I began observing the five-times-a-day prayers of Ramadan last week (see Ramadan Mubarek, 04-24-2020). With three weeks remaining, I’d like to share my progress.
I chose to follow the five-prayer format because of its repetitive dailyness––it provides many opportunities for actual change over time. The first few days were easy and joyful. After that, as the demands of life intruded, I had to continually remind myself of my commitment. I set five gentle alarms on my phone to “wake” me to my practice. I soon realized that I needed to adjust the prayer times. (I think there must have been shorter days where this practice first originated––I can’t stay up until 11pm and then get up before the sun at 5 am, for thirty days!) With the adjusted times, I’m doing pretty well. I’m averaging four prayers a day.
I am very pleased that my routine involves going outside, rain or shine, day or night. My favorite salat (prayer) is Mahgrib, which occurs right after sunset. If it is a clear evening, I watch the stars come out one by one. It’s magical. Later, at Isha’a, the sky is loaded with stars, and it brings me into instant contact with the Universe. This connection is the first step in my prayer.
Sometimes it’s not so easy to make this connection. I’m mentally or emotionally distracted, I’m tired, or it’s cold and pouring rain. Then I have to make an effort to look closer. The branches of the trees may be dancing in the sky. I might marvel at the clouds. Or at the little tiny plants on the ground, just starting to peek out from under last years dry leaves.
I try to sit with each of my senses, one at a time. What are all of the things that are beautiful and amazing that I can see? What is beautiful and amazing that I can hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? As I relax into this present, my breathing becomes measured, and I become aware of the vibration of my own energy. I sense it moving and circulating in its own rhythms.
Then I practice Being. Not receiving energy or sending it. Just Being. In every present moment. Once I am there, it is an easy transition to transcendence. On the out breath, my energy becomes Love, connecting with The One, and drops into my pelvis and spine. On the in breath, my energy becomes Let Go, and expands into the Everything in and around me. I am both completely present and totally expanded. In this deep state of alert relaxation, I am communing with the Universe. I am in prayer.
Five times a day, inshallah.