.. a Mindful Muslim Monk: Exercising mindfulness in Islamic Meditation
We all know that we need more presence in NOW, more control over our wandering minds and desires. But what exactly do we do to achieve this? How can we become more mindful in all aspects of our lives, spiritual and temporal?Our senses are constantly stimulated from every direction to the point that a simple moment of quiet stillness seems impossible. This continuous agitation hinders us from getting the most out of each moment, subtracting from the quality of our prayers and our ability to remember the Almighty Allah. This is where the practice of exercising mindfulness, in the Islamic context of muraqabah, can help train our minds to become more disciplined
Mindfulness linguistically is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something and more specifically a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. When we are in a state of unmindfulness, we react to thoughts and emotions and let them lead us wherever they wish. By contrast, cultivating a state of mindfulness gives us the ability to follow or not follow our thoughts as we choose.
Put differently, mindfulness is a form of metacognition (“awareness of one’s awareness”), a self-awareness of what is really going on inside one’s mind and heart. In the Islamic context, mindfulness is the virtue of muraqabah, a word which is derived from the root meaning to watch, observe, regard attentively. Already we can see the close proximity between “mindfulness” and “muraqabah”. As a spiritual term, it is defined as “the constant knowledge of the servant and conviction in the supervision of the Truth, over one’s outward and inward states”. A Muslim in a state of muraqabah is in continuous full knowledge that Allah is Aware of him or her, inwardly and outwardly. It is a complete state of vigilant self-awareness in one’s relationship with Allah in heart, mind, and body. The basis of muraqabah is our knowledge that Allah is always watching us at all times and, as a consequence, we develop greater attention and care for our own actions, thoughts, feelings, and inner states of being. As Allah said, “Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him”