Spiritual Gains Through Little and Often

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The Lockdown life forced us and is forcing us to slow down – with the days blurring into one, we realised that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It gave us the realisation that if we want to make some changes, we have to commit to them.

We’ve heard it so often throughout this year, but this year has been one unlike any other – for all of us; in one way or another. Pre-March 2020 many of our lives were fast-paced; barely enough time to breathe and just be – we were busy with work; consumed by ‘busyness’; our work-life balance non-existent.

We clung to the idea of Ramadan and the spiritual high it brings. We clung to any spiritual moment that allowed us to feel connected to our souls and Allah (The Most High) again. We had so many excuses not to indulge in spiritual activities before, but Lockdown and now Lockdown 2.0 showed us/is showing us that in fact, we ourselves were the issue. We were placing emphasis on the wrong things in life and then wondering why we felt like we were always playing catch-up.

Looking back, it seems alien that we ever let it get to that, that we ever let this dunya take over our soul and minds to the extent that we felt the need to say things like: I’m too busy for Quran; I’m too busy for praying on time; I’m too busy to watch that lecture. Looking back, we (hopefully) realise now that this was simply an excuse to put our spiritual goals on the back burner. Priorities.

Yes, Lockdown 1.0 seems like a distant dream, but the lessons it has given us are ones we can carry forward, inshaAllah.

One truth that Lockdown has given us is this: little and often is a cliché for a reason – because clichés are true! The Lockdown life forced us and is forcing us to slow down – with the days blurring into one, we realised that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It gave us the realisation that if we want to make some changes, we have to commit to them.

Another truth that came out of Lockdown 1.0 was that social media is simply a (very small) window into people’s lives; when we sit there scrolling through socials, we are seeing the end goal of somebody’s achievement. We aren’t seeing the graft that has gone in consistently to get to that point. Take off the rose-tinted glasses and the truth really isn’t that glamorous – it’s about discipline and staying in your lane.

So, if these lessons were an equation (bear with me, I’m not into Maths either), they’d look something like this: commitment + consistency = gains.

How are we actually going to use this to propel us into action on the spiritual front? How are we going to stop ourselves from falling back into our pre-Lockdown lives? How can we keep a firm grip on the little-and-often mindset?

Here are some tips for cultivating it:

Become a specialist

In other words: pick one or two areas you want to excel in spiritually. Which types of ibadah do you naturally gravitate towards?

Choosing these will get your journey off to a good start. If you choose something you think you should be working on – because everyone on your socials is – then chances are you might not stick to it.

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Don’t downplay your daily achievements

Great, so you’ve chosen reading the Quran daily (because you have always loved reflecting on its meaning and connecting it to your own life). Now what?

It’s so important that you keep reminding yourself that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Remember that some pages of Quran every day will be a whole, complete reading eventually. Don’t belittle your few pages a day – yes, completing the Quran eventually would be a major spiritual boost; but don’t downplay the daily connection you are building with Allah (The Most Subtle) along the way.

Plan time for it

Just like other things on your to-do list, put this task on your checklist.

Writing down ‘read daily Quran’ ensures personal accountability; develops a habit; and quite honestly serves as a reminder on those days when you can’t seem to remember anything.

Set a realistic daily goal that factors in your other commitments – again, don’t compare to other people (especially not what you see on socials); look at your schedule honestly and pencil in what you can do.

Be kind to yourself

If you slip up one day and don’t manage to read those few pages you pencilled into your diary, then keep things in perspective – it is exactly that: a slip-up. Your whole plan and habit formation haven’t gone out of the window. Don’t let negative self-talk kid you into thinking the journey will be plain sailing. And don’t, I repeat don’t, compare your journey to what other people are choosing to show you of theirs.

Tomorrow is a new day inshaAllah – start again.

Track your progress

The progress you gradually make over time will be really satisfying – when you finish the whole Quran (no matter how long it took you) make a note of it. It’s really easy to forget these things and it ties in with Tip 2 above of celebrating your wins.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that Allah (The Most Merciful) loves actions that are consistent, even if they are small.

This article was originally posted on the Blog of a Believer here.

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