The following Summary of Geneen's sixth 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
Introduction and Review
Cheryl: Let’s start with some questions that have come up for me since the last Class:
I notice that there is the normal anxiety that comes up for many of us when we are in the process of learning something new.
Geneen: Yes, it’s good to address this. I notice this at retreats. About the third day of a six-day retreat, they start to worry about what they are doing to do. There is a lot of concern. “How will I continue this new Practice?”
How to get yourself the support you need to continue developing your Practice.
I want to address this on a few levels.
Over the period of the last six sessions there has been a lot of information.
We talked about the “Living As If” Practice, the “Amazement” Practice, some of the Eating Guidelines, and being kind to yourself.
If you take one of those Practices and really put it into action in your life, you will see what happens.
As you align yourself with that within you that wishes to change, the part that knows change is possible, doing the Practice is how you will put the change into effect in your life via action.
Remember, you can’t change everything all at once.
We talked a little last week about the need to not overwhelm your self by trying to do everything at once.
You have what you need to put the Practices into place, to practice what you have heard, what you have you learned what you have felt, what you have practiced.
What effort are you willing to make on your own behalf?
Until you put into practice, one, two, maybe three of the Practices - nothing will change.
What are you willing to put into your Practice? What effort are you willing to make on your own behalf?
If you translate any one of the Practices into your life, you will be acting on your own behalf. Translate the Practices into action, every day. I encourage you to do that.
Support is crucial.
Support can come by being in a community.
The tools of this Online-Retreat will be available to you and you can go back and listen.
In the fall (2010) I will be doing another retreat, specifically about the Eating Guidelines. The format will be very similar. And, you can check my Facebook page and ask me a question. Join our e-mail newsletter that we send out that has articles and responds to questions.
Consider starting a “Women Food and God” Book Group.
I’m working on some guidelines about how you can start a “Women Food and God” Book Group. Included will be a list of questions to ask that I think are important to ponder and discuss. It will be available on the Oprah site ( http://Oprah.com ) and on my site ( https://geneenroth.wpengine.com ) the week of July 12th, 2010.
Gather people you know, read the book, and discuss any confusion or questions that come up for you.
Cheryl: Geneen, do we want to talk about the special bonus Q&A Session?
Geneen: Yes. We are going to do a special Q&A session, a “Week seven” call that we will record and make available for you to download from your private Student Area.
Cheryl: We invite you to visit the “ Ask Geneen” section of the Online-Retreat Web site ( http://WomenFoodAndGod.com/askgeneen ). During the bonus Q&A call, we will cull the most common questions and respond to as many questions as we can.
Geneen: Before we start with the questions for this week’s call, let’s take a few minutes, two minutes to settle ourselves.
Let’s do a quick two-minute exercise to settle our selves and ground before we begin.
Start by noticing if you are distracted, walking around, or on the computer. Whatever you do, it a reflection of love for yourself and reflects your willingness to stay with yourself, or the desire not to be with yourself.
So many of our actions and feelings are unconscious. “How you eat is how you live.” Or “The world is on your plate.” Each single moment, the way you bring yourself to that moment is important. Are you distracted, impatient, wanting to tune me out? Just notice it.
Change comes from love.
We do not change by force, shame, deprivation, shame, or guilt. Each time we do that there is a counterforce and we find a way to rebel in some way at some time. Force closes the heart every time.
The heart needs to recognize what is true. The heart can decide it does not want to be separated for another second from that which we love.
The way that happens is not by force. Love and force are not of the same ilk. We force ourselves because we don’t really trust our love, we don’t trust ourselves.
Notice the attitude you are beginning with. Notice if you have already given up on yourself. What we try to do, again and again, is notice The Voice. Because when we notice, you become that which does the noticing. Once you realize that, you are almost home.
