Last fall, my dear friend Bari Tessler Linden invited me to share the story of my relationship with money with her Art of Money community. The insightful questions in the interview, below, are hers. The responses, and the unfolding story, are mine. I share them with you because our stories have the power to heal and transform. My wish is that this post will invite you to explore your own money story, and move you to discover the rich possibilities of a deeper relationship with the Deva of money.
1. How would you describe your relationship with money?
My relationship with money is an intimate relationship between sovereign, loving, co-creative partners. Together, we shape a life, a business, a body of work and a world that serves wholeness, kindness, generosity and love.
The Deva of money has its own pattern of unfolding, as I have mine. I participate willingly and gratefully in its activity in the world, and it supports and nurtures my life and my creations.
We are soul-friends, sovereign and free, and devoted to each other. We love, support and nurture each other. Together, we are committed to shaping a world that serves and supports the perfect unfolding of all forms of life.
2. What are your strengths around your relationship to money? What really works for you in this area? Where do you rock with money? What are you proud of?
My greatest strength lies in my relationship with the Deva of Money. I love and appreciate the soul-essence of money, as well as its presence and activity in the world. I foster a culture a wholeness, integrity and sustainability in relationship to money through my own business practices, and through my writing, teaching and mentoring.
I’m proud of creating a body of work that helps conscious entrepreneurs transform their stories around money from tangled, painful patterns to clarity, belonging, right relationship and radiantly sustainable prosperity. I’m delighted to see my folks thrive and serve vibrant communities with their soul’s work.
It thrills me to see my folks welcome a consistent flow of money into their lives, and to develop ease and a sense of being at home with money.
I am grateful for the ways in which money nourishes my life. I honor its soul-essence, which is love, and am fascinated by its pattern and form — the ways in which it functions in the world.
My earliest experiences with money left me feeling outraged, shaken and powerless – they impelled me to understand and evolve a generative relationship with money. I was born and raised in India, where the uneven distribution of wealth distorts the lives of generations of people who have no hope of ever fulfilling their potential because their growing bodies don’t have the basic nourishment they need to survive, let alone to thrive.
In Bombay, the rich live in mansions or – increasingly – in luxury high-rise apartments, while outside the walls of their compounds, entire families are born, raised and die under makeshift shelters cobbled together from hammered tin cans and sheets of cardboard. Money, and the lack of it, shapes lives – profoundly — in ways that broke my heart over and over again as I was growing up.
How we approach money, individually and as a society, determines the kind of world we help to shape. On its own, money cannot create a just, generous and abundant society. But, with conscious human partnership, it can contribute to a world that provides beautifully for everyone.
To me, money is a creative force with the potential to help manifest any vision. The more holistic, expansive and generous the vision, the more positive the effects that money can have. I partner with the Deva of Money to give concrete shape to my values, and to support and nurture the people, places and causes that I love.
My gift is the ability to partner with money to create containers for deeper connection between soul and the incarnate world. With the help of the Deva of Money, I have created a home, a life and a business that offer spaciousness, ease, prosperity and beauty; delight, safety and support – as well as knowledge, skill, and creative mastery to everyone who enters my world.
3. I believe everyone has money shame. What is the Money Shame story you tell yourself? How does this show up in your life and business?
I honestly don’t feel shame around money. Even when I was young and surrounded by so much inequity and injustice, I was outraged and heartbroken, but not ashamed.
However, my stories about money have been shaped by my life experiences, and have evolved over time.
My dad used to say, “Money is like the dirt on your hands — brush it off before it clings to you.” Inevitably, he made and gave away several fortunes during the course of his entrepreneurial life. He was the first businessman of his generation to offer ownership shares to his workers and staff. He was incredibly generous with money, did not value it much, and played with money like a fish on a line – reeling it in, releasing his catch, casting again.
I don’t think it ever occurred to him that his ambivalence about money affected his family. Growing up, I never asked him – or anyone else — for what I wanted, because I knew that sometimes we were wealthy, and other times we were not. I didn’t want to embarrass my dad, or add to the tension that pervaded my parents’ marriage each time he gave away everything he had to a friend in need.
Instead, I turned to my Source for what I truly needed. I knew from a very young age that my provision, safety and security came from the Sacred, rather than from my family. This has been both a great blessing and an ongoing challenge in my life.
