How The Work Works – the work of Byron katie

UNSHAKEABLE INNER PEACE

Worth reading! From Off the web!



Many people in many traditions have spoken about a state of continuous and unshakable inner peace, in which the mind delights in everything that happens. Byron Katie calls this “loving what is.” It is the mind’s natural state. Through the self-inquiry of The Work, people can return to it as often as they wish, and eventually it becomes constant. Suffering is optional.

THE CAUSE OF ALL SUFFERING

The initial insight, as in cognitive psychology, is that all human suffering is caused by believing our stressful thoughts. As the philosopher Epictetus said, “We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.” Byron Katie puts it this way: “The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.”

ENDING SUFFERING

It’s not possible to end stress or suffering by substituting positive thoughts for negative thoughts. This may work to some extent, but eventually the mind will outsmart you. There is a whole underworld of unexamined thoughts that will override the positive thoughts that you’re trying to believe. Ultimately it’s not possible to let go of our negative thoughts, because we can’t control the mind. When we look deeply into the mind, we see that we aren’t creating thoughts in the first place. We aren’t thinking; we are being thought.

Suffering can be alleviated and ultimately ended by questioning our stressful thoughts. The Work provides a simple and powerful method for doing this. Byron Katie says, “I didn’t let go of my stressful thoughts. I questioned them, and then they let go of me.”

THE JUDGE-YOUR-NEIGHBOR WORKSHEET

One of the brilliant innovations of Byron Katie is the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. This allows people to identify the thoughts and stories that cause their suffering. The first step in doing The Work is to fill out a Worksheet. “Though the mind can justify itself faster than the speed of light, it can be stopped through the act of writing. Once the mind is stopped on paper, thoughts remain stable, and inquiry can easily be applied.”

The stressful thoughts to be identified on a Worksheet are about someone else, not about yourself; hence the term “Judge-Your-Neighbor.” This is sometimes difficult for people, since we have been taught not to judge, though we do it all the time. When you do The Work, you see who you are in a stressful situation by seeing who you think other people are. Byron Katie explains this in the following way: “Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears to be on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.”

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

1. Is it true? People are encouraged to meditate on this question and go deeper than answers that seem obvious but that bring them stress or suffering. “My husband (or my wife) should listen to me—is it true?” Most people’s automatic response is “Yes,” indignantly or sadly. After someone truly contemplates the question, the answer may still be yes but there may be a slight weakening of the ego’s position. Or maybe the person sees clearly and shockingly that the statement isn’t true. It may be something they have believed for years and decades.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? If their answer to the first question is yes, this second question gives people another chance to examine the stressful thought and to go deeper into the open mind, which in Zen is called the “don’t-know mind.” Yes is still a valid answer.

3. How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought? This question allows people to see the cause-and-effect of believing their stressful thoughts—to witness what happened, what they felt, said, and did, when they believed the thought in that They are encouraged to inhabit the situation they were remembering in the first statement on their Worksheet and trace, in detail, the physical sensations and the emotions caused when they believe “My husband (or my wife) should listen to me.” Someone might say, for example, “I feel anger in my belly. My face flushes. I start to talk louder. I see my husband as neglectful. I become antagonistic. I try to convince him. I see him as the enemy,” and so on. These specific reactions are clear evidence of how unuseful, even damaging, this belief is to the person believing it. Whether they answered “yes” or “no” to the first two questions, they get to see how the thought leads them away from connection with the other person.

4. Who would you be without the thought? This is a question outside the realm of cognitive psychology. It allows people to see reality without the superimposition of their own belief. It gives them a vivid glimpse into what life is like without a problem. They become the seer, the listener, egoless, receiving the other person without blame, demands, expectations, or anything but an open mind. This question has resulted in very powerfully transformative experiences, even for people whose response to questions one and two were “Yes.”

THE TURNAROUNDS

After the mind has educated itself about a particular stressful thought through the four questions of The Work, people are invited to turn the thought around. The turnaround is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believed was true. Sometimes there may be just one turnaround; sometimes there are two or three turnarounds to one of the statements on the Worksheet (turnarounds to the opposite, to the self, and to the other). For example, the statement in that situation, “my husband should listen to me” can be turned around to “My husband shouldn’t listen to me,” and also to “I should listen to me,” and finally to “I should listen to my husband.”

Once people find a turnaround, they are invited to contemplate specific examples of how the turnaround is true in their lives, how it is as true as or truer than their original statement. This grounds the turnaround in actual experience and further weakens the power of the stressful thought over the mind. For some people, just one deep session of inquiry is enough to completely unravel a belief, so that it doesn’t occur again, or if it does, the response is amusement rather than stress.

Often, after fully contemplating the turnarounds, people who have answered “Yes” to questions one and two, if they are asked the questions again, will answer “No,” often with a smile or a laugh.

When we are suffering in any given moment, we are in a trance, hypnotized.

 The Work wakes us up.

