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She found herself standing in a breeze that blew her hair over her face as she stood outside a tall wooden door that seemed old and worn. It was a pleasant afternoon and she felt mildly curious. She saw the brass handle shaped like a mermaid with wings. It would take a lot of effort to push this door open, she thought, and she had a small frame. So, using all her might, she pushed at the door. But something strange happened. She almost fell onto the floor inside the temple for the moment she touched the handle, the door seemed to swing open on its own as if on automatic! Regaining her balance, she faced a long hall with a red carpet laid out, lined with golden borders. “Hello?” she called out, but she already had a sense that there was no one. Yet the temple didn’t feel empty. She couldn’t see the end of the hall for it was so long. She walked around. The hall was lined on either side with beautiful figures of the many Buddhas all made in pure gold. There was not a speck of dust on them. Around each Buddha figure were creatures from different realms. As she walked on, she alternated on both sides so as not to miss anyone. Hanging from the ceiling were intricately embroidered beautiful, colourful mandalas, as if representing each Buddha’s journey to Buddha-hood. She marvelled at them. It took her a long time to get to the centre. When she finally reached the centre of the hall, she gaped. The most exquisite and huge statue of Goddess Tara stood in the front with her eyes half closed, as if in deep, blissful meditation. She wore a crown of the most glittering and preciously carved jewels. In front of this golden statue, almost twenty feet high, was a lamp, bigger than any she had ever seen, filled with the most fragrant oil, with a single wick that held a steady flame. She sat down awed. Nothing in her life could’ve prepared her for this moment. All her thoughts fell away just by gazing at this beautiful image. The silence of the temple was alert, listening, waiting for her to respond. Her mind was empty. As if in response, she bowed forward and touched her head to the ground. Gratitude was the only apt response. It was then the temple spoke, “I am here, because you are here. All that you see has been created by you”. She was surprised. The temple spoke again, “All the beauty and magnificence you see here, is the magnificence you have seen within your own soul”. She understood and smiled. She looked at the Goddess and knew she was looking at her own reflection.
I left my IT career amid panic attacks that I won’t be able to sustain myself. I had nightmares in the days leading up to my resignation. At the time I put in my papers, I had no savings. I prayed to the angels and that very day my company extended my notice period by three months. It came as a relief for me. I saved enough to shift into my own place for the next few months to help me with the transition. I was still scared of facing my parents and shifting back home, for the last time I had done that, it had been very difficult for me.
These past few years of being on my own have been a litmus test of all the spiritual knowledge that I had gathered. It is one thing to know that God is the source of all abundance, quite another to not feel anxiety when you have only a few thousand left in your bank account. I went through severe anxiety and panic at one point. Trust was hard for me to come into. A lot of my immediate shift was brought about when I visited the Ramana Maharshi’s cave in Tiruvannamalai. Shifting into a higher level of consciousness helped my anxiety to fall off.
Only in the last few months I saw this mental obsession for making ends meet completely fall away. I started understanding how to be in touch with the divine flow that we call abundance and that money is just a representative of it. None of the mental gimmicks of manifestation really worked. It was just a greater sense of rhythm I started becoming aware of.
Years ago I had done a beautiful e-course on Hay House radio by Helen Kim called “Conscious Money”. A few things she taught in that course shed a lot of light on the energy of money. Recently I also picked up John Randolph Price’s, The Abundance Book, on Sangeeta’s recommendation and what struck me the most was the line that money is the effect, not the cause. This line validated something I had understood but couldn’t quite put into words. Here are my learnings small and big that I have put into practice and that are helping me open up to trust, which is what abundance really means, and staying connected to it.
The greater the sense of service, the greater money flows into your life.
When I was in IT I didn’t feel a connection to my job or my company. The sense that I was wasting my life working there brought me guilt and hence I was unable to manage my finances and save. The only time I felt good about money was when I spent it on spiritual workshops learning skills that mattered to me. I often come across people who go through the same situation. Our sense of service does not come from loyalty to a company where we are working just to make our ends meet. That is simply scarcity thinking! After one point the soul gets tired and manifests into health issues, concentration issues, social issues, and even apathy towards oneself. Our sense of service comes naturally and spontaneously when we are in service to something larger than ourselves. The beautiful quote aptly summarizes this –
When I was frustrated with being broke and no sessions coming in, I looked into my heart and found the real issue that was truly blocking me was that I was not giving my 100% to my sessions. I believed that these sessions were just a transition step to something else, but after 2 years of doing sessions, there was no clarity emerging on what that something else was. I finally went to the root of it that this is how my mind was made up towards anything I labelled as a ‘job’. I started paying attention to where my skills needed brushing up and worked on them consciously. I also started receiving clarity that when we learn something on this spiritual path, we must teach it consciously too, to the best of our ability. Somehow the energy must flow. That too it must come from a place of sharing and service rather than being a means to an end.
The more you invest in yourself, the more the soul rejoices, the greater the feeling of prosperity.
