As much as I love a good bit of scriptural analysis, at this point in my life, this is far from the truth of what I want to do. I’ve read enough ‘Holy’ Books over the past decade to last me a while – though I am not alien to using them for inspiration or a good reminder to get my s*** together.
For me, Ramadan feels as if it has come at a good time. It could sound selfish to some, but you have to bear in mind that we’re human – we feel things. My personal symbolic consciousness of what Ramadan represents is what draws me towards participation. I don’t know what it means to others, but I know what it is for me.
Mostly, I’d like to talk about fasting for a long period of time and how if everyone got involved, it could have huge positive trickling effects on our society, as well as for ourselves.
Why Fast for Ramadan?
Fasting is an activity that allows us to reevaluate how much we take from the world and how much we give to it. In other words, it’s a time to look at how much energy we consume and how much of that energy we give back out. Repetitive – but you get the point.
It is a time of spiritual renewal, understanding and exploring, as well as a time to look at how we as human beings add or subtract value to the society and environments that we choose to live in. It is also a time of coming together, community and giving – and somehow all this giving and reflecting is also tied up to how much we waste resources as a society. Since this is a ‘waste free’ blog, its important for me to come back to waste – and how much we, you and I and everyone else just keep on wasting resources! Resources can be anything from food, electricity, material goods, time, our own energy and the energy of others. Something to remember.
People often find it ‘quirky’ or ‘interesting’ when I talk about the moon and its cycles, but humans have been very aware of the moon cycles for thousands of years and perhaps that’s where our interest stems from. Both science and religions have made time to explore the importance of our solar system’s activities and its relationship to the earth and its inhabitants. I won’t pretend as if the research has been done because if we knew the answers to everything, then surely there would be no point in experiencing life, and there would certainly be no reason for me to write this post.
One of the often talked about benefits of Ramadan is loosing weight. People just seem to associate fasting with weight loose. Fasting is not starvation – people need to understand this.
On the surface we want to be slim because its attractive, but on a deeper level we want to be slim (or lets say fat-free) because it has health implications. Being attractive is also a sign of health and quite frankly.. simply put.. the ability to create healthy offspring.. so yes from a scientific and biological standpoint, attractiveness plays an important roles because we want to create healthy babies.
Fat (excess energy) that clings to our bodies is essentially storage, and if we live in a world of abundance where there is so much food surplus, why would anyone need to store fat? Very few of us are actually nomadic and we definitely don’t live in any type of potato famine era so we have no reason to store and hide things away. I say hide, because how often when we feel we carry too much fat (or feel insecure)- do we use our clothes and the placement of our hands to ‘hide’ those areas of our bodies?
It’s good to remember that there is always enough to go around. Something that for many of us stems from the ‘poverty mentality’ that may have either been first hand experience or passed down from our parents or parents before them. My father was a refugee from Laos and the lack of food in the camps shaped how he treated food in our household. There was always the feeling that there was ‘not enough’ when in actual fact, there always was.
Today, for many of us – there is more than enough. I can’t emphasis this enough.
And in our modern world, where you are able to access this website – if you give your heartfelt energy, there will always be someone somewhere to put food on your plate. Its more a matter of attitude than anything else. I’ll give an example – the other day I was in a local shop. I mentioned in general speak that I was hungry, and the shop keeper gave me a bunch of banana’s, for free. Simple moment, happens a lot in my life. Simply be being whatever I am at any given time. It kinda works like that, but we don’t actually want you to know it works like that – because then we’re giving away the secret.. which come to think about it, is probably why that book is called ‘the secret’ in the first place – except it’s not really a secret once you start talking about it. It’s all about flow, but I don’t feel like going in to that.
Most people are probably aware of some cultures where being fat is considered attractive, but if you take the time to think about it, many of these ideas stem from cultures where the poverty rate is high; so these fat people are essentially symbols of being well fed and having more than enough to eat – it’s a symbol of abundance! But in today’s western world, we have an obvious abundance of food and lots of opportunities to thrive, develop and evolve, so being fat is more likely to represent greed. Idolising skinny people in many ways actually makes sense, because it can in some ways represent the amount of discipline and control that these people can endue in order to stay away from the constant buzzing of EAT EAT EAT DRINK DRINK DRINK BUY BUY BUY!
Which leads me onto:
I give the Muslim community credit for recognising long before the hipsters and the vegans (no offence guys) that the big guys on top are constantly trying to bombard us with ways and things to consume, as well as ways to sell us pharmaceutical products instead of actually offering us solutions to our health issues.
Ramadan allows us to explore how powerful we really are as individuals and as a collective voice. As resistant as we tend to believe we are against excessive consumerism and advertising, as long as we passively walk on the streets, it will play a role in our lives.
