It’s only when you stop for a few moments that you notice how your stillness is more than nothingness.
In waiting quietly on the prayer mat, talking with your heart, your lips not moving.
It’s in the leaning on the bridge and feeling the wind as it buffets your joggers around your legs.
It’s in the sound of the water trickling over rocks.
When the birds chirp while humans are sleeping.
It’s the beauty of the sun that rises and sets, as you stand and just watch.
It’s in the crescent moon as it waxes and wanes.
In a heart that beats when the limbs are unoccupied.
It’s in the breath that is held as you strain, to hear your baby breathing.
It’s in the marvel that in your stillness: doing nothing, the Creator keeps creating.
Be still today for a few moments to notice
something new or forgotten: I did.
Finding quietude in today’s society has become near impossible unless you seek it out. With the demands of work, family, and technology it’s hard to just Be. Current research shows that the majority of people look at their mobile phones as soon as they wake up.
Connectivity has become a burden on our senses.
Do you find it difficult to switch off from the constant influx of information? Do you feel you have to always be available and work hours have over spilled into out of work hours? Is it hard to avoid answering a what’s app message? Is there too much you want to do?
I feel all of these pressures on my time. Increasingly it’s all about being fast, in food, in productivity and in wanting it NOW!
Contrastingly stillness is associated with negativity, doing nothing and being nothing. Now that’s a harsh label to deal with!
However, both the Sunnah and research indicate that being in touch with yourself and your surroundings affects your health positively. When its’ been months or years since you sat alone, just by yourself it’s time to reassess.
3 Powerful benefits of Stillness
I would be the first to put up my hand to say I’ll have a dose of mood- boosting! Here’s why:
Meditation in Islam includes the concepts of “Tafakkur and Tadabbur,” which means thinking and contemplation. Reflection allows for growth in a person as you learn from your experiences. Constant movement distracts you from truly reflecting; often you busy yourself with useless chatter, whilst standing in the midst of chaos. It can be difficult to give value to taking some time out for yourself to be still. It can seem selfish.
However, when you are constantly doing something, like juggling a crying baby whilst trying to make a phone call or you’re just fighting off a sabre-toothed tiger!! You are stimulating your nervous system to the point of exhaustion. Counteracting that with moments of stillness through prayer or just sitting and being mindful can reduce your heart rate, improve digestion, improve mood and boost your overall emotional well-being (1) If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed you can lift your mood by practicing just a few minutes of stillness.
Give it a go today.
Mood boost: be still for 5- minutes and just be aware of all your senses and what they are telling you. Try it in different surroundings regularly
The Arabs of the Islamic era were nomads and mainly travelers. Their entertainment involved looking at the natural beauty around them and that consisted of, rocks, trees, expanses of sand, sky and other natural phenomena. This aspect of contemplation allowed them to become the most advanced scientific, medical and philosophical society of that era. It was the age of discovery.
The importance of stillness or meditation in Islam is particularity reflected in the Prophet (PBUH) practice of secluding himself in the cave known as Ghar Hira on Jabal Nur, the “Mountain of Light.” He sat for long periods of time in surrender looking for the truth.
The Prophet (PBUH) said, “I was in a seclusion in the cave of Hira………”
Bukhari volume 6 book 60 hadith 445
You can take inspiration from this, meditation and contemplation prepared the prophet (PBUH) to receive Devine revelation and guidance. Use your stillness to become aware of yourself, your surroundings and your connection with the universe and the Creator.
Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and day are signs for people of understanding, those who remember Allah while standing, sitting or reclining, and reflect in the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created this in vain. Glory to you! Save us, then, from the chastisement of the Fire!”
(Quran: Aal-Imran 3: 190-19)
Reflection will lead to discovering the reality of Allah’s existence and subsequently the truth about your purpose.
Allah (SWT) says: And I did not create the jinn and humankind except to worship Me.
Discovery boost: Take a few minutes/ hours/days to connect with yourself and the Creator.
Reflect on yourself and where you are and where you want to be.
According to Imam Hadad (2) Allah never mentions the outward aspects of a human without mentioning the inner aspects. Imam Hadad explains that you need to improve your inner state: so that it is better than the ‘virtuous outward appearance’. In working towards this goal, stillness gives the soul peace as you carry out jihad e nafs (control of the ego). The nafs likes to dwell on the past and the future desires of the body. In stillness, you learn to calm and control these desires and bring yourself back to the awareness of God.
The decision between good and bad is made in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which lies directly behind the forehead. The Quran refers to this aspect in relation to Abu Jahl an enemy of the prophet (PBUH).
No Indeed; surely, if he gives not over, We shall seize him by the forelock, a lying, sinful forelock!”
Quran (96: 15-16)
Research supports this reference to the prefrontal cortex. Importantly, recent findings (3) show that meditation may change the brain and immune function in a positive way. As a result of meditation practices, the brain’s physical structure was found to have increased. Most noteworthy was the increase in areas of introspection, attention and sensory processing and the prefrontal cortex. Especially relevant is that the prefrontal cortex is also associated with decision-making and control.
Self-control boost: Take 3 slow, deep breaths to calm your (soul) nafs before making any difficult decision.
I hope some or all of these benefits will motivate you to do some regular contemplation, meditation and take the time to be still and find peace and health, Insha’Allah.
Nourish your soul with stillness- It’s free
Allah Hafiz for now.
(1)Chang, V. Y., Palesh, O., Cladwell, R., Glasgow, N., Abramson, M., Luskin, F., Gill, M., Burke, A., and Koopman, C. (2004). The effects of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program on stress, mindfulness and self-efficacy, and positive states of mind. Stress Health 20, 141–147.
(2)Imam Abdallah ibn Alawi Al-Hadad. The book of Assistance 1989 15-16
(3) Davidson, Richard J. Ph.D.; Kabat‐Zinn, Jon Ph.D.; Schumacher, Jessica MS; Rosenkranz, Melissa BA; Muller, Daniel MD, Ph.D.; Santorelli, Saki F. EdD; Urbanowski, Ferris MA; Harrington, Anne Ph.D.; Bonus, Katherine MA; Sheridan, John F. Ph.D. Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation.Psychosomatic Medicine: July 2003- vol65-issue4-pg564-570
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