Sustainability is NOT Sufficiency, (and by the way, lets grow Reciprocity!)

by | Aug 9, 2022

Listen to Gayle reading the blog aloud.

Just sayin’, Just howling, Just stomping my feet!

Hello my friends,

I’m a bit feisty today as I bring you a very lively conversation I CONTINUE to have with my beloved.

He repeatedly substitutes the word sufficiency for sustainability. I froth at the mouth and hold back convulsions. We engage another conversation about the difference. Our interactions lead me here, to you, and our monthly invitation for reflection and practice.

Here’s the thing, sufficiency is only known through our body as a somatic truth.

Sustainability is defined from Oxford dictionary as the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Sustainability is noble and popular. Sustainable is attached to the goods on our planet, the ways we invest, and all practices of consumption. Sustainable ways of viewing, acting and evaluating are important. Being able to maintain planetary resources is better than consuming.

But maintaining resources is not sufficient. Sustainability isn’t a big enough concept or action to lead us to a comprehensive and planetary experience of sufficiency.

Instead, let’s consider reciprocity.

Krista Tippett’s OnBeing podcast with Robin Wall Kimmerer [Click HERE] (author of the bestselling Braiding Sweetgrass) brings my attention to reciprocity – as a new way of sustaining the beings, places, passions that matter to us as humans on this planet.

Professor Kimmerer explains that attention is the doorway to gratitude, wonder and reciprocity.  With gratitude and wonder, the thread to reciprocity opens — of giving to replenish our common resources, and receiving what others give. Living through a lens of reciprocity gets us closer to the sustainability we seek and aspire to and intend.

Reciprocity asks me to replenish, not just sustain. What can I offer, generate, contribute to our circle that can be used, enjoyed, and received… to not just sustain, but to reciprocate for the bounty I have received?  

If you struggle to see your bounty, I offer my hand and heart of support. For you, I invite you into your body, which knows truth, and to nature who bestows everyone with her bounty. These are not platitudes, I promise. The moon, the stars, the oceans, the mountains… and the caterpillars, seashells, blades of grass, are and have always been, unconditional bounty.

Recognizing this bounty, our fleeting time on this planet becomes front and center. Each of us has an innate gift to offer the world, and our job while breathing in this body is to discover that gift and express it. Reciprocity is not you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. I may never know the back I scratch or who is scratching mine.

Reciprocity does not require measurement.

Reciprocity subsumes sustainability.
Reciprocity is generosity in action.
Reciprocity is a practice that fuels our action on the Virtuous Flow of Somatic Finance®.

When the word, concepts and practices of sustainability come into in your work and life, also welcome reciprocity.
Ask how reciprocity interacts with sustainability.
Are they the same? Are they similar?
What can reciprocity teach sustainability?
What does sustainability teach reciprocity?

And how do both sustainability and reciprocity live in the practice of sufficiency?
All beneficial money practices are in service of sustainability, reciprocity and sufficiency. And we’ll return to these as we learn more about the Virtuous Flow of Somatic Finance®.

For now, sharing with you, I quelch my hissy fit with my honey!

Expanding with reciprocity,

Tiny Body Practice

Virtuous Flow-Giving & Receiving

Listen to an audio of the practice.

The Virtuous Flow of Somatic Finance is the unification of sufficiency and generosity abiding on a Mobius strip and evolving to an integration being the Mobius strip.  This aspiration asks us to genuinely check where we are on our journey of freeing ourselves from scarcity beliefs, behaviors and patterns, and moving through the heart with sufficiency and generosity.

Wherever you are is beautiful. This is not a call to work really hard on yourself to grow and change. This is a gentle inquiry and invitation to liberation, one kindness at a time.

We start by giving and receiving with ourself. With a taste of embodied sufficiency, we continue giving and receiving with others. Our expansion beyond self to others then moves to the world around us.

Our Tiny Practice is a big move toward the imperative for self-love, self-acceptance, self-awareness. It is only from this place of presence we can truly flow with sufficiency and generosity.


Begin by contemplating the unity of giving and receiving. Giving is a movement toward receiving and as that action simultaneously happens the Giver receives and the Receiver gives.

The Gift, the Giver and the Receiver are really one. We can’t have one without the other.

The Practice

With a left palm on your belly and right palm on your heart, give attention to your breath.
Feel your inhale underneath your palms.
Extend your exhale longer than your inhale.
Close your eyes.
Give attention to your heart and belly sinking deeper inside your body.
Stay with your breath in your heart and belly – recognizing the rhythm of giving and receiving with each inhale and with each exhale.
Stay here for as long as you like, practicing giving and receiving with yourself.
You can close your practice or continue.

Give focused attention to your heart and belly sinking even deeper inside your body.
What kind expressions – words, gestures, movement – do you enjoy, want, appreciate?
Ask your heart and belly.
Listen with all of your senses for an answer.

They might be very simple…

  • A sip of cool fresh water
  • A stretch of hips, and spine
  • A full embrace with arms wrapping tight
  • A reclining rest
  • A warm shower

When an answer arrives, give it to yourself.
While giving, deepen your awareness of receiving.

If your answer requires multiple steps, write down the kind expression and break it down into actionable steps.
The first step is writing it down.
The second step is creating next actionable steps.

Notice if you have any resistance to giving and receiving with yourself.
Do not judge, simply notice.
Ask your belly and heart if you are willing to receive.
Listen for an answer.
If the answer is no, simply return to your breath as a giving and receiving practice.
If the answer is yes, be curious about your resistance.
Ask with wonder, hmmm, I wonder what I can learn about giving and receiving self-love, appreciation and acceptance?
Let curiosity carry your question rather than scrutiny.
Close your practice with a gentle hug.

Reflect upon these Wonder Questions:

  • What is my experience of giving and receiving with myself?
  • How do I feel giving? How do I feel receiving?
  • What’s the same/different from giving and receiving?
  • How has this practice buoyed my self-love?