Practicing Sufficiency

Hello Friends,

How are you holding up?? I hit a wall a few weeks ago with the pandemic and I have heard from a lot of folks that I’m not alone. Yes, it’s been a year and there is a lot of fatigue that has settled in for many. I also feel that at least in the Northern Hemisphere, February is often when winter gets old for many. So the combination of the grief, uncertainty, anxiety and groundhog-day effects of the pandemic as well as the need for more light and time outside and connection with nature and people is creating some tough moments.

So, please take care of yourself – be kind and gentle with yourself and do the things that feed you physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, etc. And also, I want to share something that’s been moving in me that I thought might be of use to some of you.

Lately, I’ve been allowing myself to be okay DOING less. I have spent most (all) of my life being an incredibly busy person. But, there are a number of factors that have contributed to me unwinding from that a bit. First, in my exploration and education around systemic racism, I have become increasingly aware of how much self-worth being dictated by the external perspective, as well as the sense of urgency and definition of success surrounding hard work, money and power is completely inherent to white dominant culture. Which has allowed me to question where that drive really comes from. In many ways it comes from not feeling I’m enough and so, I must DO more to become enough. What a crazy cycle…

The second thing that has contributed to this shift in me is from my seminary studies. In studying the Sabbath/Shabbat in previous months, I came across a piece of text that stopped me abruptly in my proverbial tracks. In “Sabbath” (highly recommend), Wayne Muller shares the following story/insight:

“Lynn Twist is a friend who has dedicated her life to eliminating world hunger. She has traveled around the world, working on behalf of starving children. She tells me that our search for ‘abundance’ – so common in contemporary spiritual circles – is actually fed by a lingering belief in scarcity. If we are afraid there is not enough for us, we will grab for abundance – which is actually more than we need. Thus, even in abundance, there is great fear…

Lynn makes a crucial distinction between abundance – a fearful response to scarcity – and SUFFICIENCY – which invokes an experience of satisfaction and wellbeing. Sufficiency is that moment when we have enough… The instant we have enough, dissatisfaction and desire melt away.”

Ever since I read this excerpt, it has been on my mind and on my heart. The concept of abundance and an abundance mindset has been trending for a long time. And it is rampant in spiritual circles and the self-help/personal development industries (we’ll save the discussion of integrity in this industry for another time). But now I see that inherently, if one desires abundance, it comes from the fear of lack.

If you are wildly abundant, that’s wonderful! But, it’s the striving for abundance that seems to be painful and damaging. So what if instead of desiring abundance or acting in pursuit of abundance, we chose sufficiency. What if we were aware of what was enough for us and let that actually be enough. That feels like a pretty big relief for me.

Before reading this passage last year, I had already been considering/practicing and even discussing with clients the concept of sufficiency with money – “what if instead of worrying so much about money, you could trust that you would always have enough – that you would figure it out?” And of course it helps to understand what “enough” is. Anyways, since reading Muller’s story about his friend Lynn, I have been considering other ways I could be practicing sufficiency (enoughness). There are quite a few ways, but where it showed up most for me was in connection and in time. I am often yearning for more deep connection (especially during the pandemic), and yet, when I changed my perspective from “I’m alone and lonely” to “I have enough connection,” it was a relief. And for years (possibly my whole life), I was one of those people that was rushing, always had a lot going on, didn’t seem to have enough time in the day for everything. And yet, I am now resting into/dancing with the idea (when I can – it’s clearly a process) that there will always be enough time.

And of course, at the very base of it all, there is the gnarly, nagging belief that I am not enough. Likely due to that super fun tendency towards perfectionism, sufficiency/enoughness isn’t really baked into my DNA, but I’m working on it. And it helps immensely to look at it from the spiritual perspective that there is absolutely nothing that I need to do to be enough or worthy of love. I am enough.

So I’ve been trying these ideas on for size (just the right size).

  • I have ENOUGH money.
  • I have ENOUGH connection.
  • I have ENOUGH time.
  • I am doing ENOUGH.
  • I AM ENOUGH.

This is not always easy these days (or any day), especially when a large unexpected expense shows up, when I am feeling lonely or a friend isn’t showing up, I am scrambling to get things done, or I’m just feeling down. But, I have found much more peace in those moments if I can release the fear and remember that I have enough and I am enough. I hope you can feel somewhere in your body, mind and spirit that there is enough and you are enough, in this moment and as you move forward on your path. And be especially kind these days to yourself – it is not easy and please know that you are doing enough and you ARE enough.

In sufficient love and light,

Devin Green
The Connected Way