As the benefits of meditation gain acceptance, mindfulness practices of all types are entering widespread use. More and more, people want to garner the benefits that come from the mindful state accessed through meditation.
Most of the positive traits that are being sought revolve around the themes of stress reduction, mental acuity, performance enhancement, health benefits, and other similar results. Interestingly, these desired outcomes could be described as “side-effects” of meditation’s root purpose, which is to reduce suffering through the cultivation of compassion.
From the historical perspective, meditation and mindfulness practices originated to address suffering through compassion. As people engaged in these practices, they recognized myriad positive effects – the “side effects.” More recently, science has begun to document these benefits. Which brings us to the present time, where it is primarily the positive “side effects” that lead people to engage in mindfulness practices.
Despite the change in view as to why to engage in mindfulness practices, the cultivation of compassion remains intertwined with all the other benefits. Often the scientific documentation process seeks to isolate causes and effects. Along this line of thinking, it is certainly possible to focus on specific desired effects in one’s mindfulness practices. However, it is not possible (or desirable) to completely exclude the other effects. As such, when engaging in mindfulness practices, people are likely to get both the more commonly sought-after benefits, and to become more compassionate.
Taking this one step further, it is worth considering what role cultivating compassion plays in realizing the other benefits of meditation? Since meditation was developed to cultivate compassion, and then was observed to deliver other positive effects, it makes sense that these other benefits are in some way tied to compassion. For every benefit of meditation there is an answer to the question: what does compassion have to do with this benefit?
In the Mindful Finance context compassion is key to success. A caring outlook and the desire to alleviate suffering for oneself and others is the fertile ground from which to make financial decisions. In this way compassion can be seen as the secret ingredient that delivers the sought after results.
It is important to mention that compassion in the Mindful Finance context is not soft or predictable. Instead compassion here could be translated as the bravery to do what needs to be done. Life does not only require cuddles. Often the path to where we want to be requires stepping into fear and uncomfortable, new situations. Seeing that challenging activities are necessary and moving into them with gentleness is the compassion of Mindful Finance.
When we take this compassionate, brave approach to our financial decision making we will be moving in the direction of success. The whole process of integrating our finances and our values becomes infused with the authenticity that comes from alignment. Mindful Finance is about addressing the suffering that comes from financial decision making.
Meditation and mindfulness practices create a state of mind that brings our full intelligence into the moment.
There is also an honesty to this approach. It is very real, not pie in the sky. There may be a need for compromise, or understanding of complex factors and competing views. None of this is problematic when approached as an opportunity to reduce our own suffering, and/or the suffering of others.
Financial decisions are often complex. We need our full set of faculties and intelligence to make the best decisions. Meditation and mindfulness practices create a state of mind that brings our full intelligence into the moment. This occurs for many reasons, one of which is being awake to the desire to reduce suffering – compassion. Therefore, in Mindful Finance it is good to cultivate all the positive mental and physical benefits that mindfulness practices bring; and it is important to embrace the compassion that arises from these practices.
Sol is president of Highlander Financial. He has over 20 years of experience in financial markets and managing businesses.