Meditation, or rather the state of presentness you achieve through meditation can make you rich. I know, you’ve probably heard something similar before and you’re rolling your eyes by now, but hear me out- I am not setting myself up for some “to be truly rich is to be spiritually rich” type conclusion, I mean that it will make you money rich.
When speaking on the topic of becoming rich, we must first explore what money actually is. Money as we know it has three functions- store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account. The paper cash in your wallet is merely simply with a number and some historical person’s face drawn on it if it does not serve these functions. For our purposes we will focus on one of these functions; medium of exchange. This simply means that the money that you have can be exchanged for various goods and services such as a haircut, car, dinner, watermelon etc. Another way to see it is that the money that you pay is exchanged for the value that you receive. ‘Value’ can differ depending on what kind of service or good you are purchasing. It could come in the form of convenience provided by a taxi driver or in the form of gastronomic pleasure and good ambience from purchasing a fine dinner. So when we say we want to be rich and have lots of money, it is not the money that we want but the potential value that we will receive in exchange for that money. In this sense it is not difficult to see that money = value and that if this equation is broken there is no point to having money at all.
The strange thing about the money = value equation is that it is subjective. Even for the exact same item some people are willing to dish out more cash for it because they subjectively perceive the value of that item to be higher. A common example would be a billionaire dying of thirst in the desert who would pay 100 million for a gallon of water vs. someone by a freshwater lake who isn’t willing pay $1 for the same gallon because he has abundant access to fresh water. This also means that if two people buy the same meal, one starving from an intense Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class (usually me) and the other barely hungry, the one that just did BJJ will subjectively gain more value from that meal than the other even though they’ve both paid the same amount.
If we accept the two suppositions that money = value and that value is subjective to the individual who is receiving it, we come to a loophole which we can use to ‘hack’ the equation. This is where meditation comes in. The various meditation practices around the world all share the emphasis on being present to each moment without being regretful of the past or worried about the future. It forces the monkey mind to calm down and observe the world as it actually is instead of looking at it through tainted interpretations and biases. When you are purely in the moment and open minded to everything, the subjective value of the good or service purchased goes up. Have you ever had the experience of watching something on your phone while you are eating and realising that you were so distracted by your smartphone that you didn’t taste the food at all? Or going on a date to a beautiful place with your significant other, getting into a small argument and then not registering the scenery at all because you’re angry? Remember that when you pay for the delicious meal or the plane tickets to a scenic destination you are paying for the value and pleasure that you will derive from those experiences. If you are not present enough to enjoy what you’ve paid for, aren’t you technically throwing money down the drain? On the flipside, if you are able to become present through meditation and fully enjoy the deliciousness of the meal or the experience of travelling, aren’t you technically richer? If you are present a $5 meal can taste like a $500 dollar meal, and if you are distracted and worried, a $500 dollar meal can taste like a $5 meal.
Tim Ferriss in his book 4-Hour Workweek speaks about the concept of relative wealth. In short, he says a strung-out managing director who makes 2 million dollars a year in expensive New York but no time to enjoy is less wealthy than a restaurant owner in Thailand who makes 500 thousand dollars but has all the time in the world to enjoy a great lifestyle with no stress. I would agree. The absolute amount of money that you have is not as meaningful as the value that you can get from having that money. Being rich in value and enjoyment IS being rich in money. So cut out distractions, ground yourself in the moment by meditating and feel the richness life has to offer. Who knows, it might be on sale today.