Something that Muslims often refer back to and which gives many Muslims solace is the promise that no one will be burdened with more than they can bear:
“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Qur’an, 2:286).
For some reason then, we do what we are obligated to do and then find more for ourselves to do. Then we decide that is not enough and we must do even more: have a perfect home, amazing children, tend to our marriages, have a high flying career, a whirlwind social life, do lots of social good and then of course squeeze in extended family, worship, studies and recreation in all of the cracks so that life is bursting at the seams and our bodies are protesting.
So obviously we then stop, take stock, go back to doing the bare minimum obligated on us and make sure we get rest and recharge. Okay so maybe not. We find ourselves doing too much, try to do more and then try to find ways to keep going. So instead of listening to our bodies, many people I know or work with are propping themselves up with coffee, energy drinks and copious amounts of sugar. We stop listening to the natural rhythms of our internal cycles and the demands of our bodies to stop, rest, eat the right things and stop doing the things that make us feel bored, numb and artificially alert (read wired).
I have always had a high sugar intake in my diet – I love chocolate ever so much. Then slowly out of sheer boredom, the daily morning coffee has crept into my diet – my favourite full fat milky latte, not cheap either. I remember the year before last (I was pregnant and unable to fast last year) fasting during Ramadan meant that the caffeine and sugar suddenly fell out of my diet. I could not understand why my whole body was aching so much. It lasted a week before my body accepted it wasn’t going to get anymore artificial shots of stimulant. Then the pain stopped and the fog lifted from my mind making me feel clear headed and naturally alert and a little more in touch with my body.
So I have decided to stop drinking coffee from today and then cut down on cola and chocolate over the next few days. So far it has been torturous. I have spent most of the day trying to concentrate and keep awake and not fall off of my chair. I went to the loo and nearly fell asleep – I don’t know how I would have explained that one:
Manager: where were you?
Me: In the loo
Manager: For two hours?
Me: Yes, I had a bit of a problem…
In any case over the course of the day the fog is lifting. I had to resort to chocolate for lunch, but plan to abstain for the rest of the day.
It just made me think about how unkind we are to ourselves, we give in to our desires like children even when they do not benefit us. We self-medicate with food, caffeine, sugar when we are not really hungry. Instead we are usually bored, unfulfilled and aimless. If we were inspired and motivated, we would keep on going, we would find ourselves in our flow and be so lost in our work that we would not feel so tired and we would not need stimulants to keep going. So instead of stopping ourselves from doing what makes us miserable, and finding something that feeds into our purpose and sets our soul on fire we find ways to keep going against our hearts wishes and end up overweight, spotty and very unhealthy in the process.
So having found my purpose and set my soul on fire over the course of many years, I know need to deal with my food addictions and re-engage with the rhythms and needs of my body. I am going to push through my desire for coffee and chocolate and hopefully make my first week of Ramadan easier than it otherwise would have been insh’Allah