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Monday, 30 June 2014

Ramadan Parenting Challenge Day 3: Be Present With Your Children

Ramadan Parenting Challenge 2014
Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Apostle saying regarding Ramadan, "Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven."  (Bukhari, 32:226)
A problem most of us have is maintaining concentration during prayers, khushu. One way to do this is to be present in our prayers. We need to train ourselves to be aware of what we are doing in that moment: to be aware of what we’re reciting by listening and hearing the sounds of the words, to be aware of our breathing by feeling the breath coming in and out of our body and the movement that it creates, be aware of the position of our body and so on.  Really concentrate on these and not let our mind wander. We need to have this in place before we can reach the next level which is to feel that we are in the presence of Allah and are speaking to Him.

You will find that once you can be present in your prayers then your prayer will be calmer. You will feel more relaxed afterwards. When you pray in a state of rush, anxiety and stress your prayer is rushed and you won’t feel the benefit. Your mind will be all over the place. If you slow down and be present and know that the one or two minutes in slowing down will not put you off track, you will realize that rushing would not have solved your problem …the cooking would still be there, the children would still be there or whatever problem you may worry over would still be there whether you stress over them or not.

As you are present in your prayers, try to be present in all aspects of your life. Research has found that the mind is not in the present moment 50% of the time. We spend it either analyzing our past or planning our future. So half of the time our mind is spent worrying over the past and future such as why did I do that, I shouldn’t have done that, I should have done this or I have to do this and that. This is why we are so stressed over basically nothing or something we have no control over. Whatever is done we cannot control it. There’s nothing wrong with analyzing your past if you can learn from it and not be bogged down with regret and there is nothing wrong with planning your future if you act on it and not stay stuck in dreaming of what might be.

When it comes to your children you need to be present for them, not just physically but also mentally. Just as you are present in your prayers by concentrating on what you’re reciting then when you talk to your children or they talk to you, you need to look at them and hear the words you or they are saying – concentrate on the sounds, meaning and feelings.

We are so rushed or busy in our life that when our loved one tries to tell us something we only pay half a mind to it. As a result, the other person feels disconnected to us and our relationship with that person deteriorates. Can you see how this relates back to your prayer? If you cannot connect with Allah, how can Allah connect with you and answer your prayers? This also applies to all your relationships – with your spouse, parents and so on.

I remember an incident not long ago when my youngest was telling me something. I was so busy doing my work. I did not look at him when he spoke to me and my responses were automatic. He became so upset with me and said that I never listen to him. After this, every time he told me something he would ask, “what did I just say?” just to make sure that I was listening. After this happened a couple of times, I realized that whatever work I was doing was not worth the loss of his trust that he could talk to me and that I would listen.
If you could learn to be present and conscious of what you’re doing in every aspect of your life you will find that your connections will be much better.

Challenge for today is to:
  1. Be present in your prayers.
  2. Be present in your relationships, especially your children, spouse and parents.
Do these and keep them going throughout Ramadan.

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