With each blog post that I am writing, I am getting excited to live a Ramadan journey, full of discovery. First, we have talked about the meaning of Ramadan and then we looked at its symbols and why we celebrate it. Next, we get prepared to welcome the Sultan of 11 months, then we looked deeper into Ramadan routine and now it is time for Ramadan reflections.
For me, this is the most exciting part. It is about listening after becoming an empty cup, it is about self-reflection and self-inquiry. It is feeling gratitude and living life as a ritual and celebration. Ramadan reflections and blessings.
Let’s start. Shall we?
Ramadan reflections: inner journey-finding yourself over and over again
After having an iftar before going to sleep it is great to spend some time alone in your sacred space. If you ask what sacred space is, you can read about it here in the blog post about welcoming Ramadan.
Your sacred space is where you find yourself over and over again. Remember you are doing Ramadan for being conscious about God. How you can be conscious about God?
Below there are some ideas for things to do during Ramadan to find yourself via Ramadan reflections.
Ramadan reflections: witness, do not fix
Ramadan is a time to slow down, be conscious about your thoughts, your speech, and your actions.
At the same time, Ramadan is a month of purification and plenty of changes in your routines. It is not easy. You would have easier times and harder times. Be aware of them.
Hold space for yourself, do not try to fix yourself. When different emotions come to visit you, open your heart, and invite them with curiosity, ask what their messages are.
“Being human is not about feeling happy. It is about feeling everything.”Glennon Doyle
Remember the poem of Rumi.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes.
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jalaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks (The Essential Rumi)
Ramadan reflections: self-reflect
It is a great time to choose to take the responsibilities for your actions. It is time to stop reacting but instead choosing to respond.
You can witness your behavior patterns during Ramadan. When you are feeling threatened, are you attacking another person or attacking yourself? Are you avoiding it? Are you withdrawing?
We call these patterns that we behave from the automatic reaction as the compass of shame. We all go around and do these things unconsciously. Once we begin to be conscious about our automatic reactions, then we have the option to choose to respond instead of reacting.
You can learn more comfort-stretch and panic zone models and compass of shame here in this post. I highly recommend you read and apply all these things during Ramadan. This is an opportunity for you.
Ramadan reflections: clean your own mirror
“Your heart is a polished mirror. You must wipe it dean of the veil of dust that has gathered upon it because it is destined to reflect the light of divine secrets.”Al Ghazali
“Everyone’s action and opinion are according to the place they are in. Everyone looks at the world from their own circle of vision. Blue glass makes the sun look blue, scarlet glass scarlet. Without the color of the glasses, they will be white. The white glass shows more accurately than any other glass, and he is the head and imam of all.”Rumi
“Have you ever known someone who you could never please? Someone who could make a lemon out of lemonade and find the dark cloud in every silver lining? These people are convinced that the world is so messed up. But imagine that this person is looking at the world through their window like we all do.
Now, suppose that their window is dirty, but they do not know that it’s dirty. They might just think that the world is dirty! Instead of cleaning their own window, so that they can see the world more clearly, they just blame the world.
The other side is how we see people through our own dirt. If someone’s window is dirty, and we look at them from out on the street, how will they seem? They will look dirty through their own window. It’s like meeting someone with ‘racist dirt’. Instead of seeing the beautiful and worthy soul that they are, we see a ‘racist’, we see dirt. But, let me ask you, does that ever lead to peace? Does seeing people, as the dirt on their window help them clean it?
We all know that it does not work. We all carry dirt on our windows, and the first step to cleaning it off is seeing that it is there. That is not always easy. It can be painful to know that we have been seeing people and life in such destructive ways, but the beauty is that when we get to wash our windows, the whole world will look brighter.
It is important to remember that we are not the dirt on the windows. We are separate from that. So, if you ‘feel some dirt’ inside yourself, or ‘hear some dirt’ from others, this is not the time to judge it. We are bringing the darkness up into the light so that it can be healed. It is not easy for us to admit that we have such huge chunks of dirt within us. It can be a vulnerable time. So, I want to emphasize the concept of safe space. This is a time to really hold people in your heart as they are sharing and to know that there is a beautiful person on the other side of the glass.”*Yes Jam Facilitation Manual
Ramadan is a month of cleaning our mirror. Ramadan is a collective month and Islam is a community religion. Why is that?
