A Holistic Diet For Wellness - Part 2

A Holistic Diet For Wellness - Part 2

Re-centring, being present and taking a break from being chronically online.

In part 1 we looked at how a buddy of mine was complimenting their physical regimen with a diet that subsists the emotional and spiritual aspects to our being too.

Spiritually we aim to stay connected to Allah through our actions and intentions. Striving to do more than just our obligatory good deeds, aiming to go above and beyond; to really live a life of excellence.

The emotional aspect to our beings is something we want to engage with and regulate. Through emotional muhasabah (self-accounting) we can constantly review our thoughts and actions to make sure they’re in line with our greater purpose.

What else affects our emotions and spirit though? How does our information diet factor into all of this?

Chronically Online

As information workers, students and internet connected individuals many of us spend a lot of our time online and sat in front of a screen. For some of us we may socialise online through games and social media, consume entertainment online such as Netflix and YouTube and also spend our working hours online working remotely in front of a screen.

My friend was facing this problem and had a few quick tips to mitigate being “chronically online”.

Physically it’s important to make sure we’re disconnecting from the constant information flow and reconnecting with our selves. Making sure our emotional and physical needs are met and that we’re taking time to recenter. One easy way to cultivate this is by going for walks and getting regular exercise.

Re-centring and being present

Taking some time to disconnect from the internet and to be connected with ourselves means being present in the moment and giving ourselves time to process our thoughts and emotions. Not always taking in new information and being busy, but taking time to reflect and make sure we’re comfortable with our selves; comfortable in our souls.

An easy way to start our day with this re-centring is to start with some self-discipline making sure we tidy our room, ensuring our physical space is in order. Followed by a short walk for some exercise. Eating clean food and starting one’s day with some natural light and fresh air helps to ground us in reality and helps prevent us from existing solely on cyberspace with a constant stream of news, work and entertainment.

Living in the moment means not always being so focused on “doing” and achieving something new — but taking a moment to appreciate how far we have come. This encompasses being comfortable and satisfied (but not conceited) with our good actions, finding peace in them and being grateful that we managed to have the success to come this far.

With regards to shortcomings, being present also means making peace with our shortcomings; and where necessary working out how to rectify our misdeeds. This should be done without wallowing in guilt, but making peace with our mistakes, and admitting to ourselves that even if we’ve erred, the only way forwards is by moving on; learning and rectifying.

Information diet

When we do we reconnect with new information, it’s important to be cognisant of what we imbibe intellectually. Ultimately our mind and mindset are a product of what we let flow through our minds. This is both in terms of new ideas that we may consume through media but also our own thoughts that we give oxygen to and ruminate on.

In the same way that unhealthy foods consumed in excess will lead us to be unhealthy, an unhealthy information diet can lead to a negative or destructive mindset.

Each person chooses their own information-diet and should be cognisant of whether their consumption is helpful and aligned with them in the long-term? Or perhaps has subtle and unsavoury undertones that may begin to seep in and permeate their mindset.

If we’re always listening to celebrities and comedians talking about jokes and comedies, we are going to have humour and movies front and centre in our mind. After work we’re going to want to be watching a film or a comedy show. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if we’re at a juncture in our lives where we need to be focusing on work. All the talk of amusement may distract us and leave us focusing on play.

If we’re always listening to entrepreneurs and individuals talking about hard work and work-ethic, their “rise to the top" and their “secrets to success” this will naturally be something that sits in our mind and leads us to think a lot about business. This could be positive and encourage us to work hard, it could also be negative and makes us feel inadequate. Perhaps it turns out to be both positive and negative if it encourages us to work hard but only because we feel insecure and ultimately we burn out.

I can’t exactly advocate for either — balance is always found in the middle path. Even for something that is 100% aligned with our goals it is important to take it in due measure. Akin to physical diets, even the healthiest food consumed in absurd quantities will be harmful. Even something as pure as water can be dangerous when drunk in huge quantities.

In the life of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) he warned his community away from excessive acts of personal worship but rather a balance between their personal worship and their other rights and obligations to themselves, their community and their families.

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم " يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ أَلَمْ أُخْبَرْ أَنَّكَ تَصُومُ النَّهَارَ وَتَقُومُ اللَّيْلَ ". قُلْتُ بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ. قَالَ " فَلاَ تَفْعَلْ، صُمْ وَأَفْطِرْ، وَقُمْ وَنَمْ، فَإِنَّ لِجَسَدِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا، وَإِنَّ لِعَيْنِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا، وَإِنَّ لِزَوْجِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا “.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "O `Abdullah! Have I not been informed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?" I said, "Yes, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" He said, "Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fasts) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you."— [Sahih]

Balance and intention

What we see on social media is important and can often take up a lot of our time. How much do I really benefit from hours scrolling through jokes and memes on Instagram or Twitter? Most of them are only mildly amusing at best.

If I want a good laugh there’s funnier comedies I can watch, I’d be better of just watching a sit-com or a comedy special instead of spending an hour doom-scrolling on Instagram! At the end of the hour I would have had some good laughs and feel refreshed as well as finding a new show to talk about with my friends.

If I want to relax a good book, a romantic tale, a story of magical-realism would be more engaging, interesting and beneficial than whiling away hours scrolling through posts online.

This is when intention becomes important. Instead of just opening social media or repeatedly checking the news it’s important to pause and check-in with ourselves. Spending a moment being present with our emotional and spiritual selves and asking ourselves “What do I really need right now?”.

It’s important to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge - “Am I looking to laugh, learn or just relax?” and then make sure we do something that meets our needs adequately, intentionally and whole heartedly.

Qur’an and its meanings

We can also benefit from listening to Qur’an recitation to soothe our souls. This sometimes feels like a step change if we’re more accustomed to listening to music, but the Qur’an should be something we regularly listen to ease our hearts.

عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ  " خَيْرُكُمْ مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ وَعَلَّمَهُ"

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "The best among you are those who learn the Qur'an and teach it." — [Sahih]

Nasheeds and dhikr are also beneficial to get our lips and hearts accustomed to regular remembrance of Allah and the mentioning of His names and prayers upon our tongues with His praise flowing from our lips.

On top of reading books, we should aim to read more Qur’an, the unaltered word of God. This is great for our souls, but if we don’t understand Arabic we should also make sure we’re reading an interpretation in English (or any language we understand) so that we can understand and connect with the meaning. The Qur’an is not just something for us to honour by keeping it on our shelf, or to listen to it without understanding — the Qur’an was sent as guidance for us to engage with, understand, and benefit from.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلْقُرْءَانُ هُدًۭى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْهُدَىٰ وَٱلْفُرْقَانِ

“The Quran was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong.” — Qur’an 2:185