You read and hear a lot about mindfulness these days as it pertains to your health and relationships. Experts tell you to practice mindfulness to reduce stress, be mindful with others to improve your relationships and the much loved phrase of ‘be a mindful parent’. But how exactly can you be mindful Muslim parent?
The basic meaning of mindfulness is to pay attention and to focus your mind in the present moment. Our minds tend to wonder off into the past or the future by worrying about it or planning for it but what we should be doing is to stay in the present. To be mindful with your child you’d need to pay attention to what he’s doing and to listen attentively to what he says. If your mind is thinking about something else then you miss these moments with your child.
When you’re thinking about something else and not focussing on the present your mind is busy thinking of the what ifs and the what may be and you’re not appreciating and enjoying what you have. The key is to slow down and quieten the mind so you can focus.
In Islam, we have a practice that if done correctly will train you to be mindful. And we have the chance to practice it at least five times a day. Yes, I’m talking about the five daily prayers.
We all know what it’s like to not focus on what we do and what we recite in our prayers. We can blame the shaytan for this as they try to whisper in our minds about the worries of the past and the future so we can’t concentrate on worshiping Allah properly.
In Surah Al-Araf, shaytan promised that he will do this: “Then I (Satan) will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You (Allah) will not find most of them grateful [to You].” (Quran 7:17)
It is our duty to try as hard as we can to block out the whisperings of shaytan especially while we’re praying. If we can do this five times a day then it will have a spill-over effect on the rest of our day. So as you pray, try to be in the present moment by focusing your attention on what you’re doing and saying.
If your mind wanders then bring it back immediately to your prayer. Use your senses to help you to refocus. What can you see? Focus on the place where you sujud (and not on the design of the mat - try to get a plain mat or make sure the praying space is free of busy designs). What can you hear? Focus on your voice or the imam’s. Of course, if you understand Arabic then focus on the meaning of what's being recited. What do you feel? Focus on the ground or floor under your feet, your hands or your forehead. Also focus on the humble submissive feeling in your heart. If you need to then bring up gratitude for every breath that you take.
When you can do this, you’ll find that you’ll be a lot calmer because your mind is still and your focus is on your connection to Allah. In your next prayer, try to be mindful. You have at least five times a day to practice this. When you do this at each prayer then it’ll be easier to apply it to your child. The more you practice mindfulness then the easier it will be focus and refocus.
Allah says what translates as: “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are, during their prayer, humbly submissive (khaashi’oon)” (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23: 1-2)
For more on khushoo in prayer: