Archive | September 6, 2010

Letters to the Self #24: More Than You Think You Are Able

When we push past our limits, our limits become lessLetters to the Self #24: More Than You Think You Are Able
Ramadhan Day 23

By Jeewan Chanicka

Dear Self,

We are almost nearing the end of this blessed month. You’ve abstained from food, drink and sexual gratification. I think that you’ve learned that you have much more power than you thought, haven’t you? It was filled with many opportunities for you to discover this. From the length of time that you fasted, the prayers, the many deeds that you did, the moments of silence, the tears and the clarity that came through reflection.

What are you learning Self? Are you recognizing your potential? Is it becoming clearer that you are an ambassador of God and that means you have a job to do in this world? Like Muhammad (peace be upon him), you are meant to be a mercy to those around you. You are to meant to go forward in your society and find a way to give back to those who were blessed with different things than you.

You are meant to own the things of this world with your hands and let God fill your heart with His Love and Light. It is time for you to shed all the things that have taken over your life. You’ve reflected on your priorities, so now, get them in order.

You have been given a noble mission, responsibility and privilege- to bring your gifts and talents forward and use it on behalf of the Creator of the universe to bring goodness to others; to help; to share; to do…. It starts wherever you are- in your home, your neighbourhood, village, town, city, province, county, state, country and world.

How can you do this Self?

Get up, let go of your past, shed the judgements of short-sighted people, discipline your ego, leave the hurt behind but keep all the learning from it. Then, look forward.

Your soul needs you to act now; your community needs your skills, so does your country and our world. Even more importantly though, this is why you were created.

If fasting taught you anything, it should have been the need to be constantly conscious of the Most Merciful and one of the most important ways you “remember” is through your compassionate citizenship and humble, non-judgemental service to others.

Self, how will your family, community, society and country benefit from you? As God’s ambassador, what will you do? Will you wake up now and do what you were meant to do or will you slip back into the monotonous servitude of people and things? Will your vision remain clear about your purpose or will you lose it now that the ritual fast is over?

You have a choice right now…I am urging you to do the right thing..let us work together and live meaningfully, so that when death greets us, we can smile knowing that we will be reunited with our Lord and can look back and know, we did our best while we travelled on the earth.

Love,
me

Diary Series:
Letters to the Self #23: Submission
Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?
Letter to the Self #21: Possessions
Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces
Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: PurposeLetter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness

Related Topics:
Can You Just Change Your Mind Just Like That!
Distractions of Life vs. God

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Letters to the Self #23: Submission

Letters to the Self #23: Submission
Ramadhan Day 22

By Jeewan Chanicka

Dear Self,

The nights are filled with blessings beyond compare. I know you are tired, as these last nights require more from you than the others. But strive; and seek its bounty. Lose your ego and find your Lord in your sacrifices.

Each moment of seeking Him, is closeness to Him; it is freedom of things that enslave you and tie you to this world; it is clarity from the desires that distract you.

So Self, take some time, slow down and let yourself be with God. When you are with Him, you can let yourself be vulnerable because with Him you will find sanctuary, give Him your burdens and take His Trust as your armour, show Him your flaws, seeking Forgiveness and receive His Mercy and Love in return.

You know yourself; the sins you commit- hiddenly, openly, in public and in secret; the sins you’ve tried to convince yourself are ok; the ones that you’ve over-rationalized even though deep within, they haunt you…you are His servant; He is calling you to His Light so leave the darkness and hasten towards it.

He is calling you to all that is good, all that you want even though you may not see it.

Wrapped between His will and your choices are the events that will lead to your final destination. As a traveler, you have the chance to change your trajectory now.

Do it, while you still can.

Love,
Me

Diary Series:
Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?
Letter to the Self #21: Possessions
Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces
Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: PurposeLetter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness

Related Topics:
Night Prayer and the Human Body Clock
The Ideology of Charisma
Who or What Gave You Life?
The Great Flood & Noah’s Ark
The Patterns of Our Lives
Hard Times: Means Change With a Big Bang

Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?

Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?
Ramadhan Day 21

Dear Self,

You always seem to be thinking of how you can earn more so you can get more things? You think sometimes that you have to engage in activities that are prohibited because you have no choice- otherwise how will you survive? When money does not come to you as quickly as you want, you pre-occupy your time trying to find ways to make more and more. Worries begin to consume you and slowly, it devours your soul. To me, it almost seems that, at times, you forget Who is your Provider.

