Bari Tessler: The Art of Money

Naropa_Mindful_Podcast-Bari-Tessler

The newest episode of our podcast, Mindful U, is out on iTunesSpotify, Stitcher, and Fireside now! We are excited to announce this week’s episode features Naropa alumna Bari Tessler (MA Somatic Psychotherapy), who currently works as a Financial Therapist, Mentor Coach, Mama-preneur, and is the Founder of The Art of Money.

play-icon Bari Tessler: The Art of Money

Bari Tessler is encouraging people to take a more mindful and conscious approach to their relationship with money. When Tessler finished a graduate degree in Somatic Counseling, she sought financial help to help guide her career. She found that most of the financial guidance offered was coming from older white males and was focused on traditional money management, how to pay off loans, invest, etc. Tessler was curious, “Where does the body come in?” and her subsequent work has been about helping people examine and heal their relationship with money to lead more empowered, successful lives. Learn more about Bari and her work in this exciting conversation with Mindful U podcast host, David DeVine.

You can read the full transcript of the podcast below.

Bari Tessler Linden, M.A., is 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. Her methodology weaves together personal, couple, and creative entrepreneurial money teachings into one complete tapestry. She is the founder of The Art of Money: a global, year-long money school, which integrates Money Healing, Money Practices and Money Maps. Her work has been featured on Oprah.com, Inc.com, the Huffington Post, US News & World Report, Reuters Money, The Fiscal Times, USA Today, The Cut, Girlboss, Nerd Wallet, The Simple Dollar, REDBOOK Magazine, Experience Life Magazine and Mindful Magazine. Bari is also the author of The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness, published by Parallax Press. Learn more about Bari at: http://baritessler.com/

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Mindful U podcast Host David DeVine with Bari Tessler.
Full transcript
Bari Tessler
“The Art of Money”

[MUSIC]

Hello. And welcome to Mindful U at Naropa. A podcast presented by Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m your host, David Devine. And it’s a pleasure to welcome you. Joining the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions – Naropa is the birth place of the modern mindfulness movement.

[MUSIC]

DAVID:
Hello. Today I like to welcome Bari Tessler to the podcast. Bari is a financial therapist, a mama-preneur, founder of “The Art of Money” and she is also an alum graduating with a degree in the somatic psychology department. So welcome to the podcast.

BARI:
Thanks so much for having me.

DAVID:
How are you doing today?

BARI:
Pretty good. I’m excited to do this with you live. I can actually see you, which is — unusual for me.

DAVID:
We get to have that interaction. So just to start off — tell me about your experience at Naropa — when did you go? What was it like going to a school — where were you at in your life? What made you want to go? Kind of start it off.

BARI:
So, I had just finished my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin at Madison — in history and women’s studies because I really had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I really was lost, but I went straight into college after I finished high school because that’s — that was my parents — that’s just what people did in the north side of Chicago.

So, if I had other options or if I could even have known that I could have thought of other options that would’ve been great. And then I finished and everyone that I knew was off getting high level jobs — getting paid really well right out of college, which just blew my mind because again I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I was or what my skill set was. And so, I went to Israel for a year. And it was to find out who I was. To find out what it meant to be born Jewish. To find myself.

And I went and one day I was running on a kibbutz and all of a sudden, I thought that I made up dance movement therapy. So, I had grown up dancing my whole life and I was really into therapy and psychology and had asked my parents at the age of 16 if I could go to therapy. They said yes. And so, you know in this job — put those two together and I was like dance therapy I’m gonna be a dance therapist and I really thought I made up an entire field and soon I left the kibbutz, moved to Jerusalem and learned pretty quickly that there were graduate programs in somatic psychology, dancer movement therapy — I didn’t make anything up, but there was graduate programs and I could go study this.

So, I left Israel to come back to the states and to audition for Naropa. Mine was a bit of an interview not an audition.

DAVID:
Yeah. Okay.

BARI:
And got into Naropa and started at the age of 24. I was the baby of that crew of those — you know of my cohort. There were 22 / 24 of us. I was the baby and I spent the next few years immersed in somatic psychology dance movement therapy, authentic movement — and what was also happening at that time, which was really significant for me — was that the boyfriend that I had in Israel who was my lover at the time when I left Israel, he committed suicide.

DAVID:
Ok, sorry.

BARI:
And so, I was beginning Naropa in deep grief and half in my body, half out, half in this world, half out. And that was the space I was in. As I was in graduate school I also had —

DAVID:
Very tender.

BARI:
Very tender. And it was also a five year period where my beloved grandfather had passed away while I was at Naropa and two of my beloved uncles died of AIDS. So, I had a five year period and that was how I began Naropa was losing the four closest men to me in my life. So, I went to graduate school for so many reasons. One is that when I went — asked my parents at 16 if I could go to therapy — they said yes. I wanted to understand myself better. They sent me to a male therapist. And that just didn’t work for me as a teenage girl. I was playing so many mind games as a teenager. And I learned that talk therapy wasn’t gonna work for me and a male therapist wasn’t gonna work for me, but it was a beginning. It was a beginning. I as a teenager also would go into my room, shut the door, put on music and dance and dance and dance and dance every emotion that I possibly could. I would come out of my room and then I would be able to articulate what I was feeling, but before that the feelings were so overwhelming and so strong. I had that in me. And so, that was another reason why I went to graduate school to study somatic psychology was because I knew that I had to learn how to listen to my body again. I was to some degree — I knew that there was so much information there and I knew that talk therapy at that time was not the road for me. It worked for — to some degree, but I had so much information — so much memories, so much trauma, so much grief being held in my body that I needed to learn how to access that and —

DAVID:
I love hearing that too because there sounds like a component of when it comes to deep feelings and deep emotions in people there is this sort of unique way of expressing how they feel and I always feel like deep feelings take a little bit of time to process before you — like you said articulate what it is you are feeling. And the fact that you knew the practice was through dance and other people have through thought, through taking a walk, through chatting with a really good friend and just how to process other than just reacting — because reacting just has like a surface level of how you feel because feelings take time. I love that you found your way of expressing that.

