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Mindfulness and Money: Monkeying Around

Kasia is a talented landscape designer who speaks several languages, and when she jokes about being a "Polish princess" it's because she actually has the pedigree to support that claim.

That's not why she's amazing. What's remarkable about Kasia is her ability to play with words in a creative way.

You don't have to speak five languages in order to play with words, but I'm guessing that playing with words is pretty helpful when you're trying to learn five languages! So, let's take a page from Kasia's multilingual notebook and see how she plays with one particular word in English.

The word? Money.

Now, Kasia could rattle off the appropriate word for "money" in more than five languages if asked, but what she focuses on is tweaking that word so that it loses whatever negativity, scariness, or other baggage it might have for her.

So, whenever she hears or says the word "money" she substitutes it in her own head with the word "monkeys"--and watches how that completely shifts the tone.

Think about it. What if whenever you said, "I don't have enough money for that" you instead said, "I don't have enough monkeys for that"?

Or how about this: "counting money" or "saving money" becomes "counting monkeys" or "saving monkeys" instead.

Suddenly, those retirement plans and college savings programs don't seem so scary. In fact, they start to sound kind of fun and interesting.

Now, I'm not saying you can give up on the concept of money altogether and just joke around about the idea of financial security.

No, no, no. I'm saying that you can use this quirky little mindfulness technique to help you lighten up about an area that may cause a great deal of stress or frustration for you.

Money can be a pretty malleable concept, and depending on how we were raised (and a whole bunch of other factors), we develop our own sense of its value, importance, purpose, and possibilities.

Substituting the word "monkey" for "money" allows us to become more aware of the number of times per day we hear, see, or say that word, and it helps us zero in on the physical and psychological responses we may have as it triggers our own particular reaction.

Listen as you and others say the following phrases:

"If only I had enough monkeys for that!"

"I'm saving my monkeys to buy _____."

"I need to make more monkeys."

"When I have enough monkeys, I'll live the life of my dreams."

"It seems like I'm constantly running out of monkeys."

"My husband and I are always fighting about monkeys."

and my personal favorite:

"Monkeys don't grow on trees, you know."

I once spent a winter studying primates at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. I stood outside in the snow for hours making little notes about the Japanese snow monkeys I was observing. I became quite attached to them by simply watching them interact with each other.

They had their grouchy days, just like humans, but overall, they were lighthearted and playful even in their old age. And their demeanor could shift dramatically when one of them would initiate play--suddenly, there was much chasing and chattering before they all settled down again for a group grooming session.

In other words, things were unpredictable, but even during chaotic moments, they seemed to recognize that soon enough, they'd be hunkered down together quite calmly.

Money can be like that. You try hard to control it, but whether you invest in the stock market, real estate, college tuition, or orthodontia, there are times when you wonder why you bother at all. Just when you think things are going smoothly, something comes along and zaps a huge chunk out of your bank account.

Start viewing money management as monkey management, and you'll begin to feel lighter about the whole process of saving and spending. There are benefits to controlling your finances, no doubt about it. But there are also advantages to seeing money as an unpredictable and even amusing character that sparks greater mindfulness and helps us see what matters most.

Try a little monkey mindfulness whenever you write checks or make a deposit. Picture them having a swingin' good time in your bank account, and grin a little even as they leave the compound.

There will be others climbing in soon enough.

Maya Talisman Frost has taught thousands of people how to pay attention, and her eyes-wide-open approach to mindfulness has been featured in over 100 print and web publications around the world. Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she offers ebooks, ecourses, playshops and private sessions to help people learn how to play with mindfulness. To read her free special report, "The Dirty Little Secret About Meditation" visit her website at http://www.Real-WorldMindfulness.com

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