By Leona Thomas
There are many ways to soothe your feelings when the modern world is overwhelming you. One of my bad habits is to reach for something sugary when my emotions are high, when I feel tearful and triggered by something. I learned to do this as a child. It is difficult to find a photo of my younger self that doesn't show me eating sweets or biscuits!
But now that Ramadan is here, I cannot eat or drink anything from sunrise (approximately 3.45am) until sunset (approximately 7.45pm) and the process of fasting and praying is really stirring up some very deep old feelings. The emotional pain is intense and I have no choice but to sit with it.
So what do you do when you cannot eat to make the feelings go away?
You have to listen to them. They each have a story to tell. The trick is not to get sucked in to that story because it will be distorted by your pain. When we are upset we do not see the world from a balanced perspective. Truth goes out of the window but our upset mind tells us that it knows the truth. It is not so.
So how do you navigate the world once you have been triggered?
Have you ever noticed that you can deeply hurt or offend somebody when you are upset? Misunderstandings get out of control and you can even lose the friendship or relationship because of your behaviour or something terrible that you said.
The trick is to realise that you may not be seeing things as clearly as your mind would have you believe. Walk away and calm down. There are many ways to calm down and we all enjoy different things.
You might watch a favourite movie or listen to some great music.
Or you might like to meditate.
Meditation doesn't have to be complicated. You do not have to twist yourself into a pretzel and sit in Lotus position. That is for yogis. That is the natural seated position in Asia. If you are not Asian let yourself relax. It helps to keep your back straight if you are going to meditate sitting down. But meditation can also include swimming lengths in a pool or painting something artistic for fun, or taking photographs of nature in the park.
In fact meditation is just a way to let your mind take a rest and to allow your heart energy to take centre-stage. When we let go of our mental focus and go within, our body lets go of its stress response and relaxation occurs.
This photograph was taken at Lake Temagami in Northern Ontario, Canada. On this website it is used to help people to choose which Soul Session is right for them. But it is a power photo in its own right. Try just sitting looking at this photo for 5 minutes and notice what happens. How did your feel before you looked at the picture and how did you feel afterwards?
If you look at the various pictures on this website you will notice that they have a way of inducing calm. See which photo you are drawn to. They have a magic of their own and the Angels work with you when you are just relaxing and gazing at them. The photos bring you back to your innate Divine connection.
Now that you are back in your balanced state of connection with your inner wise self, you can look at what your emotions and feelings are trying to tell you. And take action if it is necessary. Sometimes the only person who has to do something different is you. When you are balanced and being honest with yourself, you can see the easy natural way forward. When you see that somebody is treating you badly you also see that you allow them to do that to you. And you are given the delightful gift of seeing this, understanding it, and choosing a different kind of interaction next time.
My Ramadan 2018 is bringing up some very deep issues from my childhood. Old pains and old patterns, seeing and understanding it all without any feeling at all. But the feelings are then triggered in the current day due to a similar event suddenly taking place. The trigger happens; the pain is intense and then my over-emotional mind goes into 'let's tell a dramatic story about this' mode. None of these stories are true. They are over-reactions to everyday events - caused by intense pain in the past.
I cannot eat to silence the voices so I listen.
I breathe. I sing to myself. I listen to recordings of my own music and songs. I pray. I make new recordings of me praying and singing and listen to them too!
And through it all, I continue my daily practice of ritual cleansing and prayers 5 times each day.
The Ramadan practice is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is creating a deep purging that is excrutiatingly intense. Yet on the other hand, it is softly nurturing me and there is a definite comfort from connecting with Allah, with surrendering on the prayer mat, asking for forgiveness and being alone with Allah. Yes, this whole Holy month is about renewing your personal connection with Allah. You may pray for yourself and others once you have completed your special Ramadan prayers.
As one who is always in service to others through The Divine, it is a deeply personal means of connecting with God - 5 times a day, stopping everything and cleansing and coming home on the prayer mat so that I may connect with Allah just for the sake of me. It is an act of full surrender to the Divine, knowing that everything in my heart is known, for good or bad, right or wrong.
Finally I am putting my needs ahead of everybody else. And through it all, through all the personal prayer time with Allah, Divine Love is always there to receive me. The greatest Love of All is always there for me and never turns me away. I am coming Home.