For a while now I've been gathering some thoughts about money and how to improve and cleanse a bit our relationship with it and now it comes at a particularly appropriate time as I've been investing some time in building up my practice and I'm really struggling with the 'business like' aspects of it.
I don't know how you feel about money but for me it's always been a complicated topic, especially when it comes to charging for services I provide, as I'm sure it is for many of my colleagues in the well-being industry and the arts. You don't want to appear greedy or unfair, you want your work to transcend and to be accessible, you want to help people out; but also you don't want to be underpaid and can't spend your life doing tasters and working for free to get some 'exposure'.
Yes, we all need money. And we all like money as well. Just say it. Take a deep breath and say "I like money". Do you notice how this makes you immediately uncomfortable? It's like blasphemy. But the first step for healing is acceptance, am I right?
So let's start there. We like money not because we're horrible 'superficial' people. Not because we're greedy and vain and more worried about ourselves than we are about others. We like because it's useful, yes, but there's also a deeper, more subtle reason that we ought to consider more often: we like it because it makes us feel acknowledged. When I offer a treatment to a client and get more than what I was expecting for it, I feel appreciated, valued. I feel like I'm being seen and accepted. When people give us their money for something we made or a service we provided, it's like somehow they're validating our whole existence. It's like the universe saying: "you were right to choose this career path" or "this is the reason why you're here". And that feels amazing! This simple act allows us to put all our self-doubt, insecurities and little traumas behind because someone, even if it was just that one client, saw us for what we're worth.
This brings me now to the main question of this article: how can we anoint money again with that magical quality? How do we free it from the greed and the ugliness that is usually attached to it?
First we need to remember that Money is river-like in nature. Flow is it's immanent quality. When it gets stagnated for short terms it can create a positive strong current that may serve a purpose, but if retained for too long, it starts to become an incubator for disease. Money wants to go places. Money wants to be abundant but we don't allow it to do so.
Consider how we're always focusing on the scarcity of money: trying to get the best offers, discounts, 'mate's rates' (even if by asking for this we're actually depriving our so called mates of earning the right money for their work). We do whatever we have in our power to spend the least amount of money possible hence stagnating its flow.
So... what if we were willing to give it more freely? What if we could pay with full trust in our heart that whatever our friend is asking for is the correct money for what they offer, if not a bit more. Then our friend would have enough to then generously give to the next person and so on. Money would be then overflowing, filling everybody's pockets. I know... I know. This sounds a bit too out there and off course you´ll never know for sure whether or not the next person is going to be generous with it, but that's the crux of the matter!! That's how we manage to change paradigms and I say it's about time we change the paradigm of money.
So now seriously, how do we do this?
* As always, start with yourself: Next time you ask your designer friend for a logo or your therapist friend for a massage, etcetera, just tell them beforehand that you're willing to pay them what they usually charge. By all means, trade skills if you can but make sure you both feel like you're being rewarded accordingly.
* If you can, always make an effort to reward those who unconventionally provide you a service: Even tough charity is material for a whole new article, be mindful of the people that in the city or on your way to work, provide services for you. If some guy in the corner of the street playing the violin actually made you smile, reminded you of someone, or warmed your soul in any other way, then his music has provided a service and deserves to be acknowledged.
* Open yourself to people, so that people remember how to trust :
When I moved to the UK and started seeing private clients I was very resistant about asking them for specific money. I finally decided I was going to work with donations and variable rates and I have been positively impressed. Never have people taken advantage of my work and if they have payed me less than usual it's been because they honestly couldn't afford to do it any other way. This is however unusual and they tend to come back or bring more clients in, thus repaying me in other valuable ways.
Now, this is fundamental for various reasons. When you open your business to donations, you're not only telling your clients that you trust them to pay you fairly, but also you're engaging them in an exercise to reevaluate the paradigm of money:
- 'Pay me depending on how much you value or enjoy the service' : When you do this you're reminding others that money is not just some label randomly chosen for a product but that it actually has to do with their appreciation of the service and their experience with you as a provider in particular. When you do this, you turn money into a way of saying thank you or I trust you. This is very important in times like this when we're in such deep need of gratefulness.
