” The greatest wealth is contentment.” Dhammapada
I am consistently hearing people discuss the possibility of another Wall Street market crash and a return to their financial fears for survival that most Americans experienced in 2008. There are ways to prepare for such a condition both as a country and what we ask of our government and in our personal lives with a practice that provides us great insight into the realities of our relationship to money.
To better comprehend this relationship I recommend that people begin a yoga and meditation practice. One feeds the other as a way to live in the present with an awareness of our true nature, not necessarily the personality we show to the public, but the nature of our true thoughts and emotions. Such a practice can empower your relationship to money by teaching you how to:
- become aware of whether you spend money out of necessity or greed.
- ease the pain of not having the money you crave.
- make choices with clarity and awareness.
- enjoy the pleasure of having money without attachment to wanting more.
- open to acceptance and joy for what you have in the moment.
- let go of your greed and to give generously to others.
- awaken you to know when you have enough.
Interested to learn more? Then take a moment to sit quietly. Have a notebook nearby to write any insights you might have. Now bring your focus to your breath and count backward, slowly, from 10 to 1, letting go of all tension in your shoulders and lower back. Release the tension in your jaw and facial muscles.
Notice the thoughts that arise concerning money, without engaging them or becoming involved with the emotion they elicit. Ask yourself the following questions one at a time. Stay with the question and observe the thoughts that come up in relation to your answers. Take a moment to write your answers in your notebook and then return to sitting for the next question.
- Do I make enough money to meet my needs? (This means that your bills are paid, you have a place to live, food to eat, and money for entertainment.)
- How much money do I think will make me happy?
- Do I work just to make money?
- What do I spend my money on?
- How much money do I contribute to help others?
- What is my greatest fear concerning money?
- What would I do it I lost every penny I have?
- What would I do if I won a million dollars?
This type of exercise can reveal the truth about how you think and feel about money. Careful not to judge yourself too harshly if surprised with what you learn. In the case of winning the lottery, it is interesting to note that it has never proven to ease the suffering of the winner. There are many tragic stories about lottery winners and how their millions only made them more miserable in the end, causing the many who did not win to secretly feel better. In the Dhammapada, Buddha taught that “Fine words or fine features cannot make a master out of a jealous and greedy man. Only when envy and selfishness are rooted out of him may he grow in beauty.”