An interview with Maria Nemeth, author of You and Money: Would It Be All Right with You if Life Got Easier? and The Energy of Money: A Spiritual Guide to Financial and Personal Fulfillment
Diane: Maria, I've been so excited to speak with you since I discovered your work! Would you please describe what you teach?
Maria: Yes, of course. My work is based upon the premise that we are all heroes on a hero's journey. Joseph Campbell says that the extent to which you and I can see ourselves on a hero's journey is the extent to which we gain access to a sense of meaning that we might not ordinarily have.
I've come to see over the years that we truly are here on a hero's journey, and that furthermore we are here to become conscious conduits of energy.
Diane: I'm very curious about how you went down this particular road for yourself. Was it passion or was it circumstance?
Maria: Well, nineteen years ago, in Sacramento, I got my big wake-up call. I loaned someone $35,000 on an unsecured promissory note and it turned out to be an investment fraud, similar to a pyramid scheme. I'd only known the man for three months, and it wasn't even my own money. I'd borrowed it from a relative at ten and a half percent interest because the man to whom I gave this money said I would earn 32 percent on my investment. The scheme was fraudulent and I lost all the money. I was so embarrassed because all my friends and relatives told me not to do it. Even the little voice inside said don't do it. And I did it anyway.
After I discovered what had happened, I hid in my office (I had a full private practice at the time) and avoided all my friends and tried to make all the money back.
But as you know, when you run from your lessons they follow you anyway. About three months after this incident, I got a call from a reporter from the Sacramento Bee, who said, ''Dr. Nemeth, I'm writing an article and I need your help because you're a well-known clinical psychologist.'' Of course I agreed to help. And she said, ''I don't know if you know this, but there have been a lot of investment frauds over the past few months. People have lost money right and left.'' And then she said to me, ''I need to know, from a clinical psychologist, what kind of person gets taken by these deals. What is their diagnosis? You must have seen many of them in your private practice.''
Of course, I was one of the ones she was referring to. And the worse was yet to come, because I'm an extrovert, and even before I could catch the words they were out of my mouth and I told her of my situation.
At one point she said, ''Are you sure you want to tell me your story?'' Years later, I realized that I must have turned and faced my lesson at that point, because I remember saying to her, ''You might as well write about this, because I'm not a dummy, but I've done some pretty dumb things. And if someone can learn from my mistake, it will take some of the sting out of it for me.''
So sure enough, she wrote about me in the article. And of course my friends, colleagues, and relatives called. But instead of saying, ''We told you so,'' they started talking to me about their relationship with the energy of money.
I discovered it was problematic no matter how much or how little money people had. The message was always the same all experienced a sense of disempowerment with this energy. I then decided to lead a course that I needed to take myself you know the old adage, ''If you want to learn it, teach it.'' And so I started the ''You and Money'' course about eighteen years ago.
Diane: Earlier, you mentioned that you teach people to become ''conscious conduits of energy.'' Please explain what you mean by that.
Maria: Sure. I'll talk about the word ''conscious'' first. The four components to being conscious are clarity, focus, ease, and grace.
''Clarity'' means that you're clear on what the target is in front of you. That you are allowing yourself to see the goals and dreams that are literally in front of you with your name written all over them.
''Focus'' means that you are not disbursing your energy. You're using it in a very orderly fashion to bring about what you want. Many of us have a lot of energy, but we are simply not focused with it.
Then there is ''Ease.'' One of the success principles I talk about begins with the question, ''Would it be all right with you if life got easier?'' Success is doing what you said you would do, and doing it with ease, not with struggle. When you're struggling, very often what you are doing is wasting energy.
Finally there is ''Grace.'' We can access Grace with gratitude gratitude for being on the hero's journey, knowing that we are a part of something that is much bigger than we are. And gratitude for the willingness to wake up to our hero's path and access everything we are here to do with our lives.
Diane: Are you talking about accessing the contribution we are to make to the world?
Maria: Yes. Our contribution to our community, our family, our friends, our church group our contribution to literally everything we do no matter how small, on a day-by-day basis.
Now I will define ''Conduit.''
A conduit is simply a way of getting energy from one place to another in a very step-by-step, orderly, systematic fashion similar to how a water pipe delivers water.
Energy requires a conduit, for without that, energy is nothing but pure potential. This is good for ecstatic experiences, but in order to do something in physical reality energy must be channeled through a vessel or conduit. We as humans are that conduit.
