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The World Expects Something from You

This summer at my annual meditation intensive, I noticed a deeply ingrained pattern about achievement and expectation, held firmly in place since childhood. Witnessing others achieving and making progress on practice forms, I realized that I am not motivated by achievement, at all. For those familiar with the enneagram assessment typology, I scored only 1 answer within Type 3 (the Achiever). Typed as a 7 (the Enthusiast), I used to consider this amusing. For those familiar with Integral Theory and the Quadrants Lens, I orient from Upper Left, which means that I am motivated by meaning, in order to take action, see broad patterns, or relate with others. Finding meaning before anything else has always made the most sense to me. I mean, why bother with Life – in any way – unless there is a deeper meaning. Right?

Hmm, maybe, but what is here to explore?  It sounds good and looks good; and there is more.  Delving deeper we find truer meaning; here are a few “pith points” …

  • Sitting in open space on my cushion and walking the dry woods, wondering about achievement, I realized that in order to achieve, an expectation of achievement is usually present, preceding the accomplishment. In other words, expectation to realize a goal comes before accomplishing the goal.
  • Achievement, the inspiration to generate, is part of all human development. Depending upon our genetic make-up (nature) and the environment we are raised (nurture), our motivation and capacity to achieve comes to life.
  • Finances are fueled with expectations: spending within earnings, retiring at a certain age, going to college or sending a child to college, investing within a healthy risk tolerance. Expectations about these objectives drive achievement.
  • The body, my body, your body, brings us closest to the truth of expectation and achievement.

As the youngest of four children, each two years apart, my untrained parents had their hands, arms, legs and body filled to the brim with caring for us. As we grew up, the state of the home did not change much. The environment was active and my mother was always tending to dinner, a sick child, an activity, housework – movement of any kind.  My father left for work early in the morning and returned in the evening just before dinner. The routine offered little time for anything more than noticing my existence.  Reflection, conscious teachings, much less deeper nurturing, were beyond their abilities by the time I was born. My child’s mind interpreted my family’s expectations as the following: 1) Don’t mess up, i.e. don’t go to jail and embarrass us, 2) Don’t become a star or be wildly successful, i.e. don’t shame us by shining too bright, and 3) Just be average, i.e. graduate from high school and college.

If my life achievements are examined, they are sufficient. J Compared to western statistics on education, studies indicate that I am in the 28.8% of Baby Boomers who have earned a college degree.  Other achievements that matter to me, relationships, career, health, service have their own metrics. Ultimately how I engage and experience life in my body – heart opened and generous – is my primary metric on achievement. So, I am not complaining about, nor minimizing my accomplishments. Far more interesting for us is exploring expectations of achievement, and what comes before expectations.

My parents did not instill expectations around adult accomplishments; for one reason, they did not see me as an individual but as a part of a group of children. One must be seen fully – individually – in order to have expectations impressed upon them. I’m guessing that most, if not all, of us were not fully seen by our caregivers. Expectations implanted by caregivers may have been inspiring (or not). Your achievements may have come from the environment in which you were raised, or not.  But your accomplishments and actions come from some motivation that inspires you to be who you are and do what you do.

At the airport returning home from my retreat, with a renewed sense of the importance of seeing my children as individuals and the power of parental expectations, I called my freshly graduated son who is working full time at a job he loves. I shared my discoveries and stated, “If Dad and I have not impressed upon you that we see your gifts, and we expect you to nurture those gifts and share those gifts with the world, then it is your job to realize the world has these expectations.”

The world expects something from you. The world expects you to shine and share your gifts with others. Why bother having any talents if they are not shared? Gifts hoarded are not gifts. The world shares her gifts with you by teaching 1) recognition of unique abilities, 2) achievement of what is possible and 3) offering generously. The world asks nothing except that you recognize your gifts and share them. Otherwise your gifts become stale, atrophy and are lost forever. (See Be Moved and wisdom from Martha Graham!) Achievement, oriented toward recognition, development and sharing, fulfills the expectation the world asks of you. The beauty and magic of sharing is that when shared, the benefits return ten-fold. This means that our life fulfillment deepens and brightens.

