At the Toni’s prodding, and it didn’t take long, I decided to go into retreat. It’s been long overdue, and I guess I’ve been a bit of a grouch. There were no conveniently timed meditation retreat in the vicinity, so I took the 2 weeks I was accorded to and shut myself in my urban cave instead. Since we’ve just done a weekend The Work of Byron Katie workshop, I thought I’d go through all the Byron Katie material I could find and hunker down to work.
This is what I found.
- There are no new stressful thoughts in the history of humanity. Across race, language and culture, they are the same.
- These thoughts are not personal to us. They pop up when events in our lives occur. Then we believe them and suffer; or we could investigate them and invite the truth to manifest, and not suffer. Thoughts like
- My parents don’t love me
- I don’t want to look stupid
- People should be understanding
- People are not trustworthy
- The world is a dangerous place
- There’s got to be something better
- Suffering is the story of the ego. Ego tries to re-create what essence already is. Why? Because it thinks it is separate. It is the ego who is identified with and attached to the suffering. The ego suffers. That’s what egos do to exist.
- We have more ego than we need when we have more suffering than we want.
- Suffering is suffering. It’s not personal.
- Nobody can hurt me, that’s my job.
- We can mind only our own business.
- Its not a question of truth or morality. The Work does not condone any hurt or harm to the self, the other or the earth. it’s the just about asking questions, and investigating reality.
- There are no mistakes. What is, is what’s supposed to be. The universe is a wise and friendly place. It’s always what we need in the present moment. If we pay attention, we will get that. We have everything we need. What we have, despite what we believe is exactly what we need.
- It’s the old ‘nothing to do, no where to go, home in the present moment’ wisdom.
The Four Noble Truths
The Work reminds me of the Zen and Vipassana approaches to meditation, and the four noble truths:
The cause of suffering
The cessation of suffering
The path to the end of suffering.
However it arose out of Katie’s own mind and is entirely unrelated to any eastern or western wisdom traditions. So the four noble truths from the Work Katie recommends this:
Judge your neighbour,
Write it down
Ask four questions
Turn it around
Thoughts Think Us
Our thoughts project our world. Our world is a mirror reflecting our beliefs. If we live in an unhappy world, it is a projection of what we have not healed within ourselves. “The map is not the territory”.
Most of the time, most of us cannot not think. Thoughts think us, they don’t belong to us. Thoughts are mostly recycled, there are virtually no new thoughts. Since there are there anyway, the smart thing to do is to meet them with kindness and understanding and see what it is they really want. Our job is to ask (e.g., the thought “Paul doesn’t listen to me”) the four questions.
The Four Questions
1. Is is true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought? Turn the thought around (original thought: Paul doesn’t listen to me)
a) to the opposite (Paul does listen to me)
b) to the self (I don’t listen to me)
c) to the other (I don’t listen to Paul)
And find three genuine specific examples of how each turnaround is true in you life
For more information on how to do The Work, got to www.TheWork.com
My Experience of The Work
I can’t say that I’ as adept at The Work than the other things I do, like EFT and Integration. I definitely wasn’t 100% faithful to The Work. I’m still playing with it, and that’s what it is. It’s play. It’s fun and interesting to investigate our feelings, thoughts and beliefs. I’ve seen the humour in some of my ludicrous presumptions, the ‘I need/want’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’, ‘always/never’ judgements that have gone unquestioned and run amok. The Work as facilitated by Katie use powerful reframes and turnarounds, administered with humour and kindness. It’s another way to slice the issues and bring new understanding. These are the great and not-so-great in my experience.
- looks at causation without the long story (spends less time with drama, more time with results, usually a plus)
- quick results, sometimes change comes at the first question
- allows own wisdom to arise and brings real healing
- easily induces a better state of mind
- can induce a higher state of consciousness
- easy enough, people can self-apply (mostly)
- after some practice, it becomes automatic (bonus!)
- lots of free material on her website (TheWork.com)
What’s Not so Great
- it might be hard for newbies to identify the stressful thoughts or the underlying beliefs. Sometimes people just feel a sensation or emotion without being able to articulate meaning. It would get better with a little patience and practice.
- can get frustrating and exhausting
- the presence-of-mind of the facilitator is important, whether it’s self administered or facilitated by another individual
And guess what I found?
What I held as truths, they are not even mine, they are not personal, they are certainly not new and definitely not in the now. They are just stories. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple” says the wise Oscar. And “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”, says the wise Mark Twain. And after experiencing The Work, I would say, “Dont let the truth get blown away by a good story”.
Suffering doesn’t happen to a mind that’s healed. So who are we without our thoughts, our beliefs, our suffering, our identity? That thought you believe, is it true? What would you be without that thought? And that thought? And that thought?