The following Summary of Geneen's third live call was written by Robyn Bloom, a student in the Online Course who created exceptional Summaries of Geneen’s work regularly. Please note that while you may read it here, you may not copy it or share it with others.
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Summary Notes by Robyn Bloom
Welcome by Geneen Roth
Allow Yourself To Take Your Time. Change Happens Slowly.
I want to remind you of something very important. This Retreat, that you have committed yourself to represents a ripening process. Change happens slowly, bit-by-bit. I want you to put into practice a little bit at a time. Be kind and patient with yourself.
A Centering Meditation: The Luxury Of This Time Just To Be
Let’s start by orienting yourself, looking around the room you are in, looking up and down, side to side. Notice an object and start to really take it in. Be where you are.
Now, begin grounding yourself by feeling the ground itself, the earth that supports your effortlessly.
The earth is there and holding you up. Begin sensing it, taking it in.
Begin to sense the edges of your body and where it is touching other places, fabric, or furniture. Notice the boundaries of your body. Notice the location you are sitting in and allow yourself in this moment to show-up.
Whatever else you are doing to distract yourself, notice that. Try not to judge yourself, but just notice what you are doing if you are distracted. Notice the pull not to be here, right now, with yourself.
Now notice the sensation in your body. Notice your feet, your toes. As if there was a beam of light traveling up your body, what does it feel like? Is there a numbing, tingling, pulsing, vibrating anywhere in your body?
As you move the sensations up through your knees and legs, to your thighs, notice what it feels like to be in your thighs.
Then travel, with your beam of light, through to your hips.
Take that beam of light and bring your attention to your hands. These hands that feed you, touch, and lift.
Move the energy through your wrists, up through your arms. What’s there?
Move all the way up through your elbows. Up through that space between your bicep and triceps, and your shoulders.
Now focus your attention on your belly. That place we do not want to focus on. Notice your belly and the preciousness of your breath, as your belly rises and falls, the breath that gives life. Do not judge your belly. Just feel the rise and fall of your belly as you allow yourself to arrive, right here, right now.
Notice how it impacts you to spend these moments just being. Good. Good.
If your eyes have been closed, slowly open them. As you do, remember the 80/20 equation that we talked about last week. Eighty percent of your attention should remain within you, and give twenty percent of your attention to the rest of the world around you. Reverse your attention to what is happening out there, vs. what is happening inside you.
As we begin this third session of our Online-Retreat, I want to address the importance of the Practices.
If you bring the Practices we are talking about into your life, any one of these Practices, you will be amazed at what you can learn. So much of this process is to put the Practices into place one at a time.
Each of the things I am giving you to practice, the action steps, relate to everything. You can discover the whole world in any one of these Practices.
Questions and Answers from Retreat Students
Cheryl: Question from a Student: I am confused about what you say about eating what you want.
Geneen: I would encourage you to check-in with your body and ask it what it wants to eat. Start to listen to and tune in to your body.
When I talked, last week, about the body not wanting sugar I was saying that if you think your body is craving all sweets and sugary things it is probably because the mind is still talking and not the body. But, if you pay close attention you might notice after a meal, when you are no longer hungry, you still want something sweet to complete your meal. Check in with yourself and notice that.
You will have to discover this for yourself. No one else can know, but you.
Cheryl: Question from a Student: I want to eat when I am hungry, but my day is very structured. I have to eat an 8:00 am breakfast, 12:00 pm is the lunch hour and I have a small window in the evening that my husband and I can sit together and have a meal. How can I follow my physical hunger?
You Are The Only One Who Can Figure How Best To Care For Yourself
Geneen: You have to figure out how the guidelines can work in your life. Remember, they are only guidelines, not iron-clad rules. Of course, you need to take care of yourself and the guidelines have to fit into your life. So, if you have a meal break at work and you are not hungry, consider eating a little bit at the break, and then having a snack later, when you are hungry once again.
Cheryl: Geneen, it seems the guidelines are about building a relationship and trust with our selves.
