The Enlightening Mat: Fear of Poverty


Six universal fears prevent us from being our true selves. Over the next several weeks I will uncover these fears and suggest the best medicine for dissolving them from your life. To read my whole blog series on the six universal fears, click here.

Fear of Poverty

No matter how much money you have in the bank, everyone has a fear of poverty. Some of the most generous people have the least in financial resources and some people who continually hold back have the most money to give. It's not a measure of how "good" or "bad" a person is by how much they offer rather it symbolizes how much fear of poverty is running their life.

Many times I am that person who has more to give but holds back. Countless times I've had $10 in my wallet to give, but when it comes time to put a donation in the basket, I offer only five bucks. Fear of poverty and I are great friends.

One day hasn't gone by that I haven't been given the basic necessities of food, water, clothing, and shelter. By all accounts my life has been on easy street, so if I've never experienced extreme poverty, why fear it?

My guess is that the experience of poverty digs into our emotional well-being and asks us to give ourselves over to greater and greater levels of trust -- trust in the unknown and the basic goodness of all human beings.

I think of the ancient, wandering Buddhist monk sheltering in a mountain cave, relying solely on the food given to him by his lay community. His spiritual trust in the kindness of others might be beyond our modern reach, but his way of living without fear of future gifts demonstrates how far we may be from a life lived from one trusting moment to the next. More importantly, it shows how much we may deny our mutual dependence on each other for growth and support.

How to Dissolve Your Fear of Poverty

Do meditation. It's that simple. I can't stress the practice of meditation enough for digging into your most basic fears and seeing their true nature -- stories that cloud the mind. When you repeatedly meditate, over time you will find yourself wanting nothing and in this nothingness fear can not exist.

I could offer different techniques for how to meditate and suggest the best teachers, but honestly after doing it for over ten years, I know the best teacher is you. Your body and mind already know how to meditate, you just have to sit and let yourself remember the experience. It may take one year or twenty, but by disciplining yourself to sit, you will uncover the most natural state of your mind. Just sit. Keep doing it. Don't question if you are doing it "right" or "wrong." Just sit and don't give up on the experience.

Sitting meditation is the most direct way to dissolve fear, but I also have found this place of nothingness while doing Bikram yoga. Some days I come out of yoga class and can't remember the last 40 minutes because my mind was completely empty and my body responded so naturally to the instructions that no thinking was necessary. You may also find this empty, still point through walking, prayer, watching birds, surfing, or working in the garden.

When you get beyond your thinking -- the fearful stories created by your mind -- you realize there is nothing you can't surrender to and accept into your life. When you find yourself in this place of complete acceptance, you have a discovered a richness that is eternal.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures

1 comment:

  1. gorgeous -
    i have so many thoughts on this, you share such insight...
    i think the way you encourage others to meditate is just so perfect... no right, no wrong... it just takes time to settle back into yourSelf...
    you know what's kind of ironic? the fear of poverty while showing a need for trust, also can play upon a different fear... that of insufficiency... say you find yourself in trouble financially and turn to your family - you can then feel less than adequate because you were unable to be self-sufficient... our culture makes it hard for so many - the cost of basic living needs, the demand to justify our existence in terms of productivity - a quantitative way of defining a person's worth...
    such a wonderful mind, you have - thank you for sharing things like this - it takes courage and love... you demonstrate both -


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