When my dad died, dozens of people came forward with stories about how he had paid for their children’s education from kindergarten through graduate school, through medical school, through law school and beyond; how he’d helped them build a home for their family, paid their medical bills, covered the expenses for their mother’s funeral; how he’d supported their work as artists so they could sculpt, carve, paint, make their art.
I understand his generous nature, because I share it. And, I have learned — through my life’s experiences, through my relationship with the Deva of Money — to temper generosity with discernment.
For a time, my money story was colored by my dad’s money story, until I reshaped and refined it to reflect my own truth.
Until I was in my thirties, I thought that right relationship with money meant detachment from desire. That I should not want it; that I should give it away freely when I had it, and be content with whatever came my way. I strove to live in a state of surrender and grace, trusting that what I needed would be provided, so long as I continued to do my soul’s work.
Like most stories, this one holds the nectar of truth in its heart. I did receive what I needed. And I was indeed provided for in miraculous ways.
But as I have grown in sovereignty, power and agency, my money story has changed. I understand now, what I had intuited at a very early age — that money is part of the activity of the Sacred in the world. And that right relationship with money is a dance of flow, of giving and receiving, of power and choice, of generating, creating, dissolving and birthing. It is grounded in love and respect, harmony and sovereignty, generosity and discernment, and co-creative partnership with its Deva.
My money story continues to evolve. For now, it is this: The more fully I embrace money — enjoy it, love it, appreciate it, and participate actively and generatively in its unfolding — the more fully it supports me in doing my soul’s work and contributing to the creation of a world I love. When I am in right relationship with money, I am able to joyfully support the people and causes dear to my heart, be generous and generative, and share the fruits of divine abundance with others.
4. What was a really tough money experience you went through? Please share the gory details. What did you do to get yourself through this time? What did you learn from it, and what are you doing differently because of it?
About 15 years ago, I was badly injured in a car crash which left me with several fractured vertebrae, damaged muscles, joints and ligaments, a traumatic brain injury, loss of vision in one eye, and excruciating, unrelenting pain, among other things.
My life as I had known it was changed forever.
I had a flourishing business, at the time, with a full complement of staff and an educational facility that served hundreds of students. I also had a young son still at home, a large house and gardens that were expensive and time consuming to maintain, and a husband who had recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness, and who wasn’t able to share in the care and support of our family.
It became increasingly clear that I could no longer continue to run my business at its existing scale, nor support the complex life we were living. I didn’t have the stamina to do more than the barest essentials – provide for my family, take care of my children, and heal my broken body. My husband was adamantly opposed to downsizing our home to something more manageable.
Faced with the truth of my body and its greatly diminished capacity, I ultimately made the difficult decision to close my business, end my marriage, and move to a small, rented condo with my younger son, who was just entering his teens at the time.
The next few years were a slow burn of intense, often painful healing and recovery. I struggled to work in the face of constant pain, to raise my son and to deal with the financial chaos that followed in the wake of my separation and divorce.
I emerged from that time with a deep respect for the true nature and power of boundaries and limits. I also deepened my practical understanding of how to transform obstacles into resources, and co-create my day-to-day world with the help of Devas and other allies.
The energy alchemy skills and inner patience and stability I had developed over a lifetime held me safely when there was little external safety to be found. My friends helped put ground under my feet, as did the kindness and skill of my physician, osteopath, massage therapist and other healing practitioners. Slowly, I rebuilt my health, my business and my finances.
This experience blessed me with a deeper, more loving and intimate relationship with the Deva of Money. I have experienced the loss of everything I thought was mine, and learned that nothing that is truly mine is ever lost – and that I cannot hold onto anything that does not belong to me. Loss opens the door to clarity, faith, and the life of the soul.
I know that abundance takes many forms. I recognize and honor its rhythms and cycles. I’ve learned how to stay calm in the face of adversity; how to remain financially fluid and flexible; how to feel safe and supported, no matter what. I know how to celebrate and appreciate the goodness that life brings me; how to hold the brimming cup of enthusiasm and expectancy, prosperity and support, without tipping it over by clinging to specific outcomes.
In many ways, these experiences have helped me refine and embody more fully everything I’ve learned and taught over the past forty years. Our souls create every experience to grow us – mine created a crucible in whose fire my money story was completely transformed.