Geneen: Yes. The guidelines are not intended to be rules. Think of them like the North Star and you are a sailor. The guidelines are a guidepost to help you move in the right direction. They point us in a direction. Imagine eating like a child eats, before we are inundated with commercial foods. A child knows what the body wants.
Cheryl: Question from a Student: I have celiac disease and I am lactose intolerant. I also keep kosher. So there are many restrictions. How is it possible to eat what I want when there are so many restrictions?
Geneen: This comes up for lots of people with dietary restriction, celiac, and diabetes.
It is easy to immediately go into a feeling of deprivation when you realize you cannot have those foods you want.
I understand. When I discovered I was gluten intolerant I wanted to whine and complain. But I soon discovered that I had a choice. I get to choose how I will feel.
I went in with my eyes open, not as a victim. I can choose to eat what makes me feel good. Instead of feeling deprived, ask yourself: “What is it that I want, more than that particular food?”
Cheryl: Another question; Most nutrition guidelines tell you that breakfast is the most important part of the day. Do I eat if I am not hungry?
Try To Understand Your Body And What It Needs
Geneen: I can only speak for myself, and the many people I have worked with in my groups. So for example, this morning I had to get up and out of the house quickly. I knew that if I did not eat anything before I left that I would be starving in an hour. So I ate breakfast when I wasn’t hungry.
Part of the process of working with these guidelines is to really start to understand what it is to live in your body. What are the signs you get that you are hungry? When does your body need fuel?
Some of us have hunger cues that are different than a rumbling tummy. Start to notice what they are.
I don’t recommend people get to a 1 on the hunger scale. That’s why you should eat if you are running out of the house and know you won’t have time till much later. I have a friend that does not eat breakfast. You need to decide for yourself.
Cheryl: Question from a Student; I am 90 lbs overweight, and I must lose weight for health reasons. Can you please address this because I am thinking that I should join a weight loss program and then after I have lost weight start to follow the guidelines and start my practice.
Geneen: In my experience, many people have been in this situation. They tell me they need to lose the weight first and then they will be able to start doing the practice.
I have been doing this work for many years. What I can tell you is that I have seen these people come back, a year or two later, 20 or 30 pounds heavier.
I understand that this new information can be a little scary and you are not sure you can trust yourself. There is a little bit of scariness, thrill, and maybe fear. You are thinking: “Maybe I should just go on a diet first then come back and do this.
When the need to lose weight is life-threatening, you need to get inside yourself and be very honest. If I was on a 5-6 day retreat with you I would ask you questions like “Where are the places that you have given up on yourself?” Or “Tell me what goes on when you overeat at night.” Or “Tell me your thoughts and beliefs. What is the food doing for you? What is it giving you?”
I would never say to you not to see your doctor or chiropractor. It is crucial that people work with health care professionals to manage their health.
But, the reasons for eating need to be addressed. Examining your beliefs is crucial regardless what you decide to do.
Geneen: So, tonight’s topic is “What Are You REALLY Hungry For?”
Before you can answer that, we must examine our beliefs about what keeps us from receiving and asking for what it is we are really hungry for.
The way we do this is Inquiry.
Beginning Inquiry and Becoming Curious
Inquiry has been around for thousands of years in many traditions and practices. Inquiry allows you to be curious about what you really believe.
We all have many different beliefs. Beliefs such as “Other people are special,” “I’m not. I’m smarter than everyone else, why don’t they see that?” “I got the short end of the stick.” “Life sucks.” “If they really knew me they would not love me. “ These are beliefs you may have, You certainly have others as well.
These beliefs - our thoughts we have “thunk” roughly a million times - lead to feelings. It all gets mixed-up to account for how we see ourselves. Our identity is a combination of these things that we no longer question, because we believe them to be true. We do not even realize we can question the beliefs around the identity.
Inquiry Allows You To Find Out What You Do Not Really Know
Inquiry allows us to be curious. To find out what you don’t really know.
But first you have to realize you might not actually know. For example, we can be sad and want to push it away. “What do I do with my sadness?”
What do you do? Are you really curious about it?
Curiosity And Bringing Yourself Back To The Center Of Your Life
Curiosity is a quality that many of us have long since buried.
