Ascetics. Sadhus. Full-on yogis. Monks. Nuns.
What they all have in common is a certain degree of renunciation. A letting go
of earthly things and material goods–for the greater good. Or so we’re told.
We’re told that we need to buy experiences, not stuff. That we need to stop getting our
highs from a pair of shoes or a new car. That we need to let go of hanging onto what’s
perishable, and instead focus on what’s not.
I get all of that.
I left my magazine editing job to pursue a life that felt more rewarding, and less empty. And that gig was full of rewards. VIP treatment. Red carpets. Entrance to the hottest openings, debuts and parties. Trips. Free clothes, perfume, fine dining, and overnights in hotel rooms that cost more than my month’s rent.
Yup. That was a good time–until I realized I was miserable. I had anxiety, stress, and panic attacks. I felt like I was walking around with someone’s hands around my throat. Then I got into meditation and yoga. I woke up rested and ready for the day. I stopped having panic attacks. I knew I’d worked my butt off to get where I was but also knew there was somewhere else I was meant to be. Somewhere I’d feel more nourished, and free.
I did the deep-dive into yoga. I became a certified teacher. I read the books, the blogs and wrote for the websites. I loved it. Every minute. It felt more rewarding, and less empty. Friendships with people who thought like me, wanted to do things like me, and were determined to make a difference in the world. Bright, shiny, happy souls. Free.
Until I started to try to fit the mold. Somehow the loose linen pants and hemp clothes just didn’t suit. I didn’t want to wear sandals or dreads or those stretch cotton wrap-around skirts. I didn’t want to drape sarongs around my head or my apartment. I felt like a yuppie in disguise. I like a pair of great-fitting distressed jeans. A moccasin from ASOS in the UK. I’d say the emerging decor in our new apartment is more chic than cheap. And driving our Lexus is like spreading butter.
And I’m good with that, now.
I’ll tell you why.
Oneness. Ananda. Bliss. I’ve had some awe-inspiring, life changing spiritual experiences that I later read about defined in spiritual texts, or learned more about from my friend and mentor Swami Maheshananda Saraswati. And nothing about any of these experiences said anything about not buying stuff, or enjoying material goods. God, or Om, or cosmic energy, or the universe–whatever you call it is perfect–doesn’t care how you get your happiness. The universe just cares that you ARE happy.
The universe, or God, or Om, is the most abundant experience we’ll ever have. It’s endless and boundless and unfathomable until you experience it. There’s flow, there’s love, there’s nothing in the way. It’s all there. It’s bright and beautiful and shining like the sun. Tap into that, and you will INEVITABLY start to generate more wealth and abundance in your life. It’s just going to happen. Because it will radiate out from within you.
Yes, happiness can come in a box. Yes, it will be fleeting. It won’t be mudita–spiritual happiness. It won’t be ananda–bliss. And happiness that radiates from inside you will be. But so long as you know that…you’re good to go. You’re here. We have an abundance of choices and opportunities.
So buy the shoes, the car, or the chocolate bar. Carry right beside your wallet your fullest awareness of your fullest abundant self, knowing that anything you gain or lose doesn’t affect that, and you’ll be fine.