BARI:
I found my way to some degree — I didn’t know how to articulate it so well yet — it was still so confusing for me. And then I also you know started doing the practice of authentic movement at the age of 22. So, I knew that I wasn’t going to be a person who would sit on a cushion and meditate that way. That was never my path. I needed to move. I’ve hiked for years the same trails here in Boulder. That’s another way that I do it. And so, movement and the practice of authentic movement — blew my mind at the age of 22 and I just remember — you know I did it with Janis Beard Bull and we would sit you know in a group for a few moments and check in.

Share how we were doing and then we would go off into the space and you could be standing or sitting or lying down in the ground. And then all you had to do was allow yourself to quiet, slow down your mind and access the movement, the sensations into impulse or the impulse into sensation into movement and sometimes sound. It was something that I did for a full decade — as much as I possibly could. And that really is the foundation and base for so much of my life and my teaching. And I’ll just say one moment that was really significant was lying on the floor and my very first authentic moving teacher was in Chicago. And I remember her — she kept stopping me and saying like stop dancing and performing and stop showing me how good of a dancer you are. That’s not what this is. Start over.

And she was trying to teach me how just to even — just to really listen and not to perform and just to listen to maybe I just want to move my finger right now. Maybe I just want to move in circles — you know just to start again. It wasn’t about performing and showing how good of a dancer — that’s not what this practice was.

DAVID:
I like hearing that — that takes like some skilled teaching to see that — the fact that wait a minute you are still performing for me — just show me your authentic movement in this time. You don’t have to perform for anybody other than yourself.

So, it sounds like you took so much beauty and passion from this therapeutic sort of approach to psychology of the body movement. How does it — showcasing your life at this moment — like what is the work you’re doing. I’m really excited because —

BARI:
We’re jumping ahead — ok.

DAVID:
Yeah, ultimately, you’re a financial therapist as you call it. How does the education you received in the contemplative model — the somatic psychology program showcase itself in the financial world for you?

BARI:
Okay, so I just have to back up and say you know I — in my 20s this is what I did day in and day out. I was at Naropa doing the graduate program — we had internships. I was working in hospice. I was doing overnight care with people that were dying. I was leading bereavement groups because that was the water that I was personally swimming in during that time and wanted to be with other people who were in that water as well. I was in authentic moving groups being trained in it. I was leading these groups. I mean this is what I was steeped in — in my 20s. I really thought that I would leave Naropa and become a therapist at some point. And my topics would be — sexuality, intimacy, grief, death, body — that’s what I thought my topics we’re going to be. I really wanted to work with couples, and I was doing a lot of my own research around intimacy at that time and then my — the school loan came due at the age of 28. And that was the epiphany for me. That was the, “oh my God, how am I going to pay this back?” What is my relationship to money? How did Naropa and my incredible education at Naropa that taught me how to be a human, how to be in this world, how to have deeper relationships. How to communicate, how to listen to my body. I learned all of that — which I am incredibly grateful for and influences everything — which I’ll talk about, you know. But, the missing piece in my education at Naropa and in my life was anything to do with the topic of money and bookkeeping and finances. And it was completely left out. And it took the student loan coming due to have me realize that, you know. And so, I either thought — well I can go like running, screaming away from this and leave the country and travel as a nomad forever. That’s a good idea. That’s a good option.

DAVID:
Why not, right?

BARI:
Why not? I like to present myself with different options or I can face this as a topic, research it on every level — practically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually just like I have done every other topic in my life that I’m scared of, afraid of — that feels like a shadow or missing piece and I’m going to face it head on.

DAVID:
Oh, I like that.

BARI:
So, I started learning bookkeeping. I mean there were a few things when I was working in the mental health field where I took on some hours in the back room. I started — they taught me the bookkeeping at the mental health center. They taught me how to do Quicken and Excel and it was like the light bulbs were going on — the other side of my brain was being activated. I was like oh I can do this because I wasn’t good at math going up. And so, I’d equated if I’m not good at math I’m not good at money. If I’m not good at math — I can never learn a book.

DAVID:
Do you feel like that’s a recurring story in a lot of people where they’re like I’m not good at math so therefore money just doesn’t come to me?

BARI:
For some. For some. Certainly. So, when I was able to learn Quicken and QuickBooks and someone held my hand and I always say I had a box of tissue —

DAVID:
Just in case.

BARI:
Just — no there were crying breaks and lots of dark chocolate along the way — like those two things were essential. So, much handholding it took me many months to learn QuickBooks and to feel comfortable and to feel confident. And it was so mind blowing and empowering for me. And then I wound up having a bookkeeping business for a few years as a transition because I felt too young to be a therapist. Between 28 to 32 — I felt too young. What was fascinating though is that people of all ages threw their books at me. I had artists and therapists and coaches and contractors. They had no idea I even had a master’s in psychology. They just threw their bookkeeping at me. They didn’t want to have anything to do with it and they wanted someone to do this for them. So, I learned so much about how people make their money, how people spend their money, what are their values, what’s important to them.

