How Ramadan is an opportunity for spiritual growth
As with all religions, spirituality is central to Islam and the faith recognises that remaining in the egoic self, known as nafs in Arabic, manifests in people remaining in anxious survival mode.
In this capacity, the body is more likely to be triggered by the outside world, take matters more personally and enter a vicious cycle of mental health crisis.
"Ramadan is a time for purification," Sotoda Saifi, hypnotherapist and mindfulness coach, told The New Arab. For her, and many Muslims who have taken the journey of expanding their consciousness, Ramadan is a time of the year to intentionally focus on their celestial selves.
Despite spiritual growth being a decreed part of the Islamic journey, there are debates on the path Muslims should take to achieve spiritual peace.
A growing niche of Muslims are embodying ancient practices and knowledge of the soul to transcend spiritually, heal mentally and physically, and establish a stronger connection with God.
Ideas such as the wheel of energy centres in the body - known as chakras in Sanskrit and lataif in Sufi Islam - yoga, and meditation are common in such circles, where the aim is to find peace by quietening the egoic self to surrender to God.
|Spirituality is at the heart of Islam and helps us to surrender to God|
Neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza refers to chakras as centres of information spread out in individual clusters of neurological networks across the body.
Muslims who use such methods to embrace their spiritual bodies say they are taking a means to an end for achieving healing and God-consciousness.
"Spirituality is at the heart of Islam and it helps us to surrender to God. When we raise our vibration, we're able to break down subconscious barriers that stop us from tapping into our potential, which affects our relationship with God," Sotoda explained.
Ramadan as an opportunity for growth
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Muslims are experiencing an added layer of challenge this year by having to fast under quarantine. Luxuries that were taken for granted, such as socialising at the mosque, having large gatherings of friends and families to break fasts, and having groups over to pass the time, are being taken away from them.
"We know the benefits of fasting and how it's connected to our immune system," Sotoda said. "This is very important to remember as we embrace the holy month at the time of coronavirus when we need to do all we can to boost our immunity."
Immunity is not the only benefit of observing the fast during the corona-era. Isolation can be used to immerse oneself in prayer and meditation as an opportunity to undo subconscious blockages that create barriers in manifesting a fulfilling life.
"One of the ways to take advantage of Ramadan for spiritual growth is to use the extra introspection we have this year to look into our subconscious programming, behavioural patterns and childhood traumas," Sotoda said, urging that the pathway to enlightenment is through emotions.
"These testing times will bring up a lot of emotions. As long as we don't take them too far by using emotions to hurt yourself or others, feeling your emotions is very normal and healthy."
"If you're feeling anger, who do you need to forgive? It's more than just a person at that moment making you angry, it's most likely you were triggered by someone from your past, such as teachers, parents, and other peers who had an impact on you during childhood. This helps us decipher who we need to forgive in order to heal," she added.
Shame, fear and guilt are other common emotions that may come up as Muslims experience Ramadan in isolation.
"Right now, many are scared of coronavirus and are fearful of their own mortality and losing others to the deadly illness. Whilst the fears have a rational base, we need to go deeper. Do we need to forgive ourselves? For what? The aim is to restore peace to bring ourselves back into the present moment and to be able to surrender to the will of God fully."
Meditation, purification and energy centres
One of the many avenues to find peace is to meditate. A common saying amongst those in the spiritual community is that prayer is when a person speaks to God and meditation is when God speaks to them. Some take this literally, whereas others focus on a state of mind.
This means when someone is meditating, they are relaxed and present enough to receive information and analyse accordingly from the heart, as opposed to the ego.
|Connecting with divine texts such as the Quran is one of the ways to purify the heart to heal your body and mind, to let the soul shine through|
The common image of meditating is a person sitting with their legs crossed, thumb touching their finger and eyes closed, trying to think about nothing. In reality, this is just one of many ways to meditate.
Some meditate by directing their focus to their breath, some meditate with an affirmation, or mantra, in their head, and other times, such as in kundalini yoga, meditations are embedded in yoga practice.
"The aim of meditation is to purify the body and there are many ways to achieve purification," Sotoda said.
"There's the physical body, the mental body and the spiritual body. The physical and mental bodies both need healing and need to go through a process of purification, but the spiritual body doesn't need to be purified, it's there in its perfect state and can be accessed through healing and calming the ego," she explained.
In Islamic tradition, the spiritual body is known as the soul, or ruh in Arabic.
"Connecting with divine texts, such as the Quran is one of the ways to purify the heart to heal your body and mind, to let the soul shine through. Muslims should connect to the Quran and the 99 names of Allah through feeling its healing vibrational power as words that came directly from God," Sotoda added.
Once a person enters that state of peace, the theories state they are able to allow their heart centre to lead them as they live their life.
"Even if all of this is a placebo, it's fine because as long as it brings you peace and raises your vibration, you're able to tap into a place within yourself where you can confidently be led by your intuition because you realise all the answers are already within us."
But for Sotoda and other spiritual Muslims, energy is not a mystical, pseudoscientific concept, in spite of the fact that many criticise the theory behind the existence of the energetic body because of its intangibility.
"Chakras are not physical in that you can see and touch them. They are energy points that help you understand yourself better. They give you guidance to your physical and emotional bodies," Sotoda urged.
"Everything is energy. Everything we do is a form of energy, body is made up of organs, which are made up of tissue, which are made up of cells, which are made up of atoms, which are subatomic energy particles. molecules energy."
"Our thoughts are electrical impulses, which are made up of energy," she added.
Hypnotherapy and reprogramming
According to Sotoda, hypnotherapy and recovery go hand in-hand. "Hypnotherapy is a passion of mine. Only 10 percent of our mind is our conscious mind, and the 90 percent of it is hidden in the subconscious" she explained.
"Hypnotherapy entails entering a very relaxed state in which our brain generates theta waves."
Breaking down the three types of brain waves, Sotoda explained that the brain emits alpha waves at its most aware, and beta waves, which put humans in a drowsier and relaxed state. The theta state, which is the ultimate relaxed state, is where doors open.
"When someone is in a theta state, they remember everything. Their triggers and traumas come to the surface because they have full access to their subconscious minds. To be simply aware of these triggers is enough to heal."
Sotoda says Islam and hypnotherapy relate, because it is a way to clear the mind and heart and to achieve peace – a crucial part of Islam.
Every human is born with trials, tribulations and a reason to heal. Ramadan was decreed to Muslims to partake in introspection and healing as a part of a religion that champions peace, love and discipline.
For Muslims who delve into spirituality, energy science and the subconscious mind, Ramadan compliments their faith perfectly.