Think of a pipe which carries water from one place to another. Water pipes often accumulate sludge they often get gunked up with years of use. If a pipe has sludge in it, no matter how much water you try to force through it, not much will be available to water the garden. So it is with our life. We, as human conduits, also collect sludge. Sludge is all of our unkept or unfulfilled promises, things that we promised we would do. Energy cannot get through to water the garden of our dreams.
And just like a water pipe, we can develop leaks in places where we are unconscious, and our energy can leak and be wasted. If you keep putting more and more water through a leaky pipe it will eventually blow the pipe! We see this a lot with people who win the lottery or inherit money only to be losing it within a couple of years because they were not equipped to handle this form of energy. This is primarily because they hadn't taken care of all their energy leaks.
Sometimes I suggest that people record their spending. As an example, I suggested to a woman I was working with that she track every penny she spent during the course of a day. One of the things she discovered was that she was spending seven dollars a day on capuccino and croissants! And here was a woman who hadn't had a good vacation in five years! She realized that she was so used to coming in to work each morning, having her capuccino and croissant, that she wasn't even tasting it. It was all unconscious, just something she did every day. Seven dollars a day times 220 working days a year is over $1,400 after-tax income that she was losing to an activity she wasn't even enjoying.
That's part of leaking. When you leak money, you don't end up enjoying it at all. That's why it is so important to become a ''conscious'' conduit.
Diane: In your workshops you talk about six forms of energy we are here to work with. What are they?
Maria: They are money, time, physical vitality, creativity, enjoyment, and relationship. Let me explain about each one.
Joseph Campbell says that money is ''congealed energy.'' We can hold it in our hands and do things with it.
Then there is the energy of time. In our culture, time is a commodity just like money. Many people say ''just wait until I retire, I'm going to rest and relax. Then I'll do it.'' When they finally retire, one of two things happens. Either they are more busy than ever before, or they end up sick. Therefore, it's important to use time properly now!
The third is the energy of physical vitality, and by that I mean having a partnership with your body. I don't mean the ability to bench-press three hundred pounds or run a marathon. What I'm really talking about is having a relationship with your body that supports what you're here to do in life allowing your body to be your partner. Because your body is the way in which you can make your contribution here.
The next form of energy is the energy of creativity. Each one of us has a unique contribution to make by giving something that we do well, something that we're here to add to the lives of others. You know when you're engaged in this kind of energy, because time seems to stand still and you have a sense that you're in the right place and everything is perfect.
The ineffective use of creativity occurs when we try to be cunning or crafty when we try to beat the system, and when we try to get around the law, whether it be spiritual law or civil law when we try to get something for nothing.
When we use our creativity in this way, it takes from us the ability to use it in the most positive or effective way.
The next form of energy is the energy of enjoyment. Not the instantaneous gratification of all of our whims. I call that ''consuming life.'' I'm talking about being able to savor what's in front of us, being able to appreciate it. The extent to which we learn to have the energy of enjoyment is the extent to which our lives are fulfilled.
I'll give you an example of savoring. A friend of mine by the name of Carolyn is very slender. You can see the act of savoring in how Carolyn approaches a hot fudge sundae very calm and very slow, only eating what she wants. If you were to see me with a hot fudge sundae, you'd see me down it in ten minutes.
We can carry this metaphor through all of life. And a good question to ask ourselves is, ''Do I savor or consume my life?''
And finally, the energy of relationship. I've found that people who are successful see themselves as being part of a larger whole, or one among many.
When we allow ourselves the energy of relationship, we find that we are not meant to go it alone. We are literally meant to allow ourselves to give other people support, and let them support us. True abundance occurs when you always allow that which is around you to nourish you.
You know, many of us think abundance means looking for something outside of ourselves, something new that we have to get. One of the things that happens in our culture is we think the answer to all our problems is ''just give me more'' a bigger car, a bigger salary. Abundance is not about that. Abundance really has to do with loving, appreciating, and enjoying, first of all, what we have before us. And then out of that expanding into something else.
When people first come to work with me, they think that abundance means having more of something. And that's not always the case. Don't get me wrong, people who take my workshops end up, if they really want to, making a lot more money. But at some point you need to ask yourself, ''What is it that has real meaning for me? What is it that really warms my soul?'' And the moment we get in contact with that, there lies the possibility of true abundance.
Diane: Give me some examples of sludge that occur in the six forms of energy.
Maria: Well, as I said, there are all kinds of sludge. With money, it can be when you haven't balanced your check book, you don't know your net worth, or you don't have a current credit report. It could be outstanding credit card debt, or even that you haven't made your will or revocable living trust.
