In the lead up to Ramadan, my twitter was clogged up by excited tweets counting down the days to Ramadan and proclaiming how blessed we all are to see another one. Ramadan salutations start with a week to go and everybody seemed oddly giddy, waiting for the go ahead that the month of fasting had been confirmed.
The mere mention of Ramadan gave me palpitations. I ignored everybody’s “Happy Ramadan” messages willing them to stop reminding me how close it was. “How the hell did it come around again so quick?!”, I thought to myself. I couldn’t share people’s excitement. I dreaded the long fasts and the stupid heatwave that decides to appear every year when fasting. There was no joy here. I’ll be honest, I was terrified of Ramadan, particularly after last year.
The late eating last year did nothing to help my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and too many days saw me groaning in pain slumped over at work. My symptoms usually manifest as pain and bloating – I can be seen to sport a rather fetching pregnant belly when it hits. I broke 10 fasts too early having to sip away at some peppermint tea to quieten, what felt like, the barbed wire scraping against my stomach. And missed another 6 because of my period (or the blob as I affectionately call her). I’m sure you did the math, I barely managed to fast last year. A bit dispirited by it all, I procrastinated with everything else. I depressingly declared Ramadan 2017 to be my worst yet….well I barely declared, I told my sister….and maybe a friend.
I am pleased to say however that whilst I may have lacked a little enthusiasm – Ramadan 2018 is proving to be a lot easier than its predecessor. Having less stress this year has meant there have been no IBS flareups or maybe my personal trainer’s advice to “cut the crap” has worked. He shouldn’t be too pleased though as I only intend to “cut the crap” during Ramadan then I’m straight back on it again.
I decided not to be too hard on myself this year. Working full time (wangled some cheeky Fridays off though) I decided that I would set myself a few (fairly low) aims for this Ramadan. The main one being to try and keep all the fasts ofcourse (aiming low remember). Taraweeh, the extra night prayer, was not on my list. BUT THEN ladies and gents, I discovered this magical place where the night prayer is finished in around an hour. My ears alert to anything that didn’t have me awake all hours of the night, I shamelessly asked for details. Against all odds, ten days in, I started going to taraweeh (okay, I went five times but I went!).
My work mates, Laura and Christine, joined me on a day of fasting as they have done for the past couple years – a show of solidarity! (A 7pm update from Laura into her fasting day can be seen below – she may win the internet). Each week someone different from my team brought me something I could take home to open my fast with. Everybody rallied around and thanks to them I was fueled with more gratitude.
Whilst the basics of not eating and drinking during this month is understood by most people, the wider point of Ramadan is to act as you should be acting for the rest of the year. Fasting encompasses controlling ones temper, holding to truths and generally not acting like a bit of an ass.
If you aren’t holed away in an underground pit then your patience can be fiercely tested. “Ramadan-ing it”, I would mutter in an attempt to stop myself snapping. “Why don’t you write down everything that annoys you and just vent it all out after Ramadan??”, my work suggested. I paused for a minute giving it thought before remembering the point is not to have a bitch-fest even when Ramadan ends.
As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan and I reflect, I’m somewhat pleased it’s gone nothing like last year. With a hiatus on most social gatherings and despite my social bee nature, I enjoyed staying in. And whilst I have always considered myself spiritual, Ramadan brought something different to it; it felt a lot easier to connect to that meditative/tranquil place that I love. Things felt calm this month. Infact they felt rather lovely.
How did “Ramadan-ing it” pan out for you this year?
Any mishaps or breakthroughs?
Did you maybe join in with any Muslim colleagues to try it out?