April 12th. One month ago today, after much consideration, I decided it was the perfect day to commence this long-awaited self-journey that I wanted to try – “Me Month”. Now, before we jump to any conclusions, let me brief you on what exactly this is.
“Me Month” is a personal journey about deep introspection and resetting the mind. Over the past few months, I felt as though I was losing grasp of the relationship that I had with myself. I started to detach myself from the external world, and soon enough, it became internalized too – where I no longer felt in control of my emotions, reactions, and mindset. Allowing myself to be vulnerably immersed with my emotions and to grow forward from it was not the path I chose. Rather, repression and deindividualization by becoming one of the many scrolling through social media was how I adapted.
Over time, it’s only human to lose yourself and become one of the crowd. I relied on social media and interaction with the few people I kept in my bubble to fill the void. Soon enough, that became an addiction that I was projecting onto people. While I’m thankful that my loved ones stuck by my side throughout it all, self-reflection pushed me to reset my mind.
Just around that time, I ran into an old friend of mine at the local grocery store where we were joking about the contrast between my trans-fat-filled cart and her all-natural organic one. This conversation spiraled into how my friend was preparing for the holy month of Ramadan where Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours. I was intrigued by the difficult task of abstaining from food, water, and bad habits, to name a few, which was something that Muslims across the world took joy in and looked forward to year-round.
My friend encouraged me to try it for at least a day as there are many mental and physical benefits associated with it. Although I didn’t give it much thought on that particular day, one thing she said stuck with me. “When we have everything at our fingertips, we forget where to search for peace and happiness. When we strip down to the bare minimum, we won’t need to search because we will find peace and happiness everywhere we look”.
The concept of fasting and abstaining from the amenities of life was something that I was fascinated by and began considering. Subsequently, after that encounter, I picked up a phenomenal book, which I encourage all of you to read! Think Like A Monk, by Jay Shetty, further enunciated the value of abstinence. To give you a short run-down, Jay Shetty was a successful businessman in London before he left everything behind to join an Ashram in India and pursue a monk life. He carries many of the principles he learned back to his life in London and continues to lead a peaceful and happy life while inspiring others by talking about his journey. While the book shares many of the practices he implements in today’s world, I happened to come across the chapter that particularly spoke of everything monks abstain from when they fast and how words don’t do justice to the experience.
After encountering the idea of fasting twice in a matter of days, it strongly appealed to me and became something I wanted to implement. Fortunately, with the help of my friend who was able to guide me through the strategic way of fasting and structuring a schedule around it, I was able to tailor a plan for my “Me Month”. I deleted all social media and limited my exposure to social interaction to create more time for introspection. During Ramadan, Muslims across the globe wake up before dawn to take in their nutritious pre-dawn meal called Suhoor/Sehri and continue to fast until dusk, after which they consume their Iftar meal. Similarly, I began this practice and woke up between 4 – 5 am every morning. Fasts could last as long as 15 hours depending on the daylight timing of where people are located.
After consuming the meal, the peace and serenity of the early mornings without the distraction of social media allowed me to pick up my hobbies, complete all impending work, and essentially lead the life I aspired to live. When we begin fasting and abstain from the necessities of life such as food and water, it makes us reflect on how much we take for granted daily. Fasting was one of the richest experiences of my life and I can certainly testify that it is something words do not do justice to.
Abstaining from food, water, negativity, and bad habits has given me time and a chance to feel out my emotions and understand myself to a deeper level. It helped me regain control of my life and have the liberty to be in harmony and solitude with my mind and body. There were many times where it felt difficult to stick to this lifestyle and I wanted to give up, but as Dr. Maxwell Martz said, “Habits take 21 days to break or form”. When we work a countless number of days for external causes and people, it’s important to recognize that you are the most permanent thing in your life, and if you don’t work on yourself, who will?
In conclusion, the purpose of describing my journey is not to tell you that this month has turned me into a perfect person. I am far from it and there is still so much to learn! However, I hope that this experience encourages you to try abstinence in some capacity with either the necessities of life or with other luxuries taken for granted because the results are immaculate and will be something you continue to carry on as you venture through life. At the very least, I urge you to take some time for introspection of yourself and create a “Me Month” in your own way!