5 Things I Wish Holistic Business Owners Did Better

Nearly every holistic practitioner I know either lives at the poverty line or requires a second earner (spouse, roommate, family member, etc.) to live independently. Quite often, they teach about manifesting abundance. Or they renounce capitalism while also complaining about the poor attendance at their workshop, class, or community event. 

Here is what I wish you knew:

1. You are a business.

If you are offering something in exchange for energy (money, food, lodging, etc) and you are dependent on this exchange to live, then you are running a business. It doesn’t matter if you are a yoga instructor, teach a healing modality, or access the Akashic records – you are running a business. 

2. You should learn how to run a business.

Even if you are the only person in your business, you should learn a few fundamentals. You need to understand social marketing, market segmentation, who attends your business, how to build and manage a budget, how to grow a business, financial record keeping and allowable expenses and tax deductions.

3. Posting events all over Facebook is not enough 

Social marketing is powerful. Knowing how to use Facebook advertising can get you exposed to people who may not know you. But passive event posting will not get you the numbers you want. It might be ok for low cost or free introductory sessions but you will not sell out a $1000 per person retreat or an 8 week workshop series this way. A deeper commitment from your market requires a long term business model. Most holistic practitioners think in one-off interactions instead of how to build a stable revenue model. 

4. Learning about business IS manifesting abundance

The law of attraction says you need to be energetically in alignment with your intent. If your vision is about a stable personal income, you need to know enough to be energetically aligned with a stable source or sources of income.

5. Your market probably wants you to be in a business partnership

The most successful holistic businesses today are established practices with unique add ons. You are probably the add on. The profitable businesses are covered by insurance: naturopath, yoga (sometimes), massage therapy, chiropractor, etc. These businesses can access a stable market and often co-locate with other practitioners to have offices, community presence, and workshop space. They then rent to you as an add on, so they make more money. 

Or someone runs a festival and invites you to run a session, promising you exposure and maybe a small fee. They are charging for registration, sponsors and sellers. They will walk away with 5 digit earnings and you probably made $200 or less. 

If you partnered, what could you do? 

I am so frustrated by these things I am thinking of running small workshops and coaching for people who see this in their own pattern. If you are interested, let me know. (So I can understand my market!)

The Demon of Fear of Missing Out

FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out. It is so common we have an abbreviation for it in our culture.  Like BOGO, or YOLO.

In my Tantrik studies, I was introduced to the idea of demons.  These are not the demons we see on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or in the Shadowhunters series.  These are collections of egoic energy patterns that seem to appear in each of us on our Awakening journey.  The book that provides the most insight on this is Opening the Heart of Compassion.  One of the demons is akin to FOMO.

What does it look like? I can only tell you how it manifests in me:

  • I agree to doing things that I don’t want to do. I agree to meetings or dinners, workshops or parties, and when the time comes, I do not have the energy or drive to follow through.  Or if I do attend, it will cost me on the level of well-being. Then becoming angry as the person I have to reschedule is irritated by my sudden change of plans.
  • I engage in stressful thoughts about things that I don’t want or feel drawn to, but worry that one day I will want it and will have missed out.  For me, that is looking for a romantic partner. I don’t want one, I don’t need one.  But I fight the feeling that some day I will realize this was a huge mistake – instead of surrendering to the sure knowing that I am listening to my own truth.
  • I worry about how I spend my money.  I set financial goals, like ordering carpeting for my basement, and then when I have the money for it, I hesitate to spend it in case something more interesting shows up.  Maybe I should keep that money for a trip.  Maybe I should keep it for emergencies.  Maybe I should buy something totally different than what I have researched, visioned and achieved the money to do.

“FOMO is the representation of what I call the “deprivation
mind” in my book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness.” Are we really missing out? And what is it exactly that we are missing out on? This is a problem that besets us when we look outside of ourselves for fulfillment. The desire that underlies FOMO is endless, a bottomless pit that can have us chasing our tails in pointless pursuit. FOMO keeps us on the wheel like a hamster never reaching that place of satisfaction (at least the hamster is getting exercise). Like everything that arises in our minds, FOMO can be examined as a mental object. We can see it as a production of our brain and not a reflection of ultimate truth. We can challenge it too. What would be so terrible if we did miss out on something? Why is it so important to have EVERYTHING? There is an episode of South Park that features Cartman pacing in front of a game store awaiting the release of the new Wii. Unfortunately for him (and everyone around him) the Wii won’t be released for another three weeks. Cartman grunts, “Come on … Come on … How much longer …” He bemoans his fate, “Time is slowing down, It’s like waiting for Christmas, times a 1000″ Certainly we don’t want to resemble Cartman in any way, shape, or form. So we can look at FOMO as it arises throughout our day and try to touch it with mindful attention. We can breathe into this fear and see what happens.” – Dr Arnie Kozak

I recognize my FOMO as another version of scarcity thinking.  It strikes me right between the eyes, as my abundance has begun to flow and my new issue is determining how much happiness I can get out of spending my money.  It points me directly at how I am looking outside of myself for my happiness and my truth. In the past, my relationships with men have been versions of FOMO.  My work has had FOMO regarding promotions and opportunities.  My desire to travel is FOMO.

