The following Summary of Geneen's fourth 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 on your private Student blog, you may not copy it or share it with others.
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Summary Notes by Robyn Bloom
Opening Meditation: Arrive Where You Are, Come Back Home to Yourself.
Let’s start with a meditation to locate yourself in your body and become present before we begin.
It’s best not to be lying down. It’s best to sit up in a comfortable place. Somewhere where you are awake and alive.
Begin the process of orienting, grounding and centering. Start to notice where you are. Find an object to take in. An object that maybe you have been looking at for days, weeks or months. With a beginners mind, really look at it, take it in, and really try to see it. It’s a way of arriving into the present moment.
Be aware of the ground underneath you, the earth that is supporting you effortlessly. Holding you up. Notice that. Notice the contact your feet are making with the floor, grounding yourself and grounding your body.
Become aware of the point of contact that your body boundary is making with what is touching it, and the many different places it is being touched. Notice the way your clothes feel on your skin. Notice the feel of the support of the chair, a pillow, the literal places where your body boundary is making with what’s outside of you, as a way to ground yourself and arrive in yourself.
Bring your attention even closer in from the room you are sitting in to your body boundary, and the sensations. Become aware of your sensations, in your arms and legs. Become aware of tingling, warmness, coolness, or pulsing. Wiggle your toes to become aware of them.
Now imagine a beam of light traveling through your hips, your legs, your fingers, and hands. Next move the beam of light to your wrists, not a picture of your wrists, but the actual sensations of the wrist. Move the beam of light inside both your arms, through your elbow, up through your shoulders.
Allow yourself to breathe. And, as you breathe, become aware of your belly. Place both hands on your belly, one palm on top of your navel, the other hand on top of the other. Notice the rise and fall of the breath, the rise and fall of your belly in your sweet body. Notice your breath that connects you to life itself. Become aware of the sensation in your belly. If there is numbness, or nothing, notice that. That is a sensation too. Become aware of your energetic center.
If your mind is wandering, or eating, or e-mailing, or checking Facebook while we are doing this, just notice that. No judgment. Just notice the resistance. Notice the resistance to being with yourself, hanging out with yourself, being with yourself. This deeply affects your eating, the resistance to being yourself and your relationship to food are not disconnected.
Remember, the way we transform is from Inquiry and noticing, not judgment or shame
If your eyes have been closed, slowly open them. Notice the intention to stay connected to your body. Remember the 80/20 equation we have talked about. 80% of your attention should be focused inside your body, and 20% to outside. Try and keep the connection with yourself as we continue. The connection you have with yourself is what you want most, it is what you have. When you lose that connection you feel homeless. Remember, 80/20.
Questions and Answers from Retreat Students
We are going to start with some questions tonight.
Cheryl: Rebecca asks: I’m beginning to lose hope, it’s the fourth week and I thought I would have lost weight by now. I’ve had moments of real insight and yet I’ve actually gained weight. I’m thinking maybe I need a different diet plan. I don’t want to give up hope but I’m not so sure.
Geneen: I hear you saying “I thought I would have shed a few pounds by now. We are in the 4th week and my life should have changed by now. “
But four weeks compared to 10, 20, or 30 years of being entranced and thoroughly used to a particular habitual way of doing things? Ways of being that have become engrained in our brain and our psyche? It took a lot to lay down those habits and it’s going to take a lot - more than four weeks - to transform them.
Insight Alone Is Not Enough. Real Change Takes Action.
Yes, the insight can be great, but unfortunately it’s not enough. We think because we want to change we should be able to change.
Ask: “What actions have you taken in the last couple of weeks different than what you have done before?” It will not happen magically and not without a purposeful attention and action.
Think Of The Practices Not As “Doing” But “Undoing”
It’s maybe helpful to think of change as an undoing of our habitual ways of being unconscious.
Eat With Awareness. Eat With Great Effort At Being Conscious
When I first started telling people who attended my groups, to “Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you have had enough.” it was often translated into permission to have an eating free-for-all. I was saying: “Eat with awareness and eat with consciousness.” I was saying: “Let’s start to turn around your habitual patterns of eating by bringing consciousness to eating.”
What have you actually done on a daily basis to become aware?
If you do the Practices consciously there will be some degree of empowerment from being able to do them.
Learning To Act On Your Own Behalf
When the actions you are taking are aligned with your heart’s desire you learn to act on your own behalf. You act out of love for yourself.
That’s how it is with these actions/Practices. We learn to act on our own behalf.
Cheryl: When I started to become conscious about what I was eating, I realized that I was eating in a way that is aligned with better health.
Geneen: Yes, you are noticing that you are eating less and that you need less.
When you start to feel that, it comes along with a lot of other stuff.
Maybe you thought, “How am I going to get all that food I want to eat into my day?” It starts the realization that my whole relationship with food will change.