Questions and Answers from Retreat Students
Cheryl: Here is a question from Marion:
I’m now starting to lose weight, my clothes are looser and I am terrified. I was practicing inquiry and could not binge while I was practicing inquiry. But now I am having a more difficult time continuing. Now the compulsive eating is coming back and I am afraid of losing what I started getting. I don’t want the pain of being thin then losing it. And, now that I’ve lost some weight I’m afraid of male attention. Can you offer help? I send you immense gratitude.
Geneen: Marion seems to notice that when she is quiet, and listens to herself, and pays attention it becomes impossible to binge.
When we practice being kind, and listening to ourselves, it becomes impossible to mistreat and abuse ourselves. It’s fabulous to see that.
When you can notice you are not eating when you are not hungry or you are bingeing, you can ask yourself: “Shat is going on?” You can create a touchstone to come back to. You realize that when you are quiet this way is not just for other people out there – but that it’s for you too. “This is my birthright and it is already happening!”
Slow down enough to take in what already have.
For those of us who are compulsive eaters, we rush past the good stuff.
So it is very important to learn how to take in the good, taste what you have, because if you don’t then you can never be satisfied. When you rush through a meal you don’t allow yourself to take it in.
Feel yourself appreciating, honoring and acknowledging what you have.
Think about one thing, one moment, one meal, a taste of something you never tasted. Remember and realize the loveliness you already have in your life, or a day you lived “as if” and take a moment to acknowledge, honor and truly take it in. Allow yourself to have the goodness, have the love, to let it fill you. Good.
There were quite a few questions about this gravitational pull that happens after we start losing weight and the fear of being pulled back.
We have talked about the messages that we have about being loyal to what we believe that is necessary to be loved. When we find ourselves outside of that safe world it gets scary. When you are not who you think you are, that’s when you start gaining weight back.
First, notice. Second, be curious.
Notice if you come down hard on yourself when the weight is coming back. Maybe The Voice kicks in and it starts in on you with that viciousness. If you start eating again when you are not hungry and you come down heavy on yourself in any way, attempt to disengage from The Voice and notice what is going on.
Discomfort is a normal part of creating new habits.
When you get out of the deep grooves in your brain - your habits - you might experience it as dissonance and you might want to be back where it is familiar, even if that is an unhappy place.
If you have spent a lifetime in a particular pattern, breaking out of it is going to be uncomfortable. This work requires discomfort, which is the gravitational pull towards bingeing again, in that moment.
But as I have said, what you are already doing is not comfortable.
The third part of Marion’s question is that she is afraid of male attention.
That will require some curiosity.
Is it that you don’t trust yourself? That you will do something you do not want to do? That you don’t have boundaries?
To find what you are afraid of will require kindness and curiosity.
Cheryl: She says she is going to lose the weight and gain it back. It seems that she has done this before. She does not want to be disappointed.
Geneen: Yes, there is the fear that “I’ve done this many times before, and why should it be different this time?”
It’s important to hear the sneakiness of The Voice. Speak in the tone The Voice is speaking: “You have done this so many times before. Why do you bother? Why do you think this is going to be any different? How many times have you done this before? Just cut your losses and get it over with. Just go ahead and eat.”
That’s the cynicism that this isn’t for you.
It’s also a protective mechanism.
There is that element of doubt that carries hatred in it as well.
We are not going to be able to cover that. But The Voice is protective because we don’t want to feel disappointed.
Cheryl: I have been trying to cope with childhood trauma and then there is the problem now of my weight and my relationship with food. Where does the kindness fit in?
Geneen: What started out as a necessary adaptive behavior has become maladaptive.
As children, when there was nobody there to support, love and nourish us and we did not know how to take care of ourselves.
When we were dependent on others, there was food. Food was helpful because it helped us pull through and it helped us survive. We did exactly the right thing.
You can find nourishment that is not food.
Now as adults, we don’t need to turn to food when what we really need is another kind of nourishment, when something else fits the needs of the moment better.
We turned to food because what we needed was not known.