If you are at a loss for how to share your gifts, begin with your motivation. What is, or are, your inner desires? What’s the practice that supports your understanding AND growth? Don’t go to your head. The answers will come from a memory, a “should”, or an idea planted from outside. Do go to your heart. These answers come from an authentic truth of your current motivation.  Explore this month’s 5 Minute Try-It as a suggestion. Click this link to view podcast

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O6lPyIA394

If you are fully aware of how to share your gifts, keep them coming and expand your capacity for impact. Include impact in your motivation… and watch how your gifts grow. How’s that for achievement?

Awake Achieving,

Sources:
Life Style-Baby Boomer Statistics
55placess.Com-Interesting Baby Boomer Facts

Sufficiency, Sharing, Soaring

Last month I scared a few folks with fire. Some were concerned, some were energized by my intensity igniting action, and some were confused. Some ignored the flames. All of these responses are beautiful and welcomed. But the pith point is: embodied sufficiency requires us to burn through the dregs of our complacency and be powerfully moved by situations, people and emotions. In other words, by being fully present to the “fiery” situations in life, my pissed-off-ness has carved out a cleaner, deeper, truer space of sufficiency, allowing for a pristine clarity from which to respond to situations, people and emotions. This is freedom. This is life.

Today, in late July, I feel joy, happy and inspired, more like water than fire, fluidly open to possibilities, and excited by a few discoveries. Tomorrow, or even this afternoon, I might be feeling something different. The ability to be present to what is, builds your ability to embrace and feel expanded sufficiency—and the tentacles reaching others get closer, generosity beginning to blossom. Can you feel the pull towards co-creation?

I have been reading reports on the explosion of the sharing economy. New ways are developing to co-own our possessions with others. Instead of the dire need to own (me, mine, myself), we are recognizing the intelligence and benefit of renting, sharing, and borrowing (we, us, everyone).  Years from now, I imagine we will look back on this time and see a huge transformation in what really matters. I can’t wait.

You are likely aware of some of the choices for sharing, such as Airbnb, Zip cars, Uber, Lyft, and local upscale clothing. Each day new ideas are ignited for optimizing the use of “non-owned” material goods. The Lexington Public Library in Massachusetts and the Nashville Public Library in Tennessee loan out musical instruments in addition to traditional books and movies. No doubt other libraries across the country are doing the same. The inventory of instruments is growing daily, thanks to those who recognize the value of music and the waste of an unused idle instrument. Can you hear the guitars hidden in the back of closets whining to be strummed?

What else is blossoming in the sharing economy? Transportation and recreation vehicles of many flavors: bikes, boards, boats and RVs (check out Spinlister, Boatbound, RVShare). The cost of buying and maintaining these toys is noteworthy – not only in dollars but also in time. Time is spent making repairs and funding maintenance rather than in their desired use with other people. Growing up in a boat-owning, fishing, water-skiing and -recreation family, I often heard the phrase, “the best boat is your friend’s boat.” Meaning, using another person’s boat optimized the experiences of boating activity. Essential enjoyment of a boat was the actual use on the water, and these times decreased over the passage of ownership, consuming time and energy in maintenance.

The sharing economy spreads into food consumption, expanding from physical nourishment to a nourishing experience (check out Feastly). Meal sharing and meeting new people at the same time could become our evolved new way of dining. Enjoying a special menu with a chef at his or her home, with others, is a budding scheme. Or, have you heard of, or perhaps participated in, a Pop-Up community dinner? Not so long ago on Facebook I enjoyed viewing a friend from Charleston S.C.’s photos of the pop-up community dinner in her neighborhood. Everyone was wearing white. On the lawn of the community park, portable card tables were lined up and decorated with tablecloths, utensils. Participants brought dishes to share with each other.

Sharing, expanding our embodied sufficiency to generosity, as we recognize opportunities to connect with others in new and fresh ways, supercharges our well-being toward soaring.  Over five years ago, maybe close to ten, I wrote about an innovative idea and website called: rentme.com. After a slow start and stumble, it folded. I don’t recall how long it lasted, but when I went to rent a wheelbarrow, it was no longer in operation. The concept of renting instead of owning a few years ago didn’t succeed; it was too early. But, now, in a climate of shifting values – as our planet suffocates and as we realize stuff no longer generates pleasure – we are open to connecting with others in a new way. This way of sharing, borrowing, and renting allows us to spread our wings in life.  We free up energy to direct toward that which gives us the most satisfaction, well-being and nourishment.

