It seems that in today’s world stress is the norm and Peace is missing in action. Finding peace seems like a list of to-do’s and it can seem impossible at times when chaos begins to ensue.
So how do you find inner peace when you are in the middle of a stressful situation? The answer is very simple, profound, but the most unlikely place people look for it. Inner peace is found is letting go and submitting. You can really get this when understanding that Islam means ‘to submit’, and in submitting to the flow of life, connecting to the source of all solutions, the Creator of life, is the simple answer. But the challenge is that we are too stressed out for a peaceful solution or even to think about submitting. People strive for a stressful solution and as a result exacerbate the problems they face.
Ok so that sounds way too simplistic right? in fact you probably feel challenged in even seeing where the solution is in what I’ve just said. I get that, so bare with me as I’m going to give you a very simple, yet super powerful solution that I’m sure you will get 100%.
Yes that means I have an answer for this question.
It might sound like I’m a tree huger and that I just want to hug the world. Happy thinking does that to a person 😊.
However, people don’t feel like that when they struggle. In fact, we often feel quite the opposite. I found that in my own journey I’ve met so many people who are in the game of ‘helping people’ and it seems we are really in that place to solve our own problems, whilst we help others.
You see we search our whole lives for answers that help us get clarity on how best to deal with our own challenges. As a teenager or young adult, we’re too busy thinking that amassing material wealth will give us all of the things that which quench our spiritual thirst.
Quenching the Spiritual Thirst – Source of Peace
Spiritual thirst isn’t always understood as spiritual, especially when you are in your teens or early 20’s. By spiritual thirst I’m talking about that desire for fulfilment, accomplishment, achievement or the ‘feeling of I’ve arrived’, ‘I’ve found my purpose in life’. There are many ways that one might describe it but one thing is for sure, there is something we are all looking for as human beings, and we seem to be searching our whole lives.
The saddest realisation is that when you have found all of the material wealth and accomplishment that your heart desires, or at least the realisation of your biggest dreams are now real, you have a sudden realisation, ‘Oh… this feeling of something missing, it’s still here’.
Actually, that’s not such a sad realisation, I was being dramatic and it doesn’t need to be sad at all. You see even in the language of thinking, or maybe especially in the language of our thinking we dramatize things and that adds to the ‘felt experience’ which is often seen as negative.
Ok I divert, so let’s get back to the point, it is not sad. But it is a realisation.
If you can sit with the realisation that there is something missing, and that no accomplishment to date has alleviated it, then you will understand what I mean by spiritual thirst. You see the spiritual thirst is one that cannot be quenched with material nourishment. No, it requires a spiritual nourishing.
We spend most of our lives making the mistake, that if I attain my dreams, get that nice family life, big home, car, holiday or whatever it is that you’ve been dreaming of your whole life, we think that we will have that spiritual nourishment. That spiritual thirst will be quenched.
In actual fact what is happening is that we realise that all of ‘the things that give happiness’, didn’t give us the happiness we expected. That realisation is a good thing, but it’s not always received that way.
Here’s how people often react to stress:
Maryam, she finally has a great career, it’s not what she had dreamt of but she’s happy doing it. She has beautiful children that she loves to bits, and she’s a part of your school parent-governor association, so she feels like an active mother, community contributor and so on. But as usual, life’s not all a fairy tale. She has various challenges in her life.
Some of those challenges are with her own ambition and some are with her husband and his family. All of these challenges, are ones that have been ongoing for a number of years and she doesn’t understand why she can’t seem to resolve them. But she puts a lot of her stress on these things and it affects her in every area of life. She feels, time management is an challenge, she feels that balance is a challenge, and she feels unappreciated at times.
Now Maryam is a practising Muslim woman, she prays 5 times a day and tries to be as spiritual as possible, but due to the lack of balance in her life, she feels time poor and struggles to be spiritual.
One thing she knows for sure, that when she is spiritually connected to her Creator, she feels that all of her problems are manageable and that she can handle anything. The challenge is that this feeling of spirituality comes and goes and is so unpredictable that she doesn’t know how to keep it on a more permanent basis.
