The Connection Between Food and Spirituality with New York Times Bestselling Author Geneen Roth [Episode #833]
This week’s topic is: The Connection Between Food and Spirituality with New York Times Bestselling Author Geneen Roth
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Geneen Roth, a best-selling author and teacher, who has worked with thousands of people over the past 40 years, helping them to transform their lives using their relationship to food and eating as the doorway to living a whole full magnificent life. Listen in as Geneen shares the connection between women, food and God, why it’s not about body shape, how to move into deep self-connection and wholeness, and so much more!
The connection between Women, Food and God…
Why it’s not about body shape…
Connecting to the True Self…
Seeing through your wounds versus being the one you’re waiting for…
How to move into deep self-connection and wholeness…
The balance between our natural expression versus being achievement focused…
About Geneen Roth
Geneen Roth is the author of ten books, including her most recent, This Messy Magnificent Life and the #1 New York Times bestsellers Women Food and God, When Food Is Love, Lost and Found, and The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It. Over the past forty years, she has worked with thousands of people in her groundbreaking retreats and workshops and has appeared on numerous national shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, the Today show, Good Morning America, and The View. She lives in California with charms of hummingbirds, her husband Matt, and Izzy the fabulous, eating-disordered dog.
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Kimberly: 00:01 Namaste loves and welcome back to our Monday interview show where I’m so excited to share a conversation with you today that I had with Geneen Roth, who is a brilliant writer. She has written many books about the connection between food and spirituality, which resonates very deeply with me, and I loved her book, women Food and God, which I read recently. And she has been a New York Times number one bestseller. She’s been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show and Good Morning America, and she talks about going beyond dieting and beyond body image and connecting to who we are in a deeper level, which is something that I love to speak about as well. And I think that you will really love today’s conversation. I will mention that Janine also runs these retreats about taking a deep dive into our relationship with food and spirituality, and we will link to her retreats in the show notes. She’s one coming up later on in November. And before we take a deeper dive in, a little reminder to please head over to our email@example.com where you can submit questions for our q and a show. You can check out other podcasts, I think you would enjoy articles, meditations, our digestion, focus supplements, and more. So all of that being said, let’s get right into our interview today with the wonderful Geneen Roth.
Interview with Geneen Roth
Kimberly: 01:07 Well, Geneen, I are so excited to talk to you. Just talking to you feels like an extension of reading your books, which is very, very familiar. I know, I’m sure a lot of people say this to you, very accessible, very real, very much like, oh, this woman, this writer understands. And a friend of mine told me about this book, women Food and God, which really spoke to me. I think we were drawn to a lot of the practices and teachings and ways that we want to heal ourselves. So I started my career Geneen, as a nutritionist. Now it’s expanded into spirituality and our Four Cornerstone lifestyle. But my first three books were really about nutrition and the first two, and I had a lot of eating disorders. I was bulimic through high school, a lot of the binging and purging, anorexia. I really related, when you speak about this connection to our diets and how we’re approaching food in this larger sense, which I think is such a missing message in the world today where everybody’s still trying to chase these temporary diets and it doesn’t go below the surface. So for those of our listeners who are new to your work or those that are, can you share just a little bit about this, all the connection between these three words, women, food, and God, it’s quite profound. It says a lot in your title,
The connection between Women, Food and God
Geneen: 02:38 Right? It’s an attention grabber.
Kimberly: 02:40 Yes.
Geneen: 02:43 From having used food for so many years of my life and being praised about eating and dieting and binging and losing weight and gaining weight, and underneath all that, the self-loathing that was expressed through that. So I would say there was a bottom line of being against myself in a way, not just reject a kind of constant feeling like I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t doing enough. I was never thin enough. I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t pretty enough. And I expressed all that through my relationship with food. And so I began to understand, you didn’t really ask me to go into my whole history, so I won’t. But I began to understand the connection between emotional hunger, how we use food and food and the size of our bodies, and that they were deeply connected. And I saw, and this was the turning point for me, that I was using food for really good reasons and I didn’t know what they were. I thought I was crazy. I thought I was insane. I thought I lacked willpower. I would zinging up and down the scales. I could zinging up and down the scales by 10 pounds every other week. And for a while I was anorexic, and then I was overweight, and then I started throwing up. So I’d just been all over the place without actually connecting the dots and asking myself, what’s really going on here?
04:40 So that’s the turning point for me, was that I stopped dieting. I started really listening to my body, eating what my body wanted, not dieting, not punishing myself, not shaming myself. And that actually started changing things around.
Kimberly: 05:03 Beautiful. And you’ve led so many women and other humans beyond all genders, right? And I really appreciate it in your book and in your other books and in your work where you really hammer home this idea that we’re never going to get there when it’s on the surface. And that’s how, for me, there’s food body, then there’s emotional wellbeing and spiritual growth. Because part of my work to Geneen before I had children was working with all these celebrities, living with them during film shoots. They’re the most gorgeous people in the world. They have perfect bodies. And there’s still so much anxiety about fixating. And so it gives us something tangible, like you said, that shows us a relationship to ourself. But it really isn’t about the body shape, is it?
