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For most of my career, I was climbing. As an ambitious, type-A personality, I made my way up the corporate ladder, sure that when I arrived at the top that I would be amazingly happy. Eventually, I became the head of business management for a major financial service company. I was able to afford a nice home for my family. I had all the gadgets and shoes and handbags I wanted. Having more disposable income also brought me a sense of security and satisfaction. My life was the picture of abundance. But I wasn’t really any happier than I was when my title and paycheck were smaller.
Our society sets us up to think of abundance as money and things. But we can cultivate our own personal definition of what it means to have a bountiful life. What’s more, that definition can shift as we move through different phases of our journey.
I used to define abundance as “plentifulness of the good things of life”—and I had plenty. Still do. But over time, my relationship with abundance has shifted; I’ve developed a new perspective on what brings me joy. Now I treasure having time to play with and love on my children. I have a new appreciation for the luxury of having time for self-care and exploring new experiences.
It was in the pursuit of self-care that I started doing yoga. I fell in love with it, so much so that I transitioned from 18 years in corporate positions to running a yoga studio full time. I’m not getting rich as a studio owner, but I value being able to invest my time into sharing yoga with my community.
Whatever you have, the key to being at peace is to recognize your gifts and to connect with a spirit of gratitude and contentment.
How to affirm abundance in your life
Make peace with what makes things possible.
People say money can’t buy happiness, but it can afford you the opportunity to do things in service to others. I loved yoga so much that I bought a yoga studio using the funds from my previous career. If you are blessed to be able to invest in something that feeds your higher purpose, don’t look at it with guilt; look at it with gratitude.
Look for abundance in unexpected places.
I remember a yoga class where a teacher said, “You’re not breathing.” At that time, I was an avid runner, recovering from heart failure a year prior. I was accustomed to chest breathing. I wanted to hold my core in, keeping the abs nice and tight. But the teacher said, “Just let it go.” Suddenly there was so much space! I didn’t even realize my body would open up 360 degrees for me to take in additional breath. That pranayama practice allowed me to see a form of abundance I hadn’t thought about before.
Notice the intangibles.
As a yoga teacher, I remind people that we know we are living in abundance because we can come into a heated studio in our pricey yoga clothes, sit down on our fancy mat, and pay someone to teach us to breathe. When I’m teaching about abundance, I ask, “If we took away this classroom, if we took away the mat, if we were just outside sitting on the grass, what abundance could you recognize?” We still have the sun shining down on us; we get to breathe fresh air. If you can sit down and take a moment to go within and really let that settle in your soul, the concept of abundance in the intangibles is mind-blowing.
Focus on what is, not what isn’t.
I’m an accountant, so I can show clients where they have a financial loss. But I can also point them to their assets. I do the same as a yoga teacher: If you have good health, family, and friends who love you, those are assets. You’re doing well in life. We tend to focus on what we don’t have. Focusing on what we do have enhances our ability to recognize the abundance in our lives.
Lean into the sutras.
Guidance for how to examine your own relationship with abundance can be found in the yamas and niyamas. Focus on satya (truthfulness) and svadhyaya (self-study) to define what abundance means to you. Does your concept of abundance lie in possessions or in intangibles, in time or in things? Brahmacharya (restraint) allows you to appreciate what you have without moving into a space of excess. Santosha (contentment) reminds us to accept and to embrace what life offers. That is the definition of contentment.
A meditation for appreciating and affirming plenty
An abundance meditation is an important way to stay aware of and grounded in life’s naturally occurring bounty. Whenever you feel lack, turn your focus inward for svadhyaya (self-study) and reflect on the abundance that is already yours. In this meditation, we focus on cultivating joy and gratitude that comes as we focus on our gifts.
To begin, find a comfortable seat, one that allows you to elongate the spine and expand your belly so you can appreciate the abundance of breath flowing throughout your body.
Next, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart as a sign of gratitude for the abundance of breaths and heartbeats life continues to offer.
Set your intention by bringing to mind three areas where you experience abundance. Think broadly. This may be health (physical, mental, and spiritual), opportunities for seva (service), love of family and friends, a safe home, nourishing food and clean drinking water, or any number of large or small gifts.
Consciously name each of the three areas with an inhalation and an exhalation. Continue until this feels complete. Close your meditation practice by offering a prayer or affirmation for those who experience true lack, and have gratitude for the many layers of abundance in your life.
About the Contributors
Vicie Moran (she/her), RYT-200, runs an accounting firm and Charlotte Family Yoga Center in North Carolina. In addition to her yoga teacher training, she is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, and Certified Fraud Examiner.
Mary Jo Hoffman, a former aerospace engineer turned photographer, posts an image of found nature each day at stillblog.net.