Ask yourself: How was your curiosity treated as a child? Was it welcomed? Did people get angry when you wanted to know so much, asked so many questions? What questions were off-limits?
In my family curiosity was not something welcomed, at least not in the subjects I was interested in. So I stopped being curious.
I was so tired of struggling with food and I wanted it to be over. I became the victim.
But being a victim is the opposite of being curious. The victim thinks, “They did this to me and they need to make it better.”
Inquiry is putting your adult self at the very center of things.
No matter what is going on you can begin to understand what is really happening in your body.
Childhood experience affected you, of course. But remember, we are no longer children. We are not dependent on anyone. We are adults. If we keep repeating those same stories, things that were said to us, we are now saying them to ourselves. When we repeat them to ourselves we make our stories stronger. No one has the power to shrivel us anymore, make us feel that small, unless you want to believe that yourself.
Judgment Stops Inquiry
Inquiry gives you the way to open the doorway to know yourself better.
The inquiry process allows you to know, for example, that if at this moment I was feeling sad, and I was willing to be curious about the sadness as if I was experiencing it for the very first time, I could begin to really look at it, feel it and experience it as if I did not know what it was. It might be, “Oh, I am feeling sad. Where is that sadness in my body?”
In order to explore the feelings that come up you can’t have an agenda. You can’t have preferences. You have to try and suspend judgment. Judgment stops inquiry dead in its tracks.
We talked about “The Voice” last week and why it needs to be questioned. Remember, The Voice judges and shuts down inquiry because The Voice already knows what is going on. The Voice is not interested in Inquiry. The Voice tries to prevent change and protect the status quo. The Voice might be saying, “Left to your own devices you would mess up.”
For example, when we get angry we often think it is because of something someone else is doing. We might start to act out our feelings, stomp around or shoot off an angry e-mail. The judgment that leads us to anger has thrown cold water on the Inquiry process.
When you find yourself trying to figure things out or analyze them, Inquiry stops.
Be Kind And Patient With Yourself In The Process
Be curious and try to stay open. Inquiry requires you to be kind and patient.
Ask yourself “What’s going on?” and then try and locate the feeling in your body. Remember, “sensation, location, sensation, location”. What is the sensation? It might be, “I want to push out of my skin.” Where? “In my chest.” Notice where it is then try and be more precise. OK, what does it look like? What is its color and shape?
With a process of curious and openness you can question and discover what it is.
Inquiry allows you an entrance to an entire world. But you must be willing not to know.
Begin with your body, not your mind. Locate a sensation and location in your body.
Cheryl: I loved your example of building a strong connection with yourself and unhooking that emotional eating pattern.
Geneen: Yes, the Inquiry process allows you to question the beliefs that you build your entire sense of self on.
Inquiry is a practice and it takes a while to actually learn how to be curious. It is like learning to play the violin. We will not be good at it in the beginning. But as we examine what comes up - sadness, for example - it might actually feel like a calm place, and then you may even feel more alive. This thing I call sadness might begin to feel more like openness. When I inquire into it I can experience the feeling as openness and I feel more alive; not less.
There is nothing in the entire universe that is better than your true nature. Inquiry can bring you back in touch with what is really true. When you open your heart to inquire about these feelings of sadness, or loneliness, you may find your feelings are not what you thought they were. Whatever it is that opens (and I’m not saying it is always an exquisite place) it is the truth, your deepest truth.
Food can be an attempt to avoid what is the truth because we believe what is there can destroy us. Yes, it might hurt. But remember, food does not rid us of pain. It merely doubles it.
Allow yourself to feel whatever is there. Feelings will not destroy you.
The pain we are in has so much to do with our stories. “This is to much for me to feel.” “I live alone and I’m a loser.”
Ask yourself: “Is this true?” Question your assumptions and try to recall who told you that. Question the beliefs that are keeping you from yourself.
We will do more of the Inquiry piece in the next session as well. But I do know, there is no situation in your life that is unworkable.
Cheryl: Question from a student: In a calm moment The Voice sounds like my voice. It is hard to distinguish the voice of “I” vs. “you.”
