Monday, August 29, 2011

The Importance of Inquiry

I have recently finished Geneen Roth’s book Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything and it has definitely gotten my wheels turning. I particularly enjoyed her discussion of what it feels like to truly inquire about what you’re feeling- and the process of relating to your feelings, instead of from them.

Roth writes:

“Inquiry is body based; it is not a mental process. You sense what it feels like to be inside your skin, your arms, your legs. You notice the sensation and you notice the location of the sensation. Sensation, location, sensation, location. If, for instance, you are feeling sad, you ask yourself where that feeling is located in your body. You notice a gray heap of ashes in your chest, and up pops the belief that ‘love exists for other people but not for me.’ You become curious about that belief. How old were you when you first learned that? And what were your feelings at the time that never got noticed or felt or understood?

It’s good to ask some questions that allow you to focus on the sensations themselves. You can ask yourself if the feeling has a shape, a temperature, a color. You can ask yourself how it affects you to feel this. And since no feeling is static, you keep noticing the changes that occur in your body as you ask yourself these questions” (Roth, 104-105).

With the stress of everyday life: work, school, family, it is so easy to become detached from the body. We become ‘talking heads’ only thinking instead of really feeling. The exercise of reconnecting with the body and seeing what a particular part of it feels like in a stressful, sad, exciting, or joyful situation can be very eye opening. This allows for an exploration of the body that doesn’t involve food or weight, or self-criticism, simply curiosity. Curiosity that can lead to real self discovery. It also allows for small increments of success. For some, the task of focusing inward on body sensation for five minutes a day may be enough at the beginning, for others it may mean an hour long meditation on each area of the body and the feelings that may be harbored there.

I really love the steps involved the process Roth describes above. Starting with curiosity eliminates judgment; the act of exploration eliminates the ‘talking head’; and the experience of the feeling in the body allows for a refreshing openness and understanding to wash over your heart.

Women, Food and God is a wonderful book full of wisdom and I would definitely recommend it. But, if you don’t have the book, try inquiring about your body and your soul and see what it feels like to reconnect with yourself and the world around you.


Claire Jolly

Claire Jolly was a summer intern at The Awakening Center. She is a student at Centre College in Ohio.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Am I Weird?"

Last Sunday, one of my favorite movies was aired on television. I looked forward all week to watch it. The movie was Stand By Me based on a book by Steven King. Set in 1959, in the summer before they start jr h.s., it is a story about four boys who walk along a railroad track for many miles to see a dead body. Teddy and Vern are goofy and immature. The main character, Gordie just lost his beloved older brother - at his brother's funeral his father laments, "It should have been you instead." Gordie's best friend Chris comes from a very troubled family and can't get a break simply because of his family's reputation.

Why do I love this movie? There are so many scenes in this movie I love, some funny, some sad, some poignant - but the main part I love boils down to four simple lines of dialog. As they walk down the railroad tracks, Gordie and Chris are talking; Gordie turns to Chris and asks, "Do you think I'm weird?"

Chris quickly replies, "Definitely."

Gordie asks again, "No man, seriously. Am I weird?"
Okay, think about it. If you asked your best friend this question, what answer would you want to hear?

If your friend said, "No" would you believe them? Of course not! They are trying to spare your feelings.

Would you rather hear, "Yes?" Of course not! That would just affirm your deepest fear that you are weird and everyone knows it and judges you for it.

So what did Chris reply - he came up with the perfect answer, the answer I would want to hear if I asked a friend, "Am I weird?"

Chris replies, "Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird."

Why is that the perfect answer? Because it's the truth! We are all weird! But so what! We all have something that is weird about us!

Maybe when we are not so afraid of being judged as weird, we can embrace our weirdness. We may even be able to celbrate what makes us uniquely weird! How weird is that!!!

It's a good movie - I'll bet you can rent it from the library. I'm sure you would enjoy it too.



Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC is the founder and director of The Awakening Center. She will be leading a workshop "Catching the Uh Oh's: Stopping a Binge Before it Starts" on Sunday Sept 18th. For more info call (773) 929-6262 x11 or email