People fishing at dusk. By Alan Viau

People fishing at dusk. By Alan Viau

The question of having a scarcity or abundance mindset is often one raised in yoga and meditation classes. I never really got what that meant. Intellectually, I could understand the principle. Yet, I could never in my gut feel what that was. That is, until my recent vacation to Costa Rica. There I discovered abundance and what it means versus our limited scarcity mindset.

Where does the idea of scarcity come from? We even have a line of study to manage scarcity – it is called economics. Economics or the management of scarcity is the key underpinning of Western society.

I believe it comes from our collective life experiences. You don’t have to look far in the past to find ancestors who lived in the grips of scarcity. For example, my mother grew up in the lower St Lawrence River. She lived in a tar-paper shack. There was no road. It was only accessible by ferry. Her father and brothers hunted, trapped, and fished for their food. The girls tended the meager gardens during the short growing season.  Their lives consisted of surviving day-to-day and stockpiling for the winter when food was scarce. If you were not prepared, winter could kill you.

This is our collective history of North America. Our ancestors came from away hoping for a better life. They were not daunted by the tasks needed to survive in this new world.  It was hard work, they found ways to manage the scarcity.

So it is easy to understand how we all are caught in this paradigm. It is so much part of our being, culture, and existence.

In my mind, this is why I found it difficult to accept a philosophy of abundance put forward by many spiritualists. Never having experienced or felt abundance, I could only think of it in the abstract, as an intellectual exercise.

My friend, Tony Gyenis, often would tell me that Spirit’s abundance is there. All we need to do is ask. But, I really didn’t get it.

Until my recent trip to Costa Rica. Now I get it.

Sweetheart and I finally booked a long needed vacation to the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. Costa Ricans live by the philosophy of Pura Vida – pure living. They can do this because of both abundance and simplification.

Costa Rica is rich with nature’s abundance in arms reach. Mangoes, avocado, starfruit, lemons, cashews, almonds, papaya, cantaloupe, were all easy to obtain from a horse ride in the forest. People fished with simple lines on the seashore. They are there for the asking. There is no need to stockpile for a harsh winter.

People live simply. There is no need to build insulated sturdy shelters that can withstand extremes of temperature from -40C to +40C. No need for heating or air conditioning. It also means you don’t need to have an plethora of clothing to match those conditions. Living there is less complicated.

Less complicated does not mean less advanced. All power in the country is developed by sustainable methods- geothermal, wind, solar, hydro. The country has no armed forces and instead has allotted more money to taking care of its people. Costa Rica will be plastic free by 2021 and carbon-neutral by 2022. Aside from traditional agriculture and tourism, it has a growing high tech sector.

There I felt abundance. It filled me as I rode a horse on the beach at sunset breathing in the ocean air. I respected it with the series of crocodiles I observed in a nature reserve. My senses confirmed it with the delicious bite into a naturally ripe papaya dripping in creamy vanilla goodness.

Managing scarcity is complicated. Always scrambling for the next thing. Abundance is simple. Maybe that is why it is hard to grasp.