Is there a connection between money and meditation?
I didn't see it at first. After all, meditation has roots in various eastern religions - many of which (and in particular, Buddhism) spend a lot of time dispelling the notion that wealth, in the form of physical currency, has any intrinsic value. For a religion that focuses on spiritual pursuits rather than physical and lavish comforts, it’s no surprise that at first the two concepts of money and meditation felt so far apart. While I do believe that money probably holds more importance in our society (and if we’re honest, perhaps in our personal mindsets as well) than it most likely should, I can’t ignore the fact that I live in a world where if I don’t pay rent that causes problems. If bills or student loans go unpaid, then I’m stuck dodging creditors no matter how conceptual I'd like to be about money’s importance. So where does that leave me?
Interestingly enough, it points me right back to meditation and here’s how. When my mind finally stops racing about five minutes after I’ve begun to sit and meditate, my breath finally slows. I begin to feel my body relax and I move into a very peaceful place that feels like I’m finally in the present. I’m not thinking about bills or worried about whether I’m up for a promotion, I am simply in a suspended state of true peace. It is in those peaceful, present moments during my meditation when I subtly and unmistakably realize that every situation I’m concerned with will work out. What’s even better, it’s not just a warm and fuzzy feeling I experience, but there are also ideas that come to me during this time that present tangible, actionable next steps I can take to alleviate my financial
In giving myself the space and time to be peaceful and think clearly, I actually end up looking at my situation from a completely different perspective and see a few ways to navigate my situation that I hadn’t seen before. With more seasoned meditators I know, they attest to not feeling stressed about finances at all – even when they’re not meditating. I haven’t reached that Yoda status just yet, but I do find that the more consistently I meditate, the more I live in the present and the less time I give to worrying about money.
At this point you’re probably wondering if the word "burdens" crossed out a few sentences above is a typo that we missed before publishing this article. I assure you, it’s not a mistake. I fought hard to keep it in because it brings up another great point about meditation and money. When practiced over time, meditation begins not only affecting your mood but your mindset as well. Before meditating, I never noticed how negative my words and thoughts were about my situation, and about my finances in particular. Since I was overwhelmed it was all I could think about and shaped how I thought and spoke about money. Because I referred to my financial situation as a burden, it began to mentally and emotionally feel like one.
Meditation got me to be more aware of everything around me, and as a result, I began to be more aware of my word choices and mindset around pretty much everything – including money. Regardless of the times when I’d been more financially secure or was gifted with surprise funds for a birthday or graduation which made money enjoyable, my mind decided to focus only on the negatives. It made me a martyr of my finances rather than a person with a plan, in control of what happened to me and choosing a better, more productive way to feel about it.
With so much talk of money, the one item of wealth
that gets easily overlooked is time.
Time is the one thing you can’t work to create more of and once you’ve lost it, unlike money which can fluctuate throughout your life, there’s no way to get it back!
Because the concept of money being a burden weighed on me and persistently hung out in the back of my mind, all the time I spent worrying about my finances just took away from my ability to enjoy my life. Meditation helped me realize this, and helped to alleviate the unnecessary fear I had around my finances. Meditation has allowed me to more fully enjoy the time I do have and also provided a more holistic way of thinking about money and my subsequent relationship to its importance. In the end, it turns out meditation and money have a lot more in common than I thought. Both have real value in this society, but only one of them makes you wealthy.
Omar Singleton,1 Britta K. Hölzel,2 Mark Vangel,1 Narayan Brach,3 James Carmody,4 and Sara W. Lazar1 (2014). Change in Brainstem Gray Matter Concentration Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention is Correlated with Improvement in Psychological Well-Being. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3927233/
For another firsthand account of how meditation has helped someone change their mindset: https://letters.dearhannahbook.com/8-changes-to-my-life-after-just-4-weeks-of-meditation-535bbab183d5
Corliss, Julie. (2014). Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental stress. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967
Melnick, Meredith. (2013). Meditation Health Benefits: What The Practice Does To Your Body. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/meditation-health-benefits_n_3178731.html
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