Sparking joy and ease,

P.S. Sparking joy is a phrase from the popular book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, by Marie Kondo. She offers a somatic practice of clearing your home of unwanted (non-joy-sparking) items that is both effective and easy.

On Fire. Pissed Off

Years ago I said to a male teacher that I felt really angry but there was no content to my anger. He replied, “I don’t know any woman who isn’t angry. In fact, if a woman is not angry, I wonder about her sanity.”

My geyser is roaring and the last vestiges of niceness, ladylikeness and sweet demeanor are gone. If you are not interested in bold truth-telling with spicy language, stop reading. My words are not for the faint of heart or the practice of idiot compassion. (If the phrase idiot compassion (1) offends you, meaning, you are triggered (hurt, defensive, skeptical), consider this moment an invitation to explore. Idiot compassion is innocent, unless it becomes a mask of being nice when a different response is necessary. No blame, judgment or criticism is present in my statement; we have all innocently practiced idiot compassion.)  Please understand, my fiery energy is in the service of truth, humanity, love and universal care. This “anger” energy is required to source power, clarity and determination on behalf of this precious life for all beings.  The essence of anger is clarity with energy that cuts through the fog of conceptions.

Day after day shit happens that pisses me off.

The body doesn’t lie. My body doesn’t lie. For the past six weeks I have been attending to a red-hot rash on my face that feels like a beard of bee stings on steroids. At times the rash moves up my face, around my nose, on my eyelids, and between my eyebrows. It’s not pretty. But the look bothers me much less than the “search” for the cause, and tempering the pain.

The growing team of detectives is amusing: naturopath, dermatologist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, energy worker… A few weeks ago at the dermatologist with the raging rash, I was given a prescription for a generic topical ointment to calm the pain. I asked for a sample to get started immediately and the doctor said, “No, let’s try this generic brand, it will work better.” OK. I stood patiently in line at the pharmacy, then was given the prescription and a $500 charge. Yes. You read the correct number: $500 for an 8 oz. tube of gel. I almost leveled the pharmacist-in-training, tempering my tears. “Are you serious? This is generic?” His discomfort with my reaction was palpable. But I also sensed his embarrassment.

How can a generic brand of medicine – something to heal a person – cost so much? This is fucking insanity. No, it’s greed. I left, eyes pooling and jaw cinched, without the tube of relief. On the phone with the receptionist (because of course the dermatologist was unavailable) I again requested a sample of something having politely (here is that behavior again) but firmly said the prescription was $500 after insurance. She agreed $500 was a significant cost. In my silence, I was screaming, God, give me anything – cow manure – I’m about to rip my face off. Back to the doctor’s office, leaving with sample in hand, I found some peace and relief.

I’m told that my body is releasing toxins (like arsenic, and other yummy poisons). I’m told that anger is held in the intimate crevices of my liver, gall bladder and vital organs. I’m told that my diet needs an upgrade. I’m sporting patches on my back testing for allergens. All true. Yes. I am keenly aware of all of these moving parts being true. And now I am aware of something else “hot off the press”. The results from the allergy test indicate I am severely allergic to fragrance. While I am not a perfume kind of gal, you would be stunned by all of the fragrance in products. And now I prepare for another adventure, fragrance free.

My body is also matching the reality of our world. It’s fighting greed.

Let’s continue my story. I understand profit for a company that needs revenue to operate and pay salaries. I understand research and development for an industry to make medical advances. I’m clear on the flow of business operations and how money moves through the system. That’s the problem. I am informed. I know there is a fine line, a no-man’s land, a grey space of capital growth that is being crossed again and again and again – into greed.

Greed is a toxic plague in our modern world.

As I stood there on the verge of tears in front of the young pharmacist, my thoughts went to the masses who cannot afford this luxury of ointment. How can a system be so cruel? If I had to, I could dive into my savings and spend $500 for the tube. But outrage stopped me. And probably released more anger through my face.

