The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

Archive for the tag “coffee”

Acclimatising – Day One Fast

A new routine for the month begins today. It’s only when you commit yourself to a journey like this that you realise how powerful your own mind is in controlling what you do. On the one hand my mind is focused, determined, full of resolve and hopeful. On the other hand another part of my brain is conjuring thoughts of self-doubt, fear and even wishing the month over. I’m going to be brutally honest.

This is without a doubt a test of will-power, self-discipline and of also confronting yourself.

No morning coffee. The husband, who is Algerian, is already having a sleep to get over the caffeine withdrawal headache he is dealing with. He’s a hardcore coffee drinker – the stronger the better. For me, there’s no headache because I don’t actually physically drink as much as he does but it’s the habit of making that coffee that I’m missing. The act of switching on the kettle, choosing the drinking vessel – which mug with which quote to fit with which mood – and then is it going to be be instant or filter?

With none of that going on, there’s more time. Time to do the things you avoid doing because you are procrastinating and then escaping to make a brew instead. Or fooling yourself that you are actually working, hunched over your laptop on a coffee shop.

When you take away all those practises that actually stop you from being productive, working and focusing – what is left? Just the work itself.

But fasting during Ramadan isn’t just a body thing. It’s very much a spiritual thing. An act of worship and also one of the five pillars of Islam.

You find that during this month, even the most lapse of Muslims during the remainder of the year, will take part in the fasting of Ramadan. For them as it is for the more devout, it’s unmissable. You just don’t even consider not fasting and being part of it.

It’s already 2pm and I’m feeling fine. Not hungry. Not thirsty. Not even tired.

The Plan:

  1. I’m going to try to get as much of the Qu’ran read as I can. I’ve never read the entire Qu’ran during Ramadan. Many people finish it multiple times during this month. So I’m going to make a commitment to read it every day and to get a decent way into it. That starts today. So today, I’ll begin and spend time to read, reflect and connect. I have always found it deeply spiritual to pray and read whilst in a state of fasting.
  2. I’m going to cook (scary) but yes it’s that time of googling all those North African recipes out there and getting my Shorba, Harira and Boreks at their peak. Kitchen is sparkly clean and ready for my North African cooking adventure.
  3. Blogging my way through this Ramadan so I can share, discuss and learn with brothers and sisters the experience and journey we are on.

LIfe and other weird ideas

So the soggy defrosted food (because my freezer has broken) that got cooked and eaten in phases through the night has meant that I felt bloated and stuffed until about half an hour ago after 12 hours of fasting so far. Now I want a coffee sitting there on the side of my desk – maybe only a few sips of it drunk – but nonetheless sitting there as my work companion to help me through the pile of paperwork that needs doing. My poor accountants keep sending me hopeful emails for me to do essential bits of admin that I just can’t make myself do. I feel guilty because I know they are fasting too.

No hospital shift today so I am enjoying a lazy day. But it does go slower that’s for sure. I made up for it by watching two episodes of Scrubs back to back and will hold out for the Simpsons at 6.

But no coffee until 21.01 hours.

There are clouds in the sky but it’s still baking. How about a little thunder storm? I love a good storm – it feels rather refreshing afterwards. And rather crazy exciting during it too.

Man it’s so hard to focus and do work when you feel so rubbish and just want to crawl into bed and watch tv for the rest of the day. But that’s not the point of Ramadhan. You have somehow got to ‘dig deep’ and keep going. A voice echoes in my head from Sandhurst days agin ‘Work hard ladies’…yes it’s my colour sergeant again shouting encouragement from somewhere deep in my memory. This fasting stuff is undoubtedly great for stamina building and good for a reminder about the important things. And I tell you I won’t be doing this for just anyone – so it reminds me of who I am, what I believe in and how faith is such a significant part of me. I suppose sometimes we all need a central grounding to bring us back to who we are in amongst the crazy busy lives we lead. I mean today I have been pondering my career, my life and how I need to move forward. I have also been having my own pangs of insecurity, self-doubt and how much has been procrastinated about and yet left unfulfilled. I mean have I learnt French yet? No. Have I learnt Arabic yet? er no! Have I sorted out my manky ankle that has stopped me doing the one sport I love – running? No – even though I am a bloody doctor myself! And yes prospective patients – do as I say and not as I do! And time is just trickling past. So in this period of forced slowing down I am having a detox of my body and brain – a time to use the F word – FOCUS! There I said it  and instead of trying to do six million things at once it’s time to break it all into man-sized chunks. The other weird thing that has recently happened is that I have become a bit more serious about my medical career – about working out how to be a really good EM doctor and climb the ranks to consultant. Yes I have admitted it – I want to complete my training and staying a middle grade is not enough. How did I get all these thoughts so far in Ramadhan – and we are not even half way through yet! What am I going to come out with by the end? Maybe it’s the sugar deprivation playing weird tricks with my brain.

I know I have plenty of reserves on board that could do with being used up so I am hardly wasting away shall we say! No weight loss so far.

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