When it comes to physical vitality, it is when you've promised to exercise or eat right and you're not doing it, or when you're not getting enough sleep that's sludge.
With time sludge, it's when you waste time everyday in some kind of pursuit that brings you nothing.
Relationship sludge can be when you've been rude to a coworker or loved one and you haven't cleaned it up. Or if you've promised to buy a loved one a birthday present and you haven't done it yet.
We take sludge with us into every part of our life. You can see, if we don't clean it up and we go into a new creative project thinking that the answer to our dilemma is to pray for more energy, how much waste and leakage can happen.
So you see the work I do with people is not just about money. It's about prosperity and how to become a conscious conduit of energy so that you can actually go for what it is you want in life without dragging a lot of baggage behind you.
Diane: I liked what you said about the difference between savoring and consuming. Many people are in financial ''survival'' and if they get a little something extra they usually come from fear and either use it up quickly or horde it.
Maria: And they don't savor what they have.
You know, I don't even talk about fear in my work. It's not that I don't recognize that it exists, it's just that as a psychologist of twenty-six years and a seminar leader for thirty years, I've found that there are a lot of seminars and literature on fear.
When I work with people, I acknowledge, yes, there is fear. But I teach them to shift the focus of their attention away from the preoccupation with their fear to something that is far more interesting conversations regarding who they are, what their hero's path is what they are here to contribute, and how are they going to allow themselves to be supported in doing that. I teach them to become fascinated with these questions instead of being fascinated with their fears and always analyzing them.
I'm not saying it isn't a good pasttime. It just does not provide us with the joy, the sense of spaciousness, generosity of spirit, and compassion that can be ours to experience when we focus on other questions.
Diane: In my experience, many people dislike their jobs and long to be doing something else for their income. I'm fully convinced that the world would be a much happier place if we all were doing something we loved for our financial sustenance. But many people don't have a clue what their passion is. . .
Maria: You're right. Many people are not in touch with this. In my four-and-a-half day course that I conduct in Sacramento, my guarantee is that if you come and let me coach you, you will discover your passion. It will no longer be a question. The question you will have then is, ''What is it that I truly want to do next?''
Diane: Would you agree that curiosity is one of the things that can lead you to your passion?
Maria: Curiosity is wonderful. It is a healing balm. Pema Chodren, who is a Tibetan Buddhist Nun and has a monastery in Nova Scotia, wrote, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness , and in her book she says, you know, so many of us want to be comfortable in life that's all we want to be is comfortable. You can see this in human beings and animals and insects. All of us are the same. But a far more courageous, open, compassionate and joyous life is to become curious about how we have everything hooked up. Not caring that the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet, but simply to become curious about what it means to be a human being.
So you're absolutely right. If you can become curious about something, at that moment it is the greatest antidote to fear I know. Not that you won't feel fear, but in the face of curiosity, fear simply becomes less interesting.
Diane: Another question I have is one that my friends and I discuss quite a lot here in South Florida. There is a lot of money here in our area, and we see this when we walk on the beach and look at the high-rise condos facing the ocean. In the summertime, they are all closed up, and so we know that these million-dollar properties are just sitting empty and that the owners are obviously somewhere else for the summer. We who are sometimes struggling and dreaming of a more financially abundant life ask how so many people come to have this type of wealth? And how is it that so many seemingly spiritually unconscious people have an abundance of money?
Maria: Well, abundance is not about having a lot of money, believe it or not, because there are people who have lots of money who don't have a sense of fulfillment and enjoyment.
Diane: I'm sure of this.
Maria: So if you're after a lot of money, I can tell you how to go out and make money immediately. Seriously! If what you want is just money, there are many things you can do. Go and get an MBA, then go work in a bank or brokerage firm. Begin working with money, and you will begin making lots of money.
But you see, the issue is not how to have a lot of money, it's how to use the money you do have in a conscious way.
For instance, you've got to ask yourself the question, ''Do I want twenty million dollars really?'' Because if you do, get that MBA no kidding! Many people who have taken my courses end up going back to business school. They end up becoming heads of corporations and making a lot of money.
But the more important question is, ''Am I more interested in having a sense of being spiritually alive!''
When I work with people, I ask them, ''How much do you want to make a month, and how do you do it with clarity, focus, ease, and grace?'' That's where your power really comes from. Do you want a sense of generosity of spirit? Do you want a sense of spaciousness? Do you want a sense of compassion? Do you want a sense of ease and gratitude? Do you want to be focused and clear?
