Money and Mindfulness: Life Actions

Mindful Reality is what I call my practice—and the body of work I have developed—and I will just say it is simply being mindful of reality. Originally, it came from part of the title of my first book: Body Over Mind: a mindful reality check. Though the practice is one of self-inquiry, which the title reflects—i.e., putting thoughts on one’s mind up against the reality of what is presenting in one’s behavior or life—for anyone who is not aware of my work, Mindful Reality can be used more simply than that. Just be mindful of reality. See the physical reality of your own behavior, of those around you, of the events in the world, ranging from making a sandwich, to political activity, to legal activity, to climate activity, to solar system activity, to the footage from the James Webb Telescope. For me, reality means physical reality, that which we can observe or know has occurred.

Now let’s put that physical reality up against our deepest desires. Usually that wraps around survival, for most of us ways of attaining money so that we can house and feed ourselves and our loved ones. How can we observe the physical reality of money as compared to the desires in our mind which may or may not reflect the former? I would like to share the way I deal with the discrepancy of what seems to be a problem, and how I suspect most of us view our lives when there is a difference between how much money we have, how much money we want, and how to get the money we believe we need.

Unexpectedly, and not reflecting desire, I became a writer at a time I believed I should be finding a way to make money. Year after year after year after year, since a divorce back in 2008, I have wondered and worried, as I have seen myself not doing the things I believe I need to be doing to make money. Money, money, money always on the mind. Observing my thoughts, observing my actions, not lining up. Sitting at a computer or a notebook on most days of these 14 years, pondering and perplexed at how I ended up here (a writer who self-publishes but is not inclined toward much marketing or selling of products), producing material slowly, yet enslaved by the act of writing.

Luck struck for many of these years, again, unexpectedly. Divorce money and death inheritances kept me going for a long time—all the while my mind still grasping for ways to eventually support myself without these drops of donations from life—now landing in debt. I am an organized person, so the debt feels manageable in the short term, because there is an assumption I will somehow/someday/some way figure it out to make that money I am so sure I must make. Yet, there is no way to know anything about our future. Anything can happen, and one way or another I will live until I die. So, with or without an obvious way to bring in cashflow, I turn to my brand of mindfulness for relief and answers. In my view, this yields the only answers that exist because there is no physical way to control or know the future of my personal behavior.

Back to Mindful Reality. What does it mean to observe one’s physical reality in real time? We can begin with our immediate physical surroundings. I like to look at the furniture and other objects in the room, and then at the surface my body is resting/standing on. And then, my actual body (head included, which I cannot see but can feel and know is there) as a whole on the surface it is on (chair, seat, couch, floor). This lets me know where I am in real time, which is the only space/place my body can “do” something (to make money for example). Then I focus on the word action, which is at the heart of my belief that I could or should be finding a way in this moment to make money. What is action? It is the bodily movement of our person, our organism, our skeletal structure. It moves at joints, which is what we call gestures or doings. A hand moves, a head turns, a foot steps, fingers press a keyboard or phone screen. It doesn’t get much more complicated than that in reality. The rest are the descriptions we give everything we do, and the extensive elaborations of those descriptions. But if you stare at the specific space you are in, whether outdoors or in a room, car, bus, train or plane, you will see the basic weight of your organism moving at joints however it does. This would include a mouth speaking and the exact words coming out. These are our real actions—the only ones available to us.

From how I see it, if these are the only actions available to me, then they are the only actions available to me for making money. Whether I have great, fancy ideas or not, actions are only real-time bodily movement. Adding to that, anything I am doing I only find out after the fact, because observation of something (a body moving in the space) is already over by the time it is known to the eye. The question would then be: how can I make money if what I see my body doing in real time is not making money? I can’t. At least for now. And at least the way I am generally viewing the word money. (And it is always possible this momentary action will unknowingly lead to money down the road.)

What is money? I’d say beyond the cash, coin, or check itself, it is access to survival and the things we wish to own or have contact with. How do we get money? By acting in real time. Action brings money. I’d say there is no real issue with action producing money, only our idea of how they happen and how much we are supposed to have. For me, I acknowledge that the only actions I can ever do are the ones I see my body doing in real time, and the only money I can ever have is the amount in my bank. But if the purpose of money is to have access to survival, then we can look to what survival is to realize that perhaps we already have it. Though it may not look like what we imagined having or needing, it is the real deal.

The reason I say that action brings money is because we act all day long—our body moves by itself, limbs in their various tasks. Our proof is to look down at our body to observe that truth. And, survival would mean I am alive, and housed on some surface beneath me (whether a roof over my head or not). Money is access to survival, and action is the body moving. These two things are guaranteed if one is alive. There is nothing to do to make these things occur except to have been born into the world. I tell myself that all the money that will ever be available to me will be acquired by my existence.

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