if i do what i love, will the money follow?

Last week I was scheduled to participate in a focus group discussing a legal case, for which I’d be paid $100.  It was a no-brainer for me to sign up; now that I have an overseas trip to save for, every penny counts.  When I arrived at the session, however, I realized that I once worked in the same office as the focus group facilitator.  Since this was a no-no, I was promptly sent home, no cash in hand.

I was a little disappointed, but got over it quickly.  The situation was out of my control, so it was pointless to get too upset.  And in a way, I was kind of relieved. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and I could certainly see the benefit in spending the next couple hours outside, rather than within the confines of a dark office, discussing an intense case that would have probably left me feeling drained for the rest of the evening.

As I walked along the seawall home, my relief grew.  There was abundance everywhere.  In the sunshine. In the breeze.  In the warmth. In the water.  In the ducks (pictured below) just doing their thing in the water.  In the happy smiles of passerby. In the parks lining the seawall, filled with families and dogs and people-watchers and sun tanners getting ready for their Saturday night.

In noticing this beauty surrounding me, I felt expanded.  I could breathe.  It was blissful. When I thought about the focus group I had left behind, I felt constriction.  Bored. Grey.

I knew that what had happened was not a meaningless coincidence.  It was a clear message about abundance and money.

I have a dear friend who teaches yoga almost daily and has a popular musical gig a few times a month.  She truly loves what she does.  For the most part, she can arrange her day any way she wishes.  She doesn’t have a lot of money, but her ‘work’ is so aligned with her values and spirituality that I know she is infinitely happier and more fulfilled than she would ever be sitting behind a desk all day.

This is deeply inspiring to me.  It seems there are many of us out there who are more than ready to break out of the cubicle and start something new of our very own: something meaningful, imbued with our personal values and marked with our unique creative stamp. There’s a growing number of social media sites devoted to discovering this new, higher conscious way of living.  And that’s a very good thing.

But it can also be a new and uncomfortable road, one that seems risky and fraught with unknowns.  And it brings up all kinds of limiting beliefs and perceptions.  For example, I personally have struggled with the notion that creative self-expression and financial abundance are mutually exclusive.  Because I’ve believed that for so long, I see my belief played out all around me.  (Which only reinforces the belief!)

It is time for an upgrade.

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Is there another way?  Do we have to choose between doing what we love and financial abundance?  Do we need financial abundance if we are doing what we love?  In other words…does money matter and, if so, is it possible to have it all?

In the late 80s, the book Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow was released.  This text, still hugely popular, is a forerunner of many premising that when we follow our hearts, all areas of our life – including money – flow as an extension of that.

But to me, it’s not necessarily that doing what we love means money will automatically follow.  It’s that the deep fulfillment and inner peace that comes from doing work we love is infinitely more rewarding than the paycheck we receive from doing work we’re not remotely connected to.

The focus group experience really crystallized this for me.  That $100 didn’t hold a candle to the immense gratitude I felt on my walk, in truly appreciating my surroundings.

And the ironic thing is, we’re more likely to attract money into our lives when we’re already in a contented state.  Abraham Hicks teaches that focusing on that which gives us joy brings us in alignment with our (limitless, non-physical) Source – Who We Really Are.  In that place of alignment (love, appreciation, gratitude), our desired manifestations can more easily become physical.

It takes conscious practice to keep ourselves aligned.  It requires trust, surrender, releasing resistance, letting go, and allowing.  Ultimately, true alignment means knowing that we are inherently worthy of all we desire.   Once we really get that, the flow is unstoppable.

how may i serve?

Ever since I saw the DVD The Secret years ago, the ‘Law of Attraction’ has left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth.  What I most remember is the film’s emphasis on manifesting material objects.  There may have been more to it, but I don’t recall attracting for the collective good being a significant feature.

I get that this video was a great tool to speak to the masses about the power of mind and visualization.   But the concept of manifesting in a bubble doesn’t sit right with me.

When I reflect on my personal goals, I can’t help but contemplate their impact on humanity at large.  While I appreciate having beautiful things, the thought of focusing my energy solely on the manifestation of material ‘stuff’ makes me feel a little dead on the inside.

service

The other day I was walking to work and I realized (not for the first time) that pretty much everything in my life is a judgment.  Being on the spiritual path for many years, this is very humbling for me to acknowledge.  My ego seems to always be at work, sizing up the people and situations I come into contact with.

While discernment is a very good thing, and in order to function in this world we need to assess and make sense of the reality around us, when the ego is involved, it can be a very fine line.

I’ve had a few isolated experiences in my life where I have been in an authentic state of non-judgment.  And I know that 99.9 percent of the time, I am not in that state.

On my walk, I thought…what would it be like to go through a day where I didn’t judge anything?  I immediately felt something loosen up inside me; there was freedom and peace.

Now that is an ultimate goal: non-judgment.  And in that moment I understood that the Law of Attraction, for me, is about accessing and cultivating states of being. Love.  Compassion.  Consciousness.  Integrity.  Patience.  Awareness.  Softness.  Discernment.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post.  Only that I’m now at a point where I’m very open to conscious creation.  And I want to find the balance in having my personal needs and desires met, and being of service to humanity.

This conjures up all kinds of questions surrounding worthiness and abundance, the individual within the collective, and sacrifice vs. service.

India, Feb. 2010. My friend Judy took this pic.

India, Feb. 2010. My friend Judy took this pic.

So what does ‘service’ mean, exactly?

I’ve always had the notion that it’s those tangible, physical, altruistic acts that people can see.  Attending protests and getting vocal.  Volunteering weekly at a community organization.  Going overseas to developing countries and building schools.  And while these acts are necessary and very noble, is it the service most appropriate for me in this lifetime?

I’ve been quite hard on myself for not physically ‘doing’ enough to improve the world.  But I can’t say that humanity at large – the bigger picture – isn’t often at the forefront of my thoughts.

Do prayer, yoga, and seeking to grow in awareness and consciousness, constitute service to humanity?

Is attempting to go through one day without judging, service?  Is smiling at a passerby when I don’t feel like it ‘enough’?

I want to travel and write and further my yoga practice and delve much deeper into my spirituality, stripping away all that is not love in my physical being. This is my lifelong work and dream, my personal dharma.

I am not against material wealth.  But my Law of Attraction is about magnetizing the most love and awareness I can in each moment, and bringing that to every interaction.  Only then will I fully enjoy any worldly success that may spring from that.