Why is it not about body shape
Geneen: 05:53 No, no, because for women, especially women kind of feel that their self-worth is dependent on their body size.
Geneen: 06:08 And so we definitely want to look below that. But as anybody who’s ever lost weight before knows that if you take away that, there’s still all of this confusion, uncertainty, anxiety, fear, just not knowing who I actually am, not feeling comfortable in my own skin. So I’ve had a couple of people say to me, I would die to be as thin as I was five years ago when I would’ve died to have been thinner. And then somebody from Weight Watchers came to one of my workshops and said, I lost 10 pounds and I still feel like crap. So it’s really about what’s going on here, not what’s going on out there. We’re responding to there and oftentimes use food to respond to that, but really want to see what’s happening. What am I hungry for? What nourishes me? What do I actually want? What’s authentically me? Not what I think I should have, not what I think I should want, not what I think I should get.
Geneen: 07:42 So I think the overemphasis on what would look like, and we can see this of course now with Ozempic and so many people wanting to take that drug and not, not going to give my opinion about that drug right now, but because I do know some people that it’s really worked well for diabetics and people who are having a very hard time physically. However, what I will say is at some point we need to get to what is haunting us? What haunts you? What do you feel about yourself that gets expressed through your relationship with food or through your relationship with your partner in work for people who are food sensitive or who started dieting. And I have a lot of students who started dieting when they were eight or nine or 10 and kind of imprinted use of the culture into themselves so that they never feel good enough no matter what.
Kimberly: 09:07 And you know what, Geneen, in this world, all the girls and women are growing up with TikTok and Instagram, which wasn’t around when you and I were growing up. So it’s even more of a media image driven onslaught.
Kimberly: 09:22 And one thing I also really appreciate about your work and what you talk about in your books is getting to this place of connecting to who we are. So I come from the yogic tradition, the Vedic, which talks about the false sounds of self, the ego, and the true self is what the great yoga guru Paramahansa Yogananda would say, who is the subject of my last book. And bringing forth his teachings. And I know you studied a lot of Buddhism and you have many teachers as well. And sometimes when I talk to people about this true self, it’s this energy inside of us. It’s formless, it’s expansive. It can be difficult for people to connect to that at first, especially when they’re so used to looking in the mirror and they say, well, I don’t know who I really am. So through meditation and different teachings, we try to get people to have that experience. In your workshops, and I know you teach many conferences and you have all sorts of programs, how is it that you start to put your students who are so fixated on their bodies and food into starting to connect to this? I dunno how you would your exact term, Janine. For me, it’s the true self, this energy of who we really are. How do we start to do that in your practices?
Shifting from being fixated on your body and connecting to the True Self
Geneen: 10:43 So one of my main tes is you eat the way you live and what you do with food you do in your life. So if you want to step down into that inner life, which of course is what I’m really, really interested in, and using food as a pathway to that because I think it is, we start first on the physical level with a set of eating guidelines that are just about natural eating. And we eat in my retreats, we eat together. And so people bring their food and talk about, so we have breakfast together and talk about how they chose that food. Who actually did choose the food they’re eating? Was it the six year old who was told she was never allowed to eat mashed potatoes? So now it’s breakfast time and our plate is filled with mashed potatoes. Is it the 11 year old who was told that pancakes weren’t good for you, who was constantly told that her thighs were like thunder thighs? Is it the one who was told that she needed to be a good girl? And so she was going to express all that, what she felt rebelliousness or resentment through her relationship with food. So we look exactly at the food itself and realize, wow, I thought I was me choosing this food, but it’s actually I am expressing what I didn’t even realize. I felt through my relationship with food. So we work with, well, who was expressing that, and we work with seven eating guidelines and then the triggers that get us activated or reactive in the rest of our lives,
Geneen:12:52 And use those as a doorway to see what are my judgements about myself? What do I really believe about myself? What are my unavoidable conclusions about myself? What do I, I’m not enough. I’ll never get enough. Everything is always against me.
Kimberly: 13:16 It’s so hard.
Geneen: 13:18 There’s no place for me here. I don’t belong here. I am unlovable. That’s sort of a main one that people feel. And then again, food can be the doorway to that or everyday life of course is the doorway to that. A friend doesn’t answer your text, a friend doesn’t answer your email, somebody your boss fires you or tells you you’re not doing such a good job. And then what happens? Where do you go? What do you believe? So that’s a trigger. And then you go to what you actually believe about yourself and question that. So then we start questioning and seeing that I’ve taken on, for instance, a belief that there’s nothing for me here, or I’m not enough or I’m unlovable. And we see really question that and question that as an interpretation rather than an absolute truth. And start seeing that that was what you believe.