I feel like I was learning more in that time than if I was doing private therapy sessions

DAVID:
So other than just approaching it with the mindset of — I’m doing books. I’m writing numbers down. I’m going to make sure you’re balanced — you’re also approaching it as in like, wow, this person is making money this way. What is it that they did in their life to get there? So, you’re using your psychological mind to kind of break down what people are doing other than just being like this is my job — I write down numbers.

BARI:
Oh yeah well, I mean I was trained as a therapist — so yeah that’s not going to turn off. And after a few years of doing that I learned so much. Then it was time for me to integrate all of my past training, all of the deep work, all of the space holding that I naturally do. It’s what I naturally do with these new skill sets around bookkeeping and money management and the language of money — that surprised the hell out of me — you know and putting them together. And that was 18 years ago. And that was a moment when I had left Boulder. I had moved to Sebastopol, California to do a deeper training and authentic movement — and pretty quickly I realized it was time to integrate these two fields. Had a mentor come into my life who saw what I was doing and boom there’s lots of synchronicitic things that happened at that time. And she basically said its time for you to teach. And I’m going to bring 20 or 30 people together in a room — so come up with your methodology.

DAVID:
Yay.

BARI:
And that was a whole moment. And that was 18 years ago.

DAVID:
That’s awesome. OK. Very cool. So, how did you get from there to now? Because what would you say you do now?

BARI:
So, 18 years later I now am a financial therapist who teaches a year long program — in my “art of money” methodology that I’ve been teaching —

DAVID:
And this is a process — a program that in which you create —

BARI:
There is — okay let me back up for a moment. So, and just say that when Tamara Slayton — who is my mentor — she passed away a long time ago. I was with her the last two years of her life in Sebastopol. And when she said to me it’s time for you to teach. You know, that was when I realized I need to go out into the woods, which is where or going on a hike — you know it’s pretty flat trail there compared to Boulder and I used my Boulder trails every single day, but I would go into the woods and say, what am I supposed to bring back? You know initially I thought I was the only one with money shame or the only one with money issues or the only one who didn’t learn this.

DAVID:
Why me?

BARI:
Yeah, why me. Just — just — I’m the only one — you know. And pretty quickly I started looking around realizing that people from all different communities, from all different economic classes, from all different race and lineages at all different income levels now had strengths around money, had challenges around money, had some shame, had some missing pieces. You know most of us did not receive a financial education from grade school and up in small increments.

So, you know when I went out to the woods I said, what am I supposed to bring back — you know to help people have a healthy conscious. These are my words at that time. You know healthy conscious, empowered relationship to money. I came back with these three phases — I was living in a 350 / 400 square foot cabin in the woods with my husband and he immediately threw up white paper and we started brainstorming and clarifying these three phases. At the time they were financial therapy, values based bookkeeping, and life uh life visioning or something like that — I’m not remembering. And I started teaching them in small groups of 10 people — over and over and over with my little hand outs and my little living room in the apple orchard in Sebastopol, California. And I did this over and over and over.

DAVID:
I love the breakdown of those three — to look at a relationship issue that you might be having once you discover you might have an issue — it’s multifaceted. And the fact that you break it down in such a way that feels more digestible — it feels oh wait, I don’t have to work on everything at once. I can work on one thing at a time — develop this skill and then move on to the next. So, I really like how you were able to dissect them in such a way that empowers people to move forward in that.

BARI:
And then it’s even you know broken down into smaller boxes — or categorizing it so you know now its money healing is the first phase. Money practices is the second and money maps is a third. You know, I used to teach this in six week groups, which blows my mind or weekend workshops. You know, because now it’s a year long program and yes it used to be tiny groups that I taught over and over and over. But in that — every group I learn something new I learned oh I left out a peace around forgiveness. How did I do that — that needs to be added in or oh, this is working this is not — you know and just kept creating more handouts and more exercises and now I teach a yearlong version of it with folks from all over the world and had over 500 students in 2018 and every year we grow a little bit. And it’s 4 months of money healing and 4 months of money practices and 4 months of money maps. And so, it’s an entire year where I’m taking people through exercises and handouts and then there’s community support. I wanted to teach in groups right away from day one for so many reasons. One, I wanted us to see were not alone in these issues. You know as — we’re not alone. LAUGHS. We’re not alone.

DAVID:
It’s true.

BARI:
We’re not alone and that no matter again what background you come from you have things that you’re doing well around money. You have challenges around money. You have shame and most of us just did not receive a complete financial education.

DAVID:
And sometimes you necessarily don’t know you’ve been conditioned in such a way that you might not know you have a certain perspective of a relationship.

BARI:
Yes. And we have so many biases and judgments and fears and you know the entire emotional spectrum comes up around money, which I’d love to speak about — how to work with that. So, being in groups is everything from seeing people from different backgrounds and realizing, oh yes, even the folks who come from the wealthy background have money issues or have issues in life. And we immediately assume, oh if they have money, they should have no issues. What issues can they have, right? And that was my biggest thing at Naropa was half the students were having their graduate school paid for — the other half of us that was when my parents and I kind of cut off our financial relationship and I was on my own.

DAVID:
They’re like you got your B.A.

BARI:
I got — we got your B.A. — you’re done. That’s it. And also, you’re doing something that we have no clue — we do not understand what you’re doing. We wanted you to go to Japan and teach English and come back speaking Japanese fluently and work in business with us — what — you know. So, you’re on your own. And I wanted to be on your own. Thanks Dad. LAUGHS. My mom didn’t have those kind of conditions.

