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Lessons from Ramadan: The benefits of fasting

During Ramadan I always feel there’s a lesson to be learnt if we go beyond the simple adherence of fasting and reflect on the impact and meaning it has.

In 2020, having spent the month without food/drink for 17 hours each day, the experience reminded me of the importance of living in the present. Throughout the month I’d often find myself getting hungry from around 2pm onwards, imagining the satisfaction I’d get when I’d finally have something to eat later in the evening. When that time came and I started eating, the satisfaction I was anticipating never seemed to materialise. It reminded me of how, in the past, I’ve associated my happiness with the attainment of a goal. “I’ll be happy when this happens” or “I’ll be happy when I achieve that.” Upon achieving a goal, the resulting happiness never quite matched the imagined happiness I’d convinced myself was just round the corner. Ramadan, through daily reminders, encouraged me to enjoy the moment; less emphasis on the end result and more emphasis on the present. Rather than waiting for something to happen or waiting until the attainment of a goal, we can be much kinder to ourselves by allowing ourselves to enjoy the journey.

In 2021, Ramadan provided me with another lesson. There would be times during the day when I’d experience a lack of energy and a strong desire for food/drink. Although unpleasant, I saw it as beneficial. That feeling of discomfort provides us with growth. There will be times in our lives when we’re unable to get what we want. One’s ability to manage this disappointment or discomfort opens the door for future progress. Fasting during Ramadan helps you build restraint, patience and enhances your ability to manage things when things don’t go the way you want.

In 2022, Ramadan confirmed to me how incredibly resilient the human body is. It wasn’t too long ago that people would advise you to eat every few hours or you could end up fainting. Generations of people fasting during Ramadan have proven this not to be the case. You can continue to work out, exert yourself and put effort into your everyday activities; the human body is a resilient, complex machine that can handle much more than we give it credit for.

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