Geneen: 14:30 I’ll give you an example. This is a really ridiculous example, but I’m going to give it anyway. The other day I was expecting a package and was, I got notice that it got delivered, but I didn’t see it anywhere. It wasn’t outside the door, it wasn’t in the mailbox, it wasn’t anywhere. I was convinced that the package hadn’t been delivered. And then I started going into, this always happens. I knew this was going to happen. They said two days, it’s not two days. I should have known I should have registered it or I’m sure did. And I started just going off in my head. I left for a little while. I came back maybe about a half an hour later, and there was the package and it hadn’t been delivered then in the time because it was six o’clock in the morning when I left. And when I got back it was six 30. So I knew that the mail delivery hadn’t happened between six and six 30 in the morning. And I realized that I had been seeing through filters of this always happens. It doesn’t ever work out. I knew this was going to happen and there it was. I had not actually seen what was there
Kimberly: 15:53 Through
Geneen: 15:54 My filter of it doesn’t work out. And I’m not saying this happens all the time, but that was
Kimberly: 16:01 So
Geneen: 16:02 Stunning to me that there it was and I didn’t see it because I believed nothing ever works out or that wasn’t exactly the belief, but a belief like that.
Kimberly: 16:14 I see. Can I share with you an example, a funny example that that makes me remember something as well. So you had that belief system like, oh, this might be hard or this doesn’t work out. And I think we all have these sense of identities. And so for me it was this identity. I have to be the smart one. I show my grades I want to achieve because that was how I got love from my mother in particular and always wanting to have these achievements. So I never wanted to be about appearance or Oh, that’s so shallow. It was really about how I sound smart. So I did a Good Morning America segment the other day, and I sent it to some relatives and my mother-in-Law, and I was really proud of what I said she wrote, she texted me, she said, I love your dress, and it just steam coming out of my ears, my dress. She was trying to be nice. That’s how she relates. It looks great, everything looks great. But for me, no comment on how I sounded. And then of course I know logically and where I’m trying to get to spiritually is our identity is more than all these false identities, how we sound, how we look. But it’s amazing, Janine as well, for someone I’ve been doing this work for so long, I really got triggered from that just as you got triggered from this
Geneen: 17:39 Because what did you think? I mean, what did you feel that you weren’t being seen?
Kimberly: 17:45 Yes, my core childhood wound not being seen, not being understood, which then translates back to, oh, I’m only lovable if I’m seen and understood.
Geneen: 17:54 Yes. And if I’m successful and if I achieve.
Geneen: 18:01 Everything. Yes. And so two things that occur to me from that story. One is it was your mother-in-Law who saw it.
Kimberly: 18:11 Yes.
Geneen: 18:12 So she was seeing through her filters.
Kimberly: 18:15 Yes.
Geneen: 18:15 Important to her, which is physical, how you look. And then can I ask you another question about your
Kimberly: 18:24 Sure.
Geneen: 18:25 So my, I too was valued for what I did and what I achieved and how smart I was and on and on and on and on. So I know that I’m only as good as the next success as what I do, and the bar is so high there. But what I am curious about, because this is the work that I’ve been doing and I’ve been doing with my students for the last couple of years, is so when I get triggered, like you got triggered about, that’s what she saw, that’s what she heard. I did such a great job. I felt so good about myself, and she commented on my dress. That sense of, oh, what got triggered is I’m not seen, I’m not valued. And then the next step for me is always, aha. Okay, can I be the one that I’m waiting for?
Kimberly: 19:27 Exactly. I don’t need her to see me because I am full here in my heart. I see myself.
Geneen: 19:35 Can I be the one I’m waiting for? Can I be on my own side here?
Kimberly: 19:39 Because it’s
Geneen: 19:40 Very dicey out there. When you’re
Kimberly: 19:42 Looking
Geneen: 19:43 For approval out there, you’re always at risk because somebody will not see you or talk to you about your dress when you’ve just done a beautiful segment on Good Morning America.
Kimberly: 19:57 Yes, exactly. We can’t rely on that because it goes up and down. There’s such sharp fluctuations because like you mentioned, everybody has their own filters. They have their own perceptions, they have their own wounds. Everybody has all these outer things
Geneen: 20:11 Everybody is seeing through their wounds.
Kimberly: 20:14 And
When you see through your wounds versus being the one you’re waiting for
Geneen: 20:14 When you see that, which means that if everybody’s seeing through their wounds until we actually name them and realize the false untrue conclusions we make from those wounds, which is I’m not lovable or nobody sees me or I have to do well, I have to be a success in order to be loved, which, and I’m just here. I am just not enough for just who I am, this gorgeous being you are. We see them and then we become the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Kimberly: 20:58 Beautiful. Janine, when I hear those words and I say, for me, I can see this humanness come out, these triggers, and then I go back inside. For me it’s been experiential. I went from the eating disorders, went backpacking for years, went to India, found Yogananda, started to feel, oh, it’s so wonderful in here. And I can’t put it into words. It’s that expansive, true self, this wholeness, right, Janine, where we realize we are lovable. We are whole. How would you define, let’s say one of your students comes to your retreats and says, well, how do you know I’m lovable? Who am I really? Or who is Janine? Really underneath all these identities, who are we?
Geneen: 21:41 I know it’s a really big thing. Question.
Kimberly: 21:45 The true self term is the yogic term. And it’s so hard to put into words when you’re explaining that to someone. We’re more than this form or more than the body or this energy, the soul. But I don’t know. It’s hard to put into words sometimes I find,
Geneen: 22:00 Well, I think all the great poets and all the great teachers, no matter how many books they’ve written, and no matter how many poems they’ve written have said that what you’re talking about in its essence is actually beyond words.
Kimberly: 22:16 Yes.
Geneen: 22:17 That
Kimberly: 22:18 Cannot be named in the Dao. Right?
We discuss naming the original wound
Geneen: 22:20 That’s right. Which shall not be named because it can’t be named because it is everywhere all the time. It’s not inside. It’s outside and inside. And it’s beauty, it’s love, it’s, and every single person has felt that they have, let’s just say, looked at a gorgeous sunset or seen their child’s face for the first time or fallen in love. And that love is directed towards a particular person. That feeling of unbounded vast. And when it’s interpersonal, it’s love. When there’s nobody around, there’s a vastness to it and a beauty to it. It’s like heaven on earth is what you’re talking about, that we each have the capacity for all the time. And that’s why I think it’s so important to two things I’ll say, I’ll bring it back to food for a second, because many people are suffering about their weights and their relationship with food, and it keeps them from feeling that who they actually are. But what we’re also talking about is just naming what that original wound is. And it could have been of not being seen, of not being valued, of not being loved. I mean, for a very, very long time, I was convinced my mother didn’t love me.
24:11 I felt hated
Kimberly: 24:12 By my mother.
Geneen: 24:13 I just felt hated by my mother. Now when I’ve gone back, and I’ve done a lot of work on this when I’ve gone back, I wrote a whole book about that. I’m actually writing another book about the healing with her and how
Kimberly: 24:29 Beautiful.
Geneen: 24:30 Yeah, good friends. But it took, the work happened here first because there’s that old Wayne Dyer thing, that statement, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Kimberly: 24:46 And
Geneen: 24:46 So for me, it was actually about looking at the wound of food and my mother together, because they were really together. She was a fat kid. She was afraid I was going to be a fat kid. She put me on a diet when I was really young. She took me to get my first diet pills when I was 15 and criticized my body a lot, thunder, thighs, wound, face, all these kinds of things that I had. And moon
Kimberly: 25:21 Face,
Geneen: 25:22 Moon face. I don’t have moon face anymore. That’s what I was, or my body was made of circles. There are a lot of things. I had to really go back there and see the overlays of how I heard what she said, but the conclusion that I was not lovable and really get really see, is there ever a kid that’s ever been born not lovable book?
Kimberly: 25:56 Wow. Well, Ginny, it almost feels like your next book or a book could be mothers daughters or mothers women and food. Because I think about, my mother was an immigrant from the Philippines, so there was a lot of, she got a Fulbright scholarship. She worked her way up, but there was always this lack feeling. So it was eat everything on the plate. There may not be enough. And then my mom passed away a few years ago, and there was so much healing in that period when she was passing from cancer. And afterwards, I feel connected to her in the spirit world. And there’s been so much of that, seeing all the ways in which she loved me, which I didn’t connect to necessarily in that time.
Starting your relationship with food and body
Geneen: 26:37 Yes, right. I understand that. That’s what the work that I’ve been doing as well, starting with my relationship with food and body, because it was so congregated around that, my mother, my body food, and then going deeply into the ways that she loved me that I never saw she loved me, that I really have been taking. And she happens to be still alive. She’s nine five, and so the love gets expressed now, but for a long time I felt like she’s going to die and I’m never going to come to healing this because of the lack of love that I felt. So it sounds like you really did come to the healing with you and your mother. It’s beautiful.
Kimberly: 27:32 And Janine, for me, it was this obsession with food, and then my pathway was going deep into spirituality, and now my relationship with food is very simple. When I’m hungry, I choose nourishing foods. Of course. I don’t think about it too much. It’s there. I’m very simple in how I eat. I don’t cook complicated recipes anymore. It’s simple, but it’s nourishing.
Geneen: 27:55 Simple and nourishing.
Kimberly: 27:57 Yes. And then I move on to other things. I want to spend time on playing with my kids and meditating.
Geneen: 28:02 Exactly. When you take the hoopla away from all the charge and the history and the past away from the relationship with food, it can simply be what it is. It’s what it is. And sounds like you’re following the guidelines that I give people, which is eat when you’re hungry, eat what nourishes you, stop when you’ve had enough, eat without distractions, eat with the intention of being in full view of other people. Those are just the steps in to what you’re talking about.
Kimberly: 28:42 Yes,
Geneen: 28:43 We get there. That’s the gorgeous thing about the relationship with food, but also the gorgeous thing about relationships with mothers.
Kimberly: 28:53 And also Janine, your guidelines parallel for me, the part of the healing was not relying on numbers, not counting carbs, not counting calories, not weighing myself every day, and then not focusing on weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It was getting numbers out. And I tell my clients, don’t focus on age readers. It’s like all these numbers to try to define our identity can be so constricting.
Trusting yourself without numbers
Geneen: 29:17 Yes, really constricting.
Kimberly: 29:20 Yeah. So your guidelines don’t involve these measurements.
Geneen: 29:24 No numbers. Love it. I tell people, if you have to weigh yourself, pace your natural weight on your scale so that when you get on the scale, you see that and forget it for the rest of the day. Yeah.
Kimberly: 29:39 How do you teach your clients to learn to trust themselves? Because I’ve had so many people say to me, well, I don’t know if I don’t know the calorie count, or I have to measure this portion size. When we’re getting people to be more intuitive and more connected with food and with themselves, what are some of the things you tell your retreat students?
Geneen: 29:58 So it’s a process, Kimberly, I’ll just tell you the food part. I’ll ask them to go into the supermarket and a good supermarket where they have things besides donuts and fast foods and go down in the aisles and stand in front of different foods and see how their body responds
Kimberly: 30:22 To
Geneen: 30:23 Different kinds of foods Just standing there. We really do know what feels good in our bodies. We really do.
Kimberly: 30:33 Beautiful.
Geneen: 30:34 We know if we tend to warm foods more than cool or cold foods, we know if we like spicy foods, we know if we like filling foods, we know how we want to feel when we get up from the table. I give a hunger scale. One is really hungry, five is comfortable tennis stuffed. Where are you and how do you like to feel when you get up? Some people say, well, I want to feel like I’m at a 15. I want to feel stuffed. And that partly I want to feel stuffed because that distracts me from my feelings. That’s why it’s a two-pronged process. So there’s the part about food, and then of course you test it out at home, so you eat. So I’m going to say a little bit more about food. So you eat what you think your body wants, and then you actually feel how your body feels when you have that awareness. Yeah. Yes. Awareness, right?
Kimberly: 31:42 Oh, right. Feelings,
Kimberly: 31:44 Food connection, body
Geneen: 31:46 Food, connection body. But also part of that is that you have to realize that if you’re feeding a four year old inside you who got stopped in her relationship with food and her body, that’s where the emotional and spiritual work is. That’s where that is. Because otherwise you just keep on, if you ask a four year old who’s already been introduced to and hypnotized by sugar what they want, then it’s not going to be foods that feel good in their bodies.
Kimberly: 32:23 Exactly.
Geneen: 32:24 That’s why the emotional and spiritual work is important so that when you ask yourself what you want, who you’re actually asking, if I would ask the 11 year old in me, well, what do you want? It would be ring dings and tasty donuts and chocolate milk and all the things I wasn’t allowed to have. And that’s not what you actually want. That’s what the kid who got stopped. I often think that people’s relationship with food got stopped at the age at which they were judged and or shamed.
Kimberly: 33:01 Wow. Wow. And I’m happy you put that piece into Janine because we say, well, food isn’t it? And then the natural question arises, well, what is it? Or How can I have this experience? Which is where the spiritual comes in for me, learning to meditate and going to this place beyond the form saying, oh, there’s so much in here that I can feel and experience, and it doesn’t tie to just feeling good from the chocolate or the potato chips or the pretzels, which were my go-tos. Very specific sort of things to feel okay or to feel soothed. So beyond teaching people to be aware of food, how do you get people to start to bridge over into that deeper self connection or that deeper love or feeling that wholeness? Is there meditations you teach as well, or journaling?
How to move into deep self-connection and wholeness
Geneen: 33:51 Definitely. We teach meditation, awareness, meditation and allowing. So everything that I do is based on not judging oneself, allowing there to be there without judgment, because it’s the judgment that really mucks up the process. It’s for instance, when meditating, if I have a thought, if I jump on that thought, that leads to another thought and commentary about that thought and that thought and that thought. Whereas I recommend that people slip between their thoughts when they’re sitting and meditating, when they’re just being, when they’re allowing themselves to be. So if they’re sitting and the allowing meditation is if there’s an ache in your knee, notice that notice people when they sit down to just be quiet. Some people call it quiet times. Some people call it contemplative time. They’ll notice ache in the knee, the ache in the back, what isn’t right. The constant focus on what’s wrong. Lack. That’s right. The lack. Sometimes what I ask people to say, tell me what’s not wrong right now. Tell me what’s not wrong. To
Kimberly: 35:26 Think about it for a minute. What is not
Geneen: 35:30 Wrong right now? What’s not wrong? And what happens is as people say, what’s not wrong? Well, I am breathing. I’m alive. I have feet
Kimberly: 35:49 Simple,
Geneen: 35:51 The laughter of my child, my child’s face, the fact that I can walk. You start listing those things and the energy gets lifted higher and higher and higher instead of, because you’re taking the ego self off its usual stance. And the usual stance is there’s a way it should be. It’s not that way. And someone’s to blame. And that’s what the world is built on. You see that in the news. You see people’s opinions constantly and the drumming up of fear after fear after fear, which is why it’s so important to be quiet with oneself, to just be quiet. Start with asking yourself what isn’t wrong, and notice what comes up, and then notice the various thoughts and allow those and let them go.
Kimberly: 36:58 The
Geneen: 36:58 More you jump on them and judge and shame them, the more you’re judging and shaming yourself. So I also say, and this is from a teacher of mine that I study with, the only thing we ever experience is who we’re being to ourselves.
Kimberly: 37:19 Say that again, Janine.
Geneen: 37:22 The only thing we ever experience is who we are being to ourselves. So if I’m leaving
Kimberly: 37:32 A mirror
Geneen: 37:34 That’s right, and it’s a mirror, and then we try to change the reflection out there, but really it’s coming from in here. So the work is to really look and notice what’s coming from in here. And the other thing that my lovely teacher taught me is that all judgment is self-judgment. So that to the degree that I’m judging myself,
Kimberly: 38:07 You see the world.
Geneen: 38:08 That’s right.
Kimberly: 38:11 And also Janine, applying that wisdom that you just shared with us, back to that example with myself, first of all, the non-judgment of saying, Hey, I’ve done so much work. I get to really expansive places, but there’s still this humanness that creeps in. There’s still these triggers. I’m more aware of them, but I see them. And then also, it’s not my mother-in-law. That’s the problem. She’s doing her thing. She’s seeing things as she sees them, rather than projecting that blame. Oh, that’s so shallow comment saying, oh, I’m the one that got upset because I want to be seen this way. Right. So we inward.
Geneen: 38:49 Yes. Right, exactly. So the three tenets of the ego, there’s a way it should be.
Kimberly: 38:56 Yes.
Geneen: 38:56 Sister-in-law should have seen what I said. She didn’t. It’s not that way. She commented on my dress and instead of noticing how brilliant I was, and I’m sure you were brilliant. So there’s a way it should be. It’s not that way. And someone, and it’s very apparent who is to blame?
Kimberly: 39:24 Oh, yes. And let me talk about this to my husband. Let me just go on about how awful this is. Right,
Geneen: 39:32 Exactly.
Kimberly: 39:33 So chaotic when we look at that life that way. But let’s go back to that first part, Janine, which is for me, as a perfectionist, I could beat, I see this, I see the fallacy there. But then instead of beating myself and saying, oh, look at what happened, first of all, saying, you’re human. You’re working on this and you’re still working on triggers, and it’s okay. Right? That first part I
Geneen: 39:58 Think is really, definitely,
Kimberly: 39:59 Really important. And I’m so glad you shared your example, Janine, because we look at you as well saying, oh, she’s written all these books, and she runs these retreats, and Janine is still struggling with her limiting beliefs as well.
Geneen: 40:12 But you know what? I’ll tell you, Kimberly, when I get triggered now, I notice it
40:20 Because anybody, I used to just feel like, let’s just say I was you. Now my mother-in-law really should have seen a lot more than my dress, for God’s sakes. Who does that? I mean, you can listen to people when they blame other people, the language they use is very similar. Who does that? Can you believe that? Of course, anybody would not have commented on my dress for God’s sakes. So there’s a justification in there of, yeah, right. But then there’s that, what you just said, the one who wasn’t believed, she wasn’t valued for just being her essence, just the essence of each of us just being that. And so that can be seen by you. And that’s the best part. The best part is out there. If that wasn’t still a trigger, your mother-in-law would’ve said what she said, and it would’ve been, yeah, right. I actually did have a nice dress on, didn’t I? Yes, right. I loved my dress. I’m so glad you noticed my dress. So there’s that part. So then it just shows you. Yeah. And the same with me, that when I feel hurt or rejected, I go back to, and I believe it’s out there. They were supposed to and they didn’t. So there’s a way it should be, and it was the way they said they were going to do it. It’s not that way. They didn’t do it there to blame. But really what’s going on is that I’m feeling rejected. I’m feeling hurt. I’m feeling not seen. I’m feeling like I don’t belong, and that’s where the work is. So the work is actually naming that and actually being with that and just seeing the lie in that to I’m not valuable unless I am achieving that’s a lie.
Kimberly: 42:51 It’s so powerful, Janine, and I love hearing you speak. I want to switch gears just a little bit because it’s really inspiring to see your background and you struggled with weight. You had a lot of us challenging circumstances, challenging childhoods in different ways, and that you’ve gone on to be this. When we talk about creative power and tapping in your voice and reaching so many people, can you share a little bit with all of us listeners, including myself, about your creative expression, your creative power, how you’ve brought that forward into the world? There’s a process. If you connect first to yourself, you meditate first before you write or how you’ve created, I know it’s hard to, again, to put into words, but that was that transparency, that direct transmission from your soul into your work, which is your speaking, and your writing feels unfiltered. It feels very pure. Right? So how would you advise others to do the same?
Geneen shares how she brings her creative expression forward into the world
Geneen: 43:54 Well, first of all, let me say, it’s not unfiltered. I work hard at it. It’s not like it doesn’t come out and it’s like, oh, good, I have another book.
Kimberly: 44:07 Editing and rewriting
Geneen: 44:08 Is hard work.
Kimberly: 44:10 Yes, I relate
Geneen: 44:12 To that. Yes, I bet you do. So I remember I took, when I took my first writing class, I remember I wrote this thing, which I thought was fabulous, and my writing teacher, Ellen Bass, who’s now a beautiful poet, just said, no, there’s this and there’s, and I was crushed, but it came out that way. But that’s how I felt. And so I remember how much I worked on that very first piece. That was years ago. I make sure every day that I have some quiet time, that I do meditate every day. I don’t necessarily meditate before I write. I have a little writing studio. I go out to my writing studio, I sit down and I’m quiet and I start with whatever comes. And most of the time, it’s terrible. Most of the time, it’s what Annie Lamont calls a shitty first draft, and that’s what it is. It just comes out. And then if I’m lucky, there’ll be a sentence in there that I can start the next day with. One of the things I love that Ernest Hemmingway said is that, and I can’t remember exactly the phrasing of it, but that just to write one true thing,
45:48 One true thing. And so that’s what I try to do every day. And sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes I don’t, and then I go back because writing it’s itself compels me. There are some people who hate to write. I’m not one of those people. Writing has been a way that I have felt at my best, connected to the earth and connected to the sky. It’s sort of like if I had a spring running all the way from the center of the earth to the very planets themselves. When I’m writing, I feel like I talk about belonging. I feel like I belong, that I’m being used somehow and everybody’s got something. For me, it was writing, and I discovered that when I was in fifth grade in Mrs. Epstein’s class when we had to write a little piece, and I wrote about a girl my age, of course, on a plane, and the pilots got sick and she had to save the plane. But it was in the act of writing that I was transported and writing became my friend then and has been since then.
Kimberly: 47:07 That is so inspiring. I really look up to you, Janine, as a writer myself. And I have to say that every book I write for about a month, and I have always thrown it out, and I think, well, maybe this book’s going to be different. My seventh book is coming out next year, and it isn’t. I need that warmup as part of my process. It’s almost like, I don’t know, clearing out the cobwebs.
Geneen: 47:29 Yes, right. Clearing out the cobwebs. Sometimes I’ll just write in my journal for 15, 20 minutes before walking over to my desk and really writing. But just to know, I think also to trust that it will come, even though it’s not coming. If I stay there, if I am steadfast, I don’t force myself if I’m miserable to write. I mean, if I, let me just say that again. If nothing is coming and it’s been a half an hour or else, I don’t really have anything to say, I’m not one of those writers who has to write every day. Months can go by, and I’m not writing.
Kimberly: 48:22 When you’re writing the pieces in women, food and God, which felt like this poetry, this prose about connecting to that deeper place, is that where you try to write from Janine versus Sometimes I know when I’m in my ego, I know when the thoughts, I’m getting too heady and I think, okay, go to a deeper place. And like you said, you can’t always force it, but are you connecting there? I keep touching my heart because that’s where I feel like
Geneen: 48:50 I do, and that’s beautiful.
Kimberly: 48:51 Yeah. Do you ever feel like you’re in your head when you’re writing versus this deeper place and you can feel the difference?
Geneen: 49:02 I can’t feel the difference, but if I stay there long enough, if I keep my, the romance writer, Nora Roberts said she had a little post-it note on her desk and it said, ask in chair. And so if I keep myself there, I trust that if I keep going, then I’ll strike gold and for that day, and it could just be a sentence, it could be an idea, it could be something. But if I stay there, if I don’t really waffle off into doubt and the inner critic, oh my God, I can’t believe you wrote that. How could you say that? Of course, you’re all washed up now. You’ve written enough books, you’re done. You have nothing to say. Who’s going to be interested in this? If I keep that voice, which I call in women food and God, the GPS from the Twilight Zone, because it never has anything good to say, if I keep that voice to the side and just stay with what’s here, then yes, it comes. And it does come from the heart, but I’m not just aware of it. It’s more like being a channel. And then so oftentimes I’m not that aware of what I’ve written, but I know when I feel connected to it.
