Attitude of gratitude

 

During this special month, we thought it would be wise to stop, take stock and to think about what mindfulness means to us and what we’re grateful for. We asked some of the most incredible women we know to do the same.

Her Highness Sayyida Basma Al Said, Founder Of Whispers Of Serenity Clinic

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindful for me, means peace. Being more mindful taught me to stop running and to appreciate everything around me. I’m also mindful to appreciate my family. So, mindfulness keeps me living in the now.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

Practices that bring me peace and make me feel focused are swimming, music (especially classical) and little things like just sitting down and allowing quiet time.

What three things are you most grateful for?

I am grateful that I have passion and I’m able to love, especially toward my family and kids. I’m also grateful for my team and clinic, as they are the ones who make me feel good for achieving all we do. Lastly, I am very grateful for living in a country that has peace, because without it, I can never find all of the points above. Feeling at peace and to feel safe is the most important.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Usually every Ramadan, we decorate the house with lanterns, crescent moons and we light the trees in the garden. For me, the main thing in Ramadan is the gathering but this year, we’re not be able to do it. Still, I’m going spend it with my main family and I’m going to connect with people and call them or video call them as sadly we need to practice social distancing. I am still able to communicate with them, talk, share news and food because what’s important is the emotional communication and that is what I’m going to keep on going. And in a way, I’m looking forward to this year’s Ramadan because usually in the other years, it’s really hectic with work and having to be outside the home. This year we get to spend more time at home to read Qur’an and to have time for our Islamic practices. Everything can be positive, it depends on how you look at it and I am choosing to look this experience in a very positive way, I’m choosing to learn new things, giving my time to pause and to be more mindful.

Her Excellency Dr. Maryam Matar, PH.D, Founder & Chairperson, UAE Genetic Diseases Association

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindfulness is a practice of carefully focusing attention and awareness of present moment, making conscious decisions and be an observant without judgment. We have scientific evidence to suggest that mindfulness indeed enhances our mental, emotional and physical health and cultivates our wellbeing.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

As a genetic scientist, I am a huge believer in these principles: meditation practices and adhering to healthy habits like adequate sleep, healthy and balanced diet and moderate and regular physical activities.

What three things are you most grateful for?

Gratitude is both the art and the science of living a fulfilled life. The three things I am most grateful for are: my privilege to be born as an Emirati woman and have opportunity to serve my nation, UAE; my family; my mentor and president of UAE GDA and UAE Genetic Diseases association, volunteers, scientific experts, members of board and societies.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

The holy month of Ramadan is always very special and an opportunity to reflect on my privileges, blessings of God and to connect with family, friends, community and expanding my learning. This Ramadan is especially a month of compassion and solidarity, towards the public service providers, healthcare and essential service teams working in our country and worldwide.

Her Excellency Reem BinKaram, Director Of Nama Women Advancement Establishment

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindfulness is essentially a heightened sense of awareness of oneself and one’s environs. Practicing mindfulness enables me to be fully present in my ‘here and now’, to purposely focus my attention on my daily experiences, on my thoughts, feelings and actions. These acts of mindfulness ground us, enable us to notice and appreciate the little things in life, accept things we cannot control and ultimately, be the best versions of ourselves. For me, mindfulness is being aware in each and every moment. It means taking responsibility for what I am thinking, saying and doing, and if it is not the experience I want, I change it.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

My work is a very important part of my life. It allows me to build on my strengths and gives me great satisfaction at the end of the day. Exercise is very important physical and mental strength so I can push boundaries fully energised. Meditation is part of my daily routine – it removes stress and helps me centre myself. I turn to praying for inner peace.

What three things are you most grateful for?

I am grateful for this life that I am able to lead; that I am able to help and support those in need; for the good health and for the relationships that have helped me become the person I am now. I am immensely grateful for the resilient and positive community I am a part of, and for this I have to thank our wise leadership for providing support and care to all citizens and residents of the UAE, equally without exception or bias.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Ramadan is a period for peace, introspection and thanksgiving. This year, I will be observing Ramadan with a focus on developing more compassion, self-discipline and inner resilience.

Her Excellency Maryam Eid AlMheiri, Director General, Abu Dhabi Government Media Office

MARYAM ELMHEIRI

What does mindfulness mean to you?

For me, mindfulness is taking a moment out of the day to pause, break the daily pattern and allow myself to view the wider perspective. It is about recognizing that you are part of an ecosystem, and distinguishing your impact on that ecosystem. With the current circumstance, I believe these moments of mindfulness are needed even more than ever.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

I work in the media industry, which is 24/7, so I try to be disciplined about my moments of mindfulness. I find peace at sunrise and sunset on the beach. Sunsets and sunrises are beautiful reminders to be grateful for the day we have just lived or the one we are about to start. This combined with the relaxing and soothing sounds of the beach, allow me to clear my mind and focus on the most important.