Because to really know your shadow and light you need the mirroring of another person. Islam is not a religion to live your life in a retreat, alone. It is through others you can start to know yourself.
Never forget, whatever you see outside, you can see that because you have that inside. Otherwise, you would not recognize it. Read it again and interiorize it.
Let’s say you are very angry with a person that you cannot stand him anymore, why is that? What is that thing that you see in another person? How could you see that? The person is not just ‘that thing’ that you are defining him with, he is more than that, but why suddenly you begin to see him just as dirt in his mirror. What is going on inside you?
Let’s say you are admiring a person a lot that you are making him a human being above your limits. What is that thing that you see in another person? How could you see that? You can see that because you have that thing inside. You have seen your own potential in him, that is why you are admiring. It is a signal.
Whenever you are getting triggered or admiring another person, slow down, gently ask yourself what is going on inside? Speak with you as you are your best friend with compassion. Ask what you need at this exact moment?
It can be hard sometimes to come to the moment, especially when you are angry or frustrated. Do not try to fix yourself or do not try to get the exact answer at a specific time. Just be there for you. Do a 1-minute check-in:
- Scan your body and see how you feel physically. If you have pain in any specific place, gently bring your attention and breath to that place.
- Scan your emotions, ask how do you feel? Be aware of your feelings.
- Bring your awareness to your thoughts. How is your mind: calm or chaotic?
Own your energy and bring your awareness to the interior from the exterior world. Take it as a joyful game. Have patience and compassion with you. Take this as a daily practice, almost doing sports, the more you do, the easier it will become.
This Ramadan, make it your priority not to hurt anybody. Do not forget what hurts most is our words. Listen to what Yunus Emre-13th century mystic and poet from Anatolia says:
“Heart is the throne of God, God looked to heart.
Those who hurt heart are miserable of two words.”Yunus Emre
Ramadan reflections: forgive
Ramadan is a month of forgiveness. There is a beautiful Ramadan tradition in the old times. Who knows maybe continuing in some places, hopefully?
After Ramadan, in the morning of Eid, after the Ramadan morning prayer in the courtyard of the mosque, people were taking a form of a circle to greet each other. The community was consciously locating those who were offended to each other together so that they can have the opportunity of Ramadan to make peace. The community was supporting this.
I always liked the idea of this ritual. Take Ramadan as an opportunity to forgive those that you feel offended. Forgiveness is a path to freedom. In truth, no one can offend you if you let it so. We are here in this world as brothers and sisters supporting each other in our own paths. Those disappointments and conflicts are all opportunities for us to learn more about ourselves and grow toward peace.
Having said this, sometimes it can be hard to forgive. You can read in this blog post about gaining a perspective to forgive and a forgiveness ritual and a forgiveness prayer.
Make this Ramadan a month of forgiveness, forgive those who make your heart heavy, and maybe above all forgive yourself.
Ramadan reflections: self-inquiry
I am repeating again and again. Ramadan is a journey to Lover. How one can make a journey? What does it mean that?
In Sufi tradition traveling is one of their rituals. I love this idea and I feel the need for it in my life when I am not traveling for a long time.
Traveling makes you wonder, ask questions, and receive answers, see the signs and connections, and feel the lightness, excitement, joy, and love.
So, an inner journey does.
Take it as a journey inwards. Ask your questions gently, without even expecting their answers. Let your questions gently in the silence.
Keep track of those signs that Life is sending you.
Take self-inquiry seriously.
“…The most important aspect of meditative self-inquiry is knowing how to ask the question, knowing how to introduce the question into the silent mind, into the core of your being. So when we look and we observe and we ask a question, we are not looking for an instantaneous answer from the mind, but the question itself is actually focusing awareness, it’s drawing awareness’s attention in a certain direction. It’s very important to understand this lest the mind starts searching in its past experience for an answer. An inquiry is meant to open the mind, to provide a gap within the mind through which we can enter a deeper experience…”Adyashanti on Self-Inquiry
Ramadan reflections: cross the field of doubt
“The essence of the devil is doubt.”Haji Bektash Veli
What is the reason for all the fasting, prayers, giving? Why we need so much purification?