5. Do you have a money practice? What does this look like for you? (e.g. Do you attend to your money relationship through a daily, weekly, monthly, and/or yearly practice? Do you have money dates? Do you use a bookkeeping system? Do you have a ‘budget-plan’?)
I take care of my money much the way I take care of everything else in my life – with daily care, attention to detail, a system that works for me, and the support of skilled professionals.
Since I have an ongoing, intimate friendship with the Deva of Money, we spend time together each day, usually in the early morning, when I do my inner work. I connect with the Deva of Money in a more focused way when I’m working on a specific project, or holding space for clients or colleagues to bring greater prosperity into their lives and businesses.
I pay all my bills online, as soon as they come in. And as I make each payment, I bless the payee, and the services and support they provide.
My system for tracking business income and expenses is homemade and low-tech — I’ve used it for over thirty years, and it works well for me. I print out and file all invoices, receipts, bills and so on in pre-arranged categories, as soon as I receive them. My assistant pulls detailed monthly banking reports, which are added to these files.
At the end of each quarter, my book-keeper enters all these into her system, and prepares quarterly statements and reports. I use these reports to track the shape of my business, to plan the quarter or the year ahead, make decisions about hiring and staffing, budget for marketing, business development and other business investments, and make strategic choices about when to create and launch new programs, product offerings, and so on.
My accountant prepares my corporate and personal tax returns at year end. Periodically, I meet with my accountant to clarify some aspect of my business’s finances, or to create a tax plan for the year ahead.
I also have an excellent lawyer who handles my business’s corporate reporting requirements, and who makes sure my will, power of attorney, medical representation, and other legal documents are up-to-date so that my executors can make financial decisions quickly and easily, if I should die or become incapacitated.
All of this is good governance, part of right relationship with money. It creates a stable financial foundation for me and my business.
6. I believe our money relationship is never “handled”. We’re always evolving, upgrading, tweaking and expanding our money lives. What are you working on right now? What’s new for you emotionally, practically, or spiritually with money? What’s the next level for you?
September is my birthday month, so for me, the New Year begins in September. This year, my mantra is: Make my life a celebration. A celebration of the beauty of this world. A celebration of sacredness and delight, community and profound relationship, abundance, prosperity and creative boldness.
Financially, this means enjoying the abundance I’ve created, letting myself rest in it, feeling the shifting boundaries of my money world, and being willing to show up and engage with what’s emerging there.
Right now, I’m adding to my team — providing my business with more solid, reliable, skilled support so it can keep growing sustainably, with wholeness as its central organizing principle, and serve even more of its right people.
The Deva of Money gently invites me to expand my understanding of the pattern it holds, for the unfolding of money in the world. And to participate in its work in a new way. In my program, Become Your Own Business Adviser, I offer energy alchemy skills for developing a deeper, more honest relationship with money. Now, I feel the call to explore and extend this work in partnership with others who are also working to create wholeness in relationship to money. It’s one of the main reasons I said yes, Bari, to your kind invitation to participate in this beautiful process of sharing our money stories.
As we heal our relationship with money, and shape new stories about its role in our world, we act powerfully to shape a world of sustainability, kindness, support and prosperity for all. I’m looking forward to how this journey unfolds, and what form my own contribution to this work will take.
7. What’s the most important nugget of money wisdom that you would wish to pass on to young people? What is the Money Legacy you would wish to leave?
Even in the narrowest of places, there lives a spirit of spaciousness, generosity, kindness, abundance and love. Money is an expression of the Sacred incarnate in the world. Meet it with curiosity, openness, respect, and love.
Your unique genius, gifts and talents are essential to the well-being of our world. Money gives you the support to cultivate your genius, and to express it in service to your community. Make it your sacred work to discover, honor, and express your soul’s gifts. Use them to co-create a world that is infused with the qualities you cherish. Develop a loving partnership with the Deva of Money, and become a generative, creative source of goodness and blessing.
The 2014 session of The Art of Money begins on January 15th. Although I haven’t personally experienced her program, I have enormous respect for Bari, and am honored to be a guest teacher in her program this year.
This is NOT an affiliate link — if you choose to take Bari’s program, I do not benefit financially in any way. However, I believe that healing our relationship with money can be the portal to healing so much else in our world. May you discover true love, and the deeper meaning of abundance, through your relationship with the Deva of money.