My mother-in-law, Bea, died April 13th and her automatic bill paying for various services continues until the “authorities” are notified with proof of death (death certificate) that this customer no longer needs the service and to cease billing. The process to stop billing is exhausting. After more than 40 hours of follow-up, ATT finally accepted that Bea no longer was alive and could not be a customer and as of July 3rd stopped billing.  This date is almost two months after her death and $162 in charges. Did you know that calling ATT (a phone company) with information is insufficient? You must go to the store in person. Did you know that only certain stores are able to discontinue service? My spouse found out the hard way after two different visits to two different stores. Did you know that even though we are an electronic society, and a death certificate could have been sent electronically, ATT requires a physical copy be shown to a person in the “correct” store? (How hypocritical and ironic is it that no form of electronic information (scan of fax of death certificate) is acceptable to a company that earns its revenues from electronic information dissemination.) This ATT person then calls the main office to speak to another ATT person – the same person we called in April who said we needed to go to a physical store – to verify that in fact said customer, Bea Colman, is no longer in need of services. The phone was unplugged soon after April 13th.  This system, which mirrors other systems, pisses me off. They will not refund the charges for Bea even though they were notified soon after her passing.

How heartless is this company that makes it as hard as possible to manage the affairs of a deceased loved one during a delicate and grieving time of life? Maybe this was unusual. Or, maybe it was not. My skeptic says that companies operate this way because they can, and they are more concerned with the bottom line than the care of the soul.

I wish I could confidently say that the avalanche of greed can skillfully be met with an equally powerful force of outrage, and that I can trust the systems in our world to respond with love and humanity. I can’t. However, greed can be met in a different, less explicit way. With a unique force – like subtle Jedi invisible threads that link the hearts and minds of open courageous people.

This powerful force begins inside each of us. We must attend to the nuggets of our own scarcity (beliefs, behavior, patterns, emotions), which devolve our minds and drain our energy. Any sense of lack that tugs at your heart wants to be washed away in loving-kindness. Any smidgeon of doubt or fear or confusion, can be wrapped in a mantel of truth.

These practices allow for sufficiency to ignite and blossom. Embodied sufficiency arises in full measure when we attend to the bits and bobs held in a veil of scarcity.

We clean up this space for ourselves. My face on fire is a great reminder that my body is alive, generating the energy to ignite the fire and provide wisdom. My belief that companies will do the right thing, that ultimately they care about the people they serve, is naïve.  My idiot compassion says, be polite, ladylike and nice. But, my face, my throat and my belly say, speak up and share these experiences. My body says living from the heart is a new operating system that begins with the individual. Companies will only respond when we are clear in our own experience and access the fire ignited by our bodies.  We clean up our interior for the benefit of all. Because embodied sufficiency is wise and doesn’t allow murky fear to weaken truth and the force of greed is so insidious and heartless, that we meet greed with the most powerful antidote, Love. Love expressed with fire and power. My exploration and practices to clean up fear in all forms allows for clarity (Love) to emerge in this writing and in service to others.

Love is generosity in motion. Love embraces the space of lack, scarcity, and greed.

The energy of anger carries that love to wherever it is needed most.

Greed is not a frequent writing topic. Most of us do not inhabit that space and do not require that depth of attention. But the fire raging in my body offers wisdom, and I’m listening. Clean up your stuff. Clean up your sense of lack. Gain clarity about your sense of sufficiency. Repeat: “I am OK.” Feel that OK-ness to your bones. And then, get moving. How does the embodied sense of sufficiency catalyze your generosity?

Generously Hot! Wicked Pissed! Determined!

(1) A phrase coined by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and described by Pema Chodron, “It refers to something we all do a lot of and call it compassion. In some ways, it’s what’s called enabling. It’s the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering.”

Last Job

Once a year, a reunion of the 1995 executive committee of an international women’s community service organization meets for dinner, connection and lively conversation. This group of women is impressive; well-educated, seasoned world travelers, varied cultural interests, and all were employed professionals working in a career making a contribution to society. Note: “were employed”; with the exception of me and one other woman, all are retired from full-time employment. During our most recent gathering, the other working member shared her scenario of an unpleasant lay-off she experienced by an organization not to be named. The new leadership and transition of this organization was sloppy to say the least – yet, due to her skills, competency, and capacity, she was highly sought-after and a new job arrived almost immediately.

She said, “This is my last job.” Meaning, this is the last organization I plan to work for before I retire.

During the conversation I asked, “What is a last job?” Though the question may seem obvious, I was very curious. Do we really have a “last job?” Driving home later that night I continued to wonder, and then an answer revealed itself.  Our last job is dying.

Did that statement furrow your brow? Take a breath. Let’s quest together down this exploratory pathway, collecting a key to our theme of 2017: impeccable embodied sufficiency. Job is defined below.

Job: the continuous string of activity that we engage – either for pay or pleasure.

