Today is the first day of Ramadan, a 30-day period observed by our Muslim friends and neighbors. While it is most notable to non-Muslims as a time of fasting, the bigger picture is one of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion and worship. About one quarter of the world population is Muslim. I am in awe of the vibration that must be created when so many people observe Ramadan at once.
Daily prayer is also an important part of Islam. When I visited Cairo, Egypt in 2006, I was mesmerized by the muezzin call to prayer. The call is a song which echoes all over the city––simultaneously from thousands of minarets––five times a day. People everywhere, even on the street, stop what they are doing, unroll their carpets, and kneel in prayer. This is a powerful statement of devotion and connection with the Creator.
I am not a practicing Muslim, and have no interest in co-opting someone else’s sacred space. I have decided, however, to observe the 30 days of Ramadan as a time to deepen my own spiritual practice. I am setting aside this month, from April 23 to May 23, as an opportunity to nurture my spiritual growth.
I have chosen one activity to follow: the five-times-a-day prayer format that is practiced in the Muslim world. The prayers begin just after sunset, followed by prayer at nightfall (bedtime), then dawn (just before sunrise), mid-day (noon), and late afternoon. Of course I do not know the Salat (specific prayers). But at each of those times I am going to stop what I am doing, for at least ten minutes, and pray in the best way that I know––in Nature and/or meditation.
I am going to practice being fully present and also fully open. This is the alert relaxation that is transcendence. It will certainly be a challenge to keep this commitment! But honoring it over the course of 30 days is guaranteed to change me, in ways that will carry forward into the rest of my life. I will also be moving energy in solidarity with up to 25% of the world’s humans, all of us at the same time.
Ramadan Mubarek! (Ramadan’s Blessings to You!)