I have been working with a number of techniques to help me understand and change my thoughts and feelings about money. I will warn you though, often when we ask for improvement in an area of our lives, the universe will bring us strong and contrasting experiences to help us resolve our old, unhelpful ways. It can be quite an emotional ride! I am new to applying these ideas to money but I have used them with great success in other areas of my lifeand any discomfort has been well worth it. I will describe briefly what I have been doing but I think if you want to apply these concepts it is better to read the book “Money and the Law of Attraction”. It is a comprehensive book and deals not only with money but career and health also.
First, let me say that I meditate. I think this is a very important practice that can benefit all people. I meditate now but I also did it as a young single mother so I know that however busy you are, time can be found to meditate. In my opinion it is the most important thing you can do to foster spiritual growth and happiness. I like a Buddhist technique of following the breath. To do this, find a spot where you can sit, undisturbed for 5 to 20 minutes. Sit in an upright position, with your shoulders relaxed and your feet flat on the floor. (If you are not able to sit, then you can lay down but be careful not to fall asleep!) Stare at a spot on the floor three to five feet in front of you with a soft gaze. Blink as often as you need to and do not focus your eyes. Simply see without looking, gently and without tension. As you do this, begin to notice how your breath feels in your body as you inhale and exhale. I read somewhere that you can focus on the feeling of the air going in and out of your nostrils but that for children it may be easier to focus on the feeling in their chest because the feeling at the nostrils may be too subtle for a child. I guess I am in the same category as children because I focus on the feeling of breath in my chest and find that very challenging! You will notice that thoughts will begin running through your mind. Simply say to yourself “thinking” and let the thought drift away. Think of your thoughts as clouds drifting through the sky if you wish. Just let them drift by and gently return your attention to your breathing. In the beginning sit for five minutes. Considering that you are really doing nothing, it is amazing how challenging this practice is. Don’t be discouraged if you feel that you can barely get through one breath without a thought. This is normal and even after years of practice; I am often not able to quiet my mind for more than one breath. You will be amazed at how your mind jumps around. Some people call this ‘monkey mind’ and when you experience it, you will know why. If you find this too difficult, there are many guided meditations that you can download for free. I like the ones from The Rough Guide to Mindfulness.
Buddhist meditation is just one form of meditation. There are many techniques that use sounds and mantras, focus points external to the body or other focal points within the body. I have practiced several of these techniques but right now, at least, I enjoy the Buddhist style. It is also generally easy to access free instruction on. Personal instruction can be very helpful in meditation and I definitely recommend it. There are many people who offer group instruction and practice on a donation basis. I have enjoyed this kind of instruction at the Shambhala Centre. There are Shambhala Centres in many different cities, so to find one near you just do an internet search.
However, the specific technique is not really important. Just choose one that you have access to and that you feel comfortable with. Practice every day and practice gentleness with yourself. That means if you do skip a day (or week or month or year, as some of us do) that you simply reinstate the practice without beating yourself up about it.
There are several techniques that I have begun to use that are from the Abraham books. One of the most helpful ones is called pivoting. To pivot, means simply to turn from a bad feeling towards a good feeling. You can also think of it as turning away from the problem and towards the solution. Whenever you become aware of a bad feeling you have about something, see if you can find a better feeling thought about that topic. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a wonderful thought, any improvement in feeling is helpful. In fact, if you try to go to a thought that doesn’t feel realistic to you, it will not be effective in changing your feelings. A very simple phrase that can be used in any circumstance is ‘I want to feel better.’ I use this often and I am always amazed at the power it holds. Sometimes it takes a few hours, but something always happens to change either my circumstances or my feelings. Either way I feel better and I call that a win!
The Book of Positive Aspects
The other technique I really like right now is “The Book of Positive Aspects”. To do this simply list all the positive things you can think of that pertain to whatever difficulty you are having. For example, if you have to pay your credit card bill and are feeling bad about that, list all the positive aspects of having a credit card bill. ‘It is very convenient to not have to carry cash all the time.’ Or ‘I really enjoyed all the things I bought using this card.’ Anything you can think of that sounds true to you and is positive. It is most powerful to write these statements down in a book. This way, you can go back and continue to work on an issue. It is also nice to have a record of the thoughts you have shifted so that when things begin to change in your life, you can see over time how you have changed your thoughts. Thoughts are very tricky because they are so ephemeral and constantly changing, but when we are having them they seem so solid and real. I invite you to practice these techniques and see what begins to happen in your life. We’d love to hear about your experiences.
One last thing…
As a last note, I have decided to experiment with not multi-tasking. I love to learn but I have a lot of mundane work to do so I often listen to lectures or books on CD while I am cleaning the house or driving. I also like to read when I am eating if I am not eating with anyone. This week I am going to stop multi-tasking and work on being fully present for everything I do. I invite you to do the same and share your thoughts or feelings about it. I will give you a report next week!