"I have been writing letters in my head to you since my first retreat and then fall into my usual habit of putting it off. Which brings me to the realization that everything I do in this work with you reveals the patterns, the habits, the way I've put my life together -- not just around food and eating, but around, well, everything. Retreats are pilgrimage to ME, where I discovered myself as a worthwhile project. No where else do I have such a direct experience of the powerful, loving and lovable, intelligent, and balanced woman that I am. And nowhere else have I come to see that experience reflected in all of the beautiful women around me. The voice in my head that constantly compares, judges and evaluates both myself and others quiets down so that there is space for love and understanding, kindness and gentleness.
"And I have learned BIG lessons. During an eating meditation, an encounter with a warm ginger muffin and the one more bite I wanted so badly let me realize that this bite could be the one thing standing between me and the experience of bliss. And after struggling (and I mean really struggling!), I didn't take that one more bite, and floated out of the dining hall into a day that felt like heaven on earth. But the bigger revelation was that the underlying question was: "Will there be enough love and attention left for me?" And in that moment I knew that, indeed, there was an abundance of love and attention, and that my doubts about "enough" rose up from some long ago place in my life that no longer existed. All that learning around a ginger muffin … Yowza!
"Another ah-ha happened when I retold a story in my small group -- a story that I had told at least a thousand times to myself, to therapists, to friends, practically to anyone who would listen. But as I listened to it with these other beautiful women really listening with me, the story became just a story! And that allowed me to see that all of my stories are just that -- stories -- having little or nothing to do with my life now, and now, and now.
"During that first retreat, as the "struggles" and the "problems" began to lift, I asked myself the two most important questions I've ever asked myself: "Who will I be if I am not suffering?" "What will I do if there is nothing to fix?" Living into these two questions continues to move me.
"These days, I am eating consciously, I have lost weight ( I will have to buy new clothes this fall :-), and I am no longer afraid of food. I have finally gotten that the guidelines are really and truly just that -- guidelines. Somehow, after dancing around with those guidelines, I made them my own. I have done lots and lots of spiritual and therapeutic work during my life, all of which has nourished and grown me, but it is the Women Food and God Retreats that have landed me in the presence of my wonderful self and all the fruits of my labor." - Eileen Pasco, Retreat Student
"I went on your retreat last fall. I tasted my food in a new way during the meditation meals. I'd been trying to do that since I read your book a couple of years ago and could never, not once make myself do it. My experience at the retreat I compare to the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the world shifts from black and white to color. It was that cool to really taste my food. During the week I was there plus the following week, I lost 10 pounds while tasting my food and reveling in gratitude. I am glowing." - Beth Goodwin, Retreat Student
"I am writing because my life is different and so much better because of coming to the retreat. The key phrases I keep going back to are the ones that talk about our relationship with food being the doorway to our relationship to ourselves. When I first heard those words, I understood on a vague intuitive level what you were talking about. I knew it was true that my compulsive relationship with food was getting in the way of being in touch with being truly myself. But I also had no idea how I was to simultaneously overcome my compulsiveness and also use it as a doorway to self-discovery. Those two things seemed to be contradictory.
"In the two months since coming to your retreat, my life has completely turned around. On the foundation of work we did and a growing sense of worthiness, I have seen some very practical changes in my life. Amazingly enough, I am following the Eating Guidelines -- eating when I am hungry, eating what my body wants, and stopping when I've had enough. And what's most amazing is that I don't feel the slightest bit deprived! I feel filled and energized. I am taking more pleasure in eating than I ever did in all my years of eating compulsively (when I ate everything I thought I wanted).
"I also love the fact that there is follow-up after the retreat. One of the most significant parts for me of having ongoing calls with my retreat buddy has been freedom from The Voice, the voice of judgement, the voice of criticism. I really understand now what you meant when you said that the biggest obstacle to any change is the voice that tells us we can't, the voice that tells us we are bad or wrong or a failure. The voice that just won't let us alone. This voice has quieted enough for me to make some major changes in my life.
