sleep
- Online courses – skillshare, udemy, mindvalley are all places worth a try and some come with 30 day free trials which is perfect haha
- Historical films, documentaries, BOOKS
3. Excessive Speech
This I struggle with like CRAZY. I talk so much, end up saying things I regret, cry about it, think I’ll get better and then repeat. This is easier said than done (get it? anyways) but if you can somehow reduce your speech or control the things you say, you would truly do yourself a service. Nowadays, it’s so much easier to control it as we aren’t at school and we don’t have to talk too much around the house. But excessive hours of texting can still be an issue. Try to reduce the amount of swear words you use, especially while texting since you can easily filter it out for yourself. And like the random fish in Bikini Bottom said it best, always ask yourself, “do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
Alternatives: Timed phone calls, timed text conversations, praising God
4. Social Media
Ah social media. I used to be full on addicted to it and I feel the struggle but it is DRAINING your time and mental health. No matter how wisely you think you’re using it, social media is programmed to make you waste as much time as possible. And I’m pretty sure you heard all the negatives from your grandma so let’s get right into the alternatives.
Alternatives: Uninstall the apps that distract you, put all your apps in one folder, read books, exercise and grow through knowledge.
To this day, I still refresh my email page and my habits of falling down the Youtube vault are still evident but who knows where I would’ve been if I kept Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and all other social media apps I used? Take a detox this month even if it’s for a day, even if it’s just a detox from one app, and I promise you won’t regret it.
5. Junk Food
This is one I’m going to try this month but letting go of junk food makes other food fill you better and healthy food starts to actually taste good. I don’t know how this feels like because I let go of everything above except this one oops. In Ramadan, iftar is usually homemade and healthy and afterwards dessert is usually homemade too. Your stomach shrinks and you most likely won’t have the cravings you used to so it’s the perfect time to just stop eating packaged and processed foods. I’ll let you know how this goes for me but I definitely need to start controlling my eating from now on. There is no school cafeteria, restaurant or lack of time in your way – so make the most of it and start the healthy habits you want to have.
Alternatives: Fruits, dates (y’all dates became my new chocolate), healthy alternatives (recipes found on Youtube)
Anddd that’s all for today.
Have you heard of the dopamine detox?
Have you ever given up any of the things I mentioned?
What are you most addicted to?
Did you read Hiddenz‘ post?
Ramadan Kareem! I’ll see you in my next post.