Happy New Year, 2024

Wishing you wellness and happiness for this coming year!

I have been quiet. My last newsletter was in November, because I’ve been away on a 6-week journey in Brazil, deepening my practice in generosity.  

I want to share what generosity in action looks like for me as an example of a positive and healthy relationship with money. How does a human act when she/he/they has included and transcended the not-enoughness dis-ease? This deeper understanding took place in the great lungs of the earth – the Amazon. 

I assisted my meditation teacher, Catherine Pawasarat, on her journey to Vila Céu do Mapiá, an intentional and traditional community in the Purus National Forest, southwest Amazonas, Brazil. She spent a year there as a young woman, and was returning after 27 years to reconnect with them. 

Vila Céu do Mapiá was founded in 1983. It’s the result of the community work developed since 1974 in Rio Branco, in the state of Acre, by a group of rubber tappers, rural workers and indigenous descendants motivated and united by the spiritual tradition of Santo Daime (Ayahuasca).

The community was born with the objective of experiencing human and spiritual development in a new and fair system of community life, in harmony with and nourished by the forest. It’s an experimental, alternative solution for the current global environmental, social, economic and cultural crisis. 

Catherine Sensei and Qapel, my teachers, started their own conscious community similar to Mapiá, called Clear Sky Meditation Center, 20 years ago. It is also a thriving, conscious community that values people above profit. Living and working with people who value spiritual growth and awakening is easier…but, it’s not easy getting to a workable and evolving place with this kind of community. We needed seriously effective tools to help integrate our spiritual ideals with the real, human world, including people and their egos/personalities. Everyday life requires grit!

And one of those effective tools was looking at our money shadow, through the money archetypes. Generosity is a doorway to a kind, joyful, caring heart in many spiritual traditions, and for many of us in the West, the first step to becoming a loving and generous being is looking at our scarcity mentality around money. 

Because it’s the New Year, I wanted to write about my experience of travelling with my teacher, who has done an incredible amount of inner work and is a beautiful example of generosity in action. How does this human act now that she has included and transcended the not-enoughness dis-ease? 

You just don’t become generous. It takes work to know what to give when, how much, to what degree and to whom. It is very strategic and requires excellent skills in discrimination. For example, my teacher insisted we research how to stay well in the Amazon. She mentioned that many people get sick within a week of arriving there. It was an act of generosity to make sure we stayed well to serve the community in Mapiá and not become a burden on their resources.  We had taken all our shots and brought the necessary medication and supplements to stay well. The platypus and steripen water filters were life savers. None of us got sick. We were well enough to take care of and share our medical resources with other visitors who had fallen ill. The community was very grateful for our generosity in this way. 

Travelling as a visitor to places, we can have an attitude of “what can I get” instead of “what can I give.” Growing up in a consumer culture trains us to get the best deal for our money. This can create a feeling of emotional and psychological hunger in our beings. There is something out there that is going to satiate the inner starvation. And I say this with love and compassion. We’ve all been subjected to it throughout our lives in this modern age. 

My teacher’s intention was to reconnect and give back to this community that embraced her as a young woman in her 20s. All that time ago. I watched her uplift and upgrade everyone’s mindset as we walked through the different spaces in the village. 

Sensei had gone ahead of us to Vila Céu do Mapiá. We got a text from her asking us to buy ingredients for organic cleaners—vinegar, lemon oil, baking soda, etc. We make organic cleaners at Clear Sky, which we’ve used for the last 20 years and work fine. Our little motor boat carried the ingredients for 9 hours to the Vila. Sensei asked us to teach others how to make them. I was surprised by people’s responses. It felt like I was giving them precious gemstones. Word spread fast. It was the right thing, at the right time, to the right people. I followed up with a cleaning product manual for them to use. They have a Centro Medicina de Floresta there, where they preserve the traditional medicinal practices of the forest people – to avoid, treat and cure disease. I’m curious if they’ll use some of the tinctures they create in their cleaning products from now on.

There are many other examples, but my favorite is the dance floor conversation. Part of their spiritual ritual is to dance and sing to the divine. One of the older residents, Maria, complained of back pain from dancing in the ceremony all night. The temple is gorgeous, but they have not finished the floor. The floor is concrete. It is not great for people’s backs, particularly for the older folk in the village.  When Sensei heard this, she contacted Maya, a choreographer and dancer in our community who lives in France, to research supportive dance floor materials. Maya came back with options. Sensei asked Duncan, one of our community members, to talk to Oswaldo, the executive director of the village, about our findings. Did you know you can make a Sprung Floor with Tires or a floor using pool noodles? Fascinating. Oswaldo was thrilled to have this conversation about building a floor that supports the community’s bodies in their spiritual rituals.

I picked two beautiful examples where my teacher moved through the space, noticing the gap and meeting the need. There were many more. In order to see the gap and meet the need, you need to have cleared the tightness, the holdings in your heart. Any holding of any kind, means we haven’t cleared the shadow in our survival strategies. In this holding we have a hard time being spontaneous in our giving, which true generosity requires…to respond automatically in a situation of need. A great way to loosen and clear the holding, is through working on your relationship with money. 

Please reach out to me at [email protected], if you ever want to say hello. And you are more than welcome to join my 

FREE WEBINAR: Integrating the Money Shadow in your Spiritual Life, Jan 27th from 11.30 am – 12.30 am EST 2024

Money & Spirituality: Integrating Spiritual and Material (In-Person & Online), Feb 10 – March 2, 2024 from Noon – 2 pm EST

May this blog benefit all beings.