Also job: activities of being and/or doing.

Finally, also job: an opportunity, a potential, rather than an obligation or burden.

From this wide vantage point, it’s remarkable to me that every living being has the same last job: to complete this life. Again, pause and take a breath. (Each time I invite you to take a breath, I am taking a breath.) This realization is stunning. In nearly every other walk of life, from politics, to cultures, to generations, to race, to sexuality, to economic status, we exude separateness. This separateness is totally washed away when we engage our last job.

As I contemplate this truth with my head, heart and belly, I notice a rising energy of peace, stillness and spaciousness. With this generous knowing that we are all moving toward the same last job, my ability to see and feel sufficiency expands. I feel connected – my heart shimmering and pulsing. I begin to appreciate every act of contribution from all beings without scrutiny or judgment. I see each and every job as training for the last job.

There are myriad ways – practices and perspectives – to abide in non-separateness or oneness. Make this your aim for a while and notice how much easier it is to activate sufficiency. Sufficiency is the absence of lack (fear, or scarcity, or not enough).

In your present job, recognize that there will be another job. In your wondering, you may realize that retirement, moving from a “paid engagement” to a different situation, will also be a job. Isn’t that fascinating? See what happens when we come from another angle? Those ideas we hold as constant, are shifting. Take another breath.

The jobs most often depicted in careers, abide in human capital. Human capital is the most precious asset we enjoy. Our body is the first, enduring, and last asset we engage directly. Again, take a breath. In our last job of dying, we will not be concerned with our bank account, our home, our tangible assets, or any of the material goods that can occupy much of our time. Eventually, in our last job, we will not be concerned with our precious relationships, except to tenderly love (or regret as the case may be) and to say good-bye. In our last job, we will be focused on our body and the transition to what’s next.

My parents are engaged in their last job, which may continue for a few years. Their bodies are dying. Each visit I notice something else that is declining in their deteriorating bodies. Labored breathing, new aches and pains, skin abrasions, thinning hair, darkening teeth, body odor, limping, slow movement, lack of hearing, and mental confusion are among the many aspects of dying.

Our last job of dying can be long lasting or a brief moment.

Some engage in other activities besides the ones noted above about my parents – so that the job of dying can also be enriched living. Enriched living happens when we are well practiced in awareness and we have accessed our mind and body intelligence… so that even when our physical body systems begin to decline, our life experience remains enriching. Perhaps now is an opportunity to begin a more intentional relationship with your body, to build your soma muscle so that your last job will abide in sufficiency. Why is embodied sufficiency important? In an embodied state of sufficiency, there is an elegant okay-ness that allows for love, connection, openness and peace.

As we recognize our most precious asset, human capital, and we expand our concept of “job” to all activity we engage until our last breath, notice the shift in awareness. What thoughts, feelings and sensations arise in your body? Are you scared or excited? Does your belly quiver with fear and nausea? Does your heart expand with joy bubbles? Notice and embrace. Allow that noticing to be an opening to your next query.

There are no right responses to this curious inquiry. For now, we are looking closer at a seed just planted about “last job.” Whether you just began your first job out of college, or whether you have been gone from active employment for years, consider how remarkable it is that we all eventually die, in this form, through engagement of the same last job.

What would it take for you to strengthen the last job muscle so that you abide in sufficiency well before your last job is over?

Engaging my job, sufficiently, not the last,

Stuff

There is a profundity in a word like stuff. It can take us on a deep dive, because it carries so much meaning. That is how I am experiencing stuff these days. Stuff resides in the external tangible world and stuff resides in the internal subtle space of the body. Stuff requires our attention. If we do not attend to our stuff, it accumulates, gets tarnished, grows barnacles, crystallizes, solidifies, becomes moldy, rots, grows roots … you get the idea and perhaps you feel the truth from your own stuff?

Writing about stuff I am transported to the 70’s recalling George Carlin’s epic comic discourse about “Shit.” In his velvety voice he declares, “Now that’s some good shiiiit…” George Carlin also talks about stuff here. Enjoy! Yet I digress. See how hard it can be to stay focused on your stuff? Stuff can be exhausting. However with clearing stuff, we gain access to Sufficiency. If we have too much stuff (Plenty), embodied sufficiency is not possible. With too little stuff (lack), scarcity is activated.

