Creating a Qur’an-Inspired Body Scan Meditation
Each of us discovered different ways to handle our mental, physical, and spiritual health during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic still continues, many of us have now combined pre-pandemic practices with elements we discovered during the past two years. Here, Research Advisory Board (RAB) member Seher Siddiqee tells about how her experience led her to create something that allowed connection, both physically and spiritually.
The past two-plus years have brought up so many new and unexpected realities for all of us. Many of our lives and routines have been thrown upside down, and we have been in constant flux trying to negotiate how we relate to ourselves and the world around us. I tend to like doing things and connecting with people, so when the pandemic required us to stay home for much longer periods of time and connect virtually, I had a lot of adjusting to do—mentally, physically, and spiritually. Living alone and staying inside my one-bedroom apartment was a challenge at first; I had a lot of extra energy I wasn’t using, and I also wasn’t sure how to release it. As the weeks turned into months (and then years), I knew I had to find new ways to engage with myself so that I could take care of my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
One of the questions that came up for me was, How do I relate to and connect with my body? For most of my life, I had separated my needs and how they took care of me. Exercise and food are for my physical body’s health, therapy and self-reflection are for my mental wellness, and prayers and rituals are for my spiritual well-being. Spending significantly more time at home and living alone invited me to think about how all these elements of my being are intertwined—and that maybe I could care for all of them in new ways. I began thinking about the physical ways I have practiced my faith and how I might be able to reframe some of them to deepen how I connected with them.
I have used many guided meditations and have benefited from the focus they offer to center my attention on one part of an experience, feeling, or my body. I thought about how there are many practices within the Islamic tradition that are physical—the five daily ritual prayers to name one—and have heard and read about specific body parts and their importance in different practices and worship. I liked the format of the guided meditations that I had listened to, but I wanted more. I wanted to connect it with these parts of my own tradition to offer a new way of connecting with myself and my spirituality. Thus, I created this Qur’an-Inspired Body Scan Meditation.
As you take a few minutes to listen to it, I invite you to think about how hearing the verses from a sacred text—one that you may be familiar with or that may be new to you—impacts how you relate to your body. Does it remind you of other practices or rituals? What sensations do you feel in your body? How might you think differently about the way you do rituals and engage with your faith?