A friend of the family opened his car boot to offload packets filled with food, nappies for my baby daughter — groceries we couldn’t afford. They were a gift — we were the charity. I could barely look him in the eye, too grateful, too ashamed.
Instead, I sobbed while thanking him a dozen times. Trying to keep it together for my girls, one on my hip, the other clinging to my leg.
Thankfully, my daughters didn’t understand; they thought it was fun eating two-minute noodles for dinner and playing light-the-candles games during our frequent ‘failure-to-pay’ power outs. Every day I avoided a full draw of unopened bills, calls from threatening debt collectors and tried not to think about the latest call from my bank, ‘Mrs. Page, your house has been listed for repossession.’ My husband’s small business was on the brink of liquidation.
That was 20 years ago. When I see how many families are struggling today, my heart breaks, remembering all too well the relentless shame and fear.
To find a way to navigate those impossible years, I meditated almost daily. Not the kind of meditation where you focus on a flame or your breath, but a meditation style that evolved since I was a young girl before I even knew it was called meditation.
I call it “Tuning-in” or “Wisdom Dialogues” — essentially, it’s like sending a bucket down, deeper than the busy, surface torture-chamber-mind to find the voice of peaceful wisdom — that we all have waiting within us.
I’ve gathered a few of the most helpful extracts from some of my past wisdom dialogues. They’re offered to you with love.
Facing a minus bank balance
“I’m too afraid to look at my bank balance, terrified to open my unpaid bills, or even answer the phone. Please help me; I feel sick with fear.”
“There is shame in your heart. Have compassion and love for the hurt you are feeling. Be present and loving towards these painful feelings. They are seeking understanding.
“And hear this. A minus bank balance does not mean you are a minus. A plus bank balance does not mean you are a plus. You are not your bank balance.
“You are locked in a cycle of shame and fear. Ashamed of shame. Frightened of fear. Look at these now. These feelings are doing their best. They’re trying to help, but they need wisdom.
“Face your bank balance, breathe in the strength of your soul. Be equal. Don’t shrink back into a minus—don’t posture as a plus. Keep your eyes open; look at it all with dignity and courage.”
“I am not a minus,” I repeated to myself, feeling the relief as the truth made its way into my heart. I breathed this dignity into my body until I felt more equal.
From that day, I was able to open those bills courageously, face the music and do the best possible.
It helps when money becomes practical instead of personal.
Hating my job and longing for more soulful work
“My heart is not in this job. I want to do something more significant, more meaningful. Work that expresses my purpose. But I need to pay the bills. Please help; I feel desperate.”
“All honest work has dignity. Carry your head high. Bring your heart and soul to whatever job you can find. Don’t believe thoughts that bring shame.
“No work is higher or lower. Do your best every day.
“Then open to possibilities and grow other pathways from where you are now, not from fear or lack, but from love and sincere interest.
“Focus on serving others. Listen for their struggle and for where you have skills and an intuitive sense that you can offer value.”
In my early thirties, I supplemented my income with freelance graphic design work while building my coaching and teaching business. And although I was grateful for the money, my mind tortured me with the belief that I was supposed to be doing something else, something more meaningful and soulful.
When I asked my friend, a shamanic teacher. Lionel Berman, about my dilemma, his answer shocked me. He said, “Colleen, you could sell hot dogs; it doesn’t matter.”
When I meditated on his answer, I found deeper truth. That only the mind, with its torturous thoughts, resists being where we are.
Ironically, every time I’ve surrendered to giving my all to the seemingly mundane work in front of me, paths to work that my heart dearly loves become more available. And I remind myself that. as long as the work is honest, there is no higher or lower work.
How to make more money
“How do I make more money?”
As I asked this question, I felt an intuitive closing, heaviness in my body.
Over the years, I’ve learned that when we focus on thoughts that are not ultimately true, it causes a closed feeling. And when we focus on true thoughts, we experience a peaceful opening.
Practising Wisdom Dialogues for many decades has taught me to notice the response of the question itself, even before translating answers from wisdom.
Because this question felt closed, I looked for the truth about the question.
“What’s wrong with this question? What’s not true?” I asked.
“Making money is not true. You can’t make money.”
I paused for a moment and started laughing. I can’t make money; it’s illegal.
So, I changed the question, finding new words that felt more open.
“How can I create ways to earn more money?”
This new question opened a flow of ideas. Intuition, plus good old-fashioned creative common sense, helped me develop a list of solutions that I implemented over the weeks. They worked well.
I share this example with you to bring attention to the art of asking questions. Sometimes we struggle to receive inner guidance because the question reflects a lack of truth. By changing the question, we invite inspired insight.
Feeling torn between material and spiritual thinking
“Isn’t focusing on money materialistic? What’s the truth?”
“Does an apple tree say to the clouds, ‘Don’t rain on me, I’m spiritual.’
“Only the human mind divides material from spiritual. Reality does not divide— has no walls. Wholeness includes everything.
“Does an apple tree take more than life guides it to? Does an apple tree take less than it’s guided to?
“Honest work, with respect and reverence for all life, keeps you in financial integrity. Be grateful for the rain and use it wisely.
After this wisdom dialogue, I started calling money ‘rain.’ I changed my attitude towards finances, started becoming more financially literate, appreciating and respecting the rain that life sent me. Gratefully, my business grew healthy and abundant.
“How do I find more clients? I don’t want to have to sell.”
“Each time you see the billboard down the road, advertising your neighbour’s accounting services, you judge him— this is spiritual arrogance.
“You feel superior to the accountant because you judge your work as being more spiritual. There is no such thing as spiritual work.”
I felt these words came from love, a fierce grace.
Wisdom continued, “A flower opens, sharing its colour and fragrance, being visible so that it can do its work. Be like a flower.”
Be like a flower became my marketing mantra. It has served me ever since. The flower doesn’t exaggerate or minimise. It makes itself visible and says to the world, ‘I am this.’
I sent a silent apology to my neighbour and began studying marketing. Leaving out any part of marketing that felt like grabbing, pushing or pulling. Simply adapting my marketing to being more authentic, natural, focused on service and visible.
“I hope that these wisdom dialogues serve to comfort and inspire you to build your wisdom well. And in times of suffering, to stand with dignity.” Coleen-Joy
For regular wisdom dialogues, follow Colleen-Joy on Instagram @colleenjoypage. To join her student groups, visit colleen-joy.com