So, it was never talked about at Naropa. You know, we have people taking out student loans. The challenge of that — the fare of that then the other half having it paid for. So again, no matter what background I wanted people in the room just to start to see — learn from each other. Sometimes we came from a completely different backgrounds but the way we are interacting with money, felt about money, thought about money was the same. And that was mind blowing. And so, I had my own biases and judgments and all of that and I was proven wrong over and over and over and over. And so, 18 years later there is no story that I haven’t heard at this point. I mean I’ve heard so many different versions of what we learned from our families growing up, what we did learn, what we’re rebelling against. So, groups for me represent so much — we — we learn that we’re not alone, we un-shame so many things that were — have just been filled with shame. So many money stories, money behaviors, money patterns. And then we just come together and get to support each other. And — and so on — you know and so on and so on.

DAVID:
What do you think some of the holdups are for people — like what is it through the conditioning that we have and or our upbringing and or our situations that we are around? What are some of the similar stories that you hear from people?

BARI:
This is always challenging for me because I’ve heard thousands and thousands of stories. So, teaching in small groups of 10 people for years and then that led to 20 person groups and then 50 and now for seven years now I’ve been teaching this year long and we’ve had you know hundreds of students each year. But here — I can tell a few stories and we’ll just see. So, because I never know how to say what are the most — one of the most common blocks you know, I don’t think that way and I don’t retain stories and information that way. I’m really good at working with people live in the moment — when they bring me an issue and they bring me concern or a stuck place and I work with them. You know so my favorite thing is monthly we have a group call — it’s two hours. And I never know what the themes are. I never know what the questions are gonna be and people just you know I have 10 people each call let’s say and they’ll ask me a question — I work with them live. Here’s a few stories. So, I worked with a couple and he came from a traditional financial background. So, he — I don’t know if he got his MBA or accounting degree and she didn’t. And he kept showing up in their so-called money dates — that’s one of my favorite things is I teach people how to have money dates, which can be five minutes a day at the beginning. It could be 15 minutes every few days.

DAVID:
Is that just a conversation with your person?

BARI:
Well it could be a money date that you do alone. You know we’re not all partnered, right? It could be sitting down lighting your candles nibbling on your dark chocolate.

DAVID:
Yeah, drinking some tea.

BARI:
Drinking some tea.

DAVID:
Checking out your finances and sitting down and checking out your finances. Do you need to go online and check your balances? Do you need to reach out and hire a new bookkeeping trainer to show you how to use Mint or YNAB or Quicken or QuickBooks? Right — it’s anything to do with money it could be checking in with your body — which we need to talk about the body check it. It’s just anything on a practical emotional psychological or spiritual level — what needs attention in this moment. Ok, that’s a money date. And again, it could start out five minutes a day. It could be 30 minutes twice a week. Right? We need to usually do it more often at the beginning to create the patterns, to create the new grooves, to create the new habits. Some of us just ignore money completely. Some of us pay attention to —

DAVID:
Like scared to look at it.

BARI:
Oh, many of us are terrified. Half the people that come to me are terrified to look at their numbers — do not have any kind of tracking or bookkeeping system in place. It’s probably more than half. Why are we afraid? We’re afraid of what we’re going to see — some people get in there and realize they’re making more money than they thought. That surprises them! That’s exciting.

DAVID:
They’re probably spending more than they thought too.

BARI:
There’s that. Some people are afraid to look because they feel they’ll see that they’re hemorrhaging, you know. We need to see that though — whatever it is we really need to see what it is — but there’s so much fear. Let me back up and talk about a body check in. Because it’s a really concrete tool and then I can move more into stories and we’ll move into other things. Ok? When people say to me what is the very first tool that you give to me. Is it you know learning a bookkeeping system, so you know your numbers? Is doing a budget? I say those are all great things and we’re gonna get to them, but no one is the body check in. And yes, this comes —

DAVID:
Not something you normally hear when it comes to finances?

BARI:
Right, and for me there is no way that I was going to have a relationship to money without this tool. Yeah. And yes, this comes from my Naropa training. It comes from my somatic training. I have brought many tools, but this is my favorite. So, if I was going to create a methodology — if I was going to have my own relationship to money this was step one. Step one is checking in with your body — it’s taking a few moments to stop and pause. It could be 30 seconds, it could be five minutes — and it could be closing your eyes and it’s asking yourself to check in on a physical level — what’s going on? Are your shoulders up to your ears? Are they down? What do you notice? You don’t need to change a thing. Does this sound familiar? Does — LAUGHS

DAVID:
It sounds like I’m in school again.

BARI:
Exactly.

DAVID:
Totally.

BARI:
So, checking in on a physical level — that’s the first layer. Second layer is what are the sensations in your body? So where is there movement? Where is there stillness? Where is there twitching? Where is there tightness? Just noticing, letting yourself notice on a sensation level. The next level is the emotions and it’s the entire spectrum that comes up in all the other big areas of life you know around sexuality and food and body and intimacy and grief. And this was something that kind of blew my mind and seems to surprise other people too. The same emotions that come up in life come up around money as well.

And it could be everything from — I’m really anxious. I get really anxious around money. I’m really afraid of this area of life — to actually this area of life really pisses me off. And I’m so angry that I have to deal with it. I just want someone else to take care of this part of life for me. I hate this mundane practical — these systems and taxes and I hate it, you know — to I get really sad. Some of my needs as a child were not met. I’m still waiting for them to be met and somehow that plays out in my relationship to money.

Yeah. It’s around getting needs met. I just feel really sad — you know that I’m not being taken care of or someone’s not taking care of this for me. I have to do this for myself you know to I just check out. I get numb. I want to fall asleep. This is so boring — you know, to joy, to excitement, to they’re how can I learn how to integrate my values with my skill sets with work that I really love and bring that to the marketplace and get paid well and you know I had no clue how to do that when I was younger and that was a whole journey to figure that out.

