Boost Your Energy Account

A student approaches his meditation teacher and says, “My meditation is horrible! My mind is bouncing from one thought to the next, my back hurts, and I’m straining just to stay awake.”

“It will pass,” the teacher responds calmly.

One week later, the student returns to his teacher. “I can’t believe the change! My meditation practice is wonderful! I feel so aware, peaceful, and focused!”

“It will pass,” the teacher responds calmly.


Little Story, Big Message

I love this little story with the big message: throughout our life, we experience all sorts of feelings and thoughts that constantly change, sometimes from moment to moment.

And once moments pass, they cannot be recaptured or experienced again the same way. Sure, that may be obvious to you now as you’re reading this post. But sometimes, when our self-awareness is, um, let’s say compromised, we forget. Sometimes we try to hold on to good times, wanting to extend our experience indefinitely into the future. But in a world where change is the only constant, life doesn’t work that way.

Instead, events and circumstances go our way … until they don’t. And when they don’t, we might feel frustrated, irritable, confused or disappointed. Then we might start struggling for solutions because we want these feelings to go away. And we think that the only way for these feelings to recede is to adjust the external world, have it conform to our wishes. But a funny thing happens on the way to struggling for solutions: the more we ‘want’, the more entrenched becomes the struggle.

Consider it this way: you know when you’re trying to think of a particular word, and you’re certain that the word is there but for whatever reason it remains hidden, teasing you, resting on the proverbial tip of your tongue? And the more you try to coax out the word, the deeper it goes into hiding and the more aggravated you become?

Eventually, you give up. Your mind stops searching. You forget about the word. You let it go. Then, other thoughts drift through your mind. And soon, without trying one itty bit, the word suddenly appears. And you smile, say the word out loud, repeat it more than once, and with great self-satisfaction say to your self, ‘yes, I knew it was in there!’

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Relax, Come To It

Energy is our natural currency. When we squander our energy reserves through stress, worry, envy, judgment, and greed, we’re less able to think clearly. And cloudy thinking leads to poor decision-making, leads to undesirable outcomes, leads to stress and compounding negative energy.

It’s not like we actively, consciously, search for negativity or want to waste our energy. Still, darkness comes and goes. Largely because we want to control external circumstances and have not learned to accept that which we cannot change.

So … how do we experience inner contentment, happiness, blue skies, for extended periods of time regardless of which way our external world is turning?

Ahhh, well now, I suppose this is the $64 question. This is where my duty to you is one of introducing the magic elixir, revealing to you ingredients guaranteed to swell your energy account with positive ions, leading to feelings of ease and satisfaction, feelings conducive to excellent decision-making, decisions that benefit your spiritual, psychological and financial well-being.

And the answer is … Yoga.

No, wait. Let me back up. It’s not that easy. It never is because it’s not supposed to be. The thing is, there’s nothing at all magical about yoga. Rather, what I’m getting at, what the practice of yoga allows you to get at if you’re open to it, is a healthy, serene, sense of balance.

How so? Well, um, really, I don’t exactly know. I mean, I could blather on about studies detailing the many beneficial physiological effects of yoga practice, or I could tell you about my personal experiences, tell you how amazing I feel after every single yoga class and how I wish I could bottle up those good and scrumptious feelings to use at my whim. Still, the only way to truly understand the benefits of yoga is to practice yoga.

That said, here’s what I do know: start your day with a bit of yoga, a sprinkling of laughter, a dose of fun … and that in itself is magic. Call it magical reality. Call it an amazing form of medicine, one that acts as a powerful antidote to stress, pain, conflict and any other form of negativity.

Want to feel physically stronger, mentally alert, emotionally balanced? Get your self to yoga class. Want to bring more light in? Laugh! Want to keep the light around permanently? Laugh more! Play! Have fun!

Yes, yes, we have responsibilities, we have bills to pay, investments to make, debts to repay, budgets to draft, research to undertake, retirement to prepare for, BuddhaMoney blog posts to read … of course we do. Still, when we lighten our duties, responsibilities and burdens with a hearty guffaw, a gut busting chortle, a relaxed smile, playtime, then we’re healthier. And our good health leads to a calm perspective, a broader outlook, a sense of grounding, focus and alertness. All of which doesn’t just smooth out your time on planet Earth, it also leads to you becoming a better investor, and a wealthier person.

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If You Want It, Here It Is, Come And Get It

I know, yoga is trendy, it’s all the rage. But don’t let this turn you off. Look past the trivial, superficial, North American marketed aspect of yoga, the Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) tight tops, check-out-my-butt pants and hotty hot (actual name) shorts, and you’ll find a more than 5,000 year old practice that offers participants the opportunity to grow their positive energy reserves partly through learning to be self-aware and responsible for our feelings and happiness.

You want a buff body? Sure, yoga will take you there. But that’s not what yoga is all about. Not at all. Rather, yoga practitioners seek awareness of their deepest nature. Because through self-awareness, through learning to be present for every sensation in every moment, we learn to be responsible for who and what we are.

And we learn to understand that, to a large degree, we have the power to make our self. When this is understood, then we know that happiness is a choice; that we are responsible for our own happiness. Because our happiness, our contentment, is unrelated to external circumstances. Happiness, you see, is an inside job.

And it’s kinda, sort of, really excellent when you’ve done the inner work, and bring peace to your daily life, including money matters. Because money management, saving and investing can be fraught with emotion and confusion. So if you’re coming at it from a peaceful place, with a clear mind, where you’re able to tune out noise then, sure as Buddha is sitting cross-legged, smiling by the Bodhi tree, you increase your likelihood of finding balance, wealth and success.

 

Yoga Makes You Wealthy

Here’s some news to light up the BuddhaMoney smile: in less than two months of blogging, BuddhaMoney has cracked the top 100 of…

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 Rocks!

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:


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Enter Buddha

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:


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Enter Buddha

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.

Retroactive Justification

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!