Medium 9781576754399

The Trance of Scarcity

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In her own life and through her work with others, Victoria Castle has repeatedly encountered the tragic theme of "not-enough-ness"--both the "I am not enough" and "There is not enough" varieties--and witnessed how it cripples even the most buoyant and passionate people among us. Castle calls this blight the Trance of Scarcity. It shows up in a hundred personalized versions, but the results are always the same. Instead of expressing our brilliance and creativity, we show the world only the by-products of oppression, isolation, exclusion, and defeat. We spend our time lamenting the way things are, justifying all the reasons they can't be different.

In this inspiring and very personal book, Castle shows that there is life on the other side of the Trance -- a life characterized by vitality, fulfillment, and efficacy. She shares specific practices you can use to change your story--to identify and interrupt negative, constraining patterns and replace them with more positive and liberating ones to achieve greater freedom, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

With compassion and surprising humor, The Trance of Scarcity will help you embody abundance as your way of being. Once you do, you'll be more inspired and more inspiring, you'll build bridges to replace dead ends, and you'll easily arrive at solutions to issues that once overwhelmed you. Having broken free from the Trance of Scarcity, you'll be able to live a life where ease and plenty emanate from you as naturally as your breath.

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10 Chapters

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Chapter 1 Belonging: Are You In or Out?

ePub

Chances are you’re a master at reading situations to see where and how you can belong. It’s hardwired into us as human beings. Of all the mammals on earth, we spend the greatest length of time dependent on others. Our survival depends on our being included, cared for, and accepted so that we belong in our tribe. We get very good at noticing how we must behave in order to be included. Even when we’ve moved past the risk of biological need, we remain watchful: “Am I in or out?” Teenagers experience this questioning particularly intensely; that’s probably why very few of us would want to repeat our teen years.

Most of us have been bombarded with religious and cultural messages about what it takes to belong, who decides whether or not we belong, and what might threaten our belonging. In all our choices, the issue of belonging stands in the background, whether or not we’re aware of it. For most of us, wanting to belong runs the whole show. The trouble is, most of us are convinced that we didn’t make the cut, that we don’t belong, so we spend all our time either auditioning for others’ approval, hoping we’ll be included, or pretending not to care whether we’re in or out. At the bottom of all this suffering lies the Trance of Scarcity.

 

Chapter 2 The Trance of Scarcity: Our Sad Story

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I’m 55, and I want to feel alive.” Outwardly, Barbara was successful in every sense of the word, but secretly her life felt desolate. “I’ve done everything I know to do, but it feels like my energy just keeps getting siphoned off somehow. What do I have to do to finally be good enough?” With these words, she revealed that she was living outside the Circle on a full-time basis.

Barbara’s question seared me right to the bone. It’s a question that goes to the heart of the matter for a great many of us. What must we do to feel, at long last, that we’re enough as we are? Is it ever possible to feel a sense of true belonging, to resign from our careers of self-improvement? Or is our only option to join the Stoics of ancient Greece who believed that humans should be free of passion and accept all occurrences with indifference? Seems to me the last thing the world needs is more indifference!

Most of us have developed a Herculean tolerance for suffering. And we put up with far more of it than what is biologically wired into our nervous system, as part of our internal survival gear. Our survival instinct increases our awareness of stimulus, especially pain, alerting us to adjust to conditions as they occur. Pssst, feel that burning in your hand. Let go of the electric fence! But if we believe that no adjustment would help (if letting go of the fence is not an option), we keep turning down the volume on our sense of aliveness. If we believe our pain or difficulty to be inescapable, we numb out in desperation. Like Barbara, we may keep trying harder and harder to follow the wrong prescription, attempting to cure ourselves of being ourselves. And it’s all we know to do; we’ve spent years designing our entire life according to what we believe is real. Our belief in scarcity shows up in our bodies as a lack of aliveness, and in our lives as the experience of lack and limitation.24

 

