Sometimes my concentration breaks midway through the dhikr or du’a with inner presence and the mind wanders (e.g. if I hear a family member’s voice). Any tips on how to maintain concentration throughout? In the case of the dhikr, I think it may be mild embarrassment that someone will overhear me (I feel self conscious).

On concentration:

Remember that you are training yourself in a newer skill. Just like the first time you lift weights you may not be able to complete the set. You do what you can and slowly improve. Your strength will increase the more you exercise. Similarly you should keep trying and do not worry if the mind wanders. When it happens do this:

  1. Notice – realise when the thought have ‘gone somewhere’
  2. Acknowledge – label where they have gone e.g. thoughts of ‘what I need to do next’ or ‘remembering stuff’
  3. Come back – don’t judge or engage with the thought – simply remember the 3 keys and continue the dhikr and du’a.

On feeling self-conscious:

As we develop in our practices it is often challenging to bring our family members along with us. People feel self-conscious for different reasons, soI can share three approaches that cover most situations:

  1. ‘Hide’

If the relationship is challenging and it is not possible to communicate this new practice with them, you can find ways to do it secretly. You can schedule the adhkar at times you will not be interrupted or seen by others, for example in the early morning or later at night.The best way to convey a message is by leading by example. Let them see the impact of your adhkar in your conduct towards them.

  1. Compromise

If you’re able to do the practice, but doing it loudly is the issue, then lower the voice. You can also record your own voice doing the adhkar. Each day follow the adhkar using headphones. This way you can follow along silently. It is best to have your own voice as it creates better connection.

If being seen with your eyes closed is an issue  (e.g. your family member might think you’re weird) then keep eyes opened during the Du’a with Inner Presence and Adhkar. You should focus more deeply on the blessed name of Allah azzawajal. You can focus on the image on your phone. If this is not possible you can hold a book etc – the point is to help you focus on one thing as you’re not able to close the eyes.

  1. Communicate

Being open and transparent helps to build healthy relationships. If you feel self-conscious because you’re not sure about their reaction then (assuming you are able to) speak with your family members and share with them why you are now taking time to do this practice. You can explain that this is part of a course you are studying and it helps to develop sincerity and presence with Allah azzawajal.

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