Did you know that mindfulness is used to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep problems, addictions, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, digestive problems, and relationship difficulties? (https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm)
Mindfulness is “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” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mindfulness). Mindfulness trains your mind to stay in the present and not dwell on the past or future. The opposite of mindfulness is “mind-FULL-ness,” which is having a mind “full” of thoughts that keeps you “in your head” rather than in the present moment.
You can practice mindfulness any time. One way to practice mindfulness is to ask yourself what you see around you. You can also notice what you hear and feel. This brings you to the present moment.
Another way to practice mindfulness is to sit for five minutes and silently observe your thoughts and feelings. You could observe that you feel stressed, thankful, angry, or any emotion. It’s important to keep a nonjudgmental attitude when observing your thoughts/feelings. The key is to observe yourself in a detached way, like a scientist observing an experiment.
Mindfulness teaches you that you are not the same as your thoughts and feelings. You are the observer of your thoughts/feelings. You learn to separate yourself from your thoughts/feelings. This separation creates a mental space in which you can respond wisely to life, instead of react impulsively.
9 Islamic Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
1.Helps you achieve Khushoo (focus and humility) in prayer:
Allah (swt) praises those with khushoo during prayer:
“Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” (23:1-2)
Practicing mindfulness trains your brain to be in the present moment and to watch your thoughts. Therefore it will become easier to be mentally present during salah. When you have a distracting thought, you will notice it and return your focus to salah.
2. Increases your sincerity to Allah (swt)
“The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will receive the rewards according to what he has intended…” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Mindfulness increases awareness of your thoughts/feelings. Self awareness helps you to better understand your true intentions, which will make you more sincere in your actions.
3. Helps you to remember Allah (swt) more:
Because mindfulness makes you more aware of your thoughts, you will realize when your thoughts are not about Allah, which leads you to remember Allah more.
The Prophet (pbuh) taught: “For everything there is a polish, and the polish for the hearts is the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah. There is nothing more potent in saving a person from the punishment of Allah than the dhikr of Allah.” (Sahih Ahmad)
4. Helps you to correct negative/unIslamic thinking:
Because mindfulness makes you more aware of your thoughts, you are better able to change your thoughts. For example, if you are feeling impatient or ungrateful, you would first notice these feelings and then remind yourself to be patient and grateful to Allah (swt).
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “To harbor good thoughts is part of well-practiced worship.” (Mishkat al Masabih, Volume 2, book 24, Chapter 17).
5. Helps you to avoid sins:
When you are more aware of your thoughts/feelings, you can control them better. If you are about to sin, mindfulness increases your self control.
Mindfulness is a treatment for addictions. It teaches people to separate themselves from their addictive impulses. Many addictions arise from a need to cope with and/or avoid difficult emotions. Mindfulness is helpful because it teaches one to calmly accept difficult emotions.
Mindfulness helps people to face their thoughts and feelings as a nonjudgmental observer. Rather than avoiding or denying sinful thoughts, we face them, understanding that it’s human to have them.
In Islam, if we prevent ourselves from acting on a sinful thought, Allah (swt) counts that as a good deed! Allah (swt) says in a hadith qudsi:
“…and if he gives it (the bad deed) up for My sake, then record it for him as one good deed…” (Bukhari).
6.Helps you to control anger:
Mindfulness trains you to view the present moment in an objective way, without reacting to it. This ability to view situations without emotion, as simply an observer, enables you to think before reacting.
A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “Advise me.” He (pbuh) answered, “Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet (pbuh) told him, “Do not become angry.” (Bukhari)
7. Helps you to feel grateful and happy about your life
Mindfulness is about savoring the present moment. Life happens in the present! If you are not living in the present moment, you are missing your life!
Mindfulness helps you to notice the good things around you. It helps you to focus on what you already have, rather than what you don’t have.
Mindfulness makes you aware of thoughts that produce good feelings versus thoughts that produce negative feelings. This will help you to think more positively, insha’Allah.
“If you are thankless—Allah is in no need of you—yet He is not pleased by the ingratitude of His worshippers. And if you are thankful He is pleased by it in you…” (39:7).
8. Increases compassion for yourself and others
Mindfulness teaches you to accept your thoughts and feelings as a normal part of being human. It teaches you to be kind to yourself. It increases your awareness of your feelings, increases your empathy for others (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/does_mindfulness_make_you_compassionate)
“And to be among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to compassion.” (90:17)
9. Helps you to be silent and to control your tongue.
Since mindfulness is usually a silent practice, it accustoms you to silence, which is encouraged in Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Whoever is silent has been saved.” (Sahih Tirmidthi)
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak goodness or keep silent” (Bukhari).