Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Money and Meditation: a lesson in priorities

Background
Three or four times a year, Lyrea sets up and hosts an Advanced Retreat for Ascenders who have completed the First Sphere weekend. The First Sphere is what the initial weekend of workshops is called, where you learn the basic techniques of Ascension. Advanced Retreats are four days in length, and rather than being in a workshop format, you stay in residence for the entire time. We have more in-depth discussion about Ascension, it's origins, practice, and purpose, as well as a full day of fasting and silence during which you simply Ascend for the day. It's very interesting and most people find very helpful and sometimes a powerful experience of really increasing your connection to that deep place we refer to as Ascendant Consciousness.

The Debate
Anyway, there was an Advanced Retreat this past weekend. I hadn't planned to go, as I just went to the one in November and will go to one in May. With a vacation coming up and having just recently taken a trip to visit my grandmothers in South Carolina, I wasn't planning to afford the retreat.

But with all of the cleansing things I've been doing, four days of Ascending started to sound pretty good. So at the last minute, I found myself trying to shift my schedule and scrape together the money to go on retreat.

It was really stressful.

The Advanced Retreats aren't that expensive; they're actually cheaper than the First Sphere weekends. But it's still a bit of money that I wasn't planning to spend at this point in time.

I found myself thinking that if the debate was between finding $150 and not getting four days of Ascending and learning from Lyrea, the choice was obvious. It seemed silly to me to even be considering not going over the cost. Of course, then you have to factor in that the retreat started at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon, so I'd be missing 1.5 days at my day job and the seven massage clients I usually see on the weekends. Suddenly the retreat would cost me more like $400.

Still, I didn't like the sense of choosing money over meditation. But when it came down to it, I just don't have the money right now, and worrying about how to pay for the retreat (much less rescheduling weekend clients and classes) was becoming more detrimental in terms of stress than it would be worth to go.

Input from Emil: Prioritizing Goals
As I often do when dealing with spiritual issues, I hopped on Gchat to talk with my friend Emil, who has similar kinds of spiritual pursuits. I told him I was feeling guilty about choosing to save money over the higher pursuit of personal development. He re-framed the choice I was making, by saying that I was "picking a long term goal over an immediate one."

That totally changed my perspective. Rather than feeling bad about choosing money, I could feel good about making a choice that supported a longer-term goal of saving money for future things - possibly future retreats.

Choice and Effect
I got to thinking about the effects of each choice, too. If I spent the money, it would take me awhile to recoup the damage done to my budget. A lot of stress would come out of feeling broke and having to work a lot. Whereas skipping the retreat doesn't really have any negative impact. Certainly attending would have some positive benefit, but between the two, it seems that more stress would be created by choosing to attend and therefore spend the money.

After all, the pursuit of spiritual growth and development happens over a lifetime, and has no real urgency. I don't have to become enlightened NOW. This is not a one-time opportunity; it will always be there to pursue.

Not going on the retreat doesn't stop my growth with Ascension. I may not get the boost of encouragement and "sinking in" that one gets with a retreat, but I can still sit and Ascend every day on my own. I can still keep moving forward with my practice even if I can't make it to every retreat or meeting right now.

3 comments:

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

It sounds like you made the right choice, Nicole! I think this is a dilemma we can all identify with in way or another. Too, thinking about leaving your job and massage clients in the lurch at the last minute-- the negativity spirals outward! It's great that you were so thoughtful about this choice. Have fun in May!

Nicole said...

thanks for the comment! You're right about the spiraling of negativity. While my day job is super-flexible and I can always reschedule clients, I was stressed out about bailing on them at the last minute. That's not who I am as a professional. And it just added to the concern about balancing my priorities.

Ariah said...

Nice post. I appreciate you sharing in your self-reflection on your decision making.