Once upon a time, I used to find myself in the middle of a prayer where I couldn’t remember which rak’ah I was praying. Or, I would forget which surah I recited or when I said salam and finished my prayer. I was rather dissatisfied with the quality of my unmindful prayers. The quantity was there alright but the quality was a different story. Allah(swt) deserves the best of my attention and focus and my salah sometimes didn’t have either.
It’s a different story today alhamdulillah. I can pray with focus now, can remember when I’m going in and coming out of prayer. I can enjoy the calmness of the recitation and perform the steps of salah with intention and poise. This transformation was simple but not easy. It took consistent efforts over the years to improve my salah and I am grateful for the result. I feel connected to Allah(swt) more than ever alhamdulillah.
The steps that I took are outlined below. The important point to remember is to be consistent about it. Just like any good habit, it takes time and multiple practices to be good at it. You will slip like I did but get back up and keep doing it until you have improved your prayer insha Allah.
This is what I did-
Take care of immediate concerns-
This is the first step to a mindful prayer. Address and resolve all your immediate concerns before you pray. Don’t start praying while you’re expecting a call or someone to drop by your home. Don’t start praying either when you’ve something in the oven or on the stove and would be done any minute. Take care of all your immediate concerns and then get into prayer, you will be much calmer and will have a peaceful salah.
Have a good wudu-
Ever prayed one of those prayers when you rushed through all the steps so you can run to the bathroom? May be you’ve been planning to cover too many prayers with one solitary wudu and ended up regretting it? Me too.
I decided not to have wudu dilemmas any more. I started making a fresh wudu anytime I was having any mental debates about wudu. A deliberate, good wudu always renews spirit for salah.
Wear Nice clothes-
I wear nice clothes for salah as these are the most important meetings I have throughout any day. I like to wear clothes that are clean, beautiful and smell nice. I take this extra effort 5 times a day for Allah(swt) who provides so many extra blessings for me countless times a day.
Focus during Salah-
I find a focal point on my prayer mat to keep my eyes from wandering. And I focus on my recitation to keep my mind from wandering. I am better with focus now after years of practice alhamdulillah. I anchor myself with the reminder “I’m praying now” and bring my focus to my recitation immediately every time my mind is about to wander.
It’s not easy to keep focus between shaitan and our everyday struggles but you will get better with practice insha Allah.
Pause after salah-
I take a pause after finishing my prayer. I take this step so I don’t pray on autopilot where you go through the motion without any connection to the present. So now I do my dhikr and make dua intentionally. It’s not easy to sit still after you are done praying. Your mind will automatically move on to the next project, tempting you to go along with it.
So take a pause, even if it is only for a few seconds. It will be uncomfortable to do nothing when you’re new to this but you will get the hang of it after a few times and can stay longer if you like. Take this time to be grateful to Allah(swt), ask for anything and connect consciously.
I hope you will benefit from these steps like I did. Don’t feel discouraged if you slip. Be kind to yourself and continue with the practices towards a mindful prayer insha Allah.