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 dispel the notion that monetary wealth has any intrinsic value. They put focus on spiritual pursuits rather than physical and lavish comforts, and so it’s no surprise that the concept of money and meditation felt so far apart. Clearly, the life of a monk is not for everybody. While I do believe that money probably holds more importance in our society than it should (and if we’re honest, perhaps in our personal mindsets as well), I can’t ignore the fact that I live in a world where if rent doesn’t get paid, that causes problems. If bills or student loans don’t get covered, 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, it points me right back to meditation. When I sit and intentionally quiet my mind, I begin to feel my body relax and I move into a very peaceful mental place that feels like I’m finally in the present. I’m not thinking about bills or worried about rent. I am simply in a suspended state of true peace. It is in these peaceful, present moments during my meditation when I subtly and unmistakably realize that every situation I’m concerned about will work out. What’s even better, it’s not just a warm and fuzzy feeling, but there are ideas and clear next steps that come to me during this time which I can actively put into practice to alleviate my financial
In giving myself the space and time to be peaceful and think clearly, I end up seeing a few ways to navigate my situation that I hadn’t seen before. I’m able to look at everything from a completely different perspective about my finances and my options. 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 that 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 became more aware of my word choices and mindset around my finances. Rather than being a martyr when it came to money, I became a person with a plan. I was now in control of what happened to me and was able to choose a better, more productive way to feel about it. Meditation gave me the mental space to do that.
The story could stop here and it would it be a satisfying ending, but the biggest revelation for me, was realizing that what I really got from meditation was my time 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’d spent worrying about my finances just took away from my ability to enjoy my life. Me constantly thinking about and talking about money stole my joy. Now, I was free to put my energy and my thoughts into other pursuits. I was able to live fully in the place where I was rather than wishing that everything was different. The entire time I thought money was what would make me rich, when the truth is, time was the real treasure.
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!
Meditation helped me realize this, and helped to alleviate the unnecessary fear I had around my finances. It allowed me to more fully enjoy the time I do have and provides a more holistic way of thinking about money and my subsequent relationship to its importance.
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