So, you know and that can be exciting or just — it’s the full spectrum. So, this level is checking in. What is the emotion? What are the feelings? What are the set of the emotions? Do the same ones come up all the time for you? Do different ones come up in different moments — different situations? Ok. So, this is that level.

Then the last level is just checking in with your breathing. How deep is your breath? How shallow? Where is it in your body? Is it being held more in your throat or is it down in your chest? Or is down even in your solar plexus or your belly. And it’s different every time you check in. And so — and then I always like to end the body check in with is there one little adjustment that I can make? Can I lower my shoulders and do a little shimmy? Can I take a deeper breath in my belly? Can I get my breath deeper into my body? Can I make sure that the soles of my feet are on the floor? Can I — there is no right way how to do this. This is a practice and it’s not like one day you’re going to figure out this body check in and be done with it — you know. And sometimes — ok let me slow down for a second — I love the body check in and a body check in is to be practiced and to be brought to all the daily money interactions. When you’re going to go online and look at your numbers. When you’re about to have a money conversation.

DAVID:
Yeah it seems like there’s a regulation of the body, of the mind — before you go into something that might promote stress. So, it’s like you are showing up in such a way that is able to see what is in the moment. And I really like that cause you don’t hear that very often. Sometimes it’s just like — just go look at your bank account. Not like take a breath, take a moment — then go look at it. So, you’re not reacting. You are able to be skillful in the decisions you are about to make and or see.

BARI:
Well you know that — the tough love — the just snap out of it. Just do it. For me when I went to go look for financial help or guidance or — and I started researching there was so much traditional money management out there. It was usually older white males and they all we’re saying the same thing, which is important information about paying down debt and investing, but I was like ok where’s the body? Where are the emotions and — but the body check in —

DAVID:
It’s very surface.

BARI:
It’s very surface and it’s — for me it’s very tough love, you know, and I think in moments it is just sit down —

DAVID:
It’s masculine.

BARI:
It’s masculine — which you know there is a place for that. There’s a place for the discipline in sitting yourself down to have a money date. But then I bring in all the — spray the oil spritzers and get the dark chocolate and light the candles.

DAVID:
Yeah, where the geranium at?

BARI:
Exactly.

DAVID:
The lavender.

BARI:
Exactly! Whatever your thing is — and for me it’s lavender too.

And so — but the body check in is something to be practiced and it’s not like immediately you’re going to calm yourself down and be like oh this is great — I’m calm now. It’s a journey. It’s what are the set of emotions and sensations and breathing that your body does. Okay — how can you start to learn, gather information. It’s all helping you understand what happens in the moment eventually — learn how to self regulate in the moment, but it’s eventually giving you more information about what is your money story. What are your patterns? What’s working? The other thing is that a body check in is not done just before — body check ins can happen in the heat of the moment. When you’re having the intense money conversation with your spouse and suddenly, you’re freaking out. Or you’re just like swearing like crazy or just what — you know or crying and need to run off and take a break or all the above. It’s in the moment — what’s going on. Body check in — you know there’s also body checking after — you know after you’re at the grocery store, after you’re at the mall, after you bought a car — at the car dealership — you know, I tell the whole story about that where we’re in the car dealership and I’m starting to feel anxious — really anxious and starting to hyperventilate. At this time, I didn’t like big money decisions and I did not like to make them fast. And so, in the car dealership I noticed I was starting to hyperventilate, and I was like body check in — ran to the bathroom, which is a great place to do them — was able to calm myself down because I’ve been doing body check ins for so long. And then go, oh I know what I need to do now. I need to come out and have a money date with my husband in the car dealership where we can ask a series of questions like — do we have the cash flow for this? Is this type of car — it was and elec — our first little electric Leaf car. Is it in alignment with our values? Yes. Will this impact our larger goal of buying a home one day and just having a money date and going through our series of questions —

DAVID:
I like that.

BARI:
But then afterwards after we leave the car dealership with the car — with not the car and then evaluating how did that money decision go? How do I feel now? And so on. So, the body check in is before during and after. You know as many moments as you can remember.

DAVID:
It’s such a good approach to develop a practice that can regulate your — money is so triggering of emotions. And if you are able to somewhat control your emotions — then you are able to control your money a bit better. So, I really see that as like a of really good root. What are other — some practices that you would add to — once the body practices kind of developed and integrated into the process? You know there is the books that you can manage — but is it just writing down your income, writing down your outcome.

BARI:
Okay great. And I’ll just say you said, control your emotions — and a lot of people want to control the relationship to money or be in control — you know that’s a word — one word I’ve heard over the years. I don’t know if it’s so much controlling your emotions because it’s not like one day they’re just going to go away, right. Although we would like them to in moments sometimes, but it’s learning how to be in relationship with them, right? It’s learning how to pause — catch them in the moment. So, it’s not fully overwhelming you, naming what they are, feeling them, working with them in the moment and then going into the practical, you know. So, just wanted to say that.

DAVID:
I like that. Thank you.

BARI:
And they diminish over time, but it’s all about learning how to have a relationship with them. If you’re sensitive being you’re gonna have emotions and there’s nothing wrong with that, right?

DAVID:
Oops sorry.

BARI:
No, no just wanted to clarify that —

DAVID:
I’m a little sensitive here.

BARI:
We are.

DAVID:
We’re all sensitive here.

BARI:
We are.

DAVID:
Just having like an expression of it you know I love it.

BARI:
Yeah, in the bathroom or wherever it is. So, next is — I mean there’s layers to understanding what the set of emotions are, doing work around family of origin — you know what did you learn from your family? Who was raising you? What —

DAVID:
How were they raised?

