Living in New York City, it seems that most people are too distracted to take moments to stop and reflect. So much of our day becomes routine and we stop thinking about why we do what we do - we just do. Sometimes this can be good, but most of time it can be bad. We miss out on opportunity and pass up on beauty in our mindless haste to follow our habits. The Washington Post ran a Social experiment with Joshua Bell a few years ago that very interestingly highlighted this phenomenon.
The month of Ramadan to me represents such an opportunity to stop, reflect, and deepen one's consciousness. One is able to more concretely understand the beauty of this world and the blessings one has been given as one strives to deepen their relationship with the Divine by cultivating a better understanding of themselves and those that are around them. Or it can be an opportunity missed where one just gets hungry and thirsty and doesn't really ask themselves why they are fasting.
My fiancee sent me a quote on Ramadan that she heard a few years ago from a female Islamic scholar and on this first day of Ramadan as I am asking myself why I am fasting and what I hope to achieve out of this month, I am reminded of it:
"There are as many forms of fasting as there are organs of perception and sensation, and each of these has many different levels. So we ask to fast from all that Allah does not love for us, and to feast on what the Beloved loves for us. Let us certainly fast from the limited mind, and all that it conjures up. Let us fast from fear, apart from fear and awe of Allah's majesty. Let us fast from thinking that we know, when Allah alone is the Knower. Let us fast from thinking negatively of anyone. Let us fast from our manipulations and strategies. Let us fast from all complaint about the life experiences that Allah gives us. Let us fast from our bad habits and our reactions. Let us fast from desiring what we do not have. Let us fast from obsession. Let us fast from despair. Let us fast from not loving our self, and from denying our heart. Let us fast from selfishness and self-centered behavior. Let us fast from thinking that only what serves us is important. Let us fast from seeing reality only from our own point of view. Let us fast from seeing any reality other than Allah, and from relying on anything other than Allah. Let us fast from desiring anything other than Allah and Allah's Prophets and friends, and our own true self. Essentially, let us fast from thinking that we have any existence separate from Allah."