A Holistic Diet For Wellness - Part 1

A Holistic Diet For Wellness - Part 1

Having got in shape through a mixture of dieting and exercise a buddy of mine was talking to me about physical diet; and the myriad of options and solutions to working out, staying healthy, eating clean and getting in shape.

Our thoughts then turned to the other aspects of our lives that perhaps need a diet. It’s easy to find modern epistemologies informed by the material sciences that focus on physical well-being. Encouraging good health through diet and exercise is excellent but what about the intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects to our beings?

What about our information intake? Our spiritual regimen? What are the emotional, spiritual and information diets that we subsist ourselves on?

Emotional Accounting & Self Reflection

It’s normal to be busy and feeling very productive as we’re doing a lot of things: our work, chores, reading, travelling and socialising.  But how often do we take time to reflect on our being; as opposed to just what we’re doing?

If someone asked me how I’m doing, I could say I am busy or I am tired or I’m doing well. What about if someone asked how I am feeling? As a human being, not a “human doing” - how is the state of my soul?

How are you? Not just in your actions but in your soul, in your spiritual and emotional state. Are you well? Are you settled? Are you comfortable?

Often times we are deeply agitated but keep ourselves busy by doing lots of things to avoid actually confronting our being; our soul.

Emotional accounting, muhasabah, in the Islamic tradition is the process of taking yourself to account. Reflecting on your thoughts, emotions and actions to make sure everything is in order. When we find things that are out of place or disquieted, we should ask ourselves why.

This “emotional accounting” is similar to the diligent balancing of a cheque book or an account statement. Making sure that everything in the short-term tallies up with our intended outcomes in the long-term; what will we see when we get to the bottom line?

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌۭ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍۢ ۖ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Oh you who believe, be mindful of God, and let every soul consider carefully what it sends ahead for tomorrow; be mindful of God, for God is well aware of everything you do. — Qur’an 59:18

Emotional accounting is the process of reflecting on your state of being. Observing your thoughts and actions while making sure that they’re in line with your greater purpose.

It can begin by taking a few minutes to sit and think about a situation. To reflect on what happened and how we conducted ourself. Was our intention correct? Were our attitude and actions aligned with the type of person we want to be? How could we have done things better? How do we want to act in future?

It’s easy enough to take ourselves to account after the fact. To spend some time in self-reflection is a simple step and yet it’s something that many don’t take the time todo. The ultimate goal however is to gain complete mindfulness and taqwa at all times.

Complete taqwa and mindfulness involves being cognisant of our actions, intentions and on-going thoughts at all times. Making sure that we are doing things with purpose because they feed into the greater framework of our life.

Are we doing everything because we’re trying to please Allah? Are we trying to make others’ lives easier for them and make the world better? Or are we simply trying to be ostentatious and satisfy our own egos?

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

" الكيس من دان نفسه، وعمل لما بعد الموت ، والعاجز من أتبع نفسه هواها، وتمنى على الله”

“The wise person is the one that calls themself to account (and refrains from doing evil deeds) and does noble deeds to benefit themselves after death. The foolish person is the one who follows their own (egotistic) temptations and desires and seeks from Allah the fulfilment of these vain desires”.

Muhasabah and emotional accounting, mean taking our actions and thoughts to account. Constantly observing ourselves and adjusting ourselves towards our greater purpose; staying connected with Allah.

Spirutal Connections

The reason for emotional accounting, is what our actions and emotions point to. Our greater purpose in life, our raison d’être. Even if we have identified our egotistic desires, how do we work against them? What can we replace them with? What is our ultimate goal?

Our ultimate goal is to return to Allah and to feel connected with Him first and foremost. Knowing what is pleasing to Him, and what is displeasing to Him.

This requires some education on our part, but for the most part the natural law of morality is innate in our persons. Even a thief knows that when he steals he is wrong. The liar knows the evil in his deceit and the hedonist knows the emptiness of his pleasures.

As Muslims there are a million ways we can cultivate a connection with the divine and many excellent books have been written on seeking this divine love.

At its core, building this connection is like building a house. By doing our bare minimum obligations and prayers, following the faraid and avoiding sins, we are laying our foundations.

When we follow the additional prayers and actions, the sunnah of our Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ) we are building the walls and the roof to complete our structure.