The hard thing about food is the more often you turn to it when you are not hungry the more hopeless you feel. It’s not ultimately serving your best interests. It might seem like it in the moment but certainly it’s not making you feel more powerful or making you trust yourself more. It is doing exactly the opposite.
Balance that with understanding that it worked then, but now there are new ways do deal with those issues in your life now.
Cheryl: The ways we adapt ourselves is beautifully portrayed in your book, The Craggy Hole In My Heart and the Cat that Fixed It.
I was reading it and it is a great companion book to this class. There are parts in The Craggy Hole… that you talk about adaptive behaviors and the beliefs that are formed when we are young.
When listeners read it they will read Geneen’s story and learn through her examples and her process. It’s an amazingly touching story.
Geneen: Yes. The Craggy Hole in My Heart… is the precursor to Women, Food and God. It’s the place where I wrote about and experienced directly all that I ended up putting together in Women, Food, and God. It’s where I learned Inquiry and I go thorough it. I wrote it in 2004.
Cheryl: It makes you laugh out loud, cry like a baby and want to get a cat!
It’s important to find the support you actually need.
Geneen: Harkin back to that first question about the Online-Retreat ending and the fantasy about all the people that have done the face-to-face retreats, and the support and how incredible their lives are.
You have to figure out what kind of support you actually need.
75-80% of retreat participants do not avail themselves to continuing support.
Mostly I suggest having an Inquiry partner. It’s great to have someone in your day-to-day life that you can call and someone you work with once or twice a week to practice Inquiry.
That kind of model is a little different than what we are offering for the Online-Retreat. And the kind of model we are planning is that we are having another Online-Retreat soon.
But even though we are not facilitating Inquiry partners in these Online-Retreats, you – the Students – would benefit greatly if you create your own Inquire partnerships.
Cheryl: Can you tell us a little about how you would use an Inquiry partner and how to have that phone conversation?
What you would do is follow the steps in “Beginning Inquiry” on page 207 of Women, Food and God. Look at that.
Every inquiry needs to start with a question, something you want to find out that you don’t know. We went over those questions in the session we did on inquiry.
Start by going through those steps and the questions.
“What’s going on?”
“How do I feel?”
“How old do I feel?”
“Where is it located in my body?”
“Does it have a temperature or a texture?”
Be mindful of your agenda: “I don’t want to feel this; I want it to go away.” “I thought I would be over this issue when I had learned something new.” “I need to be done with compulsive eating in six weeks.” As if it’s a race.
We have to realize we are racing ahead. Life is about getting into a boat and waiting for it to sink on some level. You don’t get a gold star getting there quicker.
It’s the process itself that illuminates your life and your orientation towards your experiences.
It’s the orientation to your experience that actually shifts you.
You can handle one situation after another and then have days and weeks, even months, and then something happens. Someone gets sick, an accident happens, something big in the world happens.
It’s your orientation towards that event that will form your experience.
You can change your orientation or your relationship to your experience.
You don’t have control over the experience itself. You don’t have control over your thoughts when you meditate or whether someone you love dies or ages.
It is the relationship to your experience that you control: to bingeing, being rejected, being hurt, messing up, to someone getting angry. It’s your relationship to your own experience that determines the quality of your life. It’s not what happens, it’s your relationship with what happened. It’s about changing your relationship to it.
Knowing what support you need is an important part of your journey through your process.
A small percentage of people that leave our “real-world” retreats actually use the support.
Use the support you have available.
Log in to Facebook. There are people there who are really inspiring and offer hope to people who are feeling like a failure. And when you have a witness - someone on the phone, someone to go through the process with, someone witnessing you - it can increase your chances for success. It’s wonderful the way people are supporting each other on the Facebook page.
Cheryl: That leads us into tonight.
Here's a Question from Joanne, who says, “ I re-read the chapter “Married to Amazement” in which you write about meditation. You tell about the various forms of meditation that you have used and say that they really did not work for you as you had hoped. Is the Practice we do at the beginning of each session the Meditation you suggest we use?
