Narrowing the Money Gap, III: To The 99%

This is my third and final post on ‘Narrowing the Gap’ and it specifically addresses the 99% of Americans.

avatarSome of you are not familiar with my story, so I’d like to offer it here. As a first generation Iranian, I saw my single mother overcome great financial and cultural obstacles to provide her family with the American Dream. Following in her footsteps, I retired early from a successful 25-year career in real estate, then bridged the gap in myself between spiritual and material worlds by becoming trained as a Spirit Rock Meditation Center Dharma Leader and certified somatic therapist. I spend time every week providing mindfulness classes within the Northern California prison system, and help my clients and students cultivate mindfulness, alleviate anxiety and achieve work/life balance and financial wellbeing.

Part II of the ‘Narrowing The Gap’ blog series addressed some ideas that could help the 1% overcome their anxiety around money. Now I’d like to address the 99% with some exercises, either to (re)inspire, or to help gain peace.SONY DSC

  • Don’t lose faith. Things will eventually change for the better. Keep moving forward, even if it means you have to re-tool and start over from scratch.  Imagine the worst that might happen and sit with this image until it no longer frightens you.
  • Stay calm as you plan your financial future. Take regular breaks to breathe and collect your thoughts to ground and center yourself. Feel the earth solid under your feet.
  • Invest time getting to know people in your community. Especially if you think you can benefit one another in some way. People are less guarded and more willing to help and support you when they feel your sincerity.
  • Invest in expanding your knowledge and wisdom not just around the subject of money, but around yourself. It’s the highest form of investment you can make in yourself. Explore to what extent you are open and generous, how it feels, and what it looks like. Explore to what extent you are not open and generous, and how it feels and what it looks like.
  • Retreat. Slow down and fill up your spiritual bank account. As you start saving and investing, manage your money wisely; keep it running optimally so you can take advantage of the inevitable downturn. This is a mindfulness practice in itself.
  • Be generous.Give time, energy, and support to those in need, and remember to maintain compassionate boundaries.
  • Flow. When you encounter a rock in the stream, flow around it. Remember the lessons of nature and use them. Don’t go where there is resistance or struggle. Go where there is flow, joy, peace.
  • Have fun. Play and enjoy the journey. Allow for your inherent childlike curiosity to unfold and express itself without judgment. It’s in being in the spirit of playfulness, joy, and fun that most of best paintings are created. Pause often and check in to see if you are really having fun and to reconnect with yourself—body, mind, heart, and head. If you find tension, then you need to take another approach. Find and follow the joy, not the fear.
  • Feel and speak your dream. What is the feeling tone of your dream? Is it fuzzy, velvety, smooth and silky, or is it rough, heavy, dense? Trust this deeper wisdom of your body. It never lies. Allow every word you speak to reflect your dream.
  • Feel prosperous. There is such benefit to holding gratitude. I suggest you keep a journal, or have a “gratitude trigger” such as a flower you keep on your desk or nightstand. Every time you see your “gratitude trigger” consider one or two things to feel grateful for. 
  • Be in your body. If you notice yourself going into limited thinking mode or fixating on scarcity, pause, take a few deep breaths, connect with your body, and feel the abundance of support that is keeping you alive right now: the oxygen in your lungs, the blood in your veins, the engine that is your heart, your sense of smell, sight, touch. Why get stuck in limitation when you have such a brilliant body?
  • Expect change.  Just like the weather, the stock market, and the economy, and our bank accounts, everything will ebb and flow, but your faith doesn’t have to waiver. If you fall off, get back on track and hold a steady course toward your financial and spiritual goals. Remember the key is balance.
  • Find a mentor, reach out to an organization that can support your business or financial vision. In San Francisco, for example, I’ve worked with Score.org, Earn.org, Spark point (affiliated with United Way). There are many organizations available to help you get on and stay on track. If you have impulsive spending habits, then you may need to join a support group like debtors anonymous.
  • Find a community you can resonate with. Create a social network of kind, clear, open-hearted people who care about you, what you are doing, and what you are offering the world – and who also need your support! Don’t stay in the comfort zone with negative people who don’t share your life and money values.
  • Stop all the leaks in your boat. Curb those time and money wasting activities. Unplug the TV and start focusing on your vision, update your resume, network, take a class or workshop. And If your finances are challenged, then be honest and ask yourself “what is draining my finances?” Don’t wait till your boat sinks – take action now.
  • Accept where you are. Sadly, sometimes regardless of how much you get on track, it’s just not in the cards to make more money because of old age, exhaustion, bad luck, or from engrained patterns too deep to shift.
  • Focus on the 3 Ps. Prioritize your values to focus on People, Planet, then Profit. We have one planet, one life, and very limited time to do the best job we can to be in service.
  • Get comfortable with the numbers. Have a financial plan. Make sure it is flexible so it can adapt to changing economic cycles. When we are afraid, we make fear-based decisions. When we are upbeat and happy, we tend to have a more harmonious relationship with money. When you have a sound plan, you won’t be dragged around by your emotional mood swings. And Plan for the long haul. Don’t worry about the ups and downs of the markets. Plan for five, ten, thirty years from now. Get help if this is a challenge for you!

 

This is how many people who have faced challenges have made it to the 1%, and are able to have the space to give back to their communities. As I told my 18 year old daughter the other day, I didn’t just pray and meditate and waited for money to fall out of the sky, or complained and collapsed under the weight of entitlement or feeling victimized by our capitalistic system, nor by enabling and rescuing others. Like so many others, I got there step by step – by being in service to myself and others, by saving for a rainy day, by wisely investing some of my savings, and by connected with people and projects that were aligned with my goals, my ethics, and my values.

  • Posted by  Koorosh Ostowari
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About the Author

Author Koorosh Ostowari has successfully bridged the gap between spiritual and material worlds. He has operated a profitable real estate business in San Francisco for the past 25 years and is trained as a Spirit Rock Meditation Center Dharma Leader, is a certified somatic therapist, and offers spiritual and communications classes to men and women in the Northern California prison system. His new book, The Money Anxiety Cure: A Path To Financial Wellbeing, offers tools to help those struggling with financial anxiety achieve a new, personally meaningful vision of prosperity. Koorosh is dedicated to the practice of cultivating mindfulness, alleviating anxiety, and helping his clients and students maintain balance and achieve financial wellbeing.

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Koorosh Ostowari

Author Koorosh Ostowari has successfully bridged the gap between spiritual and material worlds. He has operated a profitable real estate business in San Francisco for the past 25 years and is trained as a Spirit Rock Meditation Center Dharma Leader, is a certified somatic therapist, and offers spiritual and communications classes to men and women in the Northern California prison system.
His new book, The Money Anxiety Cure: A Path To Financial Wellbeing, offers tools to help those struggling with financial anxiety achieve a new, personally meaningful vision of prosperity.

Koorosh is dedicated to the practice of cultivating mindfulness, alleviating anxiety, and helping his clients and students maintain balance and achieve financial wellbeing.
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