Women

Conversations during Lockdown: Amatulla ben Z.

July 14, 2020
Amatullah_Ben_C.D.L.

In conversation with Amatulla Ben Z.  
Artwork Fatema A. (@cosmicweavers) 

Separator.

Fatema:

Where are you right now? Is it home and who are you with?

 

Amatulla:

I am at home. Since I run my own business and I work for myself, I have a home office anyways. And this is where I was even before quarantine, and this is where I always am. The only person that things have really changed for is my son, because my daughter does online school. Fortunately, because we live in Texas and everyone has sort of large homes, we have the space so that we’re all in our own space. We already had that routine down in terms of how to work from home. My son has taken it pretty well, since he is like most kids – quite addicted to electronics. He used to hate going out and I used to have to force him to play sports. He was completely thrilled that all of that is shut down and that he doesn’t have to go for the sports classes that his Mom used to force him to take part in. 

 

Fatema:

What has this situation been like for you emotionally and mentally?

 

Amatulla:

I think that it has reinforced the idea that I want to live my life with positivity. When it began, I used to read the news a lot and freak out about what was coming. It’s been fortunate that none of us have gotten sick. I think I had to remind myself that I don’t want to sink into a place of worrying or assuming that the worst is going to happen and having a pessimistic outlook. I’m much, much happier if I just try to have an optimistic outlook. 

The other thing that I’ve been really doing, I mean these were things that I was doing anyways in my life. Just as a consequence of aging- I think that really what I’ve been dealing with is aging more than Covid. Even before Covid, I realised that life in my thirties, now in my late thirties, I am 37, is not life in my twenties, just in terms of what my body can take, what my mind can take. One of the things that I started doing this year and that has continued to keep me sane through quarantine, and all of this doom and gloom is that app Headspace. And then, because I was doing Headspace, I started doing an online exercise class with one of my friends. In my twenties, I didn’t have the patience or even the need for meditation. I was just going too fast. My body could keep up, my mind could keep up. I’d say that quarantine has also reminded me just how bad I can feel if I don’t move. Also, I am now in a home office where I could just sit on this chair the whole day. I know that I need all of those things to feel sane, healthy, optimistic. I also need them for my work. The work I do is writing. It’s hard to write a strong piece if you feel like crap.

 

Fatema:

How has it been for you spiritually and now in the context of Ramadan?

 

Amatulla: 

I have always been a big prayer. I pray a lot of duas, I pray my haftis. Even when I was growing up I did do quite a bit of it in terms of going to masjid. I have become more of a hafti prayer in the last 10 years. Those things are constants for me, I do them automatically. The growth for me has been adding meditation, which is something I didn’t do before.

 

Fatema: 

In what ways does your meditation practice align with your faith?

 

Amatulla:

For instance, when I pray my hafti in the morning, I try to think to myself this is meditation in a way. If I stay mindful right now while praying the duas, it can lead to a mindful practice since I don’t understand it anyways.

 

Fatema:

Yes! I completely agree. Thanks to yoga, I have been able to be more mindful in everything I do with Namaz and with praying duas. Yoga has helped me be more stronger in my faith. One thing I’ve been struggling with in quarantine is to make that shift from being house Fatema to being work Fatema, whether it’s school, or painting.

What is one thing you’re going to take away from this whole experience? Once quarantine is over? 

 

Amatulla: 

For sure, like what I was telling you before – I know that I want to live my life with positivity. I feel like I’ve played a little bit with the opposite of that and seen how it can be when you’re trying to be realistic. Certainly one must have an eye out for reality and not push optimism in a sort of flight of fantasy, denial kind of way. We just have to be positive and think that things are going to work out for the best and live our lives as if things are going to work out for the best. We will find a vaccine. People we love will not get sick. I think that’s my big takeaway that that is how I want to live my life. Pessimistic is just not how I want to be. 


 

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