R'11 Day Three: The Pros of NPO

From a religious perspective, there are MANY benefits to fasting the month of Ramadan. However, apart from this category of benefits, there are also many day-to-day practical ones that I'm sure do tie back to the reasons why this month was initially ordained by Allah for Muslims. Over the past few years, I've come to really appreciate these additional benefits, so I thought I'd share them and see if any other Muslimites feel the same way!!

1. Time Expands
Thanks to all daytime meals being taken out of the equation, your time completely opens up during the day. No longer are you planning your day around mealtimes. It's very liberating, and I enjoy having additional time not only for spiritual pursuits, but for other day to day tasks as well. Fasting really does give you a perspective about how much food can run your life...if you let it!

2. Detoxification
This benefit is mentioned from a religious perspective, both internally with our organ systems and spiritually. But truly, extensive academic research has been done in the field of fasting, and numerous detoxification results have been shown. For example, toxins from the liver are removed, our digestive system gets a huge break, as well as not abusing our bodies with the sugar kicks we often give ourselves at certain times of the day. And LOOK! We are surviving without that, so do we REALLY need all that of caffeine or sugar to start with?! ;)

3. Increased Adaptability
If you think about it, your body is jolted into a reality check with no food or water during daylight hours. Not only is your body adapting, but you are as well! Think about the earlier wake-up time for the pre-dawn meal (which needed to be completed by 4:35am today!), the later nights you're having if you're attending night prayers, the fact that your lunch break at work is not truly a lunch break! SubhanAllah, our bodies are amazing to be able to deal with the internal and external changes we throw at it during this month! And how quickly we adapt to these changes!! :)

4. Heightened Focus and Awareness
I don't know about y'all, but when you're standing in night prayers and you start swaying from fatigue, it takes a great deal of focus to be able to remain upright and in sync with the prayer!! Or when you're enduring a two-hour long work meeting right before lunch and your stomach grumbles like an earthquake is approaching. Ramadan really does teach you to hone in on your focus and awareness skills in ways you never thought were possible. So your mind really does become a lean, mean, thinking machine...not that it wasn't already, it's only better now! ;)

5. Delay of Gratification
We have a pretty primitive response to hunger. ME HUNGRY, ME MUST EAT! So we usually satisfy our hunger immediately or within an appropriate time frame, and then when we feel satiated, we're good to go! Sure...there are times when we delay our hunger, but most often, within an hour that need is fulfilled. So imagine having to delay your hunger for, oh I don't know, say around 11 hours!! For me personally, I usually feel my first fasting hunger pangs around 10am, 6 hours after I've eaten. This is only 11 hours away from the time I break my fast. Soooo, it looks like my stomach is going to have to wait for a while! But in all seriousness, delay of gratification is a critical skill to have, especially around food!! Goodbye to emotional eating!! :)

6. Prioritization
As Ramadan goes on, I often find my physical energy stores deplete faster. The sleep deprivation starts to kick in and I often get fatigued easier towards the end of the month. So in reality, we are taught to have to prioritize our tasks and activities. While working out is high on the list for me during most of the year, I only exercise when I feel like it during Ramadan, most often 3 times a week instead of 5 - 6. I try to fit additional spiritual and religious pursuits in, since this is the most blessed time of year for Muslims. Work is still high on the priority list, but I don't get into a crunch mode and actually learn to let things go or leave for later (which if you know me, you know is a big deal!). Overall, I find that my days consist of essential tasks, and time wasters or not so important pursuits are no longer there!

So there you have it! Six more reasons why Ramadan rocks! I really encourage non-Muslims to give fasting a go once, I'm sure it will be an experience you won't forget ;)

And lucky you, with me writing one blog entry a day, you're reading 26 more this month than my usual one post a week! Does this count as a pro NPO factor?! Let's leave that up to you to decide! :P

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