"Finally, and most importantly, in the midst of making all of these wonderful changes, I have truly begun to come home to myself. I am no longer leaving myself in the same self-destructive ways, and I am standing in my own being on good days and bad ones. As a result of being able to use my relationship with food as the doorway and learning how to simply be with myself, I have not eaten compulsively during these last few months, which have been one of the most difficult times of my entire life. I feel happy again. " -- Ellen Hurley, Retreat Student
" I was 26 years old when I walked away from an inpatient eating disorder hospital. I didn’t feel safe allowing anyone else to have that much control over my life. I didn’t believe that there was any reason to stop dieting. I was completely identified with the person that allowed the scale to control her life, to determine her value, her happiness. I didn't even know to hope for anything different. I believed that this life, this suffering, was as good as it was ever going to get. And then I was introduced to Geneen Roth.
"It took a day of repeatedly glancing at the Geneen Roth workshop flyer on my desk before I became curious. Could there really be something more to my issues with food than just wanting to control the size of my body? I didn't believe it, but divine intervention stepped in and I signed up. My life has not been the same since.
"Being the ultimate beginner, I first had to learn to trust a body that I had never lived in. I had to learn to go beneath the thoughts and the beliefs. To sit with myself at a deeper level than I had ever known existed. I had to consider who I was without my eating disorder, without my history. I had to allow for hope to reenter my life. And so it did.
"Over the years, I have committed my life to learning my truth. Now I know how to show up for myself and I understand the importance of treating myself with kindness. I have learned to nourish my body and to treat it with respect. Most importantly, I now know where home is. The life I was meant to be living started the day I risked everything and listened to a random stranger. Geneen, her teachers, and the retreat community -- they have all helped me become who I am today and to see what is possible for tomorrow.
"I have deep love and gratitude for every step of this journey. What is miraculous is that I truly know from the bottom of my heart that this life, this moment, is as good as it ever gets." - Karen Benjamin, Retreat Student
"I think the biggest thing I learned from the retreat is that it is possible to trust myself. I'm learning to trust myself around food which opens up into the rest of my life in relationships, parenting and into decisions for me and my family … which in turn has given me a sense of freedom that I really didn't think was possible. 'How I eat is how I live the rest of my life' is an amazing doorway into seeing what is truly going on with me on a very deep level, if I am willing and honest. Every time I am willing to dive into this work I always get more of me back." -- Juliette Thomas, Retreat Student
"When would the negativity, self-doubt and self-loathing end? I am a successful 46 year old woman with a wonderful marriage and great kids and still I beat myself up over food daily, hourly, minute to minute. I hated the site of my thighs and felt like when I walked in to a room the first thing others noticed was my overweight body -- not my kind nature, my beautiful green eyes or the smile and warmth on my face. This had to change. I needed to learn to be present and grateful and stop the absurd mindset I’d created (with the help of some ugly people from my youth). So I decided that I needed to work on that issue for myself.
"I had no idea what to expect, and can’t truly put in to words the depth of gratitude I have for those who were there with me, who hugged me when it appeared I needed one, and who smiled and left me alone when that's what I needed. I have never been in a place with so many supportive individuals -- and the power of that cannot be truly explained. I went to places within myself that I didn’t realize I could get to, and mourned for the little girl who felt not good enough, and cried for the pain she endured. I loved every second of this retreat, and could never have imagined the impact to my daily psyche that it has caused. I don’t think about my size when I enter a room anymore, I think about my spirit and my accepting energy instead.
"Life is so fragile, so to continue the journey without loving myself fully was simply something I had to change. Thank you Geneen, team and other attendees for helping me down this path. I have so much gratitude for you all and the process." -- Lucy Lansford, Retreat Student
"Removing my shoes and jacket, preparing to place them on the security conveyor belt, I can't help but smile. I know what it means to have enough, to be enough. I have learned how to love myself, trust myself, and be present in the love and support I have in every moment. I no longer depend on the scale, the amount of calories I consume in a day to determine my value, my enoughness. When I am the one treating myself with kindness, kissing my own forehead in love, I can't help recognizing my abundant/blessed life. And as I take my seat to fly home, my heart is melting in the gratitude that love no longer comes disguised as a piece of chocolate." - Kay Brooks, Retreat Student