Hello to my brave, courageous and empowered being of the heart-centered world.
Ramadan Kareem to all those celebrating..
Before I begin, let us recall the love for the Divine; Allah, God; the Creator and take out a moment to express just how incredible our bodies are. To be able to keep our fasts while living in a time of adversity is no mere task. It does, however, encourage us with bravery to face our deepest, darkest fears.
As you unfold yourself to Allah these next 29 days, acknowledge not only the physical but also be brave to address the emotional addictions that you may need to reassess within your life. What emotional addictions you ask, here are some that I have chosen to release from my mind during this time of rebirth:
PERFECTIONISM, HARD WORK & WORKAHOLISM...
Your fasts are a reflection of how you restore your well-being, nourish your soul and body.
The elements of Holistic health signify the importance of assessing not one but all parts of your existence. As someone who is passionate about learning more about the soul's journey on earth, let us begin by bringing in a protective white light around ourselves, our homes so that each of our energy's is protected by the Divine Himself.
This reflection is a share of personal experiences, words of shared wisdom and of a Muslim BIPOC woman who is on her journey to finding reconnection with her essence.
This my friends is a space of unveiling through creativity while addressing spirituality, holistic well-being and questioning the very meaning of 'belonging'.
If you'd like to continue reading, please do leave a comment at the end of the blog to share your thoughts on your self-compassionate accounts of addressing your own emotional addictions.
" When I look into my well-being through a holistic lens,
Only then am I able to curate my life in the direction of Allah.."
Written by: Saira Hussain
Founder of Breath of Henna, Love Letter Community
A Self-worth and mental health advocate.
Intuitive spiritual guide, Artist and Energy worker
My addiction with perfectionism turned into workaholism and a lack of self-acknowledgement..MY STORY.
Who but HE knows that what we have found in this Dunya is temporary and nothing will be taken to the grave..
I found myself questioning this often until I could no longer manage the voice of my inner critic ( the voice of societal confinements, patriarchy and colonialism). This led to me SCREAMING OUT LOUD, ENOUGH! I made time to inquire with myself, with Allah (swt). Mein kaise is soch ko badloo? (eng. how do I alternate this way of thinking) in association with running away, feelings of suppression, not having enough or will I even survive?) I allowed these questions to marinate over-time. Where? In my beautiful mind. I was unaware of how these thoughts would impact my well-being till I began to feel physical pain in areas of my head, neck, shoulders and abdomen. I was diagnosed with Bell's palsy in March 2017, which was a blessing in disguise.
RAMADAN DAY 2:
What we seek to have and to hold does not belong to us...someone said this to me once and it stuck like date honey welded into an old walnut-floor crack. This is a hard one to grasp. I never planned to express myself with owning nothing because I was always taught to 'gain, win, accomplish, do more, do better' so that I could receive, buy things that I wanted or so-called 'desired' at the time.
So how did the things I received through achievements (documents, titles attained through social work, social media, publications) increase my sense of worthiness?
Most difficult form of self-acceptance in my existence thus far...
Psychologically they impacted my choices and feelings but spiritually and energetically, they did not help elevate me towards my path, my purpose. I needed answers.
This led me to addressing my brain health while speaking to my anatomy professor and emotional intelligence coach. How did my amygdala choose to store memories associated with - low self-esteem, heart break, conflicts with my father over the events where I was loved, play-time with my sisters, sleepovers and the achievements I mentioned above when doing humanitarian work, let alone my own wedding day?
The answer to this, OUR EMOTIONS ARE CONTROLLED BY OUR THOUGHTS & our thoughts are prompted by our endocrine system - yes hormones! This is how my earth-bound, emotional hunger developed into 'perfectionism'.. which stemmed from FEAR itself. This connection made me want to create a blueprint of my thoughts and so I did this through 'Art Therapy' (print collection seen below).
Are you stressed? Are you overwhelmed by not ever having had the time to look within?
Is the reflection piece too much? Hold onto your bravery, we're going deeper. You're here and that's what matters - that you looked within.
Art Therapy Collection - SHOP HERE
So how are our thoughts stored? How do we recall events releasing emotional reactions and responses?
When our brain decides to store memory, we often have a hard time letting go of it because of the way it makes us feel; nostalgia, romance, being spoiled, a mother's warmth, a wedding, a divorce. At many times most memories that are stored by the average human are those surrounding fear, see here.
As we build relationships with events (life transitions and social interruptions like the pandemic) and people (familial, friends, work) we so connect them with how we relate to them. The hippocampus is a part of brain that helps to organize relational experiences. This how we address others and associate with the world.
Now that you have a new perspective on building neurological pathways and emotional well-being, let's continue..
When we associate ourselves with a thought about a certain event, it eventually becomes stored as a memory. My wedding day was beautiful, but it wasn't perfect so that bothered me. BOTHERED - the feelings entangled with irritation, uneasiness, stress, an overwhelming list, CONTROL.
My sisters and I have had incredible childhoods but due to financial difficulties while growing up, this impacted us to deal with our emotions independently and as a result none of us were able to reflect responsively (including my parents). We felt unheard, unseen as children and young women growing up. UNSEEN - the act of being silenced, upset, disrespected, unwanted, unloved, unheard and often times FORGOTTEN.
To those reading know that these are my chosen words. Gently acknowledging that mental health was not something that was common when I was sixteen (seventeen years ago) and that we did not have outlets to express ourselves as we do today as social media and inclusive media-based platforms do today.
Mental health is still premature in the east and western Muslim family households, but if it wasn't for GOD and the courage of our Mother, a few family members, and therapy I would never unveiled the truth of how my emotional addiction of perfectionism came to be. I am also grateful to my select friends who were not aware but made room for me, my sisters and my parents to move through this adversity that furthermore was branched out of intergenerational financial trauma (a story for another day).
