I wanted to interview Bari Tessler Linden because I’m so intrigued with the work she does around money. As an artist and businessperson I know how difficult it can be to put price tags on my work and my time, to keep track of my dollars and to make financial goals. Ultimately, just becoming conscious of money as it impacts my life is huge. Bari is such a lovely, straightforward, generous woman — I wanted you to know her too.
Bari, we know and love you as someone who does conscious money work. But before that, I know you trained as a somatic psychotherapist and a dancer. That seems like a big change! How did you get into doing this deep money work?
Well, I first want to clarify that I am a Financial Therapist: I help folks un-shame around their relationship to money. We create safe, compassionate spaces to talk about money with their spouse, muster the courage to look at their numbers and choose a bookkeeping system, and clarify their values and dreams, so money can support them.
But, you’re right: this was a big leap for me, personally and professionally. Back in my full-on, African dancing, authentic movement, somatic psychotherapist days, I never imagined that one day, I would be leading a year-long money school called The Art of Money!
In fact, I had ZERO relationship to money, back then. In my amazing graduate program at Naropa University, we studied every topic under the sun (and beyond the sun): food, body, intimacy, sexuality, sensuality, God, and on and on … but they completely left out one area: money. And all the rich themes and issues that come up around our relationship to it.
The day my first school loan came due, I freaked out. And had a huge epiphany: I do not have a relationship to money. I had studied and developed myself in all these other areas of my life … except money. I decided then and there it was time for me to look money in the eye and create a relationship with it. So I jumped tracks and began learning everything I could about money: bookkeeping, financial support teams, and on and on.
So, after a decade of training to be a Somatic Psychotherapist, I did take a detour for 4 years and learned bookkeeping and had a bookkeeping biz for artists and therapists. Then, I opened my financial therapy practice, (integrating all of my previous training) and began teaching my Art of Money methodology (I called it Conscious Bookkeeping back then). And for the last 14 years, I’ve brought everything I know and am to this work. Including, of course, the somatic and psychotherapeutic tools from my previous work.
Bari, it’s so easy to put teachers on pedestals and think, man, Bari must have all her money stuff worked out. Is that true? Or does the old adage, we teach what we need to learn, apply to you too? And if so, how does it show up? Asked a different way, what triggers your money stuff?
Oh, I’m not perfect! I’ve done a ton of work in this area, so I have a lot of experience, insight, and supportive practices — but I’m definitely not some guru on the mountain.
I’ve gone through my own Money Initiations, over the years: learning new skill sets and ways of relating to money. I had to learn how to even have a relationship to money, then what my strengths and challenges are, how to claim my value more, how to become savvy in the world of creative entrepreneurship, how to craft business models that support my values of family, health, rest, and meaning, how to work through cash-flow dips, how to strengthen my savings muscles, how to work with a financial support team … and on and on! Oh, my. This has been a 14-year journey, and it will just continue.
Here’s the key: I believe that we are never “done” with our money work. It grows and evolves right along with us. My husband and I live and breathe this stuff: for ourselves, as a married couple, as parents, and as partners in a creative business. We have money “stuff” come up, then light the candles, nibble the dark chocolate, and talk through it.
This is truly a life-long journey of fine-tuning and updating and upgrading our relationship to money, for all of us, over and over. There is always room to grow on a practical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual level when it comes to money.
Our relationship to money is a reflection of our relationship to ourselves.
So: everyone’s relationship to money is different. We all have our strengths and challenges — even the money “experts”! As I said recently, we all have our money shit … it just needs to be composted.
And, while I have grown a lot over the last 14 years, I still have a lot to learn and will continue fine tuning for the rest of my life. So, I collaborate with a wonderful group of colleagues that come from all different backgrounds of financial financial planning, bookkeeping, accounting, estate planning. They all integrate some kind of yoga, chakra, enneagram or energy teachings into their work. Also, they are all still doing their own money work.
What “money stuff” are you working on, now? What’s your current growing edge with money?
Well, at this phase in the game, it’s really about value, for me. I’ve spent a few decades really cultivating and claiming my value. This is both an inner work (because we could never put a numerical value on our value), and an external practice: creating a sustainable livelihood that integrates our worth and values (for me, this is about family, health, rest, sensuality, meaning, and more).
For me, this often comes down to boundaries. Creating firm, loving boundaries about energy, time, family, rest time.
Right now, I get triggered when folks ask me for a free consultation. I haven’t offered these for years, (I state this clearly on my site) and at this stage of my life and work, it feels dishonorable to my value. So my practice is finding a way to hold this boundary with folks, firmly and lovingly, in a way that honors everyone’s value.
Here’s how I responded to this issue recently, on Facebook:
I love you.
But I don’t offer free consultations.
I haven’t done that in years and years and years.
You can enjoy all of the free content on my site.
(It is really amazing and just keeps coming!)
You can send in the details of your situation,
and my lovely team will respond with a tremendous amount of
support, resources, referrals and love.