Because we have Ego, we have a shadow, we are living in duality so that we can realize how One feels when we can be God-conscious.
Inside ourselves the continuous war between evil and angel, shadow and light is happening. You need to be conscious, all the time. A second of not being conscious can result in going back again to duality.
Doubt is the most powerful tool of duality. You will receive and see many signals and proofs in this blessed month of Ramadan. Own them, know that you are continuously talking with God.
First, you will believe and once you will pass the fields of doubt, you will know that all those signs and proofs are real. Part of the reality.
The more you will know and see and own, the deeper your conversation and your relationship will become and the bigger your LOVE will be.
Ramadan reflections: keep a Ramadan diary
So many exciting things to do in Ramadan to make the most of it. Keeping a diary during Ramadan can be a great idea.
Setting a time can help to make it a consistent routine, before/after sahur and/or iftar or during the day.
Keeping your diary in your sacred space and visiting that sacred space every day to write your diary so that you can spend time there, is a great way to connect to yourself. You can see here how to create a sacred space, a Ramadan corner.
In your diary, you can write about:
- 3 things you are grateful for:
- Your intention for the coming day:
- The signs and proofs that you are seeing:
- Self-inquiry questions that are coming to your mind:
Ramadan blessings: make living life worship: live life as a ritual
“What you seek is seeking you.”Rumi
Ramadan blessings: see Artist in art
“Listen to the words of Niyazi, nothing can cover the face of God!
There is no other thing besides God, for those without eyes it is a secret.”Niyazi Mısri
As Mısri says, there is no other thing besides God, for those without eyes it is a secret. This Ramadan can you be in the search for God in all details, can you pray to uncover the veins so that you can see the light of God in all?
Be aware of the beauty in everything, focus on beauty. See the Artist in all art around you; flowers, animals, insects, fruits, vegetables, humans, songs, poems, paintings everything.
As I have explained more in detail here, remember those Hadith and the words of Ibn Arabi
“I was a hidden treasure, loved to be known, and I created realms to be known.”Hadith
“Human is as for God, just as the pupil is for the eye, the view is thanks to a human.”Ibn Arabi
Know that you have been created to see and know the treasure. Be aware of the treasure around you. See the treasure and know it.
Enjoy the world that is created. Focus on the things that you love to do. Do more of those that make your soul happy.
Make a list of those things that you love to do and spare everyday time to do those things.
Make ‘feeling good’ your priority. Dance, sing, read a poem, laugh, listen to stories, tell stories, play with kids, cook, create a beautiful iftar table. Whatever you do, add beauty to it.
Be aware of how blessed you are. Feel gratitude. The more you will feel gratitude, the more you will realize the blessings around you.
Ramadan blessings: create with inspiration
“Absolute Being derives from nothing.
Where could its existence come from other than the absence of the wound?
Is it overwritten with what has been written?
Can someone else be planted instead of the planted growing seedlings?
So, look for a blank paper, an uncultivated place.
Be untouched place, the paper that is not contaminated by ink,
that the pen of mercy honor you
and Rahman sow the seed of Pure Vision into his blindness. “Rumi
Feel Love. Invite Love. Fall in love. Follow your bliss. Just go after without planning. Let your heart show you the way.
Create with this inspiration. Make the things you do beautifully. Whatever you do, do them with love. By being present. By doing your best.
“We can say that the greatest works of art, culture, and science, the whole world contents of museums, libraries, concert halls, literature and those expressed in the best examples of poetry, who know himself to a degree tending to at least explore the region between knowing and not knowing they emerged from the mind of man.”Jon Kabat-Zinn
Ramadan blessings: celebrate life
At the end of the journey of Love; the blessing Ramadan, celebrate it with all your heart in Eid. That day make celebration your priority. When your Ego wants to speak say to him that now not my dear, we worked hard this Ramadan, and now it is time to celebrate Life, celebrate Union, celebrate Love.
Do not take these ideas of activities as an overwhelming thing. Take the journey lightly and softly, like a game.
Get excited for a journey that will change your life forever, every year during Ramadan.
Let’s finish with Fatima’s prayer:
‘Lord do not leave me alone with me.’Fatima
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Ramadan Board!