See Who in September, Oprah?©
By Lauralyn Bellamy, MA, MDIV, cert. Dream Coach(R) & DC Group Leader
Oprah Winfrey, July 2008 issue, O, The Oprah Magazine, “What I Know For Sure:”
“I know for sure that I am not [sic] my body. I feel more connected to consciousness, or soul, or inner spirit – whatever you choose to name the formless being that is the essence of who we are. I think of all the years I’ve wasted hating myself fat, wanting myself thin…Worrying when I wasn’t dieting, then eating everything I wanted until the next diet…
“But I’ve given up scale-watching — letting a number determine how I see myself and whether I’m worthy of a good day…You’re not your body, and for sure you’re not your body image.
“That’s a free at last kind of recognition. No more wasted time.”
Oprah Winfrey, September 2008 issue, O, The Oprah Magazine, “What I Know For Sure:”
“’LEADERSHIP IS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING.’…Recently, though, I found myself overwhelmed by a lack of leadership in almost every area of my life… I’ve been on an international search for a new Head of [my] School [in South Africa], while also searching for a CEO and President for my new TV network, ‘OWN’ – while also doing two show a day, banking radio shows to air in the future, trying to read very page in this magazine before it goes to print, having preshow meetings with producers, dealing with the business of all the businesses and hearing from Gayle: ‘Your “What I Know for Sure” column is waaay overdue. You’re holding up the process!’
“I had a LOL moment when I was told that with everything else I have going on, I was supposed to write a column about being overwhelmed.
“How about this: I AM OVERWHELMED! …Flying back and forth from Africa to Chicago to California to New York. Doing. Doing. Doing.
“So I stopped. Everything. For one day…I stopped doing in order to return to the being of myself.” (emphasis added)
How does a person who is not her body and in a “crisis in leadership,” solve this problem? Oprah set aside a single day to “do nothing.” But how does a “formless being” that is “more connected to consciousness or soul, or inner spirit” actually do nothing? The rest of the column is Oprah’s description of that one, idyllic day.
Turns out, she was NOT doing "nothing;" rather, she was actively allowing her body “free time” to play. She immersed herself in the experience of her physical senses:
- “I watched sunlight filter between the branches…”
- “I listened to the birds…”
- “I took a few deep breaths…”
- “I said, ’Thank you’ out loud…” (vocalizing and listening)
- “I filled a bowl with lemon sorbet and fresh strawberries…” (sight and smell)
- “I savored every spoonful…”
- “I went for a run with my dogs…”
- “I sat in a tub of bubbles until I got crinkly…”
- “I read myself to sleep with Mary Oliver* poems…”
*Mary Oliver observes the world of nature with awe and wonder!
In other words, to treat the mental state of “being overwhelmed,” Oprah had to immerse herself in the world experienced through her body! She had to re-member and re-collect her physical senses, exercise her physical body, allow her imagination to wander through the sensual natural world painted with poetry.
Under these pleasurable physical conditions, she was also able to revive her spiritual practices and worship!
· “I pulled out my gratitude journal, in which I’d been too tired to write even a sentence for months…”
· “I let those trees remind me how to be: still…”
· “I wrote in my journal: ‘I am grateful for my breath and the recognition that I am here, alive. Breathing…’
· “I prayed. I meditated. I napped. I filled three more pages with praise and gratitude for all that’s gone right… I watched the sun move across the sky…”
What did Oprah learn about her Self from the day she stopped everything? She ends her September column with news:
“The next day I found the new Head of School. Two days later, a president for OWN.
I no longer have a crisis in leadership. I know for sure that what’s best for me is already on its way.”
Who will show up in Oprah’s October column?
My hope is she will have noticed that it was only when she paid attention to and exercised all her physical senses that her spiritual practices of prayer, meditation, and thanksgiving were revived.
My hope is she will recognize that her physically punishing work schedule was contributing to the “confusion…crisis and chaos” that is the psychological state of being “OVERWHELMED!”
My hope is that she will take steps to personally work with some of the talented people who regularly write for her magazine to expand her experience of Self to integrate, “the formless being that is the essence of who we are” with her unique physical body – as much a manifestation of Self as her Soul!
It wasn’t her body that fixated on the scale, ate mindlessly to reduce the intolerable anxiety and exhaustion overwhelming her, and bears the extra pounds she now carries. It was her spirit that had gotten detached from her body and fallen victim to the ideas generated by an unchallenged ego on a power rampage.
Oprah probably still subscribes to the idea that in order to enjoy physical health, we need to “listen to our bodies.” I experience that as listening to a part of who I Am. But if “you’re not your body,” whom are you listening to when your body complains? See WHO in September, Oprah?