Thoughts enter the mind from the moment we wake up, all throughout the day. As we start our day, we jump from thought to thought. Whatever comes up, we allow it in. There are no boundaries for any particular thought.

Through random selection based on interest, feelings, or awe, we entertain certain thoughts and then move to the next. OR without critical thinking about the how and why of the thought, we get stuck with one particular thought and that can take over our mind for hours or even DAYS!

Welcome to the average person’s thinking patterns!

The number of thoughts in a day…

Now, especially to think that the brain processes an average of 70,000 thoughts a day (!!!) makes the above explained thinking pattern a little problematic.
You might think: “70,000 thoughts?? I don’t have that many!” You do though, sis. We all do. It’s just that the large majority of them happen without our awareness. This is called subconsciously. Take away mindfulness (being present in the moment) from the equation and you are even less aware of what thought are roaming through your mind.

In order to focus on the thoughts that matter, those that will serve you in this life and in the akhira, it is important to practice mindfulness. This means keeping your thoughts in check, for as much as it is humanly possible, of course. And I’ll tell you, it will require practice, patience, and energy from you. But like I always say: anything good in life requires effort and patience.

Besides, regardless of what habits you decide to nourish when it comes to your mindset, your brain IS still using a large amount of the energy in your body! 25 percent! That’s right, 25% of the energy used in your body is used by your brain. It’s just that unhelpful thinking patterns will drain your energy AND not get you anywhere.

So if we want to adopt healthier thinking patterns, it starts with practicing mindfulness: paying attention to our thinking and staying with it, so instead of subconsciously jumping from thought to thought, we can choose which thoughts we want to entertain and which don’t serve us well.

Here are some tips to start practicing mindfulness:

1. Start in salah. Pay attention to your mind drifting away from the recitation and meaning of the Quran, to other random thoughts. Notice how you stay with those thoughts and are just “going through the motions” in salah.

2. Stop. Redirect your thoughts back to your meeting with Allah(swt). Put your focus back on the recitation of the Quran. Go through the meaning of it in your mind, while you are reciting, and try to stay with it longer and longer each time you practice mindfulness. And repeat this as many times as you need to.

3. Be patient and supportive of your efforts. We underestimate how important it is to be gentle and kind in the way we speak to ourselves and think about ourselves. In most cultures, being gentle and kind to ourselves isn’t even a thing. But I want you to imagine yourself as a child and imagine yourself making a mistake or not being good enough at something. Now you have two grownups. One who shames you and puts you down and the other acknowledges that you are having a hard time. And encourages you with kindness and respect. Which one of the adults will motivate you to try again and again? The first will most likely shut you down and you will likely give up. The second will be a source of courage and hope for you.

You can be either one of those adults to your own self. Which one will you choose to be?

4. Lastly, when you have improved on the art of mindfulness in your salah, let it transfer into the rest of your day. ONLY focus on the present moment. Anything that you are busy with in that moment, focus on that and on the gifts of Allah(swt) that He has given you.

For example, if you are playing with your child, JUST focus on your child. Look at him or her, feel how you feel while playing, and thank Allah(swt) for blessing you with the time with your child. Don’t allow your mind to wander off to the comment of the aunty towards you at the masjid. Don’t allow your mind to constantly play out the scenario and in turn unleash a whole lot of anger in your mind and body. Stay with your child and enjoy, because what you have in the present, whether it’s health, or time, or connection, is not guaranteed forever.

Don’t let “what-ifs” and “I-wish-es” guide your day….

‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.’ (Sunnan Ibn Majah 79)

                                                                         -Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him!)

Sis, I pray to Allah that you are able to cultivate healthy thinking patterns in your mind. I pray that you are more aware of the kind of thoughts that enter your mind and that you only allow the entertainment of those that are of benefit to you. Start with mindfulness in salah, and Allah(swt) will take you forward from there!