Here’s some news to light up the BuddhaMoney smile: in less than two months of blogging, BuddhaMoney has cracked the top 100 of personal finance sites [http://blog.feedspot.com/top-50-personal-finance-blogs-wor…/], debuting at #88.
Well, we could not be more humbly appreciative of all our enthusiasts who are spreading the good BuddhaMoney word about how to achieve Balance and Wealth. Thank you.
And now, back to our regular feature …
Yoga is trendy. Yoga is fashionable. Everyone is into yoga! You do practice yoga, don’t you? Oh my goodness! You’ve never stood on your head, pretended to be a tree, or pretzled yourself into Gumby worthy contortions? How is this possible?
Well, you must, you absolutely must try yoga if for no other reason than the clothes. Have I mentioned the clothes? Oh, the outfits you can buy! They’re reason enough to join a yoga studio. The fun part is that you get to spend silly sums of money on insanely over-priced tops, shorts and pants stamped with the corporate brand identifier of your choice. And the brand, naturally, tells us to which group you belong, reveals your status, and informs others what they should think of you. Wearing the right brand in itself is enough to get endorphins flowing and make you feel good. Never mind you’re blowing up your monthly budget and setting back your wealth achievement goals. See what I’m saying? What’s not to like about yoga?!
Breathe In … Breathe Out
Uh oh. Right off the top, I’ve slipped into sarcasm. Was that necessary? Hmm, maybe it’s best if I take a time out here, and defer to my wise friend who will calmly, rationally, tell you a little something about the true meaning of yoga:
Expansion of awareness is the primary goal of yoga. As consciousness expands, so does our ability to deal effectively with the concerns of everyday life.
Right. And one such concern is money, which allows for putting a roof over your head, food on the table, and reasonably priced clothing on your body: the necessities. In a moment or two or three, I’ll talk more on this point, how yoga leads to expansion of awareness that, in turn, leads to increased personal wealth. But first, I’m getting the shoulder tap again:
The yoga tradition acknowledges the realities of material existence. In this regard, yoga encourages us to skillfully cultivate all four components of a fulfilling life: spiritual growth, meaningful work, pleasure, and prosperity.
A Visit to the Nunnery
Some eight years ago, I attended my first yoga class. The type of yoga being taught was Hatha Yoga: a gentle system that includes yoga poses and breathing exercises designed to bring peace to the mind and body.
Class was held in a room located in a wooden building home to a nunnery. A perfect setting, with the quiet spiritual element evident immediately upon entering.
There I was in my no name sweatpants and t-shirt. Feeling out of place, I intently watched the soft-spoken teacher for clues as to what I should do next. She would perform each pose and explain what we should be doing, how we should position our hips this way or move our torso that way.
The different poses we went through made me feel like I was playing a one person version of Twister, marketed in the 1960s (ya, I know, I’m going way back here) as ‘the game that ties you up in knots’.
Struggling to imitate the teacher’s movements, and increasingly confident that I had no idea what I was doing, I welcomed the announcement to lie on our backside for the final pose, Savasana.
We were instructed to place hands away from our body, feet shoulder width apart, and eyes closed. Within maybe 30 seconds, I felt the sensation of my body sinking into the ground. I was so, so, so relaxed.
My body limber, mind quiet, no stories bouncing around my head, no thinking about past events or planning for the future. I was purely focused on the moment without even trying. It was a strange and awesome feeling. This, I imagined, is what inner peace feels like. How nice.
After class ended, I watched others press the palms of their hands together in front of their heart, then approach the teacher with gracious words of appreciation for her instruction. I did the same.
And ever since my first and only yoga inspired nunnery visit, I’ve made practicing yoga a part of my life. Because I thoroughly enjoy the unbelievably peaceful feeling that consumes my mind and body both during and after each class, improved flexibility and posture, muscle strength, deeper sleeps … the benefits go on and on.
Expanding Awareness, Building Wealth
Okay, fine. Good for me, you may say. But how exactly does yoga make you wealthy? Do yoga teachers freelance as money managers, offering stock market tips after class? Ha ha, hilarious.
Here’s the thing: practicing yoga is all about nurturing positive mental energy. Enhancing clarity. Sharpening focus. Taming disruptive emotions. Cultivating discipline.
When we walk this kind of path, we expand our awareness. And expanding our awareness means we better understand what is coming at us, be it our own thoughts, our emotions, other people or circumstances. Then, we find greater balance. Our judgment improves, we make smart decisions, we are better positioned to deal with everyday life, including investing and money management issues.
Now, I’m not saying that balance cannot be found through other activities. Of course, there are a thousand and one ways to find balance and if you have found one or more, then good for you (please share your stories on Community Forum).
I’m just saying that yoga helps me stay grounded, helps me bring my best game to investing and money management. Meaning, I make calm, rational decisions about my holdings. I do not react impulsively. I do not get caught up in stampedes when markets are whip sawing one way or another. I do not panic when recession strikes, stock market falls off a cliff and my statement shows a whopping decrease in value of my portfolio. I objectively review information, assess the big picture (i.e., macro-economic climate and company specific fundamentals) and make decisions in a patient manner, keeping the long term in mind.
Oh, and, you know that sarcastic diatribe I started this post with? Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I did buy a pair of $75 yoga branded shorts. That said, I’ve had these same shorts for more than five years, they’ve seen many a yoga class, and they’re still in one piece. So, I’m retroactively justifying this purchase based on the value I’ve received from the shorts ($75 for 5 years = $15 / year). Ahhh, the power of rationalization! Well, while I aspire to be more like Buddha, for now I have to deal with the challenges of my own humanity. Namaste!