BARI:
How were they raised, well —

DAVID:
Where is it coming from?

BARI:
Exactly. I like to go pretty far back. I like to go to grandparents, or you know my grandparents all escaped Russia, which is now Ukraine and what was that story and what did they have to leave behind and begin again and are you an immigrant and first generation or second and — or your parents are entrepreneurs and on and on and on. Most of them did not receive a healthy financial education so they have their own missing pieces and they don’t know what to teach us or you know they have their own biases and all that. So, again we learn some things well there are many things we didn’t learn well — that’s an important piece of this as to even the same siblings that you know I came from a family of three. We all do money differently — even though we are raised by the same people. You know, one was a spender, one was a saver, one was — you know that’s always — so there’s a lot of work to be done. I don’t want you to get stuck there, but I do like to go back a bit to understand that. And then to notice where in your life needs forgiveness — you know forgiveness for you, for your parents — for there’s so much work there. Okay. That’s the whole money healing phase.

The next phase is all the practical stuff. And some people say do I need to finish the first part? Do I need to be healed? No, it’s a lifelong journey. It’s not like you’re done with your money healing work and then we’re ready for the practical. Some people need to have the practical side by side when they’re doing some of the deeper work. They like to be learning Quicken or QuickBooks. They like to be doing something. They like to be taking action, you know. Other people in my year-long program they don’t want to get to the practical yet — they want many months of doing some of the deeper work. So that by the time they get to the practical they’re much more ready, they’re much more aware of what their stories are — their strengths, their challenges.

DAVID:
Foundation is solid and ready to go.

BARI:
And they have the tools. They have that body check in and other tools so when they sit down for a money date if they freak out or need to go take a break or having a strong feeling, they can work with it. Right? And so, it still may be scary you know to learn a bookkeeping system, but the next step — the next step for me is learning a tracking tool and whether you are someone like my husband who one night taught himself Mint and taught himself iBank in just a couple hours. I was like what — you know like that’s — okay, you know that’s the easy part for him — you know?

DAVID:
He’s on your team too so —

BARI:
He’s on my team too. Exactly. We — each have our different strikes and challenges on money. He could train himself like that. I as I mentioned earlier needed many months. I needed a trainer. I needed a box of tissue. I needed dark chocolate, but it’s so important to whether you teach yourself, whether you got a trainer — is to learn a bookkeeping system or learn a tracking tool. There are lots of apps. I’m not as familiar with the apps, but there’s all that. Learn — start to learn what your numbers are. Start to befriend them. Start to familiarize yourself with what’s coming in, what’s going out. What are the patterns — there’s always patterns.

DAVID:
Collect the data. Get a version of what the actuality is and then start to make a plan it sounds.

BARI:
Well then you can make a plan, right.

DAVID:
You can’t really guess.

BARI:
Well, lots of people do. I used to. I mean in graduate school my bank statements would come and they’d go right to the trash. I didn’t know what to do with them. I was like, what is this? But you know and I didn’t want to deal with it. So, and we’re just scared — we’re just scared to look because we do make meaning out of it — it does tell stories, right. And again, it’s not like the emotions are going to completely go away, but they can diminish, and you can befriend it. And a lot of people say well if the numbers are so small — why should I look at them or I do — what do they call it — not imaginary bookkeeping. Ah — they do bookkeeping in their mind, you know. And it’s worked. Some people feel like if I look at the numbers then my flow is going to stop, you know. You know, I’ve seen the rare person who I met at Naropa years ago — a dear old friend. He didn’t need to do bookkeeping — it came, it went. That is really unusual.

DAVID:
Trust.

BARI:
Right — and trust is beautiful. But most of us — I love the trust and I love all of those deeper practices. But I also love the numbers. And when I started learning the numbers — my stress decreased tremendously. I then knew what was there, what was not. I wasn’t playing games anymore.

DAVID:
Yeah, I like that.

BARI:
And then from there I could also start to plan or vision, which I wasn’t able to do before. And then I started playing around the numbers and it was everything from what’s my money ceiling? And in graduate school you know I was making 11 dollars an hour and had never gone beyond that. Did not know how — you know even when I got the master’s degree and went back to the mental health field job, I was working it was like I got the master’s degree now let’s bump me up — they’re like nope you don’t have enough points. And that infuriated me.

DAVID:
Wait a minute.

BARI:
Wait a minute. And then I thought for a moment oh I’m going to become an advocate for all the social workers and counselors and therapists. And I had a moment and then I realized that’s actually not who I am — that’s not my skill set. Grateful for other people who are activists and do that. I chose to go at it a different way and I started going how can I move past this money ceiling of eleven dollars an hour. And that was actually when I took the detour and got the first accounting job at Rudy’s Organic Bakery and they offered me thirteen an hour and then bump me up to 15. And then I was taught QuickBooks and the contractor said, I’ll pay you 20. And once you learn in a few months I’ll bump you up to 25.

DAVID:
Nice.

BARI:
So, for me starting to see what your numbers actually are and track them — then you can start to see what is your money ceiling. Do you want to move beyond that? Why? What will you be doing with that money? You know?

DAVID:
And essentially by knowing your money ceiling it actually will make more money for you because you won’t have overdraft fees — you actually know what’s happening. You know the numbers in your bank account.

BARI:
And we all have money leaks. You know, I call those money leaks — the overdraft. When you start looking you start to see that Netflix charge — maybe you’re using it — or the gym charge — maybe you’re not. You start to see oh there is an overcharge or mistake here and we all have that — and we — some people feel so much shame around that. But if you’re not looking that’s going to happen. But if you just are brave enough you know to start looking then you can start to see.