What three things are you most grateful for?

I’m grateful for being Emirati. I’m thankful for a leadership that has empowered its men and women to achieve their dreams and for our inclusive nation that cares for its people and the world. I’m also grateful for my family. My twin daughters are my anchor and my wider family are my support system that never fails.  I am grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Given the measures in place that mean we must find alternative ways to mark the occasion, praying at home and gathering virtually. I believe these measures are important so that we can spend the next Ramadan together, safe and healthy.  I, like many others I’m sure, are directing our gratitude during this month to them and their selfless sacrifice.

Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi, Designer & Founder Of Madiyah Al Sharqi

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

I think mindfulness for me is being empathetic through everything you say and do, and creating a positive influence when you extend that awareness to the people around you, to your business practices, and even to yourself.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

Apart from balancing time between taking care of my business, family duties and engagements, I find that’s important to take time for myself. Maintaining a regular fitness routine and healthy lifestyle have always helped keep me centred physically and mentally.

What three things are you most grateful for?

My family, friends, and my entire team – I get to have these amazing experiences with their help and support which I’m always grateful for.

How will you be spending Ramadan this year?

Ramadan is a special time because I get to spend extra quality time with my family, enjoying each other’s company over Iftars and Suhoors. It’s also an opportunity to slow down, rediscovering old books and films, and getting inspired for next season.

Sheikha AlMheiri, Founder Of Mad Hospitality (who own Society Cafe & Lounge)

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindfulness for me is the focus of being present, engaged and grateful in the current moment. Mindfulness is the ability to focus my attention, thoughts, emotions and body by being engaged and in a tranquil state.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

I am a big advocate of a correlation between mental health and fitness. It took me years to find a way to disconnect from within and from my busy days and focus internally on my peace of mind on the daily. My daily workout session is a good one to two hours of rebalancing, clarity and escaping from the daily hustle of the business world.

What three things are you most grateful for?

Family, friends and health.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Ramadan for me is an important month to reset my body and mind. Detoxing the body, maintaining my fitness levels and freeing the mind for more religious meditations. We will celebrate in Dubai with unity and closeness.

Nayla Al Khaja, the first Female Director and Producer in the UAE

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

This is the perfect time to feel and be completely submerged in mindfulness. During COVID-19 I’ve started to notice my internal being and external. The stillness of things has brought a new kind of zen to beautiful moments that we would have missed in busier times. So, to me it’s the deep appreciation of being alive.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

I have been practicing intermittent fasting and deep breathing both bring such clarity to my mind and body.

What three things are you most grateful for?

My family, my health and my deep passion for story-telling.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

I will be cooking daily for my staff as they moved in with us. I will also Zoom with my mother, sisters and brother to stay in touch and celebrate the spirit of the month.

Abeer Al Otaiba, Founder And Creative Director Of Semsem

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindfulness for me means treating one another with grace and compassion and trying our best to impact positive change through our words and actions.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

As a mother, wife of an Ambassador Minister and business owner, I am constantly in motion so sticking to a routine is important as I juggle my various roles. My family is my source of peace; being a mother who is present is my number one priority, so I always put my kids first. In spite of my busy schedule, I also make a point to set aside time for exercise – kickboxing is my workout of choice as I find it incredibly therapeutic.

What three things are you most grateful for?

My family and their health, which is most important at a time like now, as well as the opportunity to impact change and help our community. I’m also grateful for my friends, near and far.

How will you be spending Ramadan this year?

I love being able to welcome friends and colleagues to our home and share in the holy tradition of Ramadan. Since circumstances won’t make it possible to gather this year, I look forward to reflecting with my little family over home cooked meals. The unexpected extra time with my children has been a blessing – they are blissfully happy and innocent in all of this so I am loving the frequent hugs, funny chats and outdoor walks.

Manal Rostom, Egyptian Runner, Mountaineer And Nike + Run Club Coach

manal rostom interview

What does mindfulness mean to you?

It’s your ability to focus on the very moment you are living in and try to shut out all the voices and distractions inside your head.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

Praying five times a day and taking some time to meditate first thing in the morning. The app ‘Calm’ has been my go-to solution to stress especially during to lockdown.

What three things are you most grateful for?

Family, health and my current living location, Dubai, being one of the safest places in the world.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

It’s scary to know that it will be so different this year. I plan to pray as usual and read Qu’ran but mostly from and at home. Hopefully do a few online Iftars and Suhoors with family and close friends on Zoom if lockdown persists.