Geneen: Most of us are blended with The Voice and experience The Voice as “us” talking to “us”. It does not feel like The Voice speaking to you. It does not sound like “You.” It sounds more like “I am unlovable.” “I messed up.” “I did it wrong.” “I will never get what I want.” “I am damaged.”
Cheryl: The blended piece is very sneaky.
Geneen: Begin to recognize the effect of the attacks of The Voice, a “Voice attack” or, as I like to call it, being “under the influence.”
You can start to recognize The Voice when life was moving along as usual, but then you find yourself feeling diminished, shriveled up, small, incapable, or worthless. Maybe it’s a feeling of collapse and you want someone, possibly bigger, to come in and fix everything.
When you recognize that, it is your clue that The Voice has been around talking to you. It can be an “ah-ha” moment. You have been under the influence of The Voice. Start to recognize the effect it has on you.
Cheryl: I could recognize The Voice when I thought I needed someone else outside me to fix the situation.
Geneen: That’s my particular flavor. I need someone really smart to tell me what to do.
I have been meditating since 1975 and then all of a sudden I don’t know how to meditate and I really need a teacher, and I need to go to Burma and I need a spiritual teacher…and…
Cheryl: That was helpful.
Geneen: Here’s a Gestalt exercise:
Put a pillow on your bed and speak to yourself like The Voice does: “You are this.” “You are that,”
Try and feel the energy that The Voice usurps. It’s co-opted your power, strength, or passion and it is using it against you.
Then speak back to The Voice. Maybe you will say, “Whoa honey, you don’t get to talk to me like that.”
My Voice can be like the bully on the playground. But I figured, like most bullies, that if I was kind and understanding that we could get to the heart of mush that most bullies have deep down. I tried talking to my bully with understanding and compassion for two years. It did not work.
But Stop! You don’t get to talk to me like that!” does work. “Go fly a kite!” or “Leave me alone!” does work.
If talking to or yelling back to your Voice does not work, you can try turning down the volume or putting The Voice in a jar and close it up tight. Or, you can change the channel.
Cheryl: We had a question from one of the students that says: “My life is ruled by my Voice. What will I replace it with? It’s almost like I need it to be happy.”
Geneen: I like that question.
I think many of us have been so directed and ruled by The Voice that we are afraid of what our life will be like without it. Like a diet program, it gives direction. What will I do without that sense of rigidity?
Your own true knowing will replace The Voice.
Believe me, I know this is scary. Without it, we can feel lost.
But this is where Inquiry comes in. You get to feel disoriented and see what is there.
Being without The Voice is the start of listening to our internal hunger. What are those deep hungers? What is it we really want? What are we really hungry for? Maybe there is a quickening in your heart when you think about drawing, playing tennis, traveling, but The Voice keeps you from it.
style="color: #670000;">A Review of Practices from Week One and Two:
Eat when you are hungry.
Living “As if”…
The Astonishment Practice is something you can do on a daily basis, morning and evening, no matter what.
This Week’s Practices:
YOUR PRACTICE RELATED TO FOOD AND EATING:
1. Eat sitting down in calm environment (this does not include the car). Eat without distraction.
Distractions include radio, television newspapers books, intense or anxiety producing conversations or music. I sometimes refer to Guidelines Two and Three as “ways we eat without really eating” Practice.
YOUR PRACTICE FOR YOURSELF:
2. Set An Intention And Then Work On Developing Your Curiosity
Hold these guidelines as the intention and then just see what happens.
When you don’t follow the guidelines, stay curious. We are working on developing curiosity.
The second you actually notice you have done something you told yourself you weren’t going to do, be curious and ask yourself, “What’s that about?”
The most important element of Inquiry is being curious, which goes hand-in-hand with being kind to yourself.
If you find yourself knowing what to do, and how to change it, you are not in Inquiry. You’ve got to want to know something that you do not know, urgently,
Remember, judgment is the enemy of Inquiry.
So, I bid you a wonderful evening. I wish you kindness, curiosity and many blessing this week. And, I thank you for being so very interested in yourself, as you are.
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