The word Yoga, is mostly thought of as a physical practice here in the West. However, it has been known in the East for centuries as being not only a physical practice, but primarily a mental and spiritual practice. These practices originated in ancient India with a purpose of attaining a state of peace through rigorous rituals that train the mind and liberate the soul.
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali is one of the main ancient Classical Yoga texts which defines yoga as “the stilling of the churning of the mind”. The term Yoga comes from the root word yuj, which has been popularly defined as “union with the divine” in other hindu scriptures and traditions such as Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion).
So what do these practices of Yoga have to do with money?
Simply put, our current mindset around money causes tremendous discontentment as we seek happiness through material (and external) comfort. To find peace with money, we must look inward for a greater purpose, which means getting out of the mind and into a deeper part of ourselves that money can’t touch.
Here are three practices you can try that will bring the ancient ideas of Yoga to help you find more peace with your money:
1. Before completing your next big purchase, think about your level satisfaction.
Take a minute to ask yourself how you’ll feel after you buy that new ‘thing’. If you know you will feel good your new item, then check in with yourself to see if you could have gotten than same feeling in another way (like taking a walk, completing a project, or meditating for five minutes). You do not have to put yourself in a financial bind to have that same feeling of gratification.
When our minds are pulled outward, we are disconnected from the source of internal contentment. By letting go of the external pull, we can begin to train the mind to look inward instead (Sutra 1.29). By accomplishing this, we can see that the momentary happiness attained from satisfying that external desire by shopping, is far less satisfying than the discipline of saying ‘no’, and the joy of feeling a stronger connection with a more essential nature of ourselves.
2. Are you fighting about money with your loved ones?
Fighting usually comes from holding onto a position that makes you feel right. Why the need to feel right? Most likely because you’re afraid. Perhaps you’re afraid of being wrong, afraid of losing, afraid of being taken advantage of? What is the underlying fear that you are trying so hard to protect? The funny thing about these fears is that they are connected deeply with survival instincts when it comes to money.
Underlying all the turmoil that’s causing you to fight, I bet there’s a deep fear that you’ll run out of moneys and… die. Our rational mind get so disconnected by this ancient fear when it comes to money, and force our efforts to turn to fight (or flight) for survival. What if you surrendered instead?
Take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “Why am I fighting? What am I afraid of? Is this fear real?” Breath is one of the most common tools used in yoga for reconnecting to your essential nature, or even for surrendering to a Higher Self. The process of controlling your mind through concentrating on one object, in this case your breath, takes the focus off that fear, relaxes the body and allows for a deeper truth to be seen and heard. This process of concentration allows for a greater discernment of the situation and reduces the automatic reactions based on unfounded fears.
3. Do you feel like you don’t have enough money?
What is enough? In modern day America, ‘enough’ means being able to have what you want when you want it. If we don’t have the resources to get that new ‘thing’ right now, then we misinterpret that as not having enough at all. Somewhere along the line over the last five decades, we’ve lost the ability to discern between our needs and our wants. If you are worried that you don’t have enough, then you are being pulled into the future, rather than the present moment.
By focusing on whether you have enough ‘forever’ or not, you are setting yourself up for panic and stress. You can never know the answer to whether you’ll have ‘enough’ forever, so you must begin to trust. If you don’t begin to trust, and to bring yourself into the present, you will always have a reason to be stressed and constantly worrying whether you’ll run out of money. Bring your attention to the present and confirm that all your needs are being met. Right now. All of them. If they weren’t, you’d be dead, right? Now maybe all of your desires aren’t being met…but that’s okay. Breathe in, and know that you have what you need.
Any reaction beyond that is just a reaction to whether you’ve gotten what you want or not. In yoga, austerity (saying ‘no’ and living simply) is the first step of living peacefully. In Kriya Yoga (the Yoga of Action), the three essential practices are austerity, study (study of yourself and of scripture), and surrender (self-surrender and surrendering to a Higher Self).
By practicing these three elements, the barriers to your essential nature can fade way and reveal a Higher more peaceful inner Self.
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