I was recently scrolling through my Facebook and I stopped on an event that caught my eye—a New Moon, Women’s Celebration.
The intro read: “Women need a community and a tribe to be a part of, we have lost our connection to the Feminine, to our cycles.”
Yes! I thought—I couldn’t agree more. Eagerly, I clicked and scrolled to see the details. When I got to the cost, I deflated. It was too expensive—this has happened many times these last few years.
As a Spiritual Counselor, I completely understand the amount of energy that it takes to provide these kinds of services, how much time is involved—it is my bread, and butter after all. I am also an avid participant of these kinds of events, although more and more lately, finding an authentic event in which I can actually afford to go to is becoming impossible.
Taking courses or workshops, and connecting to a community has become exclusive to the rich.
High fashion catwalks these days are modeling astrological symbols, bohemian chic and plastic crystals. Of course, it is difficult to resist the pull of wanting to fit in, to look the part. At our core, we all want to belong somewhere and the terrifying thing is, spirituality has begun to take advantage of that vulnerability—our need to belong. When the spiritual door is closed in our face because of money, we can experience feelings of shame, anger, outrage and hurt.
Money, especially in Astrology—my field of study, is specifically linked to self-worth.
So actually the game of exclusivity, has become a game of how worthy we are. Is it money that buys us a place in heaven? This seems contradictory to every spiritual teaching.
It seems to me that every spiritual retreat, workshop or gathering, carries some kind of heavy financial price tag. Something that is unreachable—unattainable—to many of us who simply want to connect with people who we feel are our tribe.
But, are they? Can they possibly be?
Can people who shop exclusively at yoga stores, who wear only the trendiest of Spiritual Apparel (which, let’s remind ourselves of the environmental cost to the Earth), who regularly travel to Bali to experience multiple orgasms at the hands (ahem) of Tantrikas and practice yoga in frangipani scented groves—can these people really be our tribe?
Of course not. But does that take away the longing to be a part of it? The longing to experience the comfort of a warm cup of chai after a 2-hour Yin Class taught by a master. I long for this experience. Don’t we all? After all, money equals value, so we see that which we pay more for, to have more value, including our spirituality.
Which brings me to an important point. As someone who has a spiritual consultancy, I know the costs involved; I know that people pay for my years of experience, my hard work, my time and my energy. I know my worth. But the crucial difference is that I know my worth. Not too much, and not too little. There is a fine balancing point. I try not to let my ego drive me in the attainment of material security and most of the time, I fail. The last thing I usually think about when I do my work, is what I am earning. My usual process of thinking is: “I hope I can help this person in some way.”
Surely, that is what should drive us all?
I have come up against many trying experiences in which a door has closed in my face because of the lack of funds. They have all been disheartening and shameful in some way. From wanting to become a Yoga Teacher, to wanting to do Transcendental Meditation (TM), the door has been shut in my face repeatedly because of the high costs. I can only imagine the multitudes of others whose mounting bills and high cost of living cannot afford them the peace of mind and opportunities these things can give.
Of course we have to charge—there is no question about that—but the challenge is when do we stop allowing greed to get in the way of guiding others toward the light?
There are a few, wonderful, practices around that do afford us the ability to work on ourselves and help us connect to a community. We need more of these. We need to pull together as a team and contribute whatever we are able to—some of us more than others. We give what we have. We remove the stamp of exclusivity on what should be essentially available to all, not just to the select few.
If Jesus were around in 2016, could he afford to be Spiritual? Could he attend a yoga class, afford to pay for a month of unlimited yoga? Could Buddha go on a breath-work retreat? Could Krishna attend a Tantra Course? Could Mother Teresa attend a women’s moon gathering?
My plea goes out to the organizers in charge of putting on spiritual events or courses—consider your market.
Who are you reaching out to? Are you accessible? Do you provide for those who may not be able to afford your services or come to your events? Is there a way that they can, and do you make this information known? I’m not asking you to open your doors and be free. It can range from allowing one or two people to apply to attend, to an outright scholarship or sponsorship.
It can be something like repeat for free or donation. Or you can offer a volunteer position. The point is, spirituality has become a pursuit for the wealthy, and has created a deep rift when it should unite us. We are truly one—we need to practice what we preach.
How can we can teach that we are all connected, when we place shameful monetary boundaries between human beings?
“Individually, we are a drop, together, we are an ocean” ~ R. Satoro
Free or nearly free spirituality events/courses:
1.~Vipassana—the 10 day silent. Buddhist Retreat, held in almost every country around the world. Donation based.
2.~Art of Living—three to five day meditation and yoga, using the Powerful Kriya Technique, held in almost every country around the world. Initial cost of around $40, free to repeat thereafter.
3.~A Free Yoga Channel with quality videos.
4.~Government supported therapy—find out if your country supports government funded therapy, get a referral letter from your GP and call ahead. Affordable, quality therapy.
Author: Margarita Stoffberg
Image: flickr/Diamond Mountain
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock