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Spiritual Prime Time (DW#396)

By the Grace and Mercy of the All Compassionate, we are fortunate to witness another Ramadan, the month of mercy and blessings. 

Ramadan continues the practice of many great faith traditions of the world which encourage fasting and keeping away from distractions of the body as a way of elevating the spirit. 

During this sacred time, this "Spiritual Prime Time", many of us begin to pause and start reflecting on what really matters. We turn our attention away from the material and towards the spiritual, we begin to focus on our self growth and then reach out to family, friends and to those in need.

Ramadan has been called the spring of the soul because the conditions are optimal for the seeds of guidance within us to bear fruit. One of the best fertilizers in this springtime of the soul are the words of the Holy Quran, the "healing for the hearts" that can revitalize our hearts and souls. 

So like last Ramadan, let us reflect on a verse from the Holy Book...

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Be curious

When someone triggers you, it is easy to slip into judgment, getting on a moralistic high horse, making them the villain of the interaction and yourself the victim.

An effective way to switch out from this (downward) spiral of thinking is to get curious.

Get curious about what in their life or environment could be causing them to act out in this manner.

It is easier to deal with someone's behaviour when you become curious and seek understanding about what could be going on for them.

For bonus points (towards self empowerment and happiness) allow yourself to feel compassion for them. . .

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Notice the gift of the rain puddle

 

Let us continue our discussion on expanding our awareness in life to notice blessings rather than just focusing on problems and issues.

Here is a lovely poem, particularly apt in the current fall weather we are having in North America:

Gifts of the Rain Puddle
Beth Kurland

I woke up from a funk today of too many bills
too many emails to return, not enough time –
From that irritability that creeps in insidiously like a dark shadow ready to swallow us all
if we let it in.

I woke up to discover
that I inherited a small fortune!

Actually,
if truth be told,
would you believe that I forgot that it was here all along?

My neighbor reminded me this morning –
the little guy in the overalls and dirt filled fingernails.
I saw him laughing hysterically
as he jumped in a giant puddle,
a leftover gift from the torrential rains;
as he soaked himself,
and went back for more,
then began running and shrieking
through the wet grass
with his unsteady gait
until he fell down in a heap,
all smiles.

I...

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Have an inner smile

Do you find yourself taking yourself too seriously sometimes? Striving too hard and losing your sense of humour and your perspective?

When this happens, we lose a sense of lightness and joy and fail to appreciate the beauty that is this life.

Having an inner smile means that we greet our experience with kindness, openness and a sense of wonder. As Thich Nhat Hahn says, "You need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow."

Holding an inner smile also reminds us to keep a sense of humor and avoid being too hard on ourselves.

Maintaining an inner smile involves intentionally and gently smiling to yourself. It is more of an inner experience than an outward gesture. Of course, it may spill out from your heart onto your lips, and if it does, so much the better!

Let this smile remind you not to strive too hard or to criticize yourself. Allow it make your thoughts, words, and deeds more gentle and accepting. You may begin to notice how human beings can be rather amusing...

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Foundations of mindful communication – Recap

Today let us remind ourselves about the five foundations of mindful communication that we have discussed.

To practice mindful communication,

1) Get in touch with your intention. Cultivate positive intentions for your communication and remind yourselves of these before you engage in conversation with others
2) Have an attitude of curiosity and compassion. An attitude of curiosity helps us listen better and get to know people while judgmental attitudes block communication.
3) Be willing to learn and to act. Change and growth means that we are open to learning new ways and willing to act on our learning and put it into practice.
4) Practice self awareness. Shine the light of awareness on how you interact with others and be open to feedback.
5) Be mindfully present, which means having your attention in the same place where your body is.

Which foundation do you find the most challenging?

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Practice self awareness

Continuing our discussion on foundations for mindful communication, today let us talk about self awareness.

"Self-awareness" is a phrase we often hear in spiritual contexts. There is a famous Islamic narration which goes: "He who knows himself, knows God". In other words, to become aware of God and His magnificence, we must become aware of ourselves.

So far so good. But what on earth does it actually mean to be "self-aware"?

Self Awareness means having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. It is, in essence, the ability to become an observer of oneself, to consider our own selves from a somewhat objective perspective.

Without self-awareness, we are full of "blind-spots" – we have no real idea of our own strengths or where our challenges lay. Without self-awareness, we tend to have little agency or control over own thoughts and emotions, and live in a reactionary mode most of the time. Without self...

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Recognize the value of the gift of communication

Here is your daily dose of Wisdom for Living Your Best Self!

Our desire to communicate mindfully starts with a recognition that the ability to communicate is a gift – a gift of the Creator who gave us the desire, the knowledge, the ability and the equipment to communicate with others.

Imam Jafar As Sadiq (as) says:
Consider the blessing of speech, bestowed upon him by the Almighty, which is the medium for the expression of his inner thought and his warm feelings springing from his understanding and with which also he understands the inner points of others. Without this faculty he would have been like quadrupeds, neither able to convey his own inner thought to others, nor to understand the words of the speaker.

The physical process of speaking is rather complex and involves four different process which start in the lungs, go to the larynx where there are the vocal folds, then to the pharynx where the air goes up the nasal or oral cavity and finally to the mouth where the...

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Beyond effective communication - Mindful Communication

Today let us expand our definition of effective communication.

The skills of effective communication, which include excellent use of language and grammar, saying what we mean and meaning what we say, are extremely valuable in a professional, public and sometimes personal context.

In personal relationships, however, the skills of effective communication may not be enough to connect authentically with others and to build relationships.

In personal relationships, I prefer to use the term Mindful Communication or Conscious Communication.

Mindful communication goes further than effective communication in building relationships.

Mindful communication is communication that is intentional, purposeful, conscious and compassionate. It is communication that comes from the heart and aims to reach the heart of another. To communicate mindfully means to have a "heart to heart" with another human being.

To communicate mindfully we focus on:

Self-empathy: a deep and compassionate awareness of our...

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Our survival depends upon our ability to communicate

The ability to communicate is related to the survival of the species itself.

Until quite recently, scientists used to think that man survived through the ages based on strength to brave the elements, search for food and build shelters.

But that view has since evolved.

Since the mid 90s brain studies have proven that it is not the strongest of the species that survived the longest but rather those who could best cooperate with one another in their search for food and building shelters. When ancient man communicated and cooperated with other homo sapiens and built families and tribes, all members had a greater chance of survival.

Although we may no longer be fighting for our survival as a species on a daily basis, we can still witness the life and death importance of communication for a newborn baby who learns very early that she has to get the attention of her parents if she is hungry or wet.

The need for contact and communication with the mother is not just for meeting physical...

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The Universal Message of Hussain (as)

Today sharing a video lecture by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr on
The Univeral Message of Hussain (as).

Please note: This week marks the 1378th anniversary of the event of Ashura in Karbala, Iraq where the grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam along with his children and companions were martyred by the oppressive regime of Yazid. Hussain ibn Ali was a 7th century revolutionary leader who made the ultimate sacrifice for social justice in the face of corruption and tyranny. He gave everything he had, including his life, for the stand for social justice and against oppression. The events of Ashura continue to inspire millions of Muslims all over the world even today.

To honor the wisdom and inspiration from Imam Hussain (as), the Daily Wisdom emails this week will be dedicated to the memory of Ashura and the inspirations from it.
The regular series of Daily Wisdom will resume next week inshallah.

To learn about Hussain and the history of Ashura, please visit https://whoishussain.org

And here...

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