Spirituality & Money—The Controversy

To live in this modern society the way it’s structured we basically need money.  Even if you live off the grid (my dream) and grow your own food you’re going to need to pay property taxes.  So the question is, how do we navigate the complex issues of saving, earning and spending money?  

In spiritual traditions, depending on who you’re asking you’ll hear anything from money is energy to money isn’t important at all. I think the truth is something we each need to explore for ourselves. AND, sometimes to see the truth we need to try on totally new perspectives or look at things in a new light.

I want to start by saying this (deep breath): There have been times in my life when I’ve hit rock bottom.  Earlier in my yoga teaching days, I was teaching 8 classes per week + doing healing work and sometimes making as little as $5 per yoga class (yep, this is the reality of being a yoga teacher sometimes).  I was living paycheck to paycheck.  I also had Lyme Disease at the time and treating it naturally was costing $150+ per month.  It was an extraordinarily stressful time in my life. I actually didn’t have a credit card back then, so I couldn’t even contemplate putting expenses on credit!  

I have learned a lot about work, money, and self-care through the process.  Now I work 35 hours a week, which gives me time to practice yoga and meditation (my passions!) a few hours most days. I’m also able to take care of my body by getting a massage once or twice a month and I’m able to afford things that are important to me such as trainings and retreats.

It was hard for me to share—vulnerability right there :-) 

While this was a challenging time for me, I’m also aware that I had privileges such as a college education, US citizenship, etc made things less difficult for me.

This is it though: I think we need to have more conversations about money.  Real conversations. What money is and what it isn’t. Through conversations and discussions we shed light on patterns and habits that are unseen.  We uncover and heal shame and embarrassment and create space for new habits and beliefs to sprout.

Through my on-going money journey, I’ve learned some things.  Here’s what I want to share with you today:

More money does not always equal more happiness (but sometimes it does).  I heard on a podcast yesterday that money doesn’t make you happy.  I agree with that to an extent.  If you’re making $100k and you get a pay upgrade $150k, you might be happier for a short while, but over the long run you’ll return to your baseline (unless you’ve decided to invest that money in tools that help you to become happier).  I would argue though that going from making $20k to $40k could make someone happier—quite a bit happier!  The reason is if money is constantly a struggle, it is exhausting.  When bills come up and you don’t know how you’re going to pay, it is exhausting. Sometimes making more money is the solution, sometimes it isn’t.

Money doesn’t mean you’re a jerk.  There is this belief that people have sometimes that if you have money or more money than you need you’re a jerk.  I tend to disagree.  I view money as a tool—like energy.  You can do all kinds of things with money.  You can use it to support yourself and others.  You can use it to hire people to support you.  You can create beautiful change in the world with it.

You can probably save for that thing you want (though it might take longer than you think). Whether it’s a trip, retreat, vacation, or training, you can create habits around saving that will make it happen!  I remember back when I had a more tumultuous relationship with money—I was just earning enough to get by and it seemed like there were so many things I wanted to do that I couldn’t afford.  I started to save just $5 per week.  Then I went up to $10…then $100 and so on.  It was a slow process, but it was amazing how just a small amount was needed to make it a habit.  The thing about saving is that it creates a sense of safety.  When we feel safe in our life—in whatever situation that may be—there’s usually a sense of relief and freedom.  We have more wiggle room.  Saving money also sends a message to the Universe—I have enough—enough to save.  It cultivates a sense of gratitude. 

Those are 3 beliefs about money which one resonates with you the most? Sit with, play with, and explore these—try one on and see how it fits!

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