Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meditation and Financial Fitness

Today I will be doing a radio interview on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (at 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time) The topic is "Meditation and Financial Fitness." The interview is related to publicity work I am doing for the world-renowned spiritual and humanitarian leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who will be making a rare public appearance in Minneapolis on April 22 at Wayzata Community Church.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & The Art of Living
A Nobel Prize nominee, Sri Sri has been named by Forbes Magazine as one of the five most powerful leaders in India today. His Art of Living Foundation, the largest non-government volunteer organization in the world, offers a wide range of classes and workshops that combine conscious breathing techniques, yoga movements, silent meditation and coping skills.

For well over three decades, I have pursued a path of self-development, self-improvement and self-actualization. I have done everything from yoga to meditation to training in energy healing, to training and practicing as a psychotherapist, teaching college psychology, and studying both Western and Eastern approaches to healing and spirituality.

The Science of Success
I have also studied and taught The Science of Success (developed by Napoleon Hill, author of the bestselling book Think and Grow Rich), and read thousands of books on self-help, motivation, success, psychology, healing, spirituality, philosophy, and metaphysics.

Change Must Be Holistic (Body and Mind)
There is a strong physiological component to success and well-being and no matter how much we know intellectually and how much we try to change, if we do not engage in practices that change us at the fundamental physical level (i.e., the brain and body), we are bound to revert to old habit patterns and behaviors.

What does this have to do with our finances? And what does it have to do with meditation?

Your Hidden Mental World
Each of us has an internal mental world, of which most of us are not aware. We may get glimpses of what we really are thinking all the time, but unless we really take time to stop and observe our thought patterns, we will never know what is going on in this mental world. Hence, the importance of meditation.

The Importance of Controlling Your Thoughts
In the book The Answer by John Assaraf and Murray Smith, they state, “The secret to our success lies in controlling our thoughts.” However, how can you control your thoughts if you do not even know what you are thinking?

Your Thoughts Are Creating Your Life
The book The Answer also shares insights from modern science, which have revealed that thoughts actually create matter, that thought is where everything comes from, and that the most powerful force in the world is your thoughts, your beliefs. Modern science is illuminating the fact that our thoughts are the controlling factor in what we manifest and create in our lives.

So, in fact, our thoughts and beliefs about money are the keys to our “financial fitness”. 

Do You Know What You Are Thinking?
When I took the Oprah sponsored web-based course "A New Earth" with Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now), he emphasized that we need to get into the "now." And to do this, we were to sit quietly and allow ourselves to just be in the "now." Tolle said that when we do this we become aware of our mind chatter. (click to download replays of The Oprah and Tolle "New Earth" classes)

Now, unfortunately, the human mind tends to be negative and focus on fears, anxieties, worries, and past and projected traumas. 

For many, if not most of us, the patterns of our thoughts are negative and limiting. And many people have what is called "poverty consciousness."

Meditation Can Help You Focus the Mind
Meditation can allow you to perceive the mind with greater clarity and it can also help you to learn to focus the mind. New research in neuroscience has proven that the mental and emotional changes we can cultivate from focused attention can produce physical change to the brain.  We can change our neural pathways and stimulate growth in areas of the brain that are very important for our mental health.

Meditation Can Help You Change the Structure of Your Brain
One of the most exciting scientific discoveries of the last two decades is that we can change the structure of our brain through focused attention. Developing reflective skills through such practices as meditation can activate the circuits that are foundational to resilience and well-being.

How we think effects the body through the nerves, the hormones and the immune system, and meditation has been scientifically proven to lower the effects of stress. 

Meditation Practiced by Both Religious and Non-Religious People
Although many associate meditation with the East, in fact, there have been writings about meditation in almost all of the major religious traditions, and today both religious and non-religious people all over the world practice meditation.

The Power of Breath
Breath is a powerful tool for stilling the mind and can activate the physiological relaxation response. I recently completed an Art of Living class and was very impressed with the unique breathing technique developed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, which he calls Sudarshan Kriya. I have noticed a great release of stress in my nervous system, first coming with some dramatic emotional release, and now, with my daily practice, a release on a more subtle level. 

If you want to be financially fit, you need to reduce the stress in your nervous system on a regular basis. This will relax the body and the mind and help you make better decisions and be more positive.  It also can help you to actually change the neural pathways in your brain and become the master of your life rather than someone who is controlled by thoughts and beliefs that lie beneath the surface of your consciousness awareness.