This is a continuation from the above aspect. When you realize that your best will come through by learning new skills, honing your existing skills, you start “investing” in yourself towards something that makes you feel good. This in turn increases joy. Joy and curiosity become the basis of your actions. Investing in yourself could also mean investing in your spiritual growth. I’ve often seen that cultivating a conscious practice of investing in your well-being yields a greater sense of prosperity.
For example, I kept feeling a calling to take care of my body through a regular practice but kept putting it off. One day I decided to make an intention and within a week I found a very affordable Isha Yoga course happening in my city. Soon afterward I found various pockets of accumulated stress releasing. A week later I also found myself attending a creative movement therapy course which turned my whole energy around and put me in a beautiful space of oneness. Through it all the flow of sessions increased and not only that, but the results people experienced carried greater clarity and oneness.
Celebrating life even when you are broke.
I had read some time ago that islands are some of the happiest places in the world where as individual citizens, the inhabitants often own very little. Have you heard their music? Have you seen their dances? These things come for free. I discovered the truth of my favourite quote from Helen Kim’s course, “Being broke is a situation. Being poor is a state of mind”. There are some activities, especially those involving a community, that often come for free. When there is a sense of continuity in the lifestyle you have when you are broke and when you are well off, you slowly find the whole fear of being poor dissolving. In fact if you go to the root of that belief, for a lot of us, being poor might translate to abandonment, social isolation, deprivation, lack of support, desperation, hopelessness and a feeling of helplessness. You see poor is not a state of our finances. It is an emotional state. It is a set of emotions. No wonder we are afraid of poverty! But the good thing is to start making the distinction between poverty and going broke.
I stopped feeling bad when I consciously started making this distinction. My finances still didn’t improve much but I saw that I wasn’t poor. I joined a community where people offered free or giftivism-based activities. I stopped abandoning myself by making it a regular practice to go for walks in a jogging park that I previously admired from outside. I found myself pulling out those gifts people had given me over the years that I hadn’t put to use, like trinkets, and putting them up in my house. Waking up to the sun on my face. Having a very tiny but pretty garden which gave me fragrant lemongrass. Laughter. Postcards from countries I had once visited. Recording my mum’s lullabies on my phone that she had once sang to us. Singing. Dancing. Smelling wax crayons. I even went to a market I used to once visit as a child to buy knickknacks from. I discovered a new word: plenitude.
Give first what you want to receive.
We never truly have nothing to give. In fact the more unconditionally you give, the more you find that you aren’t truly as broke as you thought you were. I heard this from my brother who treks in the nearby Sahyadri Mountains. Often they have to take shelter in tiny villages or settlements with just one or two huts from the pouring rains. The villagers give them shelter and water to drink. But some don’t even have that. Once he and a couple of others had to take shelter in one tiny hut with a couple who were about to have a meal of half a chapatti. This couple took them in, gave them shelter over the night and even shared their half chapatti with them. Both of us were moved by this incident.
In those times of receiving free sessions from the community, I shared with them a set of eBooks I had collected and referred to over the years. I opened up my house for friends to hang out in and sometimes stay. I gave away books I had thoroughly enjoyed in a community space created by home-schoolers in my city called ‘Dariya Dil Dukaan’ where people came to give away various things they no longer needed, from which they could also pick things up for themselves. I also discovered a very important thing in this process – generosity is a muscle, a habit. It may not come naturally to us owing to our social conditioning but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn. I also found unconditional giving in my relationships – where I was previously withholding my involvement in terms of time, eagerness, curiosity, creativity and emotional fulfillment. The more I gave, the more expanded I felt and the more love flowed in. The friends I had opened up the house for came up with their own garden in my backyard which they tend to and care for.
For the longest of times I believed self-care was about buying cool clothes, wearing heels to look good, buying good make up, going for regular manicures and pedicures and expensive facials. Until through my relationships I came to know I don’t really care about myself inspite of all of this. I even bought a book on self-care but it didn’t quite resonate.
Over these years I have come to understand self-care is about kind words spoken to yourself in a silent space that belongs only to you. Self-care is walking barefoot on wet soil and grass getting them all dirty. Self-care is looking in the mirror for hours until you find that innocent sparkle in your eyes again. It is choosing love over fear, even if it means some of your self – preservation needs aren’t met. It is about keeping your house clean, keeping your garden watered, taking time to learn how to cook what you love. Self-care is about finding playfulness. It is about being 100% involved and present in what you do. Self-care is about breaking your limitations. Self-care is taking the time to understand your choices that you find difficult forgiving yourself for. Self-care is about caring for yourself as if you’re Existence itself. The baths, pedicures, clothes, facials may come as a part of it. But they’re not the end in itself. As you start caring for yourself, you create an inner security, which is a major component of prosperity thinking.
Money, for many of us, is a source of security. And this sense of security comes often from a childhood conditioning where money was also the cause of insecurity. True security comes through an inner connection to the divine where you have experientially understood that the universe is your source of supply rather than a certain person, job or ability. For most of us this is however a journey.