My mother-in-law passed away suddenly in April. A week after we began clearing stuff out of her 1200 square foot condo, in the space of plenty. Though seemingly manageable, in a relatively small space, we spent 12 hours, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm with limited breaks, packing, sorting, bagging, tossing, and shaking our heads. There was so much stuff and so much more cleaning to go. Photographs, pants, blouses (she never wore), purses, shoes, pills, liquor (she never drank), and paper, lots and lots of paper. I found many presents we had given her over the years, unused or barely used. Fervently she had said she liked the gifts, and she would have gotten rid of them if she didn’t. They were kept for sentimental reasons, and not used because she was “saving them.” I’ve heard of that behavior before; I’ve “saved” special stuff myself for the “right time.” A glass-beaded necklace in her favorite colors picked out by the kids, a new Vera Brady purse with matching wallets and tissue holder, and a full bottle of Chanel #5 perfume, among the various unused items. There were many used and damaged items as well. My daughter remarked at how sad it was that Grande-Mère had so many clothes in her closet that were stained. I doubt that many of these material goods “sparked joy,” à la the KonMari Method.

Do you have any special stuff in your possession that you are waiting to enjoy? How many unused expensive perfumes, fine tailored shirts, soft leather wallets, vintage wines are you saving for a special occasion? What ingredient makes something special worthy of use? What about right now?

About 15 years ago Rich and I enjoyed a fine expensive Brandy with some of our dearest friends. The bottle was from his father’s collection of many years prior. At the time, the guestimated value of the bottle was $900. My statement was, “If not now, when?” The evening connections, banter and jovial engagement are etched in my mind forever. Fifteen years later, even the auction value in six figures does not waver my conviction of well spent and enjoyed bottle of Napoleon Cognac. We did not wait to savor that liquor. We engaged. We enjoyed. We embraced a special occasion with friends. Good choice. Precious memories.

Along with exterior tangible stuff, we accumulate stuff internally. Internal stuff manifests as unfelt emotions, stuck energy, creaks in our bones, chronic illness, numbness, and lack of body sensations and vitality. Internally stuffed stuff can be more challenging to clear and can cause us more stress than tangible stuff.

Internal stuff requires motivation and intention, in order for us to give attention. Ignoring internal stuff is common. Ignoring external stuff is harder especially when an event, like the death of a loved one, demands that you give attention whether it is convenient or not. In my current experience, with motivation to grow, I cannot help but give attention to both spaces at the same time. I see the internal stuff arising along with the external. Surfacing in this fluid exploration of Sufficiency, I am pondering how money turns into stuff. I am seeing how it becomes either enjoyed (desire), disregarded (ignorance), or thrown away (rejection). These are the three outcomes of our financial consumption, just beyond embodied sufficiency.

Let’s examine each.

Desire. The pattern of focused enjoyment is a natural and coveted way of being in the world. There is no problem with feeling joy – I love feeling joy. However, there is a slippery slope of joy that turns into grasping for more which stems from the belief that more is better. If I have this much joy now with this stuff, just imagine how much more joy I will have with more stuff. And of course, joy doesn’t work that way. Luminous spacious pristine joy comes from sufficiency. Sufficiency is not about more. Sufficiency is free of debris.

Ignorance. The pattern of ostrich head in the sand is a common protective move to feel safe. When life becomes “too much,” one way of dealing with too much stuff is to pretend it is not there. If I am not aware of and don’t acknowledge the stuff, I can live in a false reality that everything is OK – kind of like a child who won’t grow up. The problem is that precious energy is subtlety spent pretending, and we wear out. Sufficiency is not an illusion. Sufficiency is a visceral spacious experience of this sufficient moment.

Rejection. The pattern of fighting against what is, usually happens in a state of overwhelm, desperation and anger. Lack of attention to stuff which accumulates more stuff, and then in a fearful desperate place, lacking any space, massive energy is spent fighting and pushing away. Instead of facing and embracing stuff, reactive rejecting becomes pushing the proverbial boulder up the hill. Only in this situation, the boulder grows bigger. Sufficiency welcomes openly what is. Sufficiency is contentment to infinity.

In any moment practicing toward sufficiency, the internal and external stuff can activate one of the patterns above. You may have a favorite or a patterned sequence. It is no problem to activate a pattern – you likely will. The opportunity to grow embodied sufficiency is to recognize the pattern and PLAY (Practice) toward sufficiency.