A daily Practice of Meditation to get to know your self is recommended.
The Meditation that we use for orienting, grounding and centering is a Meditation I would suggest you go through each day. I recommend you practice this every day.
I want to talk about the importance of having a Practice. The amount of meditation that I have done in my life is staggering considering how busy my mind still is. For a while I felt like a failure.
It is difficult to learn how to meditate because distraction is so familiar and comfortable.
When I say some of you keep distancing yourselves while listening to the call, it is because the distraction is so familiar.
That’s what is like with meditation, when you decide to be with yourself for ten, twenty, or just three minutes. Every reason in the book comes up not to do that, to not be present for the meditation. Every urgent thing that has to be done in that moment, that brilliant idea that has to be written down, the stove that is on and the house that is on the fire.
Why you sit with your mind is to hang out with yourself and get to know yourself. To not to be fooled by your own thoughts.
It’s important to have yourself as a witness; instead of counting on everyone else. You can never know who will be there at any given moment.
You’ve got you, and for some of us that is a really scary thought. When you are alone with yourself it can feel like a cluttered closet with scary things sticking out everywhere. It can feel like being in a fun house, in your mind, when you start to meditate.
Uncomfortable thoughts are only thoughts.
The crazy things that come up in your mind are just thoughts that will keep flying by. But when you start investing in the thoughts by paying attention to them and believing your thoughts then you end up acting them out and that’s when they become a big deal.
Notice yourself, your thoughts and your feelings. You do not have to believe them.
Meditation is noticing yourself and noticing your mind. You can learn not to get scared and send yourself running to food. That’s the precursor to any binge. But when you don’t believe your thoughts (they are just thoughts - some scary, some feverish, some horrendous, some mean, and some really mean thoughts), they don’t control you.
There is nothing unacceptable in your thoughts. There is nothing that cannot be welcomed, and questioned.
Inquiry is an active form of meditation.
Inquiry is a questioning of your thoughts in an active way, noticing your thoughts and your feelings. They can be known, open up, and dissolve.
And when you follow the Eating Guidelines, you start to ask yourself: “What is really going on when I decide to eat when I am not hungry?” Start noticing your thoughts.
Meditation is a stiller way.
Meditation is a way to be still with and watch your thoughts.
When you are practicing the Eating Guidelines you question your thoughts about wanting that piece of chocolate cake right now.
When you are sitting quietly with the grounding, orienting, and centering you can notice your thoughts. The thoughts will come and the thoughts will go.
The thoughts think themselves. You can’t stop yourself from thinking thoughts. They just come in, that is the minds’ job.
But where you place your attention is in your control. Not the thoughts themselves, but your relationship to them. You think “I want a piece of chocolate cake,” when you have decided you will sit with yourself for fifteen or twenty minutes during the “Sitting” Practice, or the “Married to Amazement” Practice
I strongly recommend that you do this (meditate, or just quietly be with your thoughts) every day. It’s like starting with a lake in flux that is chaotic after a storm and just watching as the dirt settles down and becomes quiet. That is the process of being with your self in a still way. By not paying attention to the content of the thought, the thought slips away or settles when you do not get invested in it.
I was resistant to meditation for so long, because it felt like dieting. Because it felt like a “should” in order to be a “good, spiritual person.”
My mind would say: “I should meditate for half an hour every day.” “Should” and “shouldn’t” kicked in and the force and the counter-force kicked in and then I would rebel and not want to do it again.
The times when I would meditate, there was something that I was being true to in myself. If I did not take the time to do that, there was some sense of loss.
Because who you are is beyond words and beyond thoughts. It’s the space that words happen in.
You have the mind and you have your consciousness that is aware of your mind and your thoughts.
But awareness itself can be aware of the entire thing. It’s a still, huge, vast space. Unless you pay attention to it you do not know it. You think you are your thoughts, your aging body, or your wrinkles on your face. You are identified with your latest achievement or your latest failure.