One way of creating this sense of security and trust in the bigger picture of life is by creating a daily reflection routine on the higher aspects of abundance. For me it often means putting up post-it’s on the walls of my house at different places where I see them with the affirmation, “I trust the flow of life”. It also involves consciously giving up or addressing the root cause of fear-based thoughts. It involves having savings. In fact saving is often misunderstood if you have been brought up by parents who saved a lot, adopted a thrifty attitude, owing to their own past of financial insecurity. I learnt a practice of percentage saving that started working for me through which I was able to invest into myself when the time came. It also helped me to create a sense of peace when I didn’t work for a whole month and thus generated no income. But a greater shift was an inner attitude change – instead of fear-based saving, I was saving from a sense of love and self-care.
Debt and associated guilt.
Debt is something we struggle with at some point in our life owing to the current financial system. Debt can also be enjoyed as part of the abundance if you are happy with your work and happy with the investment that you drew up debt for, for example, a house. However the kind of debt that you incur which makes you bitter, resentful and angry at yourself often arises from a sense of guilt. There are various kinds of emotional guilt we carry in our life. It could be gender-based guilt where you’ve picked up from people around you that you shouldn’t be earning more than your spouse or the men in your family. It could be guilt coming from family conditioning that you cannot be better off than your older siblings or your parents. It could be guilt from peers that you make a lot of money more “easily” than others. It could also be the age-old guilt that money is not spiritual and that you become a bad person if you are money-minded. Until you resolve these emotional hooks, it may seem very challenging to come out of guilt and hence debt.
I remember at one point going through Debtors Anonymous and asking myself some very important questions that helped me shift out of debt that I would often incur because I was guilty of spending for myself. This guilt itself stemmed from feeling ashamed about my own self as a child when I didn’t look pretty with the clothes I wore. Resolving this emotional block took time. I also addressed my deeply buried emotions based on my core belief that “I am ugly”. When the emotions were healed, I no longer felt deprived of clothes. I stopped creating debt.
I struggled with gratitude especially towards money. But this inner rigidity started shifting when I read “The Power of Receiving” by Amanda Owen. One of the most striking lines for me in that book were where she says how you buy a book but you don’t do the exercises in that book. For me this essentially means that you have the key right there but you refuse to receive it, use it and open your inner locks. One of the exercises she mentions is cultivating gratitude. I still struggled with saying thank you to the money I received. But there was one practice I picked up from a Breathwork practitioner – blessing the giver with “May it come back to you a million times”. Then I stumbled upon a blog which finally brought meaning to the gratitude practice. Instead of just saying thank you or “I am grateful…” say why you are grateful, what changed or shifted for you in terms of your feelings. For example, I was grateful that someone wrote me a testimonial because I felt valued for what I do. I was grateful I could invest in myself because it made me feel cherished. The Abundance Book breaks down “money” as My Own Natural Energy Yield.
We make a separation between “me” and “money”. This is the reason why being grateful for the money we have doesn’t resonate. The gratitude towards our own selves is missing. And that may point to a deeper issue – that you’re too self-critical or judgmental about yourself and your abilities. It could also point to shame. It could point to not feeling good enough which can translate to feeling helpless.
Generosity and giving back.
In my own culture giving back is viewed as sacred. In fact our local temple still has a cow which we feed when we visit it. As a part of giving back, we were also encouraged as children to feed ants and crows. We also often have a temple culture where one person donates a sum to the temple to feed the poor and needy on a certain auspicious day. With the change in careers I completely lost touch with these practices until my mother reminded me of them.
I started making a regular contribution to a fund run by my yoga school which they use for getting their infrastructural needs met, as well as providing education for rural children. I also came up with my own way of connecting to animals and feeding them. However it took me some time to find the right organisations and giving-back systems to connect to without a sense of guilt, obligation or expectation. I found that giving to charities still comes from a sense of hierarchy, but generosity comes from a space of equals. The energy from which action stems is more important than the action itself. As I experimented, I found out places that made me fall into the “do-gooder” trap and stayed away from contributing in those spaces. I also started acknowledging that my writing is my way of giving back to the universe what it churns within me.
Under the pretext of getting “value for money”, we often fall into patterns of greed. It is when you try to hoard or ask for things you don’t really need. It can often include bargaining inspite of knowing that a price is right. It requires self-control to acknowledge one’s greed patterns. Sometimes we end up having these habits because we are afraid of being cheated. This might again point to shame. Consciously acknowledging these patterns and taking responsibility for them is a very good start to letting them go.
One of my turning points happened when I started receiving an intuitive sense of value towards the goods and services I bought. This would often show up as a number that would flash in front of me. If a person charged more than that or even less than that, it would show up as an uncomfortable feeling in my body. I learned to trust these inner feelings. A greater revelation that happened as a result of following my intuition was that I became aware of the innate sense of balance. The highest law of this manifest universe is balance. The very nature of energy is balance. Often when we experience a loss or a gain, it is in accordance with this higher sense of balance. For example, if a person does cheat you and charges more for his service, it is very likely that you will attract a great deal somewhere else in your life either at that point, or some later point.
For more practical steps on how to manage your finances attuned to your emotional wellbeing, or for contributing to this article, please write to me at [email protected].