[The substance of this article first appeared as a series of Awakenings Academy “WhatsApp” posts, in October of 2017.]
Oct. 14th, 2017
I am noticing a slowness in me. A sort of detachment from my physical being. It seems correlated to my thoughts. These seem to be slowing down. There are moments in the day where I am able to direct them, focusing on thoughts that I actually want instead of uninvited thoughts. The fact that thoughts themselves seem to be a lot slower, helps me take it all in.
I can tell there is a lot more work to be done. I am still sensitive to other people’s energy (whether in close proximity or from a distance). I continue to find that when I encounter someone in a negative frame of mind, I am still absorbing that energy. I noticed this so clearly yesterday when I was out in a big crowd. I was surrounded with people of various energy vibrations. It wasn’t even necessary for me to interact with them. Simply by being in their presence, I was affected.
I am not trying to remove my responsibility for my own thoughts here. I hope nobody sees it that way. Rather, I just want to express the profound nature of how energy actually works.
As I am beginning to understand this brother Ihsan’s teachings are starting to gel. I can see now what he means when he tells us to perform tawbah whenever we witness something that may leave a stain on the heart.
We take everything around us for granted. Especially our environment. We sometimes become so used to the daily rituals that we don’t even notice them anymore. The importance of truly seeing is becoming clear for me. I am no longer going through my day blindly. And I am no longer merely seeing. But I am also sending out a small prayer each time I see something that “feels” innately wrong (e.g., a worker slaving away and being paid peanuts; false advertising on a display pretending to offer you some sort of ‘life’ through materialism; or, a family at the checkout taking out their small purse and counting to see if they have enough money to pay for their shopping). And while these may not be sins for which I am personally responsible to repent, they are nevertheless a witnessing of that which hurts the heart. I realise how I need to take that moment to pause, and make a quick prayer to cleanse the stain.
On a more positive note, the slowing down of my thoughts and the daily dhikr practice is facilitating an automatic reflex of spontaneous dhikr. In-between the space of no thoughts, naturally the desire to connect to Allah is becoming apparent.
I pray Allah continues to bestow His grace and preserve my heart from my own ego. I am also beginning to find being a parent a bit more of a struggle, as I yearn to increase my alone-time and solitude. On the other hand, I have also noticed along with this strange detachment, I am becoming less absorbed with my day to day activities. I am able to step back, without getting as affected by situations. A case in point recently happened with my husband.
We stopped by the supermarket to grab a few things. His spontaneous decision to move the car resulted in me standing in the rain for over 40 minutes. My usual response would have been to show my disapproval and a lack of empathy towards him. Instead, I automatically knew when I stepped out of the supermarket that he had likely moved the care in an effort to make it easier to pick me up, so I didn’t get soaked. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me and, since he recently changed his number I didn’t have it memorized. So, there was no way of contacting him.
This series of unfortunate events left me walking all around the car park in the rain, looking for his car while struggling with two heavy recycling bags.
Finally, I decided to approach a stranger and ask if I could use their phone to call him. Little did I know that I accidentally pressed the wrong button previously and somehow put my phone on silence.
So, there he is waiting and wondering what is taking so long, as I was only meant to be gone for 5 minutes. The kids were starting to get restless in the car; and he’s there sending me messages on my phone, not realising that I’m not receiving them. At last he checks my bag and finds my phone there inside.
Of course, he comes to pick me up immediately. At that point I am soaking wet from the rain. He came out straight away to help me with the bags. Even though the ‘ego’ wanted to react, I just apologised for my own error in leaving the phone behind. I also acknowledged his good intentions in moving the car, even though there was no way of communicating.
In the end it was not about how the event occurred, but how I reacted in it. The ego often wants to taint our view by creating negative ‘feelings’ which often have nothing to do with the actual moment. It would rather “remind” us of old feelings– even the ones we think we have let go– and then compound those feelings to create an imagined “moment.” As this occurs, it is important to see it for what it is and catch the ego in its’ tracks. The more we can be aware of this on a day to day basis, the less control it has over us. I guess this is perhaps what it means to “tame the beast!”