As you pre-occupy yourself with such thoughts, without realizing it, you gradually erode your connection with God. Instead of trying to repair it, you spend more time convincing yourself why it is you need to engage in haram activities; you take time away from your prayer and continue to give up your beliefs in order to “earn”.
Have you ever stopped to think about what it is you are actually earning? While you may see an “improvement” in things financially, you are doing so by sacrificing your relationship with God.

Why couldn’t you trust Allah?

Wasn’t it Allah who created you? Who has looked after you your entire life? He has put a test before you for you to see what you would do. So, what did you do? What do you continue to do? Did you give up on your relationship with the One Who never abandoned you?

This is not an issue about needing provision, this is an issue of trust- your lack of trust in God!

Allah is Ar-Razaq, the Provider.

I want you to remember that your provision is already written for you and you are required to do your best and work for it. Then TRUST that He will provide for you without your need to compromise yourself, your beliefs or your values.
Your Lord never stopped providing for you nor does He want you to suffer. You have to realize that the guidelines He put forth are to help to elevate your soul and to liberate you from slavery to people or desires. So do not dispose of them or lose hope. Do not put your trust in other people or in things.

Instead put your best effort forward and work on your trust.

Once a lover trusts their beloved, their relationship will blossom and become stronger. At the first sign of trouble do not give up or compromise the things you hold dear. Is that how you deal with all the relationships in your life?
He was always there, He always has been, He always will be. He Loves you and will provide for you. Trust me.
More importantly though- trust Him.

Love,
me

Synopsis: Trust in the One Who has never abandoned you that He can provide for you. Follow the guidelines He has set, do your best and then TRUST that His provision will come.

Diary Series:
Letter to the Self #21: Possessions
Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces
Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: PurposeLetter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness

Related Topics:
Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!
Who or What Gave You Life?
Prosperity and Abundance Now!

Letter to the Self #21: Possessions

Letter to the Self #21: Possessions
Ramadhan Day 20

By Jeewan Chanicka

Dear Self,

Have you reflected on all that you have today? You have so much but what do you have to “show” for it?

When I think back to the time of the prophets- Muhammad, Jesus and many others, it seems that they did not have a lot of “things”.

Today, you sit at home with your iphones, ipads, blackberrys, computers, your many comforts- hot water, heat, lots of food (so much that you choose to throw away food), televisions and so much more. Have these things made your life any better?

When you look at the humble beginnings and lives of many of the prophets, you see that they did not have much; still their impact transformed the world (and they didn’t have the internet then!). Yet, we spend so much time going after all these things, supposedly to help us be able to be better people, to do more.

When I think about it though, I feel that you don’t own these things; instead they own you! They pre-occupy your time, your every waking moment. To add to that, you always seem to “need” one more thing and so you have to spend more time and money to get more. So too it is with your degrees on your wall, your big home and fancy cars. They have taken hold of your heart. You’ve forgotten the point of your life- to worship God by becoming a better individual and to serve others.

Am I saying that it’s wrong to have these things? No I am not.

What I am saying is that the things you now live your life for are supposed to be “tools” to help you live your life in a way that is meaningful before God. We have lost sight of this and now measure our success in life by the amount of “tools” we have collected. Yet those tools have in no way helped us to achieve our highest potential or to live with purpose. All we can say is I was busy in my life collecting stuff to impress people. Remember that you want to worship God through your service to others. You want to use those “tools” as an instrument of goodness and light, not to spend your life collecting them.

In short, own the things of this world with your hands not your heart but then spend your time using those things to do good and remember that is why God put you on this earth!

Love,
Me…

Diary Series:
Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces
Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: PurposeLetter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness
Letter to the Self #3: Arrogance
Letter to the Self #2: Ego
Shaban: Letters to the Self

Related Topics:
Forced to Build Sandbag Homes in Gaza
The World Food Prize
The Gift of Sharing
Oil vs. Communities: The Case of Peru

Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces

Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces
Ramadhan Day19

By Jeewan Chanicka

The earth is a sacred space which was placed in our trust. It is time to think about our actions and how they affect others, because this trust is something we will be asked about by God, Who placed it in our care. Do you think about your actions and how they affect others around the world or how they affect the earth itself? Whose time will run out first- yours or our earth?

