Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A reminder

There were times in my life, especially moments when I was wowed by the beauty of a mountain view or a sunset over the ocean, that I genuinely felt grateful for being alive. But I never really thought about it until I heard about the flood in Pakistan, over 2 million people left homeless and at least 1,600 killed. The floods have severely affected ALL of the provinces of the country and even worse, the MAGNITUDE of the devastation cannot be compared to the other recent natural disasters. And despite the funds collection, only a fraction of the SIX MILLION Pakistanis desperate for food, water and medicine were receiving help!

I realised that despite our constant reminders, it has become very easy to see in life only what is broken and needs fixing and ignore the good in our lives and the things we are blessed with. To truly be grateful takes some reflection. By paying attention to the ‘small stuff’ in life and by seeing the beauty, wonder and goodness available to us in each moment, we often find the 'small stuff' is really the ‘big stuff’, and in fact the ‘only stuff’. If you get my drift....

In doing this, we might begin to remember the beauty that surrounds us everyday, the awe inspiring universe, the majestic mountains and the wild sea. We might begin to appreciate and enjoy the moment of hearing a bird sing or watch a golden leaf float gently to the ground in the breeze. We might be grateful for being able to experience the gift of life with its joys and adversities. For having realized the full capacity of the mind, body and soul and understanding that happiness lies within. We might realise that there's someone somewhere in exactly the same situation as us but without any arms, legs or in the middle of a war zone or famine. And the greatest fruits will come when you begin to feel grateful, even on days that are more difficult and challenging, reminding ourselves that our ‘negative’ experiences often bring to us the greatest teachings of our lifetime. Sometimes the challenges of our lives help to build character and I strongly agree with the phrase: ‘whatever doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger.’ These are our initiations just like the doctor slapping the newborn so it will take its first breath. Maybe sometimes life needs to slap us awake so that we could go in a new direction or travel a new path. Our tough experiences and the hardships we face are invaluable lessons which make us the person we are today and appreciate all the ‘good’ things we have in our life.

Thus, I began a daily meditation practice focused on gratitude. Every night, before I went to sleep, I tried to come up with a few specific events that occurred that day for which I felt grateful for. Some days, it was easy. Other days, it was more of a challenge and over time, I began to notice that I felt happier, in general. I observed a sense of calm within myself and the ‘little annoyances’ that would have bothered me in the past, no longer disturbed me. I realised that in life there were no ordinary moments and gradually I began to see the magic of everyday life.

Our lives are truly only lived moment to moment and how present and aware we are in each of those moments is often a great measure of the joy we experience. Constantly reminding ourselves for the good in our lives and being grateful for what God has given us would not only make us happier people, but it would be a step towards us using our physical and mental faculties for doing good. It means learning to live our life as if everything were a miracle and being aware on a continuous basis of HOW MUCH we’ve been given. It means to appreciate simple pleasures and constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. It means shifting the focus from what our life lacks to the abundance that is already present. And it means ‘knowing’ that a struggle today may be a gift tomorrow.

The main purpose of this reminder is to strongly urge everyone to unite and show their support to the victims in Pakistan by raising money, however we can, to purchase much- needed medication, food and clean water to drink! It is extremely difficult to truly appreciate what God has blessed us and our families with until we come face to face with the reality of what so many people are experiencing. And with the presence of Ramadan, I would urge everyone to make the most of this opportunity and hasten to increase your good deeds Inshallah.