Chapter 3 Upgrading Our Stories

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You may find that you are ready to make a large leap or to take several small steps in upgrading your Stories. Either way will work just as well. Just step up to the story buffet line and pick out an upgraded Story. Put it on your plate, taste it, and see how you feel. If it’s not quite the right taste, get a fresh plate and try another one. We live in such a binary world of either/or that we usually quit if we don’t find the perfect fit right away (except, of course, for the recreational shoppers, whose infinite capacity to browse and experiment amazes and exhausts the rest of us). The point here is to keep going until you’ve found a Story that works for you. If next week you discover an even better upgrade, then great! Make a new trade. Your compass question remains: “Given what I care about, is this story useful?” Here’s an example of one of my old Stories. I’ll show you how I unpacked it and traded it in for a replacement.

What is one of my prevailing Stories?

What are my actions and behaviors that keep that Story alive?

 

Chapter 4 What We Embody, We Become

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Our habits––which result from the Stories we tell ourselves—don’t remain confined to our thoughts. Our Stories live in our muscles and in our nervous system until they become automatic. We shape ourselves around them, we embody their messages, and what we embody is who we are. When the ancient Greeks explored what constituted the ideal citizen, they identified four qualities: physically fit and strong, emotionally balanced and mature, mentally agile and alert, and having a spiritual or moral order. They saw that those qualities lived in the Soma––the embodiment of the self. Their exploration was an exercise in cultivating Soma, the self.

The Greek word soma refers to the living body in its wholeness—mind, body, and spirit as one. The principles of Somatics recognize that the self is indistinguishable from the body, from our lived experience. That’s why Somatic practices are so effective; they retrain the nervous system by attending to the self as a whole. In this way, real change can take root and become lasting experience.

 

Chapter 5 It’s Not About Stuff, It’s About State

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Our primary premise in this book is that our experience of abundance, of living in the world with effectiveness and ease, is determined by our inner state more than by our outer circumstances. We embody abundance when we cultivate the state that matches ease and flow. So our focus here is on state, not on getting our circumstances to line up neatly. Life is messy. Stuff happens, right? We can stop wasting our time and energy trying to get life to behave because that’s not where the leverage is. Anyway, who wants to work that hard?

We attend to our state because it creates our daily experience. Unless we’re in a state that allows for ease, we’re unable––literally incapable––of experiencing a life of ease and fulfillment. The dictionary defines state as a mode or way of being. As living beings we’re always in a state of some kind or another: confusion, excitement, fatigue, hopefulness, calm, overwhelm, gratefulness, ambition, confidence, resignation, joy, curiosity. A person’s state changes constantly in response to the stimulus of the moment. As a physician friend of mine says, “You want to be able to respond. If you lose that natural responsiveness, you’re considered clinically dead.” So we aren’t trying to achieve a state in which we’ll remain untouched or unmoved by life. Quite the contrary. We’re seeking to increase our capacity for easy responsiveness, for aliveness and connection.72

 

Chapter 6 The Cycle of Abundance: The Six Phases of the Flow

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Ihad been gleefully riding on the gravy train of consulting gigs. I was halfway through a two-year contract providing leadership development to upper managers for a big corporate client on the East Coast. It was the early ’90s, business travel was easy, and the work made it worth flying across the country every other week. I was happy with the client, the work, and the steady income. And they were happy with my work, or so I thought—until the call came.

“Our new CFO has cancelled all external consultants effective immediately.”

With both hands, I steered the shaking phone back to the receiver. In one phone call I had lost over $70,000. The floor disappeared as a black hand began to close around me; its bony fingers squeezed until breathing became nearly impossible.

Not only had income disappeared, but I had done what a consultant must never do—I had stopped marketing and cultivating potential clients.