Yet, my moments of happiness come from very different spaces: paying for the coffee of the guy behind me at Tim Horton’s, surprising my child with a new decoration for her redesigned big girl bedroom, seeing someone’s world view open up in a conversation with me. Feeling love, acting from love, being love.

FOMO is also about believing the mind.  It is the mind that tells the story about what will happen if you miss out, or what you will be missing out on.  It is the mind that has some level to which your life is supposed to have relationships, money, activity, accomplishments, and anything else that you can define as lack.

And of course, as soon as I label FOMO as scarcity thinking, and ask “Is this true?”, the process of releasing the demon’s hold begins. “Is it really true?” As with any thought I believe, it is illusory and points me away from Truth.

Enough

Mercury is in retrograde. 

The retrograde was January 5 to January 25. As much as I argue that I see astrology, numerology and other forms of forecasting as crutches to the ego, I can’t deny seeing patterns in them that apply.

“Astrologically, each planet in the sky exerts a unique influence on us, and the world we live in. The planet Mercury rules our intelligence, mind, memory and all types of communication ranging from talking and texting to writing. It also affects our self-expression and communication style. In a more public sense, it rules commerce, computers, telephones, transportation and air travel.” Elephant Journal

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I knew we were in retrograde. I have been through several before and I grudgingly recognize they effect my life.  During this retrograde,  I have watched many things in my life set back.  My finances are messy. I had problems with my mortgage. I watched relationships fall apart around me. Business issues that should have been easy to implement did not move.

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“You may be asking: “What is the purpose of Mercury retrograde?” Well, sometimes, in order to move forward you need to move backward. This gives you the opportunity to rethink your actions and even “fix what might be broken.” By doing this, when you do move forward, you will produce even better results.” Elephant Journal

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What did I learn? My spiritual partner and I were talking about abundance and prosperity. “I read that the opposite of scarcity consciousness is not abundance,  but Enough.” Enough.

I have abundance, and I was reminded about just how much on my birthday. Friend after friend contacted me with birthday wishes. By 10:00 am I had to recharge my phone from all the interactions I had with people. I went to a sensory deprivation tank for a float. I had a loving and laughter filled birthday dinner. My baby and I had a mother-daughter day. I received fabulous gifts.  And for all of this, I had enough.

For all that is, I am enough.

No word has had as much power on me as the word Enough. Not the word love. Not the word hope.

I am Enough. I have Enough.

And so it is.

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When Abundance Masquerades As Fear

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I proudly call myself “the AND person”: if I am presented with cake OR ice cream, I choose cake AND ice cream. If I can’t decide between two scarves, I buy them both. If you can’t decide between two things, I buy them both for you as a gift. And I celebrate deeply the abundance in that.

But recently I have uncovered an ego pattern in that behaviour. It is true I am generous. It is true I am abundant. And what is also true is that I hate being restricted.

I do not like being told what to do. I don’t like turning something down – when might the opportunity arise again? I really don’t like not having what I want. Now.

It sounds like a petulant child when it is expressed like that. And I have acted like a petulant child before when someone (usually a partner or an authority figure) tells me not to do something.

I was so clear that being AND was freedom; yet it is how I protect myself from feeling trapped. In tantra, this is a form of possession. It is holding on to a belief that is so false that I cannot see the truth of my being.

I am going to miss “AND”. It will still be part of celebration and generosity. Now that I have seen it trick me into feeling free of restriction, it will never be the same again.

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If You Are Happy and You Know It

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“You are happier than I have ever seen you.” I have heard that from family and friends over and over.

I can’t disagree. This year, I am manifesting within minutes of my desires. When I feel fears about abundance, something I desire shows up free or incredibly inexpensively. I went to see Chriss Angel for $30. That got me the worst seats in the house but I was happy to be there. Five minutes before the show started, I was moved to the $200 seats. Other times, it’s been free coffee.

My underlying True Self is driving now. I find my ego rejecting healthy goals and my aware self is overriding it. The other night, I wanted to go home and order pizza. What I actually did was go grocery shopping AND cook a terrific meal. I still can’t explain it – I was really tired and a bit headachey. The next day, I woke up, meditated and did yoga.

I have also never been healthier. Throughout my relationships, I had a chronic cough that was so bad I would double over in pain. As the men left my life, so did the cough. I am not suggesting they were the cause – my consciousness in the relationships was the cause.

