Paradise is now. In this very moment it is being held before you in patiently cupped hands, awaiting your recognition. Whether in the caressing sound of a downpour, in a handful of berries tart on the tongue, or in the takeover of bliss that is laughter, the offering of abundance is ever-present. In the simplest of things, in the simplest of lives, wealth is inherent to existence and immediately available to you.
It takes sensitivity to see it. It takes pause and appreciation for what would otherwise be taken for granted. It takes lingering in moments of pleasure, closing our eyes and savoring the sip of coffee, the sunlight on our skin, and the presence of people we adore. It might even take the experience of extreme loss before the true meaning of what we had becomes tangible to us. But no matter what inspires it, gratitude is the gateway to paradise to which we have access every moment of every day.
Gratitude is to our lives what a sunbeam is to a prism. We walk the halls of a crystal palace where if we smile humbly at its arches we will be cascaded in rainbows, even though our lives may be difficult, because we have brought through the light. No matter what wondrous forms of beauty surround us, if we do not illuminate them with our recognition, they do not exist, and the opportunity for joy in life is lost.
In moments where beauty remains utterly unapparent, rely on the most basic gifts that life awards you. Unravel the list in your mind of things that make you smile. Affirm gratitude for your breath, your health, your loved ones, your consciousness, your memories, your ability to dream and create, the soft touch of your clothes against your skin, the water that comes out of the faucet at your command, the ability to see, hear, taste, and feel, the witnessing of the changing of the seasons, your education in whatever form it came, and above all else, affirm gratitude for the opportunity to experience life itself.
(START FROM JULY NEWSLETTER HERE)
Things grow here. Love exists here. Creation from mind to matter is possible here. With this truly and deeply considered, what more could we really ask for? When we look to just the bare bones of the universe -the bare bones- we can see just how much we have already been given.
Let us not neglect the elephant in the room, however: pain.
Pain appears to be the ultimate antagonist to paradise, yet when we allow its violent waves to wake and wash us, both coating us with sand and dragging some away, it becomes the ultimate form of beautification. In the best of outcomes, pain inspires introspection, and is thus the impetus for emotional evolution. It calls us to feel. It calls us to connect with our values, examine our deepest beliefs, and alter our behavior in order to end our own part in the creation and the prolong of suffering. It also calls us to come together as a community, to protect the weak, resist injustice, honor those who have suffered, and create social change. Therefore, the greatest hidden potential within all suffering is actually to breathe upon the embers of peace, arousing our ability to empathize, expanding our capacity to love, and expanding the borders of the paradise in we live in.
Pain and the self-reflection it inspires brings truth to the surface, and when we listen to and act on that truth, we become more whole through the process of being broken down. The universe wants us to grow, and pain is always a nudge from that divine intention. It is learning to move with that nudge and rise through our pain that remains our greatest task, for processing pain truly is our highest, spiritual work, and the purpose of all life on Earth.
Trauma is inherent to life, from the shock of cold and being forced to gasp for air at birth, to the physical damage endured by the mother’s body. But passage through the birth canal wrings fluid from our lungs as well as blesses us with precious bacteria that creates our immune system and essential internal flora. Is life then instantaneously cruel or does it instantaneously cradle? Could there be beauty and intention behind all of life that is equal to its pain?
My answer to you is a resounding YES.
As we invite the theme of “paradise is now” for this month, let us remember that it’s not about whether or not the glass is half full or half empty, it’s about the fact that we have a glass.
From my grateful heart to yours,
If this theme speaks to you and you’d like to explore it more, come to Gratitude Meditation every Wednesday morning at the center from 7:30-8:30am or check out my book ,"Paradise is Now"