Then you begin to ask yourself “What am I going do with that? What will happen?” There is the whole non-related food content that comes up in the process.
Cheryl: Ruth says: I feel out of my regular patterns. I am faithful to being messed up and faithful to my old ways of doing things. My vulnerability comes up and I’m not sure what to do with it.
Geneen: Because we were not born to enlightened parents, and our parents were born to unenlightened parents before them (I have no judgment about this, it’s just the way it is), as children we learn the distortions (the messed up-ness that Ruth calls it) of our parents in order to survive.
When we become conscious, the ways we are faithful to our old ways come up. We fear not being lovable. That is very worthy of questioning.
Who Are You Being Loyal To?
Who are you being loyal to if you believe that you must stay “messed up” in order to be loved?
Our mother’s shape is the first love we know, so most of us would rather do anything than be disloyal to our mothers.
But I’m talking about the mother that is installed inside of us, it is only a version of our mother and it is to that version we become loyal. We needed our mother’s love to survive. And, we learned who we needed to be, to be loved. When we start changing, we fear being disloyal to that version of who we are supposed to be.
Transforming our relationship with food is being most loyal to our own authenticity. Any other version is not true. Learning how to question that fear as it comes up is part of the Inquiry process. First name it and the then begin to understand it through Inquiry
Cheryl: You ask yourself, “Who are you being loyal to?” when you find yourself overeating.
Geneen: Yes, because most of us are unconscious as to whom and what we are being loyal to. When you feel you have left yourself, or you are outside of yourself, you are being loyal to something else; your history, conditioning. The voices you have internalized. We snip ourselves off at the knees and take away our power again and again to stay loyal. Compulsive eating is usually an expression of that loyalty to something old. It is a way we stay loyal to get what we need.
Cheryl: Your very existence as a child is completely reliant on getting love from your caregiver.
Geneen: When we name that and then question that, (and bring it into consciousness) we begin to realize that most of us are operating on an unconscious level, serving our history. That’s why when we begin to work with this the unfelt universe shows up. A lot of what we tried to push away begins to poke out.
Cheryl: I have such compassion for Rebecca. This piece of the conversation is not something you can figure out in four weeks.
Geneen: St. Francis de Sales says you need “A cup of knowledge, a barrel of love and an ocean of patience.”
Cheryl: Yes, right, patience. Something I don’t have a lot of.
Geneen: This retreat opens up a world. It gives a map of the territory. But it is your body that has to take the steps, your heart that has to feel the longing, and your attention to your intention.
I realized that for a very long time I wanted to have someone else do it for me, fix it for me. I wanted to be given what I never got. When I was a little kid someone else was supposed to do it for me. But my mother was so unhappy in her own life, I did not get the feeling that someone was thrilled about my existence and do for me what I could not figure out for myself.
By the time I was three or four years old, in pictures, I can see the stance of someone who is trying to say, “I can do this, I can take it on.” But of course you cannot take care of yourself at three or four years of age.
When I feel the longing that I want someone else to do it for me, I am not far from making myself a victim.
I ask myself “When is this struggle going to be over?” I can hear the refrain of “I want to be done and I want this fixed.” The part of you that feels like you did not get that, I understand. But nobody can do that for you now as an adult.
For the first 25 years I was going to spiritual teachers I believed that by the proximity of being near them, I would absorb, via osmosis, what I needed to learn. I was still in that place of thinking and wanting someone else to do it for me.
So, when you catch yourself you can respond “Ahh sweetheart, I hear that you want someone to do it for you. But I will be with you.” You begin to know from the adult place, only you can do the work for you.
Cheryl: Let’s switch gears a bit. Many people have asked this question in many varying ways: How does exercise come into this program? Do I need to be going to the gym, doing cardio or weight training?
Geneen: Exercise is no different than everything else we are talking about.
If you guilt trip yourself, force yourself, make yourself feel deprived or guilty and it forces you to exercise, then you will be a deprived, guilt ridden, exercised person.
Discovering What Movement Feels Good For Your Body
That said, we live in our bodies and our bodies like to move. Bodies breathe and bodies need to move.
So, I encourage people to pay attention to the kind of movement that feels best for their body. It may take some experimenting, some Inquiry. Is it walking? Swimming? Jumping rope? Hiking? Dancing? What is it? What would feel good?
Remember what you liked to do as akid. Did you like to run, play tag, jump rope? Even the bookworms among us, as kids, liked to move.
Discover the movement that takes care of your body that you were given. Without all the “shoulds” peeled away, ask, “How do I like to move?”
If nothing comes up you are going to have to try moving your body in a couple of different ways to allow your body to remind you. Take your mind out of the process and give yourself a couple of options, just as if you did not know what you are hungry for.
