Here’s the thing. I’ve become really conscious of money. I know that this subject can be a bit icky, embarrassing, even shameful for some people, and really fun, interesting, or scary too. The reason I’m bringing it up is that in recent years I have become super aware of my relationship with money. And in the last few months, I have learned a lot and started to be in charge of where my money goes and how I get to save and invest.
I was a stay-at-home mum with a 2 year old son when I realised my relationship with his dad had to change. I had just returned to work 1 day a week and had been working from home. After an uncomfortable few months feeling lost and sad I had a moment of clear insight and my life changed overnight. I left our shared house, moved into an apartment, needed to find a new place to work from and tighten my belt.
I have been incredibly lucky with many gifts from friends who’s generosity helped me furnish a new house. For example, one friend came over to buy me a house warming present. How lovely! I thought about Bunting (I love bunting) and wondered about a lampshade… Instead this person took me to look at a Fridge Freezer! Whilst we were looking at these, they suggested the amount of money they were thinking of giving me and pointed out that I could get a new washing machine too. Wow, that was an amazing moment.
In that moment I started practicing how to receive unconditionally.
And I really wanted both of these white goods, they bring such ease. And I know how I feel all warm and fuzzy around my heart when I give a gift, or give someone just the thing they need. I don’t want to deny anyone that feeling, so its a double gift if I can receive a gift unconditionally, and know that this blesses both me and the person giving me the gift. (I can attribute this learning from Marhsall B. Rosenberg the creator of Nonviolent Communication.)
As I practice this (it isn’t my habit) I notice how uncomfortable I can feel, a feel my body shrinking with discomfort. If I follow my usual thought-patterns I can go into “Do I deserve this?”, “How can I pay them back and do something nice for them?”, “Oh I shouldn’t mention anything else I even like or am thinking of doing for my house, I’m embarrassed in case they think I’m angling for more gifts”, “I’m ashamed that I didn’t have a big enough cushion of money for a rainy day and have to lean on friends’, etc This kind of thinking pulls me down and makes me feel heavy and hopeless. Which is interesting, when I actually have been given a gift, if I follow my habitual thoughts, I can feel heavy and hopeless!
I know I have choices about which thoughts take up residence in my brain. I know from my Alexander training how powerful thoughts can be and how they rule my emotions and body and movements. So when I notice my thought patterns going down this kind of whirl-pool, I can just decide to Stop. Stop, my brain is sending me old messages. I can choose to send more helpful messages. Helpful to me as a mammal first. Whatever I decide I am a mammal first and when I look after my mammalian body first, then the next choices come from a different place. My body doesn’t get stuck in the tightening and shortening, I can release and free my tension patterns and then make fresh choices.
So when I was offered a washing machine too, in a short space of time, I was whole-heartedly able to say Yes, thank you.
Lucy Ascham is an Alexander Technique teacher in Sheffield and Manchester and enjoys practicing freedom, one moment at a time.