“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
We recently held our first Mindful Finance workshop. Ten brave souls joined us at our offices in Boulder to explore the benefits of joining mindfulness and finance in a formal way. The starting place for why this would be worthwhile is that our experience as investment professionals and as people who engage in mindfulness practices, has taught us that good financial outcomes are encouraged by joining these areas of interest.
We are working towards our desire to help people experience clarity, sanity and perhaps even joy from their financial lives. As a part of that, we have written a View, Practice, and Action logic for melding mindfulness and finance. The View is the big goal, the Practice is the way things work, and the Action is something that can be done to move forward. The logic is:
Our financial life can be a source of empowerment and sanity. We believe that relating to finances can be a path to accessing our higher ideals and goals in life. When our ideals and goals are intertwined with our finances it feels good and is empowering.
Mix mindfulness and finance. Mindfulness practices create a fertile space in which to engage with financial matters in a way that encourages good outcomes.
Take steps to create a container of mindfulness around finances. Look for opportunities to approach financial matters in a mindful context. The openness and clarity that is elicited by mindfulness is an ideal place from which to engage in financial decision making and planning.
At the workshop, after setting the ground with a guided mindfulness meditation, we brought our attention to finances and money. We placed the subject of finance into the context of mindfulness through some contemplative and experiential Mindful Finance exercises. One such exercise was taking ten minutes to write private answers a set of questions and prompts. I have shared the writing exercise with you in this letter so that you can have it for your own use or information.
There was no specific outcome sought in the workshop. The goal was to put thoughts of finance and money into a certain space and see what occurred. Although there was nothing earth shattering about our experience, we all gained some insight about ourselves in the short time we took to engage money and mindfulness in this way.
Below is the writing exercise we worked with in the workshop:
Mindful Finance Writing Exercise
Please use your writing time to bring your attention to the following questions and lead-ins. The point is not necessarily to write something for each of them, feel free to find two or three to dig into. This worksheet and your writing are yours and will not be shared.
- If my finances were a type of weather they would be…
- Bring to mind your personal finances. Describe the feelings that arise in your body as they occur.
- Create a quick list of words that you associate with money. Contemplate afterwards.
- What do you enjoy about money?
- How do your finances affect your sense of self-worth?
- In regards to finances and money, I admire people who can…
- Is money related to happiness and joy?
- One thing that I can only tell myself about my relationship to money or my financial life, is…
- Anything else that is arising for you?
In the future we plan to offer more workshops, and to tailor them to specific subjects and groups of people. We would love to talk with you if you have thoughts or suggestions!
Sol is president of Highlander Financial. He has over 20 years of experience in financial markets and managing businesses.