Firstly, I'd like to address that no one is perfect, GOD teaches us to look at adversity; fear as a guide to shift our perspectives on things and people that we are attached to. How you ask? By finding love within our bodies for our lives through gratitude. Only then are we able to listen, conscientiously to what is the voice of motivation to living a healthy life and whose voice we've inherently allowed to take up space in our mind. The Quran is a guide to spiritual alignment but also a book of immense knowledge and wisdom to living life here on earth.
Be gentle with yourself as I am beginning to be with myself..
A moment of deep reflection...
Perfectionism invites us to remain in our sympathetic state. If you can imagine a tree rooted to the earth but shaking aggressively, through the day and night (shivering, insecure, hungry as if greed were no concept) this is how my nervous system looked; this is how I felt. My next fear was genetic disease; Parkison's has taken 5 of my extended family members and an aunt who I dearly loved. With perfectionism came WORKAHOLISM - the act of having no boundaries and working without breaks to breathe, dismantling oneself from the act to be gentle to the body and little time for loved ones or the self. Workaholism takes lives my sisters - she is what may cause disease and irreversible ones if one is not attentive to their body's limitations.
As an Artist, it is vital that I share with you the need to visualize as it has helped me grieve and move into my new present state of being; living. Perfectionism increases the feeling of exhaustion, anger, a sense of being 'occupied' or 'too busy' because one is drained - talk about survival of the fittest.
Do you feel like you've allowed your emotional chaos to overtake your own personal beliefs, choices and wish to live anxiety free?
This Ramadan I told myself that I will not allow my trauma to rest in my amydala any longer for it had crippled my sleep cycles, caused skin and body issues, hormonal imbalances and held me back from achieving my personal, family, work and relationship goals. After having faced insomnia for twenty long years, I have begun to appreciate sleep and the need to rest. Ramadan encourages us to be mindful of our bodies and also the need to cleanse and restore. Fasting is not only about not eating, it is a time to reflect without distraction and find divine balance.
- I will unlearn what it means to survive and build the courage with Allah (SWT) to battle my inner demons with journaling daily (prompts that I have curated for myself and questions asked in the Quran). Journaling also increases our ability to reflect, restore information and is a great activity to increase circulation in the hands, arms, shoulders. Our motor skills are often unaddressed and if we cannot perform, other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimers may take their place. So invite movement this Ramadan into your daily fasts (pre or post) and take your walks, reflect and feel nourishment surge through you.
- I will not allow myself to further react to the news, media outlets and those who are not aligned with my beliefs in love, life and self-respect. Firstly, your energy is real. Our chakras hold and store energy that is ours but also we also receive and feel the energy of others. If it is not healthy to BE available for someone when you too are feeling depleted energetically, than choose to meditate, pray, ground yourself with natural environments. You can also integrate healthy methods with me HERE to take back your personal power by learning how to say 'NO' when you are working on yourself. When you invite someone else's unwanted energy, you are also increasing cortisol, which is the stress hormone and further imbalances, disharmony in relationships and unwanted noise. Over time stress may cause you to impair your memory, your body's natural ability to digest (IBS, constipation) and heal on its own. Increase your intake of supplements by first getting your blood test done (on a day where you are not fasting) and colour your Sehri and Iftaari with colourful foods to invite love and health into your body. Encourage yourself to eat anti-inflammatory foods. Having healthy boundaries and addressing your hormonal health this Ramadan is a key component often missed during spiritual restoration.
How did you do it Saira?
'Truth is, I'm still struggling with it but I chose to be gentle with myself amidst the pandemic. I have this one beautiful, bountiful body and I wish to cherish it for GOD is my witness and HE created me with purpose. So I chose challenge over comfort; to grow, rebuild genuine guides that I know I can use to relieve myself of the systematic need to 'be perfect' and step away from the realization that I was a 'workaholic'. I am first pacing myself while being attentive to addressing this journey with gentleness and removing myself of any self-inflicted harm (mental, social, physical or emotional).
I choose healthy habits while integrating NLP techniques, CBT & art therapy alongside Allah's guides from the Quran and reassessing my energetic cords within relationships. This helped me release perfectionism and its related habits.
I choose to take accountability where and when I crossed boundaries of individuals who were not aware and choose to forgive those who crossed mine as they too were not aware of what they were doing.
I choose not to feel guilty and also to not self-criticize when an emotional habit does arise. I am enjoying the challenge but I also know that rest is a part of the ritual to restoration and rebirth..'
I had to ask myself the most difficult questions and I don't think I'll ever go back to who I thought I was because it was the discomfort in addressing these questions that helped me fall in love with my body again...
- WHO AM I WITHOUT LOVE? (WATCH OR LISTEN HERE)
- HOW HAVE I ADDRESSED REALTIONSHIPS CLOSEST TO ME (READ HERE)
- HOW DOES MY GUT IMPACT MY BRAIN? (LISTEN HERE)
- HOW DO I GIVE SPACE TO MY PARENTS & THEIR GRIEF? (LISTEN HERE. Pt1 & 2)
I choose to live in the present and address my inner conflicts while being conscientious and creative. By creating the Love Letter Community, I was able to invite myself and others to peel back the layers of their false selves (David Winnicott, psychoanalyst). Art has the power to heal and I will guide through that door of expression, even if you believe that '..you do not hold a creative bone' in your body.
Have you seen your body? Taken the time to address your biological systems? Have you asked yourself how your digestive system works? How your skin heals after a 2-degree burn or how you feel and act on love?
YOU ARE ART MY FRIEND
Art has been offered to the world as a tool to express one's emotions.
Thank you for reading.
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