And, if you want my presence, energy, time + wisdom
you can sign up for a paid Financial therapy session
or join my larger Art of Money community.
But I do not offer free tea chats, brain picking or free intakes any longer.
I love you.
But please honor this and do not write in asking for otherwise.
It says it right on my Contact page.
Please read and do not ask otherwise.
I wish you the very, very best in this challenging moment.
And, my incredible team will support you.
They really, truly will.
What’s the biggest issue people have around money?
Well, there’s not ONE (or even two or three) big issues. Everyone has different strengths and things to celebrate around money … and everyone has their challenges.
And I mean everyone. I’ve worked with people who make millions, and people who are struggling to get their basic needs met … people who toss their bank statements without opening them and top-level accountants. We all have money issues.
But, if I had to boil it down to one underlying, common issue, I’d say it’s the lack of relationship to money. Not looking it in the eye. Avoiding it.
This avoidance can look very different, for different folks: some people earn really well, but have no idea where all their money goes. Others might have strong savings muscles, but they chronically under-earn. Often, couples fight about money — but even more often, they don’t know how to even begin talking about it in a safe, compassionate and fun way.
Money truly is the final taboo of a conscious lifestyle, for many people. Working through this starts by bringing more awareness to your money relationship. That’s the first step. And then, we bring in the un-shaming and emotional healing and practices and maps. But it starts with gentle, loving awareness.
Are we really talking about money, or something else? What is it actually that you’re teaching people?
Oh, I love this question!
Ultimately, money is a great doorway. Walk through it, and you’ll understand yourself better. There are so many life lessons you’ll gather, as you work on your money relationship — things that ripple out to every area of your life.
So, when I’m teaching folks about money, I’m really teaching folks so much more.
I’m really teaching folks to understand their value.
I’m really teaching folks to honor their true pacing and rhythm.
I’m really teaching folks to know who they are, who they are not.
I’m really teachings folks how to create safety inside and create safe + fun + meaningful + sacred spaces to talk about this delicate topic with their sweethearts. I’m really guiding people into more compassion and awareness. And showing them how to bring more creativity and deeper meaning into their money relationship — and all of life.
Yes. My program (and everything our TA’s-Transformation Assistants and Guest Teachers bring to it) is really about some essential 21st century life skills.
What are two things that people could do that would change their relationship with money, today?
I’ll give you three:
1. Do a Body Check-In. Simply bring awareness to your body: what sensations do you notice? What emotions are arising? What thoughts are passing through the screen of your mind? Do this before, during, or after an encounter with money — and you’ll begin creating more intimacy, awareness, and gentleness around your money relationship. It’s such a simple practice, but it’s incredibly profound. (Folks can read a full description of this, and listen to an audio meditation, right here.)
2. Choose a bookkeeping system and start tracking your money. This will help you create clarity about your money, and open up possibilities. It’s much easier to make better decisions about money when you can see what it’s doing!
3. Get support. Create a financial support team. Depending on your needs, this might include a bookkeeper, an accountant, a financial therapist, a financial coach, a financial planner, etc. I believe we all need a financial support team, and can really benefit by checking in with ourselves at least once a year and asking: do I need to add someone to my team, here?
You go on a solo hike everyday, right? How does that impact the way you live with yourself and the work you do with others? Does it have anything to do with money?
Yes! I hike almost every day.
I feel so blessed, because I can pretty much walk right out my door and within 5 minutes, I’m on one of my favorite mountain trails. I love my mountain.
This is my daily practice. Here, I ask questions, and get answers. It’s where I tap into my clarity. My deep visioning. My wildness. My nature, spirit, movement, trust, alchemy, hope, peace, love. It’s where I tap into my safety and my trust. So then I can share this.
My daily hike is one of the main ways that I deepen, understand, and connect with myself. So this supports everything: all of my relationships, including my relationship to money.
As I said: our relationship to money is a reflection of our relationship with ourselves. So any self-care practice — and hiking is just one of my favorites — can be a way to deepen our intimacy with ourselves … and ultimately everything in our lives.
Bari Tessler Linden, M.A., a Financial Therapist, Mentor Coach, Mama-preneur, and the Founder of The Art of Money. She has guided thousands of people to new, empowered, and refreshingly honest relationships with money through her nurturing, body-centered approach.
Bari earned a Masters in Somatic Psychology from Naropa University and worked in body-centered therapy for over a decade before unexpectedly falling in love with bookkeeping systems and money work. Her unique methodology integrates these two worlds into deep money healing that honors all the facets of our money relationships: body to spirit, lineage to career, smart practices to deep visioning, and much more.
Bari is currently leading a global conscious money movement via her year-long program, The Art of Money, which weaves together personal, couple and entrepreneurial money teachings is open for registration this week.
Learn more about Bari and enjoy her: Pocket Map for Your Money Road Trip: A 7 day journey into The Art of Money Method.