We are half-way through the year 2019, and the Ramadan month has just ended. It seems like a good moment to reset, recalibrate; take a moment to observe and notice: how is this year going? Do I like the tendencies, the direction in which I am immersed? Am I moving forward with awareness? Or am I repeating patterns that I could detach from?
As a foreigner, I got to experience what this holy month means in Morocco, so deeply, so intensely, that I don’t think I feel like a foreigner anymore. And I didn’t commit to it because of any kind of social pressure. It was a decision that came from the inside and I was determined to do it, to get fully involved, since the benefits I could reach were very much worth the effort.
Let’s go from the shallower aspects to the deeper ones. First, there were the health benefits. We are all in different stages in our health journey. In my case, fasting from sunset to sunrise provided me with an opportunity to practice what I had learned about “intermittent fasting”. It was a good way to find mental clarity too: being empty inside. I can imagine, that’s why the plants reborn and shine and sparkle with vitality after the pruning. Prune is a very adaptive attitude: you can feel how the emptiness fuels you with renewed energy.
It’s also a big lesson about discipline, self-governance and moderation. So many times we let circumstances take control of us and we end up overwhelmed. How often we eat because we are emotionally unstable, not because we have real hunger? We can regard food as an indicator of how much control do we have on us, on our habits and behaviours. Fasting is a good reminder: you are on the driver’s seat, you are on top of it, if you firmly want to.
Apart from the bodily side of the fast, there is the huge spiritual revolution that can take place within. It’s a timely chance to re-evaluate and manage priorities. What do you prioritize? Are you prioritizing the things that bring you more happiness? Are you doing things that spark joy daily, or regularly? Are you taking for granted family, friends, your life companion, your you-time, your self care, your health? Are you gardening these things with care and loving attention, are you watering these seeds? The results, whether it’s abundance or scarcity, will come in the harvest time.
Fasting teaches us to take responsibility of ourselves: of our bodies, of our mind and spirit. But what is the point of all this? The key idea here is that we are alive to make connections and serve others. Our bodies and spirits are by no way the end or the goal; on the contrary, they are means for serving other living beings. And we need to get our mindset right prior to embarking ourselves in this huge duty.
I have been raised and socialised in a strongly individualist society. Collective experiences, shared joys and sense of community were even odd to me at first, until I decided to dive into them, and surrender to what they mean and what they bring to my existence. This is why Ramadan for me was deeply transformative. Two weeks in Morocco experiencing the physical emptiness, the calm in the streets during the day, the gladness that follows the call for the prayer at dawn… And the feeling that we are here to share what we have with others. My moroccan mum, made ftor (breakfast) for our neighbour for the whole month. Religiously, and with so much zeal, every single day, she would prepare the tray with a bowl of harira, fruit juice, coffee, and homemade bread. Take this little detail into consideration, reflect on it, and you will get to understand what I’m trying to express. Leaving some of our individualistic patterns behind might seem impossible at first, but, as I see it, it’s not an all-or-nothing mentality: it’s about embracing the process. Just witness the inner conversion that occurs when you let Love be your guide.
Most of all, Ramadan is an appropriate time to be grateful, to remember the crucial importance of gratefulness. I give thanks for the human beings that have accompanied me during these weeks, even through my odd moments. I have to admit, that the first days, while you are adapting to a whole new set of habits, your mood is not at its best!, but anyways they always tried their best to make me happy, they have shared their energy and time with me, and made me a part of their family.
This has been a perfect occasion to recognise my needs and honor them. Each day felt like a further wearing away of the layers that obscure my inner essence, and spiritually I became more naked, more transparent, even more vulnerable in a sacred way. The experience of Ramadan made me able to sync up with whoever I might be, to surrender, to be more aware, to heal. To make space, and create space so that new things can come in. Because merely living is not the same as honoring life.