May We Myndful Morning Recap: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
A conversation with Laura Martin on Money & Mindfulness
On more than one occasion, I was struck by the frequency of laughter throughout May’s We Myndful Morning as Laura Martin threw truth after truth at the Wednesday morning audience around a topic of conversation that is rarely talked about and often avoided – money. Her unfettered ability to say what everyone was thinking created a beautiful opening for humor, honesty and introspection. In speaking about money and mindfulness, Laura discussed our relationship to cold hard cash, how it can cause suffering and how we can apply mindfulness to the way we think about money.
MIXED MONEY MESSAGES
Our cultures, families, peers, ad execs and good old clichés have been serving us messages about how we should think about money our entire lives. As Laura asked us to shout out what came to mind, one thing became clear – these messages contradict each other, making it increasingly difficult to discern what exactly is true for us.
- Money = happiness | More money, more problems
- Rich people are happier | Money can’t buy you happiness.
- It’s impolite to talk about money | Put your money where your mouth is
- Keeping up with the Jones’ | Money doesn’t grow on trees
- Money is the root of all evil | Cash is king
- I’ve earned it | Don’t spend it all in one place
These mixed messages beg the question - how do we discern what is true for us and how should we think about money?
MONEY, MEET MINDFULNESS
Laura encouraged us to think of mindfulness as Jon Kabat-Zinn described it – as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.
“Our attention is very much like a flashlight in the hands of a six year old. It goes all over the place. What mindfulness does is allow us to bring that flashlight back to where we’re intending it to be.” - Laura Martin
Why focus on the present moment?
“What’s so great about the present moment as opposed to the mind being in the past or being in the future? Being in the future – that’s where all the catastrophes that are about to befall me are occurring. I’m going to freak myself out about those, particularly the financial ones. Same with the past, all those mistakes or regrets that you can really ruminate about – those live in the past. And actually, the present moment is all we really have.” - Laura Martin
The truth is, our memory and our ability to project into the future is actually not as accurate as it is when processing in the moment. We rely on our mind to recreate and project into the future, but it’s not as reliable as when it’s taking in what’s right here in front of us.
"The beauty about being human is that our bodies can never be in the past, and can never be in the future. They are only ever in the present."- Laura Martin
Thus, mindfulness practices tend to work with the senses by paying attention to the body and to the breath. When you do this, you are paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally (non-judgmentally meaning that we’re simply aware of the comfort or discomfort that we’re feeling).
The true value of mindfulness comes realizing that the sense of calm gained from meditation really has nothing to do with what’s in your bank account. It’s something that is available to us no matter what the zeros are in our bank account or whether they’re black or red.
Laura shared three practices that we can adopt that help us access peace and happiness at no expense to our pocket book:
1. Gratitude- Practicing gratitude can work as an antidote to wanting or craving. Practice finding your breath and repeating the phrase, “This is what is being given to me now”. This works to turn the mind towards gratitude and appreciating what it is that you away from wanting more.
2. Generosity- Again, practice finding your breath while asking yourself, “How can I be more generous in this present moment?”
3. Awareness- Oftentimes a lot of the anxiety around money comes from vagueness. One of the most powerful tools we can employ in healing our relationship to money is a spending plan. Creating a plan can address these anxieties and allow you to identify what its you value, prioritize and should invest in. Work on identifying wants vs. needs.
We just may find that mindfulness can lend truth to my father's favorite saying (in life, and in conversations surrounding makeup) - less is more.
- words by Tess Burick