So, tracking is so important, and it take — it can take months to learn. You might need a hand holder, but that’s when you can start to see what are the patterns like? What’s working? What’s not and then you start moving into what I call the money maps. But in the practical, I needed to add in other things to make it fun, to make it more creative, to make it more engaging. And 18 years ago, one of the first things I said was how do we add in the values. Because I had read a book by Gloria Steinem where she starts like in the middle the book it came out of nowhere. All the sudden she was like, what if one day if I was just walking across the street and all the sudden I got hit by a car and I was down on the ground and everyone who saw it started running over to me to see if I was ok and they grabbed my purse and they started looking at my purse to see who I was. And they opened up my checkbook and they started seeing like what’s important to me? Who am I — by looking at my checkbook. It was this whole little like — I don’t know what it was — it was just like out of nowhere in the middle of the book and I was like, what are you talking about? You’re talking about values and money and what’s important to people and will people know what’s important you by the way that you earn and spend your money and mind was blown.

So, when I started creating what I now call, “Art of Money” and I used to call, “Conscious Bookkeeping” everyone was doing values based financial planning and they wanted you to invest and align with your values and I was like, what about your bookkeeping. I want to see what’s important to you in your chart of accounts and in your bookkeeping. And so, from the beginning it was like, how am I going to make this seemingly boring and dry mundane thing called the bookkeeping more interesting and more creative. And so, I would have people rename their categories according to their values. And renaming things may not seem like such a big deal. It’s like — it’s just a name. But I think there’s power and there’s intention and there’s creativity —

DAVID:
Well there’s certain resonance to what people are hearing. And so, they’re like oh I resonate with that. What is that?

BARI:
Yes, and it goes deeper than that — it’s also here a few examples. So, at the beginning I was like how do you rename rent or mortgage? You don’t go so deep there, but people would come up with home or sanctuary or love shack. Ok, you know that could change it. So instead of like — I’m sending money over to my damn rent — you know it’s like wait a second. Does this feel good? Does it feel like home? Does it feel like a sanctuary? Two more examples — I was working with someone and she was heading into her thirties and creativity was becoming so important to her. She was working in the finance field and feeling somewhat bored with that. And so, she wanted to start taking theater classes again it had always been her dream to be in plays and — and so we looked at her numbers and we’re like there’s nothing here for creativity. So, she created a category for creativity and under that had theater classes and dance classes — she started tracking her numbers and a kept being zero — she would print out the report and it would be zero next to creativity. And that went on for six months. And finally, then at the end of six months it was like, that’s it. Like I’m not living in accordance with my value. Like I’m not walking my talk. This is so important to me and I’m not spending money in this way. And then she signed up for that theater class. And she signed up for the dance classes and then she was in Miss Saigon and she was in Vagina Monologues and it made such a difference in the quality of her life. And that was simply by adding in a category called, creativity. I’m going to — one more example.

DAVID:
I love it. You got to make space for it. I like that.

BARI:
Yeah. Yeah. So, this is about a debt because we usually are like that damn debt or that terrifying debt or that time in my life and we feel shame around it, you know. And so, instead of that debt Bank of America — you know where we’re afraid to look at even the number — let alone come up with a payment plan. You know? I worked with someone and she had a debt. And so, we sat down, and I said, so what time of your life was this? What was going on for you? Was this the transition phase because in a long life we’re all going to have like things going well and then life’s going to happen you know — and whether we’re intentionally transitioning like leaving a corporate job to start our own business, having baby number one, two — having health issues — you know being in a spiritual crisis you know —

DAVID:
Things come up.

BARI:
Life happens, right. So, what was this for you. For her it happened to be a whole journey to Italy that changed the course of her life — changed who she was. So, this wasn’t such a huge thing, but this is what the debt was. And so, she renamed — it’s like my big Italian — you know experience or journey that changed the course of my life. And then suddenly the energy shifted, and she was able to sit down and look at how much the debt was without being terrified. She was able to come up with a monthly payment plan that seemed reasonable based on what the finance charge was. And so on — she was able to form a relationship and honor this time of her life. What it really was. What it gave her. Rename it. Then she was able to repay it.

One last one about debt. I worked with a guy who was an accountant. So, comes from traditional accounting — had never heard of this valued based renaming category thing. Thought it was like really out there, but they had a lot of debt because his wife had gone through cancer and survived cancer. And so, he renamed their debt to something like — I have more time with my wife.

DAVID:
Stop.

BARI:
And my wife you know just —

DAVID:
Wow, beautiful.

BARI:
Yeah, she’s alive. She made it through. We have more time — we have more life together. And he said just renaming it made such a difference in his relationship, his experience, his feeling about paying that down and paying that back and ok so this is where you know 18 years ago is like how can I make this more creative for folks. How can it make it have more meaning — deeper meaning? How can I have it be more playful for folks? The values based renaming covers all of that in different moments depending on if we’re talking about renaming an expensive, a debt category and so on.

DAVID:
Oh my God it’s so good. I actually do see a lot of potential within renaming things because in your relationship to the thing that you are renaming is also going to shift. So, that’s what it feels like you’re doing is to shift the relationship to something that you feel like the relationship isn’t as good as it could be — is to shift the way you look at the thing and therefore the relationship is inherently going to change too. So instead of like my school debt I can call it like my empowering moment of becoming educated in a field that I felt resonating with at that time. Other than calling it school debt. You know, so it just feels really beautiful to be able to understand relationships shifts and we are empowered to shift them ourselves once we have the tools and the techniques to learn how to do it and you are helping people do that. We only have like a couple minutes left. You’ve just like blown through it. I love it so much and I feel like you’re giving us so much information to focus on. I would just love for you to shout out your book and maybe also your website and maybe your — how people can follow you because I feel like some people might want to go deeper with you and maybe follow you and understand what’s going on here. So, can you just tell them how to reach you.