My “posse” would tell you it’s the changes in my circumstances. They would point to my really fulfilling job. Or to the ending of my dysfunctional romantic relationships. Or to raw cooking. And on and on…

But I think it is more like this:

“The process is therefore one of recognition. We recognize that there is peace now, even if your mind is confused. You may see that even when you touch upon peace now, the mind is so conditioned to move away from it that it will try to argue with the basic fact of peace’s existence within you: “I can’t be at peace yet because I have to do this, or that, or this question hasn’t been answered, or that question hasn’t been answered, or so–and–so hasn’t apologized to me.” There are all sorts of ways that the egoic mind can insist that something needs to happen, something needs to change, in order for you to be at peace. But this is part of the dream of the mind. We’re all taught that something needs to change for us to experience true peace and freedom.” -Adyashanti

Bottom line: I know who I am as an aware consciousness. I can let go of the grip of ego. I recognize when ego wants something instead of being in the beauty of what is. I am happy and I know it!

Fasting and Freedom In Wanting

I am on my first regular fast in a long time.  I have fasted from time to time, but not in a way that was attached to intentions. It was usually something my body wanted, or more often – something I thought I should do.  So many “shoulds” in my mind…It is probably not surprising to hear then that I failed at most of them and hated all of them.

It isn’t that I was starving and HAD to eat.  It is very much a psychological thing.  This time, not only am I fasting from food, I am fasting from shopping.  If you are snickering, let me tell you that they both play the same role in my psychology: fulfilling my wanting immediately.

In my practice this year, I see them as dependencies.  How can food be a dependency since we need it? I am dependent not on the need to eat but the ways in which I fulfill that need.  The same is true for shopping. When I am hungry, I do not make conscious choices.  Instead, I seem to be filling a childhood need to have what I want.  Having what I wanted was not a common part of my growing up. Now, I go out of my way fill my every whim – and that of others around me.  I have a generous personality – true – and I am known as the woman who believes in AND instead of OR.  Why choose between this or this? Let’s have this and this!

And so this fast is not about devotion or cleansing.  It is about freedom. I am not free of filling my wanting.  I am not comfortable wanting. We were given two fasting principles to return to on each fasting day:

  • it’s okay to want something and not have it. (Be with the experience of wanting.)
  • Getting what you think you want is not the path to fulfillment.

I know both of these to be true, and I don’t like how uncomfortable I am in the experience of wanting.  I judge it. I resist it. I have a suspicion this is a key in opening myself to intimacy – I don’t like wanting and if I am open to others, I may feel want. If I am comfortable in my independence – as I am – the idea of wanting is painful.

Let’s see how this goes!

A Woman of Independent Means

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When I was 13, I earned my first real paycheck as a babysitter. I had never had my own money. To get anything for myself, I had to go through an uncomfortable process of negotiating and dealing with guilt.

As I grew up, I used my money to pay for treats for my younger siblings. One of my best memories was giving them money to Christmas shop with. Or the time I took them all out for dinner and a movie. I have always taken joy in treating and pampering people I love.

Most of my life, I’ve been the dominant income in my relationships. It is only in the last year that I’ve needed to be supported financially as I’ve healed and built my business. Its been emotionally challenging for me. I spent most of my life wishing someone would take care of me and now I have struggled with being dependent on my joint business (as opposed to my specific business).

I realized I still have great abundance and freedom. But I’m not a woman of independent means. I wish for financial independence.

If I reflect, I always earned money to take care of people – siblings, partners, my family. I didn’t earn it for me. I have not embodied independence.

I have blamed my child’s father for feeling trapped. I feel as if I sacrificed moving forward in trade for safety and security, to hold the family together for my daughter. I have been angry that no matter what I’ve done right, it’s not enough to grow financially as I wish. As soon as I understood that my block was independence, I released my anger with Bhikku. I feel trapped by running a business with him and still sharing a home. But it isn’t him or our arrangements: its the fact I equate independent with alone. Lonely. Vulnerable to attack.

I was given a ride home from the car dealership while my car was in the shop. The man started out pleasant but when all the other passengers were dropped off, his conversation and tone became overtly sexual. Not just flirty – I’m good at flirty – but inappropriate. Now, I can handle myself with aggressive men. I’ve had more than one boss come on to me, and I’ve deflected it without sexual harassment issues. I’ve just pushed back. But in this case, I felt panic. I started to refer to “my husband” in the conversation, and the driver backed off. I felt shame at the lie, and for using the lie about a husband as a shield.

I am one of the last people you would ever think of needing a man to protect her. But some part of me felt I was not enough on my own. The issue of Not Enough, manifesting as a block to independence. Its the same reason I tried to make the Magus into a spouse instead of enjoying all the beauty of who he was.

So, as I owned this in my workshop this weekend, and said it out loud, everything has changed. Sales calls, visioning, workshops…all moving in the right direction. I’m not asking for business in order to rescue me; I’m offering something incredible and I am passionate about how we can unlimit potential.

When I wasn’t looking, I became a woman of independent means.