For many years I lived in the Native practice of receiving only donations for my spiritual/healing work. In this traditional view, as I learned it, a person gives of her gifts without any of the reservations that might arise if you were concerned about a receiver’s ability to pay. Therefore, no fee is charged.

In return, the individual receiving the gifts assumes the responsibility of adequately honoring the healer for what has been received. In traditional circles, gifting for healing is substantial. However, I wasn’t working in traditional circles and many times, I was handed $20 after sharing my healing gifts for an hour to an hour and a half with someone, only to hear later that the same receiver spent hundreds of dollars with someone else just days later.

I’m not complaining. I attracted the lessons I needed to learn. I actually personally prefer the Native traditional way because I believe it puts responsibility where it belongs. However, I wasn’t able to financially support the full breadth of my spiritual calling, so I had some choices to make. I chose to be in better alignment with the people I served and began charging for my services, while never turning away anyone who was truly in need. That decision allowed me to find greater peace and harmony within myself so that I could be of better service to others.

Yet, during those years, I couldn’t help but witness that I wasn’t alone. Many of us have a difficult time living in a spiritually balanced way when it comes to money.

My life has provided me with some poignant examples about how my beliefs and judgments around money were limiting my opportunities for greater spiritual growth. In what now seems like another lifetime, my former husband and I spent several summers working for a summer theatre. I was acting and he was a designer. We loved our work, and if it hadn’t been for my primary income as a school teacher, we would have been living on food stamps. Summer theatre employees may have fun jobs they love, but they don’t make much money.

One season, a friend of ours in the area, a multi-millionaire and business owner, invited us to dinner and took us to a lovely restaurant. After polite social conversation, my husband and I talked about how much we loved our work and then ungraciously started complaining about our pay. Our friend was wise enough to listen respectfully and then finally said, “We all have challenges with the lives we choose. You get the joy and freedom of doing work you love, though the pay is not good. I make a lot of money, but my life comes with its challenges too. Every direction we choose has its challenges, and we get to work through them.”

It was difficult for me to imagine then that a multi-millionaire’s challenges could be as significant as my own—after all he made a good living and could afford to pay for the help he needed. Now I realize, he was probably longing for some of the freedom of expression we enjoyed. Some years later, as a communications consultant for businesses, I came to understand the constraints and challenges you can experience when you have money, as well as the significant challenges of owning and running a company. Indeed, our millionaire friend had his own unique challenges.

He was right. Every path has its challenges. Lack of money, making money, having money—aren’t they all external reflections of our own inner desires and struggles? And aren’t the reflections of our desires and struggles a major part of what we call our spiritual path?

Our relationship to money can be a powerful place in which to explore our core beliefs because we tend to spend money (however much or little we have) on what we currently value most. With our money, we can see the limits or limitlessness of our capacity to trust, to share and to receive. In our relationship to money, we discover our attachments, our fears, judgments and our doubts, as well as our greatest hopes and desires.

We create money from what we believe we have available to work with or offer, and what we perceive its value to be. Aren’t these perceptions at the root of our views about ourselves as spiritual beings? If I want to deepen or expand my views of myself on my spiritual path, doesn’t it make sense to embrace my relationship to money as a reflection of that inner journey?

Making more money may or may not be a significant part of any individual’s spiritual journey. That completely depends upon your purpose for being here. If it is, you can learn a great deal about your spiritual nature by stepping back and witnessing yourself as you create money. If making more money is not significant to your purpose, observing and understanding how you currently relate to money and how you want to relate to money can provide you with clues about your spiritual beliefs and the resulting choices you make, including how you use money to make a difference in the world.

I have encountered many people who believe that making money is what they do to support themselves so that they can explore their spiritual journey elsewhere. In other words, they work a job in order to be able to expand their spiritual awareness through classes, ceremonies, retreats, and workshops. But what if making money itself is part of the spiritual journey, not just a support for spiritual exploration in other settings?

Consider this question: What part of your life is not part of your spiritual journey? Then consider this. Is your relationship to making money worth exploring in order to gain a greater understanding of yourself as a spiritual being? If it is, then let me encourage you to join some of us at the New Dream Foundation as we become greater observers of our relationships to money, embracing some new perspectives about creating money as part of our spiritual paths.

Check out the Forums for more insights about making money as a spiritual path. For an opportunity to explore your relationship to money in greater depth, check out the New Dream Foundation’s Prosperity Garden classes.