Salama Mohamed, UAE Vlogger Focusing On Inspirational Content

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindfulness to me is focusing on what’s going on in my life right now, not holding on to things from the past, or worrying about things in the future, but being aware of my mental state and my family’s mental state in the moment. It’s about being kind to myself and aware of what others might be going through during these difficult times, and showing compassion. An important part of mindfulness for me is also seeing the situation for what it is and reminding myself that like all things, this too shall pass inshAllah.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

The act of prayer is a daily practice that gives us a strong sense of peace and strength by default, it allows us a time to stop everything we are doing five times and day and no matter what we are feeling we stop, breathe and be truly grateful for the things happening in our lives, both the good and the bad. Another thing is the ‘Calm App’ – it’s my go-to application every day for my meditation and mindfulness practices. Every evening before I go to bed I mediate with the ‘Daily Calm’ session, the ‘Daily Calm’ is guided meditation with a short talk at the end on a specific topic that teaches us how to stay grounded, centered and more focused in our life and practice.

What three things are you most grateful for?

Firstly, I am grateful for our leadership and healthcare workers who have dedicated their lives to ensuring our health and safety, I am grateful to all those on the front lines fighting again COVID-19, they have shown us that in the hardest of times they are the truest of heroes. Secondly, I am grateful that my family and I are able to stay at home and safe during these challenging times, we are aware and understand that for many that is not the case so we are doing what we can to help and support. And finally, I am grateful for my family, they bring so much love and joy to my life every single day, and push me to become a better human, creator, wife and mother.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

I know there might not be much to celebrate given what is happening in the world, but in my opinion that is why Ramadan couldn’t have come at a better time. The Holy Month is a time to reflect, to deepen our connection with Allah and help other people. I am aware these are things we do in our daily lives, but during Ramadan those acts of reflection, kindness and help for others is magnified. Our goal is to celebrate those acts by doing everything we can to help and support other people, the world needs it now more than ever.

Raha Moharrak, Mountaineer and the youngest Arab and the first Saudi Woman to conquer Mount Everest

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

To me its awareness in both micro and macro scales, meaning being away of things inside you and the external factors as well, such as your mental and emotional health and being apathetic and sympathetic towards those around you. It’s an important balance that we need to be fully present and aware of ourselves on a deeper level, not just being aware of the here and now but also the why and when.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

Sports has always been my go-to for focus and funnily enough, organising brings me peace – the first thing I did when lockdown happened was go on an organisation rampage! I only started feeling badly home sick once I ran out of things to organise.

What three things are you most grateful for?

My health, my family and the life I have lived.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

No matter how crazy my schedule is or how far I go for my adventures I try very hard to be home for Ramadan. Sometimes I’m halfway across the world in the middle of nowhere, but I still try to be there for a bit because there’s something very special about being home for that month.

Basma Masri, Co-Founder Superhope, an organisation geared to mindfulness/yoga practices in Arabic

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Its meaning has changed as my understanding of it having evolved over the years, stemming from my own healing journey as well as the journey of my yoga students, and from the children we work with at Superhope.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

Yoga for sure. After co-initiating Superhope and meeting with incredibly powerful children, a part of the experience made me realise that I did not know how to process pain constructively, and that snowballed as I encountered different events which triggered an anxiety attack one day. I was then determined to find a tool to get me out of it and to never experience it again. The tool was yoga, and with yoga comes deep breathing, journaling, and paying attention to what I fuel my mind and body with.

What three things are you most grateful for?

Right now, my health, my family’s health, and my yoga community that I’ve built on YouTube.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Well, even though we are in isolation already, I would like to isolate myself even more during the day so that I could go inwards and listen to my inner dialogue. When we surround ourselves with a bit of silence, it’s amazing how loud it gets on the inside, and by journaling that dialogue, I get to release some of that noise and learn what it’s trying to tell me, and why. The aim here is to truly try to become a better version of myself in 30 days, even if just a little better.

 

Zahra Lari, Emirati figure skater

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

To me mindfulness is very important. It shows that I’m in control of my thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness is the ability to focus only on the present and not on the future. I try to do this in my everyday life and during my daily training. This doesn’t mean I don’t set long-term goals, but I focus on day-to-day actions to slowly get me there. This will help me focus more and reduce stress and pressure.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

In my opinion the best way to bring peace and help you remain strong and focused is by meditating every day. Meditation will help your body remain calm yet focused on what needs to be done. I’m trying to do this every morning even if it’s only for five minutes be- cause it helps my mood and gets me ready physically and mentally for the day.

What three things are you most grateful for?

I’m most grateful for my family, my health and my strength. These three things are the most important foundation to my success and happiness. Without my family’s support and guidance, without my good health, and without my strength to push through struggles I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

This year Ramadan will be different for all Muslims around the world. We’re all in the same situation of self-isolation but stand united to get over this difficult time. I will spend this time with my family and continue to do exercises at home to stay healthy and active. I recommend this for everyone not just for their physical health but also for their mental health and wellbeing.