Here’s a way to “Un-Do” Your Beliefs

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“If your beliefs are stressful and you question them, you come to see that they aren’t true — whereas prior to questioning, you absolutely believe them. How can you live in joy when you’re believing thoughts that bring on sadness, frustration, anger, alienation, and loneliness? When you believe those thoughts, you think that the world is making you unhappy. But it’s your thoughts about the world that are making you unhappy.

My mother became a believer, and then I became a believer. But when I was 43 years old, I began to think for myself, somehow, by fluke and by grace. And I thought, “Oh, my. I was so mistaken.” The world isn’t what I believed it to be. I am not what I believed me to be, and neither is anyone. So now I live in a state of grace, where I don’t have to know.

I realized that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I didn’t believe my thoughts, I didn’t suffer. And I’ve come to see that this is true for every human being.

So, the first two questions in The Work — “Is it true?” and “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” — are what I saw when the thoughts appeared. No thoughts are true. They can’t be. I saw that with absolute clarity. The third question is “How do you react when you believe that thought?” Well, that was obvious: sadness, anger, despair. I saw that all these things are the effects of believing a thought that isn’t even true. Then I saw that there was no identity until the thoughts appeared, so the fourth question is “Who would you be without the thought?” Then what I call the turnaround, which is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe, occurred. I saw that for every thought, the opposite is just as true, or even truer. I realized that it was all upside down and backward — what was true, what was not true, what was the dream world, what was the real world.”
Excerpts from talks with The Work of Byron Katie

20 Ways to Stay in the Peace: Part 2

Worth Reading: Off the web … simple yet powerful practices from The Work that will give you new ways of looking at your life circumstances, and in that, create new possibilities for self-realization. This is part 2 of the 20 Ways.

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8. Reporting to Yourself

This exercise can help in healing fear and terror. Practice reporting events to yourself as if a circumstance you find yourself in is actually a news story and you are the roving reporter. Announce exactly what your surroundings are and what’s happening “on the scene” at that very moment. Fear is always the result of projecting a re-creation of the past into the now or the future. If you find yourself fearful, find the core belief and inquire: “Is it true that I need to be fearful in this situation? What is actually happening right now, physically? Where is my body (hands, arms, feet, legs, head)? What do I see (trees, walls, windows, sky)?”
De-Personalizing our stories gives us an opportunity to look at circumstances more objectively, and choose our responses to what life brings. Living in our minds, believing our untrue thoughts, is a good way to scare ourselves to death, and it can appear in any form –  old age, cancer, degeneration, high blood pressure, etc.

9. Literal Hearing

Practice listening to others in the most literal sense, believing exactly what they say, and do your best to resist falling into your own interpretations about the information they share with you. For example, someone might compliment you on how beautiful you are, and you interpret that as an implication that the person has ulterior motives. Our interpretations of what we hear people say to us are often far more painful or frightening than what people actually say.

We can hurt ourselves with our misconceptions and our thinking for others. Try trusting that what they say is exactly what they mean: not more, not less. Hear people out. Catch yourself when you want to finish a sentence for someone either aloud or in your mind. Listen. It can be amazing to hear what comes out when we allow others to complete their thoughts without interruption. And, when we are busy thinking we know what they are about to say, we are missing what they are actually saying. You might want to consider these questions:

“What can be threatened if I listen and hear literally? Do I interrupt because I don’t want to really know what they have to say? Do I interrupt to convince them I know more than they do? Am I attempting to portray an image of self-confidence and control? Who would I be without the need to possess those qualities? Is there a fear of appearing unintelligent? Would people leave me if I heard them literally, and no longer engage in manipulative games?

10. Speaking Honestly and Literally

Speak literally. Say what you mean without justification, without any desire to manipulate, and without concern about how another may interpret your words. Practice not being careful. Experience the freedom this brings.

11. Watching the Play

See yourself in a balcony, watching your favorite drama about you and what distresses you. Watch the story on the stage below. Notice how you have seen this drama performed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times. Watch this until you find yourself becoming bored. The performers are having to exaggerate their parts to keep your attention. Notice when you get honest with your boredom, you get up from your seat, leave the balcony, exit the playhouse, and step outside. Always know you can re-visit. Who would you be without your story?

12. Watching a Second Version of the Play

Write your story from the eyes and mind of another. Write as many different versions with as many different outcomes as you like. Notice what you notice.

13. Exercising Polarity

If you find yourself dwelling on a negative thought, practice going to the opposite positive extreme or polarity. When you catch yourself slipping back into negativity, choose again to return to the positive polarity and be present with your conscious choice; feel the truth of it. There is only love, and what doesn’t appear as love is a disguised call for love. It is your birthright to live in the positive polarity of love and truth.

compiled by Mary Lynn Hendrix

The 4 Questions
 Visitwww.TheWork.com  with Byron Katie

Beliefs Don’t have to Define You, and They Don’t have to be Permanent

contemplation“The things that happened as a child, or the thing that upset us yesterday, will stay with us for as long as we live, as long as we still believe what we were believing in that situation.

The Work of Inquiry can break the spell; it wakes us up from those living nightmares. As little children we can’t question our thoughts, but as adults we do have an opportunity to set ourselves free.”

– Byron Katie

 

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