Many of us have been taught that we have to choose between our values and our money. That being a good person, upholding our core values, or being spiritual requires that we disregard or neglect our money.
Yoga has become a household word in the American lexicon. But yoga is just the tip of the iceberg to an entire system of health and wellness. This broader system informs us how to live a balanced, healthy life – and yes, this system can be applied to money.
This system is known as Ayurveda, which translates as the “science of life.” Ayurveda is an integrated approach to health and wellness that emerged out of India over 5,000 years ago.
Why am I writing about this?
Many of you know that I am a long-time (nearly 30 years) yoga practitioner and meditator. What many of you don’t know is that I am currently participating in an Ayurveda program with Katie Silcox. I decided to take this rather intense year-long program because I find the intersection of life (and money) choices, and one’s health and wellness, fascinating – and very important.
I have had my own experiences that have led me to this place. For nearly a decade, I made very poor life choices around my career (money), resulting in significant health issues. Thankfully, in late 1999, I woke up to these poor choices and made important changes that have brought me to where I am today. I feel strongly that part of my life’s work is to support others in avoiding the life and money mistakes I made.
What does Ayurveda have to do with money?
Ayurveda – the science of making good (or bad) choices in life - includes our money choices. After all, what in your life isn’t impacted by the money choices you make and the quality of your life?
Your job – Are you staying in a job because you love it, or because of the salary and benefits?
Your partner – Hopefully most of you have a strong relationship with your partner. But, are a few of you staying in a relationship because of the money or the financial security that this provides?
Your spending – Look at your credit card statement. What are you spending money on? This one exercise will help you understand what you value.
Your investments – Look at your investment statement. What are you invested in? Do the investment options align with what you value?
If you strip it down to the basics, money is tied to our sense of survival. And if you are lucky enough to have enough, money goes beyond just surviving and ties into our identity. So, how are your money choices associated with identity influencing your health and well-being?
Ayurveda addresses every aspect of our lifestyle to find the patterns that contribute to either ill-health or longevity. Our relationship to money is no exception. Most of us still have unexamined, unhealed beliefs and behaviors that may be preventing us from thriving in our finances - therefore preventing us from reaching important life goals.
How do we apply the wisdom of Ayurveda – looking at our life holistically – and find balance, freedom, meaning, and abundance in our lives in a way that can also contribute to the lives of others? Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Identify your “money story”
The first step in finding freedom around money is bringing awareness to your current “money story.” The money conversation can spark attachment, fear, envy, greed, and more, so begin by paying attention to your own inner “money dialogue.” Examine what attachments, emotions, and beliefs surface when you think or talk about money and try to figure out where they’re coming from. Often, we inherit money messages from our parents and internalize their money beliefs without even realizing it.
Some examples of common money messages include:
“Money is safety”
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”
“You get what you pay for”
“Money is there for the taking - go get it”
“There is no such thing as having too much money”
“When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”
Step 2: Sift through the messages to find the meaning
Identifying the themes in your money messages can help reveal more about your relationship to money. Are they based in fear, insecurity, or scarcity? Or perhaps a desire for comfort, freedom, or purpose?
From this place of awareness, sort through the messages to identify the ones that are helpful and practical and those that are based in emotional insecurity. Try asking yourself the following questions:
From where or whom did these beliefs come?
What do I really value in life?
How much money do I really need to fulfill my goals and how can I get there?
Step 3: Take action
Once you have this new awareness, take practical steps towards financial wellness. Here are a few ways that you can get started this month:
Look at your job. Are you fulfilled? Does what you do align with what you value? If you are making a lot of money, but going home depleted, this may be a sign that the “how” and “why” of your money could use a checkup.
Look at your credit card statements. What do they say about your choices? Do your spending habits align with your values? If not, how you might better prioritize your spending?
Look at your investment statements. What are you invested in? Does the investment approach align with what you value? How much are you paying in fees? What services are these fees paying for?
Sustained awareness of your money story, paired with intentional action, can help you find greater abundance and wealth in all areas of life. This is not easy, but if you take a stand and take just one action step, my guess if that you will feel more empowered.
To learn more about an intentional, yogic approach to money, join us at Ellwood Thompson’s on Tuesday morning for our next Money Mornings, Finding Abundance Through Money Mindfulness.