In Yoga And In Money: Attach And Detach

Turns out, the skills you learn in that hot yoga studio can lend themselves nicely to your bank account.
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Original Artwork by Rosie Bowker

Original Artwork by Rosie Bowker

Several years ago I committed myself to the practice of hot yoga. Those 26 poses invite me into the limits of my strength and the possibility of growth.

More than all else, the practice is a continual reminder of attachment and detachment.

The longest pose is 60 seconds. A paradox: long enough to present a challenge, yet short enough to be achievable. My internal mind nervously chatters, “I am so tired. Can my shaky legs really hold this pose one second longer?” And then – just like that – the pose is over. Ideally, I detach from the shakiness and move toward the next pose. What often happens, however, is that my mind chatter crashes up against my self-imposed limits and then influences the next pose. I forget that shakiness is a sign of growing strength.

When I intentionally use drastic detachment language, I can attach my energy to forward motion and protect against judging what’s already in the past.

  • “Well, that was hard, but it’s over.”
  • “I am growing stronger. Let’s try the next pose.”
  • “I will not judge my practice.”
  • “Showing up is enough.”

Detachment language protects me from sabotaging the entire practice. I don’t want to stop coming, to stop showing up, to stop, period. I speak against the barrage of self defeating thoughts to attach – and protect – my continual engagement with my future yoga practice.

The attachment and detachment skills of my yoga practice provide a helpful framework for a money practice.

I often hear financial stories with common themes of being “behind.” These remind me of getting energetically caught in a past yoga pose – expressing judgment. Stories of not beginning a savings plan “earlier” or a funding a retirement plan “sooner” are filled with pain, grief and remorse. And in such, it is healthy to observe and acknowledge areas of loss and disappointment. This is how we detach from past patterns, life episodes or regrets that further and fuel the “behind” perspective. When someone says they are “behind,” I know they are comparing themselves to a financial statistic, a neighbor, a relative or a colleague.

So how do we detach from the past to move forward and attach to the future?

The following attachment and detachment skills and exercises help shift the perspective of being “behind” while fostering continual engagement and a far healthier future.

1. Try these 60-Second challenges.

Build habits or practices into your money life through short, consistent engagement (attachment) with a known ending (detachment):

1) If you are working on spending, before you purchase, wait 60 seconds. What happens in your mind during the timed 60-second interval?

2) If you are working on debt pay down, set aside several 60-second intervals to think about your ideal vision for your credit card balance 60 days from now. Write down the balance(s). Write down the plan to get there.

3) If you are working on savings, spend 60 seconds transferring $60 into your savings account. Repeat the transfers three times across the course of a selected period of time (i.e., one, two, three months?) and then re-evaluate.

If life is a hot yoga classroom, then 60-second challenges provide short, yet achievable moments of learning. Small, yet repeated acts of attachment and detachment build a foundation for continued success.

2. Use the 24-hour rule. 

People who feel behind often create scenarios that keep them behind. For example, “I only have $300 in my bank account until pay day this week, but I really want to go shopping now because there are a few things I need.” This person is about to step into a system that hires paid marketers to capitalize on impulsive shoppers. They are a fish in a pond full of hooks. The attachment is to desire: “I want to go to the store and pick up some items.”

The next step is the hardest: detach from the desire for 24 hours. This creates space between the desire and its fulfillment (shopping). This is detachment. Detachment allows for pattern-breaking opportunities to occur so that the perspective of being behind can evolve into another experience. The ability to attach to the desire while being able to detach for a temporary length of time is a big step toward cultivating financial strength.

3. Attach to a sustainable savings plan. Automate it.

It is exciting for people to accomplish savings goals to fund future dreams. What often happens, however, is that the initial savings goals are too big, too lofty and often unprecedented. Then the perspective of being behind rears its head – again – when cash flow is too tight to cover monthly expenses because of savings transfers.

It is not helpful to attach to something that is too large for one’s core strength. A good yoga practice recognizes it takes years to build a foundation that will support a hand stand.

In money practice, building core strength translates into picking a doable, yet challenging savings goal. Is $25 a week doable? What about $50/week? The skills of attachment and detachment are best utilized in an environment mirroring the 60-second yoga posture: long enough to provide a challenge, yet short enough to be achievable. Additionally, automating transfers (via an app or tool like Digit) provides the environment for success. Attach to your goals. Set up an automated system for implementation. And, detach from actual execution as you utilize an app to fund the self-reported goal. Brilliant.

4. Remember: your shakiness is building strength – in yoga and in finances.

I invite you to detach from your belief that you are behind. Pick a 60-second challenge or utilize the 24-hour rule to remind yourself you are an agent, with the ability and core strength to guide your financial future. And commit to a sustainable savings plan to release boomerang juggling strategies that foster unhelpful, cyclical patterns.

Before you know it, the 60-second challenges are done. The yoga studio door is opening, allowing fresh air to cycle through the space. You are on your back, in savasana – a pose aimed at being awake, yet fully conscious and relaxed. You assimilate the lessons of your practice. Breath in. Breathe out. Attach and detach. In your yoga practice and in your money practice.

Namaste from a Money Consultant Yogi.

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