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Question of the Month: How Do Rituals Support Your Optimal Life?

Having spiritual resiliency and soulular strength leads to the personal freedom to experience inner peace, joy, and abundance. Another great way to increase your spiritual strength is to engage in the age-old practices of rituals. Having just celebrated the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I am reminded of the importance of rituals. Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement is a reminder to atone and remedy our past transgressions and mistakes. Rituals are found in all cultures and provide instructions on how to deal with difficult challenges like the loss of a loved one or partner, a job, a family, or a work dispute.
We have lost the art of grieving – grieving is medicine. There is a Turkish adage that says, “He who conceals his grief does not find a remedy for it.”
In my Sufi tradition, we have a 40-day grieving period when someone transitions into the next world. During this time, you are not supposed to cook or clean the house but instead focus all your energy to grieve. I had people from my mosque who brought food and offered help in a myriad of ways to get through these very difficult early days after losing my only son. Part of the grieving process is to share the story — and since Tariq died in a violent tragedy — I had to relate to my congregation the exact details of the tragedy. I remember when I could not even say “Tariq died.” The word “died” was like sending a 2000-volt current through my system. My congregation members patiently waited and every hour we prayed, chanted and meditated. This went on for 40 days with different people supporting me in my grieving journey. Sharing grief with a support group is a powerful healing experience — and part of what makes my masterclass so poignantly effective.
A Swedish proverb teaches “Shared sorrow is half sorrow, shared happiness is double happiness.” I recognized that although sharing my story in those early days was painful — like removing the scab of a wound — I noticed that the scab that reformed was smaller. This reminds me of a Rumi quote, the beloved 13th-century Sufi mystic, and poet: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”
To bounce back from a hard hit it is critical to master the art of grieving. Spiritually resilient people are very good at doing something that most people in our culture avoid like the plague.
There are healthy ways to grieve and unhealthy ways to grieve. During this period of grieving, prayer, inspirational literature, journaling, spending time with nature, and feeling your pain fully is important. Self-care during this time is critical — so spoil yourself! Remember God never gives you more pain than you can handle. Whether you have lost a beloved one, a marriage, a breast, a job, a promotion, a friendship, or a dream – give yourself the gift of feeling your grief as deeply and for as long as you need to.
Rumi tells us, “The cure for pain is in the pain.” He is reminding us of the ancient wisdom of surrendering ourselves fully to our grief so that we may return fully to the happy lives that wait beyond our pain. Stay away from unhealthy practices of drugs, alcohol, and other distractions.
40 days was not enough for me after losing Tariq. It took 3.5 years of grieving with no social life other than time with family and close friends, to start the foundation, and write my first book on forgiveness. There is a Hindu saying that says, “Don’t leave the road until the road leaves you.”
Spiritually bulletproof people honor their grief by making time and space to fully and deeply mourn. They understand the medicinal qualities of grieving healthily.
Having said this, it is also important to let the sun set on your grief and transmute that energy into doing something positive for others. I was counseled by my spiritual advisor that instead of grieving, doing good deeds in the name of the departed is spiritual currency and will provide high-octane fuel for my son’s journey in the next world. That made sense to me and inspired me to establish a nonprofit foundation in Tariq’s name to prevent other young people from dying or ending up in prison. My reason was to create many good and compassionate deeds in Tariq’s name and create millions of dollars of spiritual currency so he could finish his journey to the next world in a rocket. This brought purpose back into my life and still empowers me every day. It was a win for my son, a win for me, and a win for society’s young souls from becoming victims or perpetrators of violence.
Our spirits are bulletproof – but our hearts, minds, and bodies are only human. Grieving like a human is part of the spiritual journey, not a spiritual failure. It is the precursor to healing.
As Hippocrates taught us, “Healing is a matter of time, but sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”
No matter what you are processing at the moment, there are supportive rituals in this world that can comfort you and build up your spiritual foundation. If you want to learn more about my process and rituals to heal from the worst thing that has ever occurred to you, join my masterclass in November. If you can heal the worst thing you can think of, you can then use the same process to heal from anything life presents you!


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