Practice begins, happens, and ends, in the body. The practice is to give attention to stuff with awareness, so that you recognize and stay present with your direct experience. It happens simultaneously. Stuff internally is fully experienced (emotions, sensations, movement), as stuff externally is fully attended (received, acknowledged, decided.) The body has the opportunity to heal by returning to balanced energy, and the mind has the opportunity to abide in equanimity – no preferences – just authentic joy.

Allow these comments and questions to penetrate… what feels true to you about stuff? What patterns gets triggered when stuff is alive? How do desire, ignorance and rejection manifest in your experience? Where in your body is awake? How does your body support your attention?

Lastly, and always beneficial, be kind. Allow self-kindness to hold your practice and experience. Discipline with stuff is the work of the warrior. Sufficiency is the fruition of warrior work.

Attending to Stuff,

Discomfort is not about Safety

“Embodying Sufficiency as a state of being transforms money confusion and fear into clarity, well-being, and generosity”

The sensation of discomfort can often be mistaken as a lack of safety. Our sensory tentacles maintain sensitive high alert for signs of unfamiliarity, and the visceral experiences of the unknown get reflexively labeled as a need for protection. Our habitual safety-making patterns emerge without consciousness and we “protect” ourselves from what is new or different.

The problem with this way of seeing and being is that not only are we limiting our ability to benefit from growth, change, adaptation and evolution, but our physical bodies consume a ton of energy (adrenaline) warding off that which is an invitation to heal a barrier in life fulfillment.

An easy example is found in the progression of building physical strength and skills in the body.  A runner, cyclist, bodybuilder, yogi, basketball player, skier, tennis champion, or Qui Gong master encounters frequent discomfort in the course of developing capacities in this specialized physical activity. But because the discomfort arises from the clear purpose of improvement, it is not accompanied by the need to protect, but rather it is experienced as purposeful tension. The recognition of discomfort as part of the journey allows more space and openness to improve and grow.

When money arises in conversation, discomfort immediately follows. This discomfort quickly turns to the need to feel safe. Then the contractions, coupled with stories and beliefs, emerge. I have never encountered anyone who is completely open and comfortable about money.

On the contrary, the need to feel safe regarding money is a visceral response – a quick hijack of emotions by an activated primitive brain. Typically our belly gets tight, queasy, and perhaps dense, and we unconsciously move to protect ourselves from uncertainty and the beliefs or stories made up about that uncertainty. Unexamined and unfelt, we reify the pattern that discomfort around money means lack of safety. A never-ending cycle that most of us can relate to.

Recently I was a part of a non-profit organization’s fundraising meeting. While discussing money, the discomfort in the room was palpable. A few minutes prior, the environment had been lively, engaged, and cheerful. When the topic of generating money became the focus, the air pressure in the room dropped, pervaded by anxiety. Some expressed their money fears via doubt, confusion, and uncertainty, but no one directly faced his or her discomfort. Rather, they confirmed their resistance to money matters.

Ideas for the fundraiser surfaced and the planning closed with a mood of relief. Later, the resulting fundraiser’s positive financial results and the direct, joyful experience of the event offered an opening to examine its preparation. How can the planning of the fundraiser be as fun and lighthearted as the actual event itself?

Which are the places in your body that feel uncomfortable when money issues arise? Would you like to investigate the discomfort and build new awareness and money muscles? What is a practice to support you in abiding discomfort, rather than contracting to safety?

Discomfort is a gateway to growth. Sufficiency is built through discomfort. Being able to embody sufficiency requires an open fierce connection to the reality of growth. Building new physical muscles can feel uncomfortable, but recall the fruition of that muscle building. How satisfying is your running, your cycling, your tennis serve or yoga practice, and your new muscular curves?

To embody the pristine clear equanimity of sufficiency, we engage discomfort. We learn our body’s signals of perceived threat/scarcity and the subtle moving balance of too much–too little. Embodied sufficiency is liberating. We can get there by attending to each moment with openness, and the commitment to engage whatever arises, with truth, and without hesitation.

In a money situation, discomfort might look like this:

I’m at dinner with a friend and the bill arrives. I intentionally did not order dessert or tea, to minimize my expense. My friend wants to split the bill, but his portion adds up to a few bucks more. My scarcity fear kicks in. I feel tightening in my belly from the threat to what I had determined I “could afford.” Subtle frustration rises in my neck and jaws; my face begins to flush. Noticing and experiencing these sensations I gain access to clarity. What is true? 