Cheryl: So many of my few food choices were made with my mind, not my body. But as I am reminded about what I love to do, last week at my house I moved the chairs out of the way and I put the music on. This is not something I usually do. All this energy came out of me and so much was expressed through the movement when I danced.
Geneen: The natural impulses of the body are what we need to be listening to. It knows what it needs and wants.
Rest, contact and food are the three things that every body needs. And, I would add some kind of body expression as the fourth thing every body needs.
I noticed this a long time ago. When I am frustrated, upset, or angry, I know I need to get outside and I need to move. It’s not a chore because it feels like a necessity.
If I was following my mind, it might tell me to take a bath, or eat something. It might not tell me to exercise. But I know that my body loves to move. It becomes effortless. It takes great effort to become effortless. You will eventually know automatically and build it into your day.
Finding Your “Enough”
Cheryl: Next question, related to the topic: Can you talk about some specific examples of what people are hungry for from your experience and what you have seen in your work?
Geneen: This relates to the whole topic of “What are you REALLY hungry for” and “Finding your ‘enough’.”
In every major spiritual teaching for the past 3,000 years there is a common thread, a fundamental teaching: Each of us, our soul/spirit possesses a true nature. It’s our true nature, or our inner nature, that is the essence of ourselves. Everything is made of it and we have forgotten that.
Our true nature manifests as you. But because we believe that we are our thoughts, our feelings, our history, our conditioning, our bodies, we have lost track of who we actually are.
Of course, then we feel separate from ourselves, we feel homeless because we are not with our true nature. We identify with a very limited part of our real potential. We identify with our personality or our ego, our small self.
Our Fixed Beliefs Stand In Our Way Of Seeing What Is Unfolding In The Present Moment
Who we take ourselves to be becomes fixed. Life ceases to unfold. Our fixed beliefs about ourselves, our attitudes, our inner positions, our compulsive reactions are standing in our way.
It’s not that we are not made up of that and it’s not that we are not that, it’s that we don’t question what is being presented to us in the moment. We take our patterns of reactivity, our beliefs and our attitudes and we think they are the truth.
Inquiry Can Bring Us Back To Our True Nature
Inquiry allows us to question our deeply held beliefs and question what we think is unquestionable. We begin to question what we think is true and the way life is.
We need a way to come home to ourselves. So as we notice what is standing in the way, the “who” we take ourselves to be, we start to uncover the vastness of who we are. Inquiry is the process of traveling to know where you already are.
Our true nature is our birthright. If we do not know that, we are mistaken. Our positions, beliefs, and attitudes are not a reflection of that being. When you are not connected to that being you will always feel separated, empty, wounded. I read a submission from one woman on my Facebook page:
“I realized that my loneliness was because I was separated from myself.”
Yes. Until you understand that you are disconnected from your true nature and you are able to connect with yourself again, you will always feel lonely.
External riches, what you have, who loves and adores you will not matter if you cannot connect with yourself and come home. You will be missing yourself. That is the true wound. The effect of what someone did to you as a child and the separation that may have caused becomes the wound.
As a child people reacted to us and maybe traumatized us. If we could have remained connected to ourselves when that happened, the wound would not have happened. What somebody else was saying or doing had nothing to do with us, but it had everything to do with them. Because we did not know that, we separated from ourselves. That is the true wound. We are longing to come home, to have that connection with ourselves. We are learning the way back.
“The Answer” is What We Are Always Hungry For
But that does not mean we don’t need particular answers. Because you do not know where to begin.
To the statement: “Reconnect with your true nature, your true essence.” your response might be: “Huh? I don’t believe I have a true nature. All I know is that I am eating too much.”
That’s Why Food Is The Doorway To Your True Nature
Because what you are doing, where you are right now, in this very moment is the truest thing you have to connect with your true nature.
Maybe some of us can connect with ourselves when we are sitting in a contemplative practice. But, it’s hard without that to know your true nature. It is here right now; it can’t help but be there. It’s there in the background all the time but because we are so busy paying attention to the thoughts that are upwelling in the forefront of your mind we can miss it.
As you take a look in the room you are sitting in, you are focusing on a particular object (for me in the Meditation earlier it was the chandelier in my hotel room) you are not focusing on the invisible space. You are seeing the things that stand out of the space.
But if the space was not there you could not see the objects. You would see a solid mass. But you are still not seeing the space. We focus on our thoughts and their content; the space the thought passes through needs focus.
What makes it possible to focus on that space? Our awareness of the thought is what brings it to us, we are now aware of the awareness; we are aware of the thought.
Finding Your “Enough” - Or Knowing Who You ALREADY Are
What is at the very root of this? Why can’t we get enough?
Most of us are not focused on who we already are and the spaces that the thoughts are passing through.
The Practices are intended to allow focus on the wider sense of you. That longing and hunger to know ourselves as we truly are. Not to equate our achievement, how much money, how thin, how kind, or lovable, or what we do for other people as who we ARE. A more fundamental sense of being is what we long for.
