As Ramadan is around the corner, Muslims around the world are looking forward to the opportunity to better themselves. To change themselves for the good. And when it comes to transforming ourselves we’re all looking for that one thing we can do to accelerate our spiritual growth. That quick hack that can take us from our current spiritual state into our ideal state. What is it? One word: immersion.
What is immersion?
By definition, immersion is a deep mental involvement in something. When we use it as a means to reach our goals, the technique of immersion is one whereby one focuses their time, effort and energy to get their mind into a zone in which they are realising their true potential.
Why practise immersion?
In order to answer this I want to take you on a short trip somewhere special. Where all dreams can come true. No not Disneyland my friend, I’m talking about your mind! So fasten your seatbelts as this may be a rocky ride as we venture into the depths of your mind in sha Allah.
Have a think about where you are now. Ponder over your current state of being and relationship with Allah. What do you think defines this state? Is it the way you generally 'act' or behave?
Yes, perhaps on the surface level. But if you were to reflect on all of your actions day by day, you'd find certain 'core' actions. These are the actions that tend to repeat themselves and set the tone for your day as well as shape your other behaviours. These aren't just one-off acts but rather follow a distinct pattern. Often occurring at certain times of the day or as a set response to some emotions that you feel. These are your habits.
What drives habits?
It turns out that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a "habit loop," which is a three-part process: First, there's a cue, a triggering thought, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behaviour unfold. Then there's the routine, which is the behaviour itself. The third and final step is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps solidify the habit loop in the future.
This way we come to a realisation that where we are now is because of our thoughts, which act as triggers and drive our habits which in turn lead to our behaviours. And where we want to be is also essentially just a set of thoughts, habits and behaviours.
How can we bridge that gap?
So essentially, between our current state and our ideal state of being is a ‘Delta’, a difference, between where you are now and where you want to be. Simply stated, the best way to bridge that gap is by spending time to take your mind into the deepest depths of the consciousness that exists in the space where you want to be. Simple right? Here’s two ways we can practically do it:
Change your environment:
Some of the best ways we can achieve immersion is by hanging around the people who exhibit those ideal thoughts and behaviours. The pious people that you know that have good character, actions and strive to follow the sunnah. After all the Prophet (ﷺ) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend”
He (ﷺ) also said, "The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof."
And if you can't find such company then immerse yourself in Islamic events, classes, join Islamic Facebook groups (like our Ramadan Accountability group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ramadanlegacy), watch videos, podcasts, blogs and read beneficial authentic Islamic books.
Change your thoughts:
Your subconscious mind is what develops your habits and forms your behaviours. To form good habits you need to immerse yourself in those types of thoughts.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character, they become destiny.”
The best way to adopt beneficial thoughts is to often reciting adhkaar (morning, evening, after prayer), du'as, Qur’an and invocations from the sunnah (we have selected authentic duas in our planner which can be found in the fortress of the muslim) and contemplate deeply on surah fatiha in every prayer, the very surah that asks Allah to take us from where we are to realising our spiritual potential and to be guided by him.
How a Planner can help you practise immersion in Ramadan- the 3 p’s:
How do you prioritize your time? What do you spend your spare time doing? Think about how you can be effective in spending more immersion time with your deen in balance with the time you spend working, eating, playing and whatever else you are doing. This requires some serious scheduling. Using a Ramadan planner maximises your time, effort and energy into planning ahead and prioritising the time you need to take to get to that immersive state and make the most of the opportunity to do so in Ramadan.
Track both the pivotal and subtle changes along your journey to get you to the outcome with the reflection space in your planner. Use the reflection space to write down and assess where you are now and try to understand what subtle changes you need to make in your strategy of immersion to help you get to your spiritual goal. Tracking your progress and paying attention to the subtle changes in your thoughts, moods and actions is key to achieving the highest level of spiritual growth you want to get to.
You’re not always going to get things right. Iman has its highs and lows. Worship sometimes may feel like a chore rather than spiritually transformational. Things are not always going to feel so natural or like second nature to you. Bayazid Bastami once said:
ما زلت أسوق نفسي إلى الله وهي تبكي ، حتى سقتها وهي تضحك
“I continued dragging my soul to Allah whilst it cried, until it finally surrendered itself and came with me to Allah smiling.”
Use the planner to persist in and stick to your goals, immersing yourself to be the best you. And as you are in the process of transforming- your thoughts, habits and behaviours, this change can also be scary. You may lose materialistic friends and those around you. But when that happens, know that in sha Allah you have gained another friend, whose friendship suffices beyond all, and that is the friendship of Allah.
*Although we're now sold out, you can still purchase a planner through our stockists worldwide listed on the link below in sha Allah:
May Allah allow us to reach the blessed month of Ramadan and make it easy for us to immerse ourselves in the best of thoughts, behaviours and actions in order to achieve his wilayah (friendship) ameen!
By Muhammad Malik