  • I might see that I can afford the extra cost and that my relationship is more important to me than fretting over a few dollars.
  • I might see that I need to express my financial intentions and that I do not want to split the bill but pay for my meal only.
  • I might see that there is an opening to discuss real and perceived affordability.
  • I might see a fear of being taken advantage of, and commit to exploring where that fear originated.

 The discomfort of feeling the sensations, and then following with action, provide nourishment for embodied sufficiency, gaining access to the visceral felt sense and pure knowing that “I am OK.”

The importance of embodied sufficiency cannot be emphasized enough. Engage in your subtle and not so subtle ways of protecting yourself when you feel discomfort. Allow discomfort to be your gateway to abide in the infinite, satisfying space of sufficiency.

Openly engaging discomfort,

Healthy Generativity

The words generativity and generative have been spontaneously coming forth in me for several months. I recall a distinct moment in which I was reviewing social media and becoming disheartened. The articles were sucking the wind out of me. I felt like lead dragging through the mud. I made a commitment to offer generative comments, articles, insights and sharing when I posted in social media. That commitment expanded to an intention to be generative in life. Period.

Because I used the word in writing, and spell check did not like it, I thought WOW I made up a fused word; this is a great word; it should be a word! – a portmanteau of Generous and Activity. Generous activity = generativity. Turns out the well-known psychologist, Erik Erikson, used this term in his work and it means “a concern for people besides self and family that usually develops during middle age; especially: a need to nurture and guide younger people and contribute to the next generation”.

Yes. This says so much. This says it all.

Yet more than being generative, what you generate matters. Not all activities generate a positive influence in the world so just being generative – originating, producing or reproducing – is not the point. Many of us are generative and cause harm. Clear intentions illuminate what is important and prime us be generative with life-giving effects.

Generativity, in my way of seeing it, brings forth a manifestation of generosity, igniting from embodied sufficiency. Yes, if you are following Somatic Finance® you are learning about the importance of embodied sufficiency. When abiding in the immaculate pristine elegant spacious stillness of Sufficiency, generativity naturally and spontaneously arises as an outpouring.

Sufficiency practice doesn’t go away even when we access generativity. Generativity emerges when sufficiency becomes home base. We practice sufficiency in order to be able to access and abide in that place of OK-ness.

Only from a place of sufficiency,

a visceral felt sense and pure knowing that “I am OK,”  

can we experience our optimal meaningful life.

Have you been practicing?

That question is intended as a generous challenge, pointing to the heart of Somatic Finance.

Nothing is going to shift in your health, wealth and life vitality unless you practice. Abiding in the Virtuous Flow of Somatic Finance is impossible without embodied Sufficiency. For those practicing, how is your life going? What are you noticing, sensing and experiencing when you are able to be present in Sufficiency?

I’ve noticed a number of changes. Here are a few. I feel happier. Clarity is more accessible. Thinking – a lot – about “things” has decreased. My body hums a brighter tune. (I’m not sure what this means exactly it’s a shimmering cool sensation that permeates throughout my interior.) My relationships ripple with genuine connections that feel … generative. The events of our world, while seemingly dire, are held in a space of care, concern and courage. I am not reacting from fear but seeing the potentials and responding from a generous perspective.

For those not practicing, how is your life going? The prompt is not meant to shame, intimidate, compare, or blame you; it is an opportunity to face and accept what is. Make a choice and commit. Simple. There are plenty of times I have not practiced and I still miss practices that are vital for my well-being. My body reminds me of the importance and I re-commit to my health, generativity, relationships and love.

When I do not practice, I see through a lens of what’s wrong and become a fix-it machine. In fact, everything seems wrong. My relationships struggle because I hear and interact with a filter of being criticized and not doing enough. Fear streams in my body and constricts me. My inspirations turn into reactive impulses from my primitive brain. In situations of prolonged practice avoidance, my body hurts and my immune system weakens and I get physically sick.

Make a choice toward your well-being, or not. Well-being magnifies from embodied Sufficiency. If you need a jump start, commit to practicing this month’s 5- Minute Try-It! Recognize that you are choosing. And remember:

Embodying Sufficiency as a state of being transforms money confusion and fear

into clarity, well-being, and generosity.

Activating generativity,