Working with Money: A Finance Director’s Perspective

What is our purpose?

At Shambhala, we have the main vision of creating an enlightened society. The primary way in which we do this is by providing a safe and welcoming space for our community to connect to the basic goodness in themselves, others, and everyday situations through meditation, the arts, and exercising.

This is much different to a business, in that it is not a question of how much money we can create. I am not saying that money isn’t important, of course it is. But it’s only a small part of what is meaningful.

How do I relate with money in this context?

We live in a materialistic society where we are constantly told we need more. We can be careless with our money because of the media telling us we need more to be happy. Through meditation, we learn that this is not actually true, we already have everything we need to be happy.

Meditation helps us to be aware of our basic goodness and change our attitude to this materialism. This is key to having a better relationship with money. Meditation also helps us to live a more minimalistic lifestyle. In this context, minimalism does not mean to deny or restrict ourselves. It means to rid ourselves of life’s excess (possessions, ideas, relationships and activities) in favour of focusing on what’s important. For example, for each and every thing we buy, we could pause to ask ourselves if it’s really necessary. What value will it add to our life?

Meditation helps me have this attitude not only in my life but also with the organisations I work with such as Shambhala. Every investment decision is carefully analysed using experience and the amazing tools I have been given from my accountancy training, to calculate the value it will add.

Of course, there are a lot of elements of “value” that simply cannot be calculated, these all need to be considered equally.

What is equally as important?

Any organisation would fail miserably if they only measured financials.

To be balanced, and more importantly for us as meditators to be true to our purpose, we need to look at other things such as our community, our team, and other stakeholders (anyone connected to us, even our suppliers!). It is important to look at our relationships with them. What is important to them? How can we help improve their lives?

Innovation, adaptation, creativity, learning, growth & perception. Some of these areas cannot be measured in numerical terms, yet they are as equally important as money. This is where we experience difficulty.

How meditation helps with difficult financial times…

We are often faced with difficult situations. Measuring our innovation or adaptability. Justifying our decisions with a lack of (often difficult to obtain) information, or when we are faced with financial hardship. This is where meditation practice is most important.

Meditation helps with decision making because it helps us connect to the wider, more human aspects of what else is important, when this information might not be available on a report (the non-financials). It’s when we need to make the most important decisions, based on trust and intuition that meditation helps us most.

When financial hardship hits, often we let this control us and react with fear by holding on tightly to the money we have. This only creates more hardship as it stops us from thinking clearly and adapting to our environment. Through meditation practice we can learn to regulate our emotions, and keep a rational thought process rather than reacting from a place of fear.

 

 

 

Diane Metcalfe is the new Finance Director at the London Shambhala Meditation Centre. She has a background in accounting and is currently running a vegan business.

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