What does it mean to be wealthy? What does it mean to have enough? How do we create and nurture sustainable careers? As we make important decisions about our finances and lives, how do we stay in touch with our mission and vision? The Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8 also created a crisis of conscience for many. Naropa alumni are providing invaluable guidance as people seek firmer foundation, both financially and spiritually.
Bari Tessler Linden (MA, 1998) is a financial therapist and coach, and founder of the newly named The Art of Money (formerly Conscious Bookkeeping). Graduate studies in somatic psychology afforded Bari the opportunity to study human relationships from many different angles, but she was never challenged to look at how finances impact relationships. She recalls throwing bank statements into the trash, disregarding them as having no place in a spiritually centered life. Student loans coming due soon shifted her focus, and she realized she needed to examine her money habits in order to make her work and life more sustainable. She began learning as much as she could about financial management and accounting, "Suddenly the other side of my brain was being turned on and I loved it, I found it really intriguing. I felt really empowered," she recalls. "I realized there was deeper meaning I could put on it. This could be sacred. This could be spiritual."
Conscious Bookkeeping was born when Bari decided it was time to merge her therapy practice with the financial tools and systems in which she was now adept. "I knew if we were going to step into relationship with money it had to be on a practical level, an emotional, psychological, and spiritual level." She mapped out her "Three Doorways of Financial Success." Twelve years later, these three phases are still the cornerstones of her work: money healing, money practices, and money maps. In the first stage, money healing, clients look at their personal money stories, including areas that need forgiveness or healing. Having taken on this deep work, she also attends to the utilitarian side of money practices, looking at bookkeeping systems and financial support teams. The final tier is money maps, where clients map out their vision, with an honest appraisal of where they are in life, and where they're headed.
With the birth of her son five years ago, Bari had to make some significant adjustments to her business in order to make it personally sustainable. Wanting to work from home, she concentrated on online programs and groups. This year, with the launch of her year-long money school, The Art of Money, Bari has hit on her most sustainable and enjoyable teaching and business model yet. Classes have grown from 50 to 320 students, and the fortnightly schedule leaves her room to travel and spend time with loved ones. Authentic movement also remains a critical part of her self-care routine, "Learning how to listen to my body, its rhythm, its messages, and then follow it through movement and sound. I feel like I use that same practice in how I live my life and how I create and grow my business."
Denise Barnes (MA, 1989), founder of Soul Savvy, also focuses on the bigger picture while guiding clients through financial issues. In addition to financial coaching, she works privately as a therapist, performer, intuitive healer, and has a day job in cancer counseling research. "In my own life, financial sustainability followed spiritual sustainability —not that they're separate, but at times there are choices to make there. For me, choosing less "outer wealth," working part time to be able to perform, was balanced by the fulfillment of performing, or keeping my music and comedy alive. Soul food comes first, in my path, and following that voice usually takes more courage and asks that I keep growing, learning, healing."
This focus on outer and inner wealth is a core component in Denise's "Healthy Wealth" model. In addition to looking at the expected "outer wealth" descriptors such as bank balance, debt, savings, and investments, Denise encourages clients to give equal focus to "inner wealth" – relationship, creativity, health, and joy. The exact components are different for everyone, Denise explains, "Healthy Wealth work is about finding that balance where you are fulfilled and feel at peace on both sides. It's an ever evolving path that includes honing and expressing your soul purpose, being well supported, and contributing to our needy world.".
While Denise provides valuable and practical tools such as problem solving worksheets and end of year reviews, she says the ultimate goal is to bring mind into alignment with heart. "The money work is one piece, but we're doing that to clear out what our vision is and how it's going to work financially. It's so easy to lose track of things. Continually checking in with our spirit's wisdom is important."