By: Margarita Tartakovsky
Feeling painful emotions, not surprisingly, can be painful. This is why so many of us don’t do it. Instead, we ignore our emotions, or dismiss them. We try to numb the pain with a glass of wine or three. We isolate ourselves. We cut or burn ourselves, or engage in other kinds of self-harm.
Basically, we turn to anything that’ll help us get rid of our feelings.“As humans, we do everything we can do to reduce our suffering and to avoid pain — emotional or physical. So it is difficult to accept the pain [of our emotions] and not try to do anything to fight it,” said Sheri Van Dijk, MSW, a psychotherapist in Sharon, Ontario, Canada.
By: Meena Malik
A couple nights ago, we broke one of our family Ramadan rules of “no fried food” and my mom went all out and cooked a bunch of deep-fried traditional Pakistani food. It tasted amazing and hit the spot, but we paid for it and all felt lousy when we woke up for suhoor the next morning.
By no means am I a health-nut, but during this month I find a new level of painstaking awareness of what I am eating and other habits that contribute to my general well-being. The gray areas of my eating habits before become a lot more black and white during Ramadan, like avoiding fried food, for instance.
The capacity of memory in the brain to store, process and recall information is truly a wondrous blessing of Allah. We use our memory to gain beneficial knowledge; we also use our memory to recall the mistakes we’ve made in the past and learn from them to become better.
For instance, remembering how we may have spent time during Ramadan unproductively last year may motivate us to utilize time fruitfully this Ramadan.
Many associate aging with memory loss, but it doesn’t have to be that way as demonstrated by +80 grandparents who complete memorization of The Qur’an! The following are some tips to strengthen your memory:
• Use it or Lose it
Treat you brain as a muscle – if you want to keep it fit and agile, you have to use it. Reading books, memorizing Qur’an, memorizing beneficial knowledge, and prayer are all the best way for Muslims to exercise their mind. The sense of being closer to Allah (The Exalted) will also protect us from depression which has negative effects on the mind. If you like, you could also try other academic exercises or mental challenges for fun.
• Brain Food
A well-balanced diet is beneficial to keep your memory at its best. A recent study conducted in France has found that use of olive oil improves visual memory and verbal fluency. The virtue of the olive is also mentioned in The Qur’an, and Allah (The All-Wise) takes an oath by this special food (95:1). Foods that contain high omega-3 content, such as salmon, are also important for the memory and brain function. Furthermore, your memory needs adequate sugar and vitamins that most of that will naturally be in your diet (if it’s not, try honey, dates, blueberries, and almonds).
• Healthy Body for a Healthy Mind
Physical exercises, especially aerobic ones, are beneficial to keep the mind alert and healthy. If you can’t do aerobic exercises, the good news is that a moderate amount of walking on daily basis can keep the mind healthy too. Indeed, walking for most people is pretty easy to maintain as a regular activity (even taking the stairs instead of the elevator exercises your body).
Taking a nap improves memory and mood, promotes physical well-being, and sharpen senses. Napping has many benefits so taking a 15-30 minute before or after Zhuhr should significantly affect your intellectual performance, energy level, and plus – it’s sunnah!
• Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep
Recent German research lab finds that sleep helps memory shaping. Sleep is needed to clear the brain’s short-term memory storage and create space for new information. Sleep and nighttime is yet another mercy and blessing from Allah, The Most Generous:
”It is out of His Mercy that He has put for you night and day, that you may rest therein (i.e. during the night) and that you may seek of His Bounty (i.e. during the day), and in order that you may be grateful.” [28: 73]
• Ask for it
If you want a good memory, ask Al-Mujib (The Answerer of Prayers). Ask Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) for what you need – beneficial knowledge, understanding, good memory.
Our memory is indeed a true blessing of Allah, and we should be grateful for it. To show our appreciation, let us keep it healthy and use it for beneficial purposes that lead us to get closer to Allah, The Most Merciful.
1. Rauchs, G. et al. 2011. Sleep contributes to the strengthening of some memories over others, depending on hippocampal activity at learning. J. Neuroscience. 31 (7): 2563-2568.
2. “The Memory Cure – How to Protect Your Brain Against Memory Loss & Alzheimer’s Disease” by Majid Fotuhi, M. D., PH. D. McGraw- Hill, 2003.
3. “Keep Your Brain Young” by Guy McKhann, M.D & Marilyn Albert, Ph.D. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2002.
About the author
Rushda Abraham is a French Muslim Woman Magazine journalist.
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