Finally when we perform our extra voluntary (nafil) actions those are the furnishings and the comfort that make our house comfortable to live. These additional good-deeds that we go out of our way to do mean that our house is not just a bare bones structure, but somewhere beautiful that we enjoy.

Nawafil can be any extra voluntary good deed, this can be as simple as a kind word to another person, or even extra prayers and charity. These nawaafil, extra voluntary good deeds, perfect our deen and make it something enjoyable and comfortable for us.

Just like a home is not just a set of walls, our lives should be somewhere peaceful we can taste the sweetness of faith and nearness to Allah.

“أَلَا بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ ٱلْقُلُوبُ”

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” — Qur’an 13:28

Our purpose after all is to live our lives being mindful of our greater purpose; seeking Allah. Through every moment we seek to remember Allah and maintain a spiritual connection to Him. Always seeing His blessings in the little things.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُمْ وَٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, so that you may become mindful ˹of Him˺. — Qur’an 2:21
وَٱذْكُرِ ٱسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ إِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيلًا

And remember the Name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him wholeheartedly. — Qur’an 73:8

Prayer specifically is another time of mindfulness, that allows us to connect with our creator. A chance to thank Him for all the favours He has sent upon us and to ask Him for help and goodness in our future endeavours.

Self Validation

We know that Allah always loves us, we need to acknowledge this even when we’re feeling down and it’s hard to love ourselves.

As humans after our physical needs of safety and sustenance are met, we have our emotional needs: wanting to feel loved and respected while seeking to be our best selves. Self-actualisation and affirmation are important aspects of our souls; fulfilling our spiritual and emotional needs.

The fact that Allah created us and continues to sustain us throughout our lives is a sign that He continues to love and care for us. His continual perpetuation of us on this earth and His active choosing to allow us to wake up each day is proof that He loves us and wants us to be here.

This is highlighted in the prayer to be said when waking up:

"الْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي أَحْيَانَا بَعْدَ مَا أَمَاتَنَا وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ".

Alhamdu lillaahil-lathee 'ahyaanaa ba'da maa 'amaatanaa wa'ilayhin-nushoor.

“Praise is to Allah the one who gives us life after He has caused us to die and to Him is the return.”

Sleep is the little brother of death, how do we truly know when we will wake up? Every time we awake, we thank Allah for giving us another day.

أَلَمْ تَرَوْا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُۥ ظَـٰهِرَةًۭ وَبَاطِنَةًۭ ۗ وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يُجَـٰدِلُ فِى ٱللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍۢ وَلَا هُدًۭى وَلَا كِتَـٰبٍۢ مُّنِيرٍۢ

"Have you not seen that Allah has subjected for you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, and has lavished His favours upon you, both seen and unseen? ˹Still˺ there are some who dispute about Allah without knowledge, or guidance, or an enlightening scripture.” — Quran 31:20

This self-validation comes from acknowledging our place in this world. Allah has chosen for all of us to be here. We all have our place and our purpose. It’s okay for us to be here. Despite how it may feel when times are hard, we’re not a burden to others or an intrinsic nuisance.

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ فِىٓ أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍۢ

“Indeed, We created humans in the best form.” —Quran 95:4

We all have our own value and worth and we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge that and make the most of our lives.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we’ve looked at the emotional aspect to our beings. Emotional muhasabah (self-accounting) and constantly reviewing our thoughts and actions to make sure they’re in line with our greater purpose.

Spiritually we explored staying connected to Allah through our actions and intentions. Striving to do more than just our obligatory good deeds, but aiming to offer extra prayers and really live a life of excellence.

Finally we looked at affirmation and validation. Making sure that we acknowledge our inherent self worth as beautiful souls that Allah created and chose to put on this earth. Accepting that we have value and dignity and then ensuring we always treat ourselves and others with that dignity bestowed on us.

In part two insha’Allah we will look at information diet and how the thoughts and information we consume can affect our thought process. The benefits of listening to more spiritually enlivening talks. As well as how we can benefit by incorporating more Qur’an into our lives and exploring the meanings of the Qur’an.

I pray Allah accepts it from us and allows us to find peace in this life and the next.

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

Allah certainly loves the good-doers. — Quran 2:195

Further reading: