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  • Recognize, name and disengage from The Voice. If you feel small, collapsed or powerless, it is usually a sign that The Voice is present. The Voice says things like "You will never be good enough"; "You will never change": "You deserve to suffer"; "You are a failure/a bad person/unlovable/stupid/worthless/fat/ugly." Any feelings of shame are a response to The Voice.

    To continue with the inquiry, you must disengage from The Voice, since its intent is to keep you circumscribed by its definition of safe and to maintain the status quo.

    If recognizing its presence does not dispel it, you can say, "Back off!" or "Go away!" or "Go pick on someone your own size." Keep it short. Keep it simple. A successful disengagement defuses The Voice and releases the sensations.

  • Whenever you notice that you are engaged in a reaction or are distracted, confused, numb or out of touch, go back to sensing your body.

  • Pay attention to secrets, thoughts or feelings you've censored. When those arise, be curious about them. Be curious about what's hidden in them.

  • Don't try to direct the inquiry with your mind. If you have an agenda or preferences (i.e., you don't want to feel needy or angry or hateful), the inquiry won't unfold. As the Tibetan Buddhists say, "Be like a child, astonished at everything."

Remember: Inquiry is a practice. It's not something you "get" the first or tenth time around. You don't do inquiry to get something; you do it because you want to find out who you are when you are not conditioned by your past or your ideas of what a good person is supposed to be. Each time you do it, you learn more. Each time you learn more, you continue the process of dismantling the stale, repetitive version of your (ego) self. With each inquiry, you have the chance to discover that you are not who you think you are. What a relief.

Have a question for Geneen about your dieting and food obsession? Ask her now!

Geneen Roth's books were among the first to link compulsive eating and perpetual dieting with deeply personal and spiritual issues that go far beyond food, weight and body image. She believes that we eat the way we live and that our relationship to food, money and love is an exact reflection of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves and the amount of joy, abundance, pain and scarcity we believe we have (or are allowed) to have in our lives.

Roth has appeared on many national television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, The NBC Nightly News, The View and Good Morning America. Articles about Roth and her work have appeared in numerous publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Time, Elle, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has written a monthly column in Good Housekeeping magazine since 2007. Roth is the author of eight books, including the New York Times best-seller When Food Is Love and a memoir about love and loss, The Craggy Hole in My Heart. Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is her newest book.

For more information about the book, visit www.GeneenRoth.com.

Explore More from Women, Food, and God:
Are you a permitter or a restrictor? Take the quiz!
How to truly get to know yourself
15 conversation starters to have with yourself
Try Geneen's 7 eating guidelines
What are you hungry for? Hint: It's not food
Read another excerpt from the book

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