If we plan our day out in advance, we can be prepared with healthy and sustainable foods without ever having to step foot in a supermarket (that’s if you are against supermarkets). When someone tells me they’re hungry and are going to Tesco, my heart races while I look around to see if there is an alternative local and independent option… though if it’s a good day, I can usually do the whole “here’s something I made earlier” and share it. This however, won’t be happening during Ramadan since I’ll be fasting.
Boycotting is nothing new and has been successful in many cases of causing companies sufferation until they change some of their ethical practices. So for that – Ramadan is a good time to review what causes you believe in, and what practices you disagree with.. i.e child slavery, low wages, animal harm.. etc… and to stay away from products and brands that represent and practice those activities. Ramadan is a good time to explore alternatives and look at how you really feel about these things. I hear people talk about how they wish how they could become vegetarian, or how they wish they could avoid Amazon, but are not ready to make the changes. Ramadan is a time to start doing this.
We hear a lot about how food is medicine and I’m fully on board with this concept and understanding. Ramadan allows us to look at our relationship with food and its effect on our health. It also ties in with the loosing weight idea, although if we were to focus on eating to sustain our health, loosing weight will simply be a consequence of that.
It may, if we listen carefully to what our bodies say to us – allow us to use food and our eating habits as a way to ‘heal’, and create more use of our potential as human beings through the use of our bodies.
How often do we eat to distract ourselves? Or how often do we continue to eat when we feel full? How often do we reach for foods that we know are non nutritious for us because it is convenient?
By having set times for eating during the Ramadan period, we are able to free our minds from the desire to fulfill the action of eating and focus more on giving ourselves and our energy to the world, as well as using it as a time to go inwards and look at what we are doing to the world around us.
In regards to natural health, if you’re rolling in the right communities, all you need do is ask an elder (or well-informed person.. or me.. maybe) for a remedy and they’ll go pick some herbs or gather some fruits or vegetables and head to kitchen and create something lovingly for you. Home cooked food is mostly always created with love while pills are created with rational science. I love science, but when I’m feeling ill, I much rather someone come shower me with love and accompany me while I explore what went wrong to make me get ‘sick’ in the first place… Taking a pill tends to be impersonal while I’m left to wallow in my own self pity of illness and sit around aimlessly. But that’s just me..
Our relationship with God (or Allah, or Buddha, or Brahman, or Spirit, ourselves or whatever you choose to believe or not to believe in) and our communities.
We have a unique ability to sustain ourselves without food when we are entirely focused – and in this case of religious ritual focused on serving the will of God. If you’re not focusing on how you’re serving God, it’s also a good time to focus on a project (which is lets say God’s work anyway) or something else that holds meaning for you.
By knowing that we have dedicated ourselves to eat consciously and abstain from consumption, we can spend a lot more time reviewing our habits, when we get the desire to eat and what prompts those cravings.. and then the opportunity to change those habits. Not only are we looking at ourselves and how much and what we consume, we are also given the chance to take a look at where we stand in our own communities, and the world. We are leaders, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, students, teachers, workers, creators. But who do you really want to be?
Ramadan also holds a huge community dynamic – something which much of modern society has forgotten about. There is a shared understanding that everyone is participating in the same ritual and that shared understanding and experience brings people together.. not only physically (when breaking fast) but mentally as well.
Festivals have been observed for thousands of years – many which today’s western world only ever last a day or two. The reason why in the west Christmas is loved and looked forward to so much is because it is the one time of year that is accepted by society to take away from work and give to family and friends as a time for celebration For many non Christians, Christmas still holds its value of being a time of coming together is a festive way. Festivals are vital part of bonding families and communities and keeping them together through a sense of unity and the sharing of love – whether it be through food or in the form of gifts. We give to one another (without worrying too much about the concept of time), and by doing so we share our energy, we can make one another happy and become more connected. Whether you see this connection with one another as another way to connect with God doesn’t matter – the point is about creating connections. And being connected makes us feel more loved, more valued and more safe.
Ramadan provides Focus
Whatever you think about fasting and Ramadan, one thing not to overlook is how it can provide focus and dedication to ones life. Every journey will vary, but the ultimate focus of Ramadan is to become better as human beings, better in ourselves and better in our communities, and who doesn’t want to become better?
****I have no idea if this article shows to be offensive, but I wrote it for myself as a way to share- as my experience and my understanding, and I hope that others can take away something useful from it. I am actively keen to promote healthy living, local consumption over importation and the reduction of wasting resources. Whether you agree about my ideas about God, Consciousness and symbols is irrelevant in the grander scheme of things, but I’m always happy to have a debate with you over some coffee, tea, frozen yoghurt, shisha or a glass of wine 🙂