25 August 2011

rooted in the present

i am realizing that i am rarely fully in the present. i tend to always be anticipating the next thing, the future. last week i was attending a conference that i'd been waiting for for a long time. but instead of being totally present and immersed in it, i found myself spending a lot of time wondering when my cold was going to get better, anticipating my next conversation with H, imagining the food i'd be able to eat in x number of hours, and so on. the conference ended, and i found myself thinking of all the things i should have done. argh.

this is not to say that i just blew off the meeting. i attended all the sessions, took the notes, spoke to people, yadda yadda yadda. however, i did not give 100 percent of myself to all of it. and i think this is the case a lot of the time. i am so easily distracted by so many other things, i spend so much time thinking of what i should've said at any particular instance, or what i wish to accomplish tomorrow/this week that my right now suffers.

this reminds me of how all my early school reports would mention what a hardworking student i was. at seeing this, my dad would invariably ask me, 'just imagine what you could accomplish by truly being hardworking!'

is there a pill i can take to root myself (and my brain) right here, right now?? it would be particuarly useful about now, given that ramadan is drawing to a close, and there is so much prayer and self improvement i have yet to undertake..

10 August 2011

the good, the bad, and the beauty

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

beautiful poem, with a beautiful message. (how cool to have met rumi..) life is good and bad, and both can teach you a lot. being open to both is kind of related to being thankful for the small stuff, and a good resolution to work on during ramadan :)

08 August 2011

thankful for the little things

he who is not thankful for a little will not be thankful for a lot. hadith of prophet mohammed (sa)
I used to be better at being thankful for the little things in life, at stopping to smell the roses, at enjoying the little things more. I resolve to be better again.

being thankful for the little things is a great way to be happier, to be more positive, and inevitably, to strengthen your faith and be closer to your Maker. it also makes you want less.

focusing on the little things can also remind you what is important, and how much we take for granted daily—functioning limbs and organs, a roof over our heads, annoying but loved family members. it is also a great way to immerse yourself in the here and now.

I’m excited to begin. alhumdolillah :)

03 August 2011

knowledge and action

there is little value in knowledge when it is limited to the tongue (to words). the most valuable knowledge is that which manifests itself in the limbs and parts of the body (through actions). kalam of imam ali (as)

indeed. islam consistently says that it is not enough to know, you must also do.

yesterday, I heard a sermon on helping fellow muslims. I know the benefits of such assistance, I know its importance. but I do not actually act upon this knowledge. in fact, islam places a lot of emphasis on being a good, honest, humble person, on developing good characteristics, on being generous and kind and forgiving. I know all this. the corresponding actions are a little vague though—refraining from being unkind or dishonest is hardly enough..

if I were asked what my good deeds were, I’d be at a loss. I don’t really do all that much (prayer is not counted here.)

and I’m not even sure how to go about changing this. how do I be a better person? a better wife? I’m going to have to reflect on this and come up with a few things I can attempt on a daily basis..

suggestions or your own experiences are welcome!

02 August 2011

hidden beauty

“the beauty of that which is hidden is greater than the beauty of that which is apparent” (kalam of imam ali (as))
I usually cruise along happily in my rida (more so now, after having lost some long unwanted extra kilos!), until someone rudely jolts me with their own prejudices and stereotypes. I have always thought the rida to be a beautiful and comfortable outfit, and wearing it always made me feel more ‘me’. it covers your hair and figure in a gentle, elegant manner. I never wanted anyone but my significant other to see me without a rida—everything within the two piece outfit was only for a special pair of eyes. everyone else could admire my rida, and the ‘me’ not related to any physical attributes.


i read this article today about india’s fairness obsession. a similar obsession exists in most of asia –hong kong, china, south korea, japan, and others. I am clueless as to its origins and what it means. I can understand that people have preferences for their skin tone, but to have life choices hinge on this is seriously insane.

i remember just returning to hk after graduating from college, and beginning my job search. this one ad kept playing on the tv, where a recent graduate is all depressed about finding a job, until her professor gives her some beauty product. as soon as she uses it, she’s all glowing and immediately lands a job. I was outraged. what, all I needed was a beauty cream to find a job?? what was the point of the four years of hard work, of graduating with honors?? argh.

society’s obsession with skin color, weight, fashion sense is truly bizarre, if you sit down to think about it.


the beauty of ramadan is also hidden. it's not found in just the physical manifestation of hunger and thirst, but in the spiritual cleansing and rewards undertaken.

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music. [Rumi, 'Fasting']
Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty: give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
then you’ll taste sweetness. [Rumi, 'Ramadan']