An hour passed, maybe more. Another day went by, maybe more. At some point it occurred to me that staying in bed eating carbohydrates nonstop was probably not going to save me from joblessness. I forced myself to get dressed and shuffled into my office prepared to face the empty calendar. The bony fist was still clutching my chest; I was getting used to its grip. Inside I was gasping, and outside it was raining. Hard.92

 

Chapter 7 Aligning and Attracting

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Letting things be as easy as they want to be is a skill in itself. My friend Jerilyn is a culinary consultant who designs exquisite recipes for restaurants and food corporations. Her way of finding the perfect ingredients for her recipes is part science and part Alignment.

After she does batches of tests to close in on the right formula, Jerilyn stops. She does this on purpose. She just drops everything and goes for a walk in nature or works in her garden. But she’s got a deadline! says the Trance of Scarcity. Shouldn’t she be working on the new product? Well, she is. By resting into the flow and distancing herself from any inclination to force, the right combination reveals itself and she is right there to receive it. Then she walks back into the house, tests the recipe, it’s a hit, and her client is delighted beyond expectation. Jerilyn has repeated this miracle many times. She makes it look easy because she doesn’t make it hard.

While wrestling with a problem, Albert Einstein was known to take a break and play the piano or violin, then stop and shout, “I’ve got it!”

 

Chapter 8 Receiving and Gratitude

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Our dog Ginger dedicated her life to pleasure, ours as well as hers. She taught us to walk in the woods, but always seemed a little disappointed that we never learned to get down and sniff and roll and pounce. Ginger would race ahead on the trail, then stop and turn, puzzled that we weren’t barreling after her, following suit. Didn’t we want to have fun, romp, and be happy? Endlessly patient, Ginger never gave up on our education. Many of her lessons unfolded in our own backyard.

When you live in the Pacific Northwest, as we do, every moment of sunshine is precious. Ginger’s personal research project was discovering how much sun and heat one dog could absorb on any given day. In the morning she started on the red brick patio near the back door so she could face and welcome the eastern rays. When the sunlight was eventually blocked by the cedar trees, Ginger would move from her established warm spot to the far edge of the patio, reassume her position, and absorb. Wherever the sun went, Ginger followed. By afternoon she had relocated her sun spa to the lawn, and after a few more hours of proper baking, she repaired to the flower bed, once again settling in to soak up the warm sunlight. By late afternoon, the shadow of the house intruded upon this tactic and a new strategy was called for.

 

Chapter 9 Generosity and Giving

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Awise woman was traveling in the mountains, when she came upon a beautiful, clear stream. Thirsty, she cupped her hand, reached in, and brought the water to her mouth. After she had drunk, she noticed a precious stone in the palm of her hand. She held it high and it glittered in the sun. Delighted, she tucked the treasure into her bag. The next day the wise woman met a hungry fellow traveler, and without hesitating she opened her bag to share what food she had. Immediately, the traveler caught sight of the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without the slightest hesitation.

The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. This stone was surely worth enough money to provide a lifetime of security. But only a few days later, he came back, his brow furrowed, and returned the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I know how valuable this stone must surely be, but I’ve brought it back to trade for something even more precious. Please give me what you have within you that enabled you to freely give me the stone.”

 

Chapter 10 Hello Abundance, Goodbye Trance!

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I can’t believe how I’ve exhausted myself by working on the wrong things!” Grant was delighted. After only two months, as I coached him in practicees of embodiment, suddenly the light went on for him. Life no longer looked like one big problem after another. “Everything used to be so difficult. But it turns out I’ve been so tight and defended that I couldn’t have felt any pleasure anyway, not even the pleasure that was already available. Being in the Circle is a lot more fun that staying out of it. Plus—now my life works!”

Grant quickly became the poster boy for abundance. By loosening the chronic contraction he had held in his body for decades, by taking on a new state and a new way of being, he designed a different future to live into. Grant started his own business “where people are treated with the proper respect,” healed a broken relationship with his son, and began hosting the annual block party in his neighborhood—all actions he would never have taken while living within the Trance of Scarcity. Once Grant had pierced the illusion of lack, separation, and struggle, he was able to put out the welcome mat for abundance: living with ease and flow.

 

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