Enjy Kiwan, presenter and MC

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

I have spent all my life dwelling on the past and planning for the future. And for the first time with all that’s happening around us, I realised that I need to be present, be mindful of the little things that took away the most important thing for me which is living and enjoying the moment.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

Being with my kids brings me peace beyond words. Being with them fully with no distractions. Their innocence brings me so much joy and purpose, spending time with them makes feel useful. Their unconditional love makes me feel that the world is still okay.

What three things are you most grateful for?

I am so grateful for my family, health, and optimism – at times like this has proven to be very important.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Ramadan this year is going to be tough. Not only because we won’t be having the usual Iftar gatherings, but I have been finding comfort in my morning coffee, I’m hoping that I will get in touch with my spiritual side as I’ll have more time for that. I’m hoping to spend less time on social media, more time praying and reading. Having said all of this, I have been in a very good place with all that’s happening. I got to know myself better and pinpointed the weaknesses I can work on.

Hanaa Ben Abdesslem, Tunisian model

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

For me mindfulness is fully experiencing a moment. If my mind has wondered to the past or the future or the stresses of the present I bring myself back to the moment using all my senses.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

It is about not only being where you are right now but experiencing it as well. Not thinking about the past, the future, all the things happening in the world. Asking yourself questions to come back to present moment, meditation, practicing yoga and workouts and train your mind to see the positive. I also surround myself with people who have good energy and who also think positively. This helps me have peace of mind and stay strong.

What three things are you most grateful for?

My health, family and the people I love are safe and how much I have been able to accomplish in my life and my career so far.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to celebrate Ramadan with my family this year because of the situation. I will still be celebrating with a few friends and my husband on a Caribbean island.

Ameni Esseibi, first plus-size model in the Middle East

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Paying attention to the signs, being thoughtful of the little things in life. Taking things slowly, diving into the things I love and being aware of my feelings and my thoughts.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

Reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, counting my blessings, gratitude, listening to meaningful music, talking to my life coach and therapist and playing with my dog.

What three things are you most grateful for?

My health, my family and my best friends.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go to the mosque or tents for Iftar and Suhoor. Instead I’ll be spending my Ramadan by fasting and having Iftar with my family and I’m counting my blessings and thanking God for it. Honestly at this point we all have to be grateful for our health and that we have access to food and a house.

Waad al-Kateab, Filmmaker & Creator of Oscar-nominated film ‘For Sama’

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

For me, mindfulness is about enjoying the peaceful times and taking time to feel grateful for where I am right now. It is very important. I am happy to have a busy life with many different work projects but this can be a lot and it is sometimes overwhelming so I also try to spend time with my family.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

I have to spend lots of time inside on my laptop so I enjoy being outside for a walk or playing with the kids in the fresh air and sunshine. At night every day Hamza, my husband and I sit on our sofa watch movies and series – this has become our nice routine where I feel some peace. Also, one of my favourite things to do is to cook. So, when I am focusing on the ingredients and the recipe and making the food, I find that I can switch off my mind from work.

What three things are you most grateful for?

Family, friends and my work.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

Unfortunately, there is no real feeling of Ramadan in London where we live, but every year we try to make our own. We will do crafts with the kids to decorate the house and we will cook lots of traditional meals as well as trying through ‘Action For Sama’ to support amazing campaigns for people in need.

Fatma Al-Otaiba, founder of Odeem

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Mindfulness to me mean being aware of the present and appreciate being in the moments – it’s something I remind myself of constantly and try my best now more than ever to always be mindful.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

My faith is my strength. I also stay active physically, as it is when I feel most energetic and focused. Painting also is peace to me – it’s when I’m my most calm.

What three things are you most grateful for?

My family: they are the love and happiness in my life. My health: it is the most important currency. My country: it is our safe haven.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

We will be keeping our Ramadan rituals as normal as the past years, within what we are able to practice given the current circumstances. We will stay connected with our loved ones, family and friends, by calling them. I hope we will be able to celebrate Eid with our loved ones.

Nujoom Al Ghanem, Emirati Artist & Filmmaker

arab women ramadan quotes

What does mindfulness mean to you?

To me it is a state of mind when you feel that you are in total control of your brain and the current moment. It is the ability to be able to observe things without judgment or pre-assumptions. I’ve always tried to be mindful in looking at things and when making decision.

Which practices bring you peace and allow you to remain strong and focused?

I like to paint because I can be in total peace while doing so. The process also helps clear the mind and heals the body of emotional trauma. I also meditate and pray on a daily basis.

What three things are you most grateful for?

I’m so grateful to be part of a loving family; to be healthy and strong; and to have my profession.

How will you be celebrating Ramadan this year?

In Ramadan I like to read historical and spiritual books. So, I’ll have my selected books for this holy month. In addition, I’ll continue working on some visual projects including video art, painting and editing old footage.

To read the full interview, pick up a copy of May’s ‘The Mindfulness Issue’ or download it here.

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Images: Supplied