Kimberly: 50:42 And then there’s so much I could ask you, Janine, but wrapping up here because you’re so inspiring, I have to say truly from my heart is how do you balance coming from this place of achievement, being seen as a smart one, which again, is something I relate to versus this is authentically coming out of me. I had this book I I’m excited about versus here are my goals. I need to keep creating. Do you know what I mean? That’s more linear and instead of these natural expressions, and you’ve been so successful. And that’s a question I get about a lot with a lot of women and people trying to figure out what’s my purpose? Am I supposed to be doing here? Am I doing enough? And then we can’t just waffle around and say, well, let me just wait for these. It’s just all going to unfold. We have to put our will into it, right? We have to focus our energy. So there’s this balance between our natural expression versus being so externally focused or so achievement focused. Do you know what I mean? It’s like
The balance between our natural expression versus being achievement focused
Geneen: 51:43 I do know. And here’s what really helps me, Kimberly, which some people might find morbid, is that I read a lot or used to, it’s now installed in this body mind, what people think about and how they are in the last couple of months of their lives or the last moments of their lives. And they never, not one person has ever said, I wish I had worked more. I wish I had written more books. I wish I had achieved more. Nobody ever says that. It’s more about did I love, was I here? Was I actually here on earth for the time that I was here? It’s more about being kind. I talk a lot about being kind to oneself and not abandoning oneself.
52:50 And if you keep that in mind, what is the kindest thing I could do for myself right now? How do I not abandon myself? Because sometimes we say yes when we mean no, and that would be leaving oneself. Sometimes we say no when we mean yes. And that also would be abandoning oneself. What I realized is that my value of working hard and writing, writing, writing, writing, and achieving, achieving, achieving, achieving, I was leaving myself in the dust back there. I wasn’t actually, that was not kind to myself. Writing is always kind to myself. It’s actually knowing what I love the most, what matters the most. Because in the end, those achievements, they fall away. They fall away. And what’s left is what matters the most to you, and do you
Kimberly: 53:59 Take that into your daily life?
Geneen: 54:02 I feel like it lives with me. I’ve spent so much time because I’ve had like you some success at what I’ve done, and the success has been fabulous in so far as it’s helped reach so many people. And I love that. I mean, it’s helped reach you. So somehow that writing that book helped you. But in the end, the idea of success and the idea of being on bestsellers list and the idea of how many books I’ve written is just an idea. It’s just an idea now. It’s this moment right here, right now. How am I here? Are my feet on the floor? Is my butt in the chair? Are you and I connecting? What is this like for you and me right now? That’s what I care about. Nothing else exists for me except being here right now with you.
Kimberly: 55:41 I am so, so thrilled to share you with our listeners. I absolutely loved women Food. And God, I will be reading your other books too, Janine, but can you share a little bit about your retreats and where we will link in the show notes, of course, to your website if you want to share your website or where else we can learn more about your work?
Geneen: 56:00 Yeah, sure. My website is geneenroth.com, and G is with, I mean, Janine is spelled with AG because I was named after my Aunt Gertrude and the retreats. And we do have one coming up in, I think it’s only two weeks.
56:25 The retreats are a deep dive into everything you and I have been talking about. So they’re a deep dive into how you use food in your life, how you’re expressing it, how you’re distracting yourself from what actually matters the most. There are a couple of sessions a day. There’s a meditation every morning and every evening. And even for people who don’t know how to meditate, they’re great. There’s movement included in those. There’s an eating meditation, and then there’s an afternoon session where we do some process work and where we do a deeper dive into what we’ve been talking about that doesn’t really have words for that is in the afternoon. And they’re just gorgeous,
Kimberly: 57:22 Transformational.
Geneen: 57:23 They’re just gorgeous. Yes.
Kimberly: 57:25 Amazing. Well, thank you for sharing that. And we are going to link to that directly in the show notes as well. And again, please visit Janine’s page because I know you only do them a few times a year,
Geneen: 57:37 Twice a year. And we have now shortened them. They used to be six days and now they’re four days. So we have shortened them in part to make them more accessible to people. And I think it is, I hope you have the dates, but I think it’s something like the ninth, November 9th, something like
Kimberly: 58:00 That. Okay. Yes. And we will put that on the page and also on social media for everyone to see as well. That’s
Geneen: 58:06 Great. So
Kimberly: 58:07 Thank you so much, Janine, for your radiance, your energy, your wisdom. You’ve brought so much to us today. You’ve shared so much. Thank you so much.
Geneen: 58:17 Thank you, Kimberly. And you share so much too of yourself. I love it. I’m talking to you.
I hope you enjoy today’s show as much as I absolutely loved being with Janine, speaking with her, learning her wisdom, learning about her teachings, so please head over to my sauna.com to get more information about her to check out that link to her retreats. And also over there we will have links to other shows I think you would enjoy, and articles and recipes, simple nourishing recipes, meditations, and more. As always, we will be back here Thursday for our next q and a show. Thank you so much for being part of our community. Let me know how else I can connect with you and support you. That’s what we’re here for. You can also find me on social at underscore Kimberly Snyder, sending you so much love, so much peace. Have a wonderful day and see you back here soon. Namaste.