Cheryl: How do we connect with that part? Can you share with us some of the things you do, to help people really grasp this?
Geneen: I use Inquiry, constantly.
When I am contracted, wrapped up in a particular thought, blaming others, or feeling collapsed, it is because I believe something that is not true.
I have worked with The Voice a lot.
But if you believe what The Voice is telling you, then you don’t believe you have a true nature. The Voice has no interest in true nature. Neither does your personality or your conditioning. Personality is a coagulation of qualities that you believe yourself to be. Who you think you are; fixed attitudes, beliefs, memories are who you take yourself to really be. The Voice is only interested if it thinks it might help you accomplish a goal.
But being interested in who you are is not going to get you anything in particular. It is for it’s own sake. There is no sense of accomplishment. It’s your heart’s longing to know yourself.
“When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.”
- From Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes”
Come Closer To Yourself
If we are really interested in your true nature for that sake alone - not to move you along in your career, be more talented, or solve a problem, but just to answer something deep within - then you can find the answers.
Inquiry involves openness, but without a particular purpose. Think of it as a goal without a goal.
You can come closer to yourself. And, your way in through the door is your relationship with food. Start whenever you are. If you eating when you are not hungry, eating compulsively, eating standing up, ask “What’s going on here?” and start there.
You have to start right where you are, not where you think you should be. You can’t really spiritually up-level, you can’t will yourself someplace else.
Fan The Flame Of The Voice That Really Knows
Everyone here doing this Retreat knows this, otherwise you would not be here. You are aware of it somewhere inside yourself or you would not be interested in what I have to say.
Among all the negative voices, there is the Voice that really knows. I want to fan that flame. But start here. You need to be having your life. What you are living is exactly what you need to be experiencing.
Start By Being Curious About What Your Experience Is Right Now
Cheryl: I have a simplistic question Geneen. What kinds of questions do you ask yourself during the Inquiry process.
Geneen: Let’s go over the steps.
Begin by coming back to your body. Begin with what you have, what you feel. Sensing into your body. Ask yourself what you are feeling in your body, not in your head. Whatever you are feeling - lonely, sad, bored, frustrated - ask yourself:
Where is the feeling in my body?
How does the feeling effect me?
Why is it difficult to feel this?
Is this a familiar feeling?
How old do I feel when I am feeling this way?
Does the feeling have a shape?
Does the feeling have a sensation?
Does it have a color?
What happens when I feel this?
Then what happens?
Be aware of the effect that asking the questions has on the experience.
As you ask yourself these questions, the questions will impact you in that very moment.
The Inquiry starts to put a wedge in. You have separated with the merged feeling of the feeling itself. You are allowing yourself the start of coming home to yourself. You are creating space.
Cheryl: It keeps you from getting lost in the nebulousness of it.
Geneen: Inquiry keeps you from having an agenda or a goal. It keeps you from comparing how you are feeling to what you want to be feeling or comparing the experience to someone else’s experience or even a past experience.
The mind tries to take over because pain needs to be avoided; it’s what we have learned. If you continue to think you need to avoid discomfort you will be kept away from Inquiry. When I find myself thinking about what someone else is experiencing I become lost to myself. I have lost the connection to my own experience.
This Week’s Practices / “Action Steps”
Geneen: This is the first time I have used the words “Action Steps”. I have always called them “Practices” until now. Remember, they are called Practices for a good reason. You are not supposed to be really good at them yet. You are practicing.
And, the reason why I like “Action Steps” is because you have to take action and use the Practices. “Ah ha” moments have to be translated to what you actually do.
YOUR PRACTICE RELATED TO FOOD AND EATING:
Eat What Your Body Wants
This is a different from “Eat what you don’t eat because you feel guilty,” or “Eat what you wanted to eat as a kid but didn’t.” That’s not what your body wants.
Be in the present moment with your body and it will tell you what it wants, It might want hot, cold, smooth, spicy, crunchy, protein, fat. Listen to what your body is telling you.
YOUR PRACTICE FOR YOURSELF:
Notice What You Are Loyal To
When you find yourself in a repetitive pattern, telling yourself old stories, ask “How old am I in that moment? Who am I being loyal to?”
Cheryl: When you talk about eating what you want and checking in, I’m thinking about eating two pizzas.
Geneen: Bodies are in the present moment.
“I want two pizzas” is your mind talking, not your body.
If you are listening to your body it can only know in the present moment what it wants. It can answer “pizza,” but not an amount.
As you take one, two, three bites, keep asking your body, “What do you want now?” Mostly especially keep asking while you are eating.
It is a moment-to-moment experience, so pay close attention.
It’s a lot to know. Take it in little by little. Don’t expect to take it all at once.
Lavish yourself with kindness.
I send you many blessings for this coming week.
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