- 'Pay me according to your capacities': This reminds us that prices don't necessarily have to be a fixed thing. That they are -because so is money- flexible, changing, adaptable. This allows you to reach people that in other ways wouldn't have access to your services, and allows your clients to be seen as actual human beings that sometimes struggle.
* Dare to forget everything you know about businesses!
This is a touchy subject, but I've decided to write about it because I believe it is paramount. Everyday I'm literally bombarded via Facebook with tutorials on how to make my business more successful, my adds more appealing, my services more needed. And I absolutely hate it! I hate being taught 'business'. Is there not a way, I wander, in which we can become sustainable without engaging with the marketing dogma? And friends, there is no way to know but to try it! My resistance comes from this growing cosmic feeling that we've been doing things wrong. That there is more to life than working and accumulating goods or fame. That ultimately, my success would be to run out of clients because they are all feeling so well already, that they don't need to see me anymore! I don't want to trick people into coming to see me again. I don't want to pay for adds and stands that allow me to gain some notoriety. I don't want to compete with my fellow therapists. All I want to do is what I do and do it well. All I want to do is to serve. So I'm closing my eyes and trusting life that when I jump of off that cliff, people will jump with me as well and one day -hopefully soon- we will all be flying.
* Remember to bathe in the ever-flowing river of money.
So now that you've brushed off some traditional ideas about money, you are ready to bathe in it's powerful providing nature. Not in a Scrooge Mcduck kind of way, as he's more of the accumulative type. Just remember to visualize the money you give away going places, serving purposes, bringing joy to other hands and lives. And as you see your money flowing to new and better ports, see how more is coming from behind you, available always for you to deep your hands in this stream of wealth to take what you might need. See it like just like that, always flowing, always abundant, always available. Let go of what you have to make room in your hands for what you need. Nothing is permanent. Give every time you can, as surely soon someone will give to you. Receive from the universe to put back in it. Now only with money, but with talents, with time, with love, with laughter, with truth. I believe only in this way will we be able to see life on Earth again as abundant and generous as it really is.
* Give back to mother Earth
I can not stress enough how important this is for everything to work. We want to be rewarded for the stuff we do, but we constantly fail to reward and thank the provider of it all. Whether if you're making jewellery, or recycled notebooks or handmade candles. Whether if you're healing with crystals, or plants or oils. Whether if you're using this or that sort of energy, eating this or that sort of food. EVERYTHING comes from the same place and not once in a year do we stop to think about how is it that we expect this world to be fair if all we do is take.
Even if the energy of the Earth is so giving, everything in this world needs to be paid for, or as I've been trying to say here 'acknowledged'. The Earth, where everything comes from, needs acknowledgement too. This is why in ancient cultures, fertility of all kinds (pregnancies, crops, rains, etc) used to be paid for in blood during simple ceremonies and festivities that took place throughout the year. These festivities have remained in certain cultures but more often than not have been turned into some sort of nonsensical booze and drug powered activity. And don't get me wrong, nothing against booze and certain kind of drugs. they too serve a purpose in this world (... material for another post?) But sometimes we have to stop making everything about us and just dedicate some moments to be thankful, To reward. To pay off our debt that is one of spiritual order. Payment ceremonies are regularly celebrated among the indigenous cultures of South America and many others to give thanks to the provider of all materials (physical and spiritual) that we need to carry on with our lives.
So every now and then, make some space and time to pay and thank to the Mother of All.
Coming soon, posts on the following topics:
- Menstrual blood as a restorative ritual or payment ceremony.
- Thoughts about the soul and consciousness of other creatures on earth
- Managing the paralyzing effect of anxiety
- Alcohol and drugs: their shadow and their purpose on the spiritual path.