Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ramadhan, thou hath arrived...

The arrival of this auspicious month is greeted by mixed emotions. Happiness by some and weariness by others. There are also some who are not even aware of anything special. Surely, how can a month be any different that the one before it?

For the weary, they are thinking of the necessity to stay away from food and water from before dawn till dusk. They are thinking they have to curb their roving eyes, or physical acts of endearment, and even to cut down on physical activities. Some and I amongst them, I must admit, are planning our early departures from the office to avoid the ubiquitous traffic jams that will precede the breaking of fast.

The happiness of being able to experience this month is not in the joy of communal breaking of fast, or that Eid is in the coming. It is because in this month, we have been given a gift to bridge our faith. Do we change? Or do we remain such as we are?

To change for the better is always best. But the question is do we change our daily lives to compensate for the lack of water, food and sleep? Do we make excuses for ourselves not to work as hard or to play as hard? Always, I am greeted by extraordinary surprise when I say training does not stop. Be it in the afternoons or at break of fast, the classes will go on.

The month of Ramadhan is not a month to excuse yourself. Because of its special status, prayers and such are elevated to a different level, and to do more now is expected of one. But, in Islam it is also expected that one should maintain a good habit and keep to that schedule. If you regularly visit your parents once a week, you must continue to do so. If you attend classes at night, you should continue. Prayers are added above and beyond that, to pad the activities that you have already surrounded yourself with.

I remember sitting out of PE sessions in the afternoons during my early school days. It wasn't till I was in a boarding school that such inferior expectations were rooted out from my psyche. We half expect to faint in the afternoon sun and thus it is no surprise that some do. But when our expectations are no different than it is in every other month, fasting does not become a chore or a handicap. In fact, it strengthens our spirit. And frankly, we need the exercise.

Health wise, I will not contradict the nutritionist or the doctor. Its important to be hydrated as we all know from those intense seminars. But keep some good habits in during your practice and it won't be that bad. I know because I sweat a ton. The thing about training in Ramadhan is to understand your limits. Everybody has limits, just don't let that limit be... nothing accomplished. Keep your mouth closed and don't talk so much and you will not be as thirsty. Breath through your nose and not your mouth, and you will find this help improves your stamina. Move economically, running around making all those unnecessary steps is not only unsightly, its tiring. Especially since we are doing kihon more now, the steps are exact and rarely requires you to move more than a couple of steps. Also start your fast properly and break your fast appropriately.

There's a reason why we delay the start of fast as much as we can till just before fajr. Drink plenty of fluids and eat slow energy foods. Rice or porridge, pasta with a little protein and some veg is a good way to start and maybe some dates, figs or bananas. Buns and instant noodles or anything sweet is like playing with fire. Breaking fast is also important. Do not gulp down that large mug of ice cold syrup because God knows I want to too. Instead, sip warm water. Take a date. Let your stomach get used to a little food first. Pray and come back to eat again. This way we limit the gas and overeating and allow for normal digestion. Proper rest is important too.

I wish to all my muslim friends a fruitful Ramadhan. Lets make a point to develop our Makoto especially hard this month. Gambatte!

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