Having the direct experience of “just being.”
When you don’t have a way to directly contact that part of your self that is not about anything except the experience of just being, then you get lost very quickly and you become frightened of dying. When you do not know, because you have not experienced just being, then you don’t know the space between your thoughts.
This Week's Practice / Action Steps
We will go into our Practice now, and you can listen to it again and again.
The reason we call this Part “Married to Amazement” is I have mentioned before a Mary Oliver poem, When Death Comes. She writes, “I was a bride married to amazement.”
The question becomes: “If I to want to be married to amazement, how do I do that?”
It’s not about a body’s size, or having a good food week, but food is just one way in.
It’s about knowing who you are.
Your relationship with food is just another way in. It’s not that there is something inherently fabulous about being thin.
As I say in my book, there are so many thin miserable people.
If your relationship to your own experience does not include knowing how to be in your own mind with your own thoughts, it does not matter how much you weigh. You will miss it anyway. Because your relationship to your thoughts will be conflicted and chaotic, and what will it matter how much you weigh if you will be uncomfortable in your own mind?
You do this to find your own presence that can inform your relationship with food. That is the real “good.” It’s You. You have always had the power. You have everything you need to contact that part that is You. All of it is happening in you.
This Week's Practices: Meditation
Let’s do the Practice now.
Find yourself in the most comfortable position you can, but alert, not slumped over or lying down. It’s best if some part of you is touching the earth, but being in a comfortable position is most important.
Orient yourself, looking around the room, up and down, side to side, taking it in as a child would, as a child stares. A child looks and sees everything, takes in what is there. Taking it in one object at a time, really taking it in. Allowing your self to have it, the colors the shape of it. Allowing your self to take pleasure in it. Orienting yourself to your surroundings, noticing your location in your surroundings, your particular location.
Feel the ground beneath your feet, this ground that hold you up and supports you without you having to ask. Feel the point of contact that your feet are making with the earth. Become aware of the different points of contact your body is making with what it is touching - the chair, the couch, the floor.
Notice your mind. Is it ricocheting back and forth, frantic, chaotic? You don’t need to judge the thoughts, just notice.
Bring your attentions in closer into the sensation in your body. Become aware of the sensations inside and how you feel - the space in your ankle, in each foot.
Imagine a beam of light traveling through your body, feeling the sensations, pulsing, throbbing, warmth, vibration, all the way up though both of your legs, noticing any thoughts you are having.
Take that beam of light and let it travel between your knees to your back, to your hands into your fingers, up through your arms.
What is it like to be settling into yourself?
Notice sensations, up through your elbows, and your arms. Then bring your attention to your belly, bringing both palms to your navel, one on top of the other.
Notice your breath, this energetic center of you. What’s it like to notice your belly moving up and down?
There is no place to go. There is nothing to do. What is it like to be with you? Notice that.
Then notice your belly again. Your body is the piece of the universe you have been given. Notice what happens. Allow yourself to come home to yourself even if it means noticing your thinking “I don’t like that.” Notice one thought, then another. Without getting involved with your thoughts come back to your belly every time you wander away.
Come back to your breath. It does not matter for how long you forget to focus on your breathing. It matters that you return, that you come back again and again, that you come back to this presence, this life that is yours. To the awareness that is space for everything, what you consider good, or bad. Notice it all, there is the space for it all. Your awareness is noticing it all.
Allow yourself this much.
If your eyes are closed, slowly open them.
If they are already open, sharpen your gaze. Then bring yourself back again to your awareness of where your feet are touching this ground, this location, this room.
Notice the effect of having spent a few minutes of just being with you.
This is the Practice we will leave you with.
This Practice is a way to come home, a way to have your own amazement.
So Cheryl, I want to thank you for moderating these sessions. I want to thank you for acknowledging the pull that brought you here. You will never be sorry.
Good night and blessings.
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