BARI:
Sure. So first my book, “The Art of Money: A Life Changing Guide to Financial Happiness” —

DAVID:
It’s a beautiful book. I am staring at it right now.

BARI:
Thank you. I’m on the cover. That wasn’t the original plan.

DAVID:
There’s no chocolate on the cover.

BARI:
True. True. Just tea or a mocha, you know. Yeah. There was no dark chocolate in that. Yeah, I wasn’t supposed to be on the cover. The design was not working over and over and finally they said hey, what do you think about being on the cover? And I was like, oh no. And then anyway it worked out — its right. So, this book came out 2 1/2 years ago and it’s my entire methodology in this almost 300 page book. So, I go through the money healing, money practices, money maps in detail as you’ve seen my tools and practices are very simple yet they’re pretty profound when practiced so we can go pretty deep. And also, the book — there’s a lot of storytelling because I really read non-fiction. I read novels and memoirs, so memoirs are non-fiction but like I love stories. And so, there’s a lot of stories of how I walk this talk in my own life, my own journey — me and my husband — now we’ve a 10 year old. So, money in that — you know in real life. And then also stories from the community — from people from all different economic backgrounds. So, it’s filled with stories and it’s filled with all the tools. So that — that happened 2 1/2 years ago which was a lifelong dream to be published and to have that out and there maybe is a second book on the table. Maybe — we’ll see. I have other projects too — so you can find me at BariTessler dot com which is B-A-R-I T-E-S-S-L-E-R. I have a great blog. I give a lot of free content every two weeks. There’s a new article and / or podcast interview. Yeah, so there is a lot going on — on the site as far as content. What else? Social media. My favorites are Facebook and Instagram.

DAVID:
Yeah. Weren’t you recently on a cover of a magazine?

BARI:
I was. I was. So, that was fun. I was on the cover of Mindful magazine and that came out just a few months ago and was in Whole Foods across the country —

DAVID:
Was it August or October?

BARI:
It came out in August, but it was the September / October issue.

DAVID:
Staring at it as well. It’s right there.

BARI:
It’s right there — yeah — were in my office so I have my book and my magazine everywhere. That was really fun. It was great to be on the cover, but there’s a 10 page spread of my work inside and it’s a book excerpt and —

DAVID:
Wow!

BARI:
And the design that they did —

DAVID:
10 pages.

BARI:
10 pages. I know.

DAVID:
You are the magazine always the best media exposure and experience I’ve ever had in 18 years.

DAVID:
Super cool.

BARI:
Thank you. Thank you.

DAVID:
Awesome. Yeah, I’ve been to your website and you do have a lot of free content. You do have a lot of different types of free content — it’s not just like one route — there is a lot of different sort of variations you can scroll through. Because I — when I was researching you, I was just looking through it all — I’m like there’s a lot of stuff here. Geez.

BARI:
There’s stuff on being a mamma-preneur. There’s a lot of stuff on being a creative entrepreneur. There is stuff on the money maps and the money practices and couples and money and so on. Yeah. This is a never ending interest for me.

DAVID:
I’m going to start having some money dates with myself. I sorta do it. I do it old school. I take like a little ripped piece of paper off of a bill that I’m supposed to pay and then I just start writing down all the numbers. I like doing the arithmetic. I like actually writing the math out. There’s something aesthetically pleasing about that. I don’t know —

BARI:
You do my husband’s old school version. He doesn’t do that anymore, but before he learned the Mint years ago when I first met him — he would get out a piece of paper and write out what’s coming in and his expenses — you know and that’s how he did it. There’s no right way. There’s no perfect system. There’s no — what’s the best intuitive system — whatever system you’re using — that’s what works — that’s the working system.

DAVID:
So just finding a method that you like to use, but showing all methods and maybe trying them all out?

BARI:
Trying a few — you know and if you — I mean that might work — what you’re doing — or if you want to update it or upgrade it — whichever year we can — you know, then maybe you explore one of those other systems and see how it feels and see what changes.

DAVID:
Oh man it was so wonderful speaking with you. I love hearing your enthusiasm. I love hearing all the stories and also the perspectives of how to advance yourself within developing your relationship, developing your money, developing a watchful heart of noticing what is actually happening and not being so afraid of it. To empower yourself — to empower your lover, your partner, your family, your relationships to everything. I love how it’s all inclusive. And it’s very diverse and it’s not just this one little facet that’s over here and I don’t like to look at it every now and again other than when I have to.

BARI:
Yeah, it’s about money. It’s not about money. And everything from Naropa — you know everything that I was steeped in as you can clearly see has influenced my financial therapy work, my Art of Money work, my life, my marriage, my parenting — you know that was such an incredible fun foundation that I’m so grateful for. And it just had some missing pieces that threw me on this other trail that became my life’s work.

DAVID:
Destiny. I love it. Awesome, well thank you so much for sharing all your tricks and tips and just your wonderful self and your soul and your heart with us. I really appreciate it.

BARI:
Thank you.

DAVID:
So, I’d like to think Bari Tessler for joining me on the podcast today. She is a financial therapist, a mama-preneuer and she is also the founder of the art of money and she also wrote the book, “Art of Money” as well. So, thank you again for speaking with me.

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On behalf of the Naropa community thank you for listening to Mindful U. The official podcast of Naropa University. Check us out at www.naropa.edu or follow us on social media for more updates.

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