If that is truly what clients want, I coach them in that first. And then we apply that to their relationship with the forms of energy I talk about. Yes your income may shift, but the ultimate end is that you are a lot happier.
Diane: Is there a question that people normally do not ask you?
Maria: Well, my life has been about discovering specific tools that if people use them will bring about a transformation in their lives. So it's interesting that one of the questions people never ask me is, ''Do these tools really work.'' I wish people would ask me, because the truth is that they truly do work. But in order to have them work you must allow yourself to use them. And sometimes one of the barriers to using tools whether it be the one's I'm talking about or any spiritual tools is that we immediately confront ''Monkey Mind.''
Monkey Mind is a Buddhist term that stands for that aspect of the mind that is always chattering at us as it swings from doubt to worry and back to doubt again. It is that aspect of the mind that is always regretful about the past and worried about the future and has to go rationalizing on and on. It is the aspect of our mind that tells us, ''I would turn back if I were you, it's not going to work. Don't even try, don't even hope for it because it simply isn't going to work.''
As heros, one of the things that we need to do when setting out on our journey is to be willing to practice the tools that are before us no matter what Monkey Mind says. Insight and illumination are one thing, but we must be willing to take the tools that are offered and begin to use them, or we won't see sustaining results.
So the thing that I wish people would ask is, ''Does this stuff really work, or is it just another batch of hot air.'' And yes! It does work, but you've got to use the tools.
Diane: And this is displayed in your own life?
Maria: Oh, yes. Now don't get me wrong. I'm a work in progress. The more you clear away, the more you see what needs to be handled. It's not like you really ever ''arrive.''
But there is such joy and ease with practicing these principles and ''doing it.'' Because your money starts working out and you do have more fun. You make the money you want to be making. You use it and you keep more of it. You don't leak it and you don't horde it. You are able to use it towards the end you want it to be used for. The same is true in your relationships and with your physical vitality and your sense of creativity. But you have to work the tools!
If you'd known me twenty years ago, you would have seen someone creative and ambitious but pretty well scattered and not doing what I came here to do.
Diane: What courses are you teaching currently?
Maria: Four years ago I stopped my private practice and I have been traveling around the country giving one-and-a-half-day seminars sponsored by Conference Works. I get to work with people at really a level of depth that you wouldn't expect for a day and a half. Then if people want to they can join me in Sacramento for the ''You and Money'' seminar, which is a four-and-a-half-day course.
Then I have another course that I developed about seventeen years ago which is called ''Coaching the Spirit Opening Your Heart with Ease.'' I teach people how to coach others in becoming conscious conduits of energy. People from all walks of life come and take this course. You've got to go through ''You and Money'' first, because you have to clear away all your blocks before you can become an effective coach for others. People are coming from all over the world for it. I'm also teaching my first course in Bristol, England, in October!
Diane: Terrific! Good luck with your new endeavors. And thank you, Maria.
has coached thousands of people across the country to attain what they want in life. Using money as the medium and the message, she shows people how to shift their relationship with money (and the other energy centers of life) from scarcity to abundance, emphasizing the development of authentic action with ease.
A former associate clinical professor at UC-Davis School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, and a nationally recognized seminar leader, Maria has over thirty years' experience as a clinical psychologist. She has taught at Esalen, Mt. Madonna, and the Omega Institute. She's also given seminars for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Association of Unity Churches, and the Universal Foundation for Better Living. Maria is the originator of the "You and Money"(R) workshop.
Maria is the author of You and Money: Would It Be All Right with You if Life Got Easier?
and The Energy of Money: A Spiritual Guide to Financial and Personal Fulfillment
(chosen as a main selection of the One Spirit Book Club). Sounds True produces her award-winning audio tape series "The Energy of Money."
To find out more about the work of Maria Nemeth, visit her websites at youandmoney.com
- Joseph Campbell; American writer on mythology and comparative religion who gained fame with such works as The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1948), an examination of the archetype of the hero, The Masks of God (1959-1968), exploring the complex mythological heritage and its implications for modern humanity, and the multi-volume Historical Atlas of World Mythology (1989). Campbell's theories were made popular with a Public Broadcasting System series of television interviews with Bill Moyers. The PBS interviews were also published as a book, which became a bestseller.
- The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron. Paperback 110 pages 1st Ed. edition (September 1991) Shambhala Pubns; ISBN: 0877736324
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