The reaction Maryam has when she realises that none of her achievements have helped her solve this spiritual challenge is one of the following possibilities:
1) She loses all sense of self confidence, in her ability to make the right choices in life. She questions whether or not she even knows how to live life the best way. This has a knock-on affect in all areas of her life. She starts to have a lot of self-doubt and falls into a negative spiral of thinking. This causes her to feel bad about herself a lot and over a period of time it affects her relationship with her husband, her children and even her work.
She finds it difficult to see all of the good in her life as she becomes so consumed by her feelings. One day she wakes up to realise that she’s being told that she’s suffering from depression.
2) She becomes obsessed with developing herself while she searches for the answers. She focuses on bigger and more challenging goals. She feels that greater achievements will quench that thirst, and help her find that missing link. So, she works for years to develop herself. She does different acts or rituals to help herself focus on gratitude, the blessings and increasing in personal well-being. She works out, does physical activities to get those chemical juices flowing in her veins so that she can get a natural boost of happiness. She tries journaling, reflection, meditation and maybe even affirmations.
All of this helps her manage her physical and psychological state. But she still feel something is always missing. What really bugs her is that she is trying everything and she can’t seem to figure out what it is. So her challenges in life seem to get on top of her at times. But most of the time she uses coping strategies to deal with it. She tells herself that this is life and just gets on with it.
3) She realises all of the things in her life are great blessings, but she can’t seem to fill the void with any of them. So there is this constant state of unhappiness, even though she won’t ever call it that, as that wouldn’t be a positive way to view it, and it certainly wouldn’t help empower her. She has a fear that it might always be like this.
She knows that nothing material will give her the missing thing. This is really good news because she knows now, she needs something different. So she starts to look at how she can develop her relationship with her Creator. The challenge she faces is that she has a pretty busy life between work, family, social and community work.
So what does this all mean? how can we change this and fill this spiritual gap?
The answer is simple, yet it requires understanding and that takes a little time. Up until now we have spent the whole of our lives in the pursuit of what we think will make us happy. Yet, Allah tells us categorically that peace and contentment is found in the spiritual.
“It is only in the remembrance of Allah that the heart will find contentment”
The direction we are striving in most of our lives is towards the outer experience of life. We do that because we erroneously presume that these shiny things in life will give us happiness, peace and contentment.
But in this verse, we are told that we need to look inwards. We need to turn towards the spiritual contentment, as that’s the only thing that will give us the solution to all of our material challenges. Whether we have challenges at work, in business, with husband or wife, with children with anything in life. You see everything in life is material, is of the created world. The spiritual contentment comes from the contentment of your soul.
So here’s the challenge, we think that by reading the Quran and praying the daily prayers that will be resolved instantly. So we do that, and then realise the challenges are still here. In the event of this happening people become angry, despondent, sad and even feel lost. Demotivation kicks in and I’m sure you could add to this list of feelings.
The answer is in the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah no doubt. But it comes back the above verse. You will find contentment in nurturing your spiritual connection to Allah. That means understanding your life, understanding your spiritual, psychological and physical make up. Understanding how reality of life really works, and how you work best with the reality of life.
We human beings, all of us (not just the muslims) need to be connected to reality, connected to our Creator as that is where all well-being comes from.
Allah says in the Quran 21:107
“And I have not sent you (oh Muhammad), except as a mercy to mankind”
What I am saying is that we need to understand how the human mind, body and spirit work. This is what has led me on my own quest over the years to discovery and now to teaching the traditional science of Ilmu-Nafs, knowledge of the self. This is a journey for myself as it will be for all who seek out the truths of life.
I understand that it’s just the beginning but I also understand that it, the understanding that Allah guides us to in the Quran and Sunnah is the answer to what we seek. Spiritual nourishment is through the connection and remembrance of the Al-Mighty, All Merciful and Compassionate, the Eternally Loving Creator of the heavens and the earth.
The answer to your spiritual needs is that connection to Allah, if I haven’t been clear enough.
I hope and pray you find solace in your journey of discovery.
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