Dear Self,

I have been thinking more and more about humility. The more I look at civilizations in the past, I realize how much arrogance led to their destruction. I look at us today and wonder if we are heading down a similar path? The more that we have lost sight of our relationship with God and used it to guide our “progress”, the greater the scale of destruction seems to be.

We’ve lost sight of the earth being a “sacred space”, a beautiful place for worship, a mosque, in which there are signs of His Presence, reminders of our mortality and quite importantly- of our inter-connectedness. The more we’ve advanced the doctrine of “ME”, we’ve lost the responsibility of “WE”.

Do you live in this world with your own Self?

We share this world and we’ve lost sight of the importance of remembering the responsibilities that come along with communal living. When we are asked to give up something, or to change our habits, the words- “that’s such an inconvenience” or “that’s not for me” glides off our tongues and hearts forgetting…choosing ignorance…so we can “live in the moment”.

We’ve entered Ramadhan with thousands dying in fires and millions affected by floods, the largest island of ice in 50 years, just broke off a glacier near Greenland, millions of barrels of oil spilt in the ocean off the coasts of the United States and China. Fresh water on the earth is almost been used up. Our politicians who are only advancing this “live in the moment” dogma don’t care what will happen in the future and many of them have enough money to protect their own families..

WAKE UP Self!

This is not what Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) left as God’s legacy- a beautiful soul who protected even the ants. Don’t you remember he removed a campfire so it would not destroy an ant-hill? Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) also said that if you were planting a tree and the Day of Judgement was to advance upon you, FINISH planting the tree!

What have you done to try and protect our “sacred earth” Self?

An old Native American saying, puts it wisely, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”…perhaps this is something to think about the next time you feel it’s inconvenient to make a sacrifice to benefit our environment, to change your habits or to think about those whom your actions affect.

What have you left for our children Self?

Think…

… and then do something about it.

Love,
Me

Diary Series:
Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: PurposeLetter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness
Letter to the Self #3: Arrogance
Letter to the Self #2: Ego
Shaban: Letters to the Self

Related Topics:
A Sacred Place
Hassan Fathy: The Barefoot Architect
All Things Are Linked!
Al-Biruni’s “Economy of Nature” in Modern Biotechnology
Prince Charles on Islam and the Environment
End to Nature’s Greatest Migration on Earth

Mindfulness and Adolescence

Mindfulness and Adolescence

By Hwaa Irfan

A recent study by the University of Cambridge found that mindfulness in adolescent boys increases well-being. After a 4-week crash course in mindfulness, 14 -25 year old boys (155 boys in total) from two independent British schools , the boys were found to express more positive emotions: happiness, contentment, interest, and affection.

    “More and more we are realising the importance of supporting the overall mental health of children. Our study demonstrates that this type of training improves well-being in adolescents and that the more they practice, the greater the benefits. Importantly, many of the students genuinely enjoyed the exercises and said they intended to continue them — a good sign that many children would be receptive to this type of intervention.

    “Another significant aspect of this study is that adolescents who suffered from higher levels of anxiety were the ones who benefitted most from the training,” reported Professor Felicia Huppert of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge.

The crash course involved being conscious awareness of experiences (paying attention), learning how to be in the present, avoiding judgment calls for 40 minutes, one session/class per week. They were encouraged to practice what they learnt in the sessions outside of the classroom, and to listen to a CD/Mp3 file for 8 minutes daily. In self development/spiritual terms this is referred to wakefulness, or learning to be awake as sessions included practicing bodily awareness (contact with their chairs, or the floor, etc), beign attentive of their breathing, and noticing all the sensations involved in walking.

    “We believe that the effects of mindfulness training can enhance well-being in a number of ways. If you practice being in the present, you can increase positive feelings by savouring pleasurable on-going experiences. Additionally, calming the mind and observing experiences with curiosity and acceptance not only reduces stress but helps with attention control and emotion regulation — skills which are valuable both inside and outside the classroom,” commented Huppert.

The Myth of the Adolescent Angst!

