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How Fasting Has Helped Me Align My Spirit & My Goals

Inspiration

There have been times in my life where I've been in a fog. My thoughts are bouncing around my brain like ping pong balls, and I can't seem to catch up. My spirit is low. My sleeping patterns are terrible. I am not inspired, and my mind looks like a desk full of papers without a filing system. Just chaos.


As soon as these chaotic feelings arise I know I need to realign myself with my purpose and goals.

I usually fast for one day out of the year to redirect my spirit. It is a time where I strip away my social media accounts, any physical activity, and food. I don't consume anything but water for 24 hours. Although I am not Muslim, I decided to do my annual 24-hour fast around Ramadan this year. There is something powerful about joining millions of people around the world in recommitment, prayer, and overall mental wellness.

Fasting is a common practice in many religions that helps increase your gratitude for basic luxuries, increase your self-discipline, and can help you recommit your spirit to a Higher Power. This year, I focused on these three areas while trying to realign my goals and set a reminder for my self-worth and purpose.

Gratitude

Although you would think the people who appear to have it all are grateful for what they have, we all know that it is in our nature to want more. There is nothing wrong with striving to be the best at your craft or wanting to have the best things, but I have to say, Instagram often makes us forget what we have, how hard we've worked, and how amazing our relationships are.

For example, I have no desire to get married. I saw this girl get engaged on Instagram and all of a sudden, my insecurities skyrocketed. Why? My gratitude levels weren't allowing me to see the things in my life that I do have and suddenly, I felt like I needed something that I didn't even want.

Fasting has allowed me to be grateful for the things right in front of me. It has allowed me to experience what it is like to be without for 24 hours. That within itself is something to be grateful for. I can eat again in 24 hours. There are thousands of families that are starving who do not have that option.

Fasting has helped me cleanse my mind and soul from everyday gripe and grumble.

Gratitude should live in everything we do. When I consider the water crisis in Flint, I'm grateful for clean running water. When I become troubled by the thousands of children waiting in foster care, I'm grateful for a mother who is alive and well. When I reflect on having the option to eat or not eat, I'm simply grateful.

Self-Discipline

Throughout my 24-hour fast, I have to continuously remind myself not to eat. Eating, like other desires, is instinctual. Meaning, we do it frivolously because it's there, it's always going to be there, we assume. We eat without thinking twice.

The act of fasting whether you choose to leave food or any other desire behind involves suppressing your cravings. Suppressing your desires promotes self-control and most importantly self-discipline. If you can handle not eating for a day, you can increase your likelihood to say "no" in any other situation. You put the decision-making process back in your control. When you have to say "no" to something that you're used to doing, you will be more inclined to stop and think about everyday decisions you make.

Devotion

My favorite part of the fast is recommitting myself, spiritually. I have practiced and followed Christian doctrine for most of my life, but I find that recommitment can work in any religion or faith. I usually take these 24 hours to pray. I pray for the things I want, the places I want to go, and the people I want in my circle. I also pray to control my appetite and any intense feelings of desire. I commit to mindfulness, being kind, and I commit to choosing love first, no matter what the situation may be.

One of the reasons why I delete all of my social media apps from my phone before my fast is to remove negative opinions that actively work against what I am trying to accomplish. I stay away from dark television shows, excessive profanity, and any temptation. I get the most out of my fast from my 24-hour devotion.

It is the most impactful way to realign yourself with your purpose.

There are many benefits to making spiritual sacrifices. After my fast, I found myself more focused, dedicated, and committed to my purpose. By relinquishing one or more of your everyday needs for 24 hours, you begin to view life through a different lens. Hopefully, that lens helps to see you through your purpose and change the way you interact with people on a daily basis.

Disclaimer: While I would encourage anyone to take on the challenge, I do not recommend a no food fast for people who are ill or traveling. It is important to pay attention to your body. The fast is generally going to test your limits, but it is important not to do anything that will put your health and well-being at risk.

Featured image by Getty Images

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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