One can only assume that the reason only boys were included in the study/research is because in general adolescent boys are not expected to be mindful, but both boys and girls could benefit from such a program. Society exacerbates their senses by feeding them with contradictory information – to not be concerned about their actions, to focus on the physical, what attracts, the desires, to be unreliable, to be rude, and to do as they please. If one only looks across cultures to see how the adolescent behave, traditional and modern, rural and urban, one can see that this is not quite true. If it was true, then all adolescents would behave the same both in the past and the present. Unfortunately, those adolescents who are raised in a religious upbringing, have parents who increasingly believe this to be true and through their lack of mindfulness, their youth often go astray to their dismay, or the myth becomes real to youth who feel caught between the what society says and what their parents have taught them. Unfortunately, this myth-cum-reality is difficult for many to grow out of, simply because in the process one does not fair well when it comes to taking on commitment in later life whether it pertains to marriage, family or society at large. Negative emotions become the way of viewing reality, and also prolong immaturity. This is moreso at a time when the adolescent ego is struggling to come into alignment with their cognitive development. The myth-cum-reality is in fact a man-made construct perpetuated by the typpe of society in which they live. Increasingly, we find the youth are subject to mental illnesses, without investigating, why, and when research has been done, not enough attention is paid to applying an adequate action plan to correct the system that subjects them to mental ill health.

By teaching mindfulness, the adolescent boy or girl learns to keep in touch with themselves instead of the external influences, and has a greater chance of understanding their own needs, and recognizing how best to spend their time. Fortunately the above study has led to a curriculum in mindfulness for schools in both the state and the private sector – let us pray that this idea spreads and continues to reap benefit.

For further information, see http://mindfulnessinschools.org.

Sources:
University of Cambridge (2010, September 1). Mindfulness Meditation Increases Well-Being in Adolescent Boys, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 5, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2010/09/100901111720.htm

Related Topics:
Attention Deficit or Information Overload in Our Children?
Egypt’s Creative Talent: Vanishing Within Education?
How Not to Master a Skill!
The Problem with Precocious Puberty
Schooling, Violence and Your Child
Taking Control of Your Family Home
The Missing Link in the Education of Our Boys

Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”

Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Ramadan Day 18

By Jeewan Chanicka

Be careful not to develop a culture of entitlement where you do the bear minimum and expect much in return. It is your divine duty or worship to your Creator- that whatever you do, you do to the best of your ability.

Dear Self,

Everywhere we turn, I hear the words, “me”, “I”, “live YOUR life the way YOU want, that’s all that matters!”, “It’s about ME and what I want”. But, is it all that matters? It is important that we search for our purpose and then live to be the best we can, to contribute ourselves, fully and totally; to find happiness and contentment in our lives. It is only when we nurture our spirits and fulfill our purpose for living can we have a fulfilling relationship with our Creator and be free of living our lives in the eyes of others.

But, is living life the way WE want really all that matters? Where is the line of balance that must temper our actions? Our acknowledgment that we did not come into the world by ourselves, we did not raise ourselves, and more importantly- that our actions impact others too. Many others have sacrificed, helped, facilitated our journey to where we are standing right now.

Today, this sense of entitlement seems to have taken over so many peoples’ lives that they have become rude and arrogant to their family members, to neighbours, in their workplaces and in the community. Today in our society, many people show up in, do the bare minimum required and expect that they should get the best rewards for it. There is no sense of working for what we want; of going above and beyond what is expected and trying our best at what we do.

As a Muslim, your signature is- Ihsan or excellence. You do your best, because you know that God is watching you. You do your best because this IS YOUR WORSHIP. Whatever you do, you should be trying to excel- not for praise, not for acknowledgment by others, but because it is your divine duty. You have been blessed with certain talents- those are gifts, you did not create them on your own. So while it may be a privilege, it is your responsibility to do your best.

Prophet Muhammed ( peace be upon him) was known as “uswatun hasana” the perfect example. He strived to be the best that he could with what he had by Allah’s mercy. So too should you.

So Self, don’t be ungrateful or selfish; don’t expect that your parents are just supposed to give you what you want; or that your husband or wife should just do certain things for you. To live a life filled with love and compassion necessitates sacrifice and compromise and there is also happiness to be found when the people around you are happy, even if you have to do without.

Be careful that you are not developing a culture of entitlement- people who do little- the bare minimum- and expect a lot. That is an attitude of ingratitude and it will not get you far in the eyes of people or in the eyes of God.

Love,
Me.

Diary Series:
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: PurposeLetter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness
Letter to the Self #3: Arrogance
Letter to the Self #2: Ego
Shaban: Letters to the Self

Related Topics:
One is the Loneliest Number https://hwaairfan.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/one-is-the-loneliest-number/