As we travel along on our personal journey, along the way we gather “tools” for our spiritual “tool belt”. We gather these in the many forms of daily practice, meditation, movement, breath work, affirmation, crystals, oracle decks and cards, essential oils, etc, etc., etc. I often find myself returning over and over again to certain “tools in my tool belt” and one of the “tools” I reach for consistently is called The Work of Byron Katie.
The Work was created by a woman named Byron Katie, who in the 1980s became severely depressed, agoraphobic, paranoid and suicidal. Her rage was so high, and her self-esteem so low, that she checked herself into a half-way house. The women in the half-way house were afraid of her, so she was forced to sleep in the attic and she slept on the floor, not feeling as if she was good enough to sleep in the bed. One night on the floor, a cockroach crawled across her foot, it’s movement waking her up and she opened her eyes to a new experience of reality! We could label her experience as enlightenment or call it transcendental, but BK puts no label on it. She explains it like this:
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
Her personal journey here is a storybook unto itself. From the half-way house she was released, returned home to a family that did not recognize this peaceful, smiling, easy-going woman that contrasted so sharply with the “Byron Katie” they had lived with before. She realized that what created her depression was not the world around her, but the thoughts and beliefs she had ABOUT the world around her. She spent weeks, fasting, wandering the desert, where she created this simple form of self-inquiry, where we could ALL question our thoughts just like she had. A few simple questions that allow us ALL to find relief from our personal suffering. The Work is simply 4 Questions and the Turnarounds that you can use to question ANY thought that you have that causes you even the slightest discomfort:
- Is it True? (YES or NO only!)
- Can you ABSOLUTELY know that it is True? (YES or NO, drop the story and feel into the question as a simple yes or no)
- How do you react, what happens, what do you feel when you think that thought?
- Who would you be without that thought?
Then you turn the thought around….
Byron Katie hosts events and workshops, she runs the 9-day Schools for The Work and even has a group home for The Work. I have attended her New Year’s Cleanse and her 9-day School for the Work. She called me up on the stage to work with her at the Unity Church in Kansas City at a weekend workshop. That was a magical experience and a story worthy of a FB post, in and of itself. She has written many amazing books that I can’t recommend enough if you need a good book to read.
Today, I really just wanted to get this message across about this powerful practice, this reliable “tool in my tool belt”, called The Work. If you want to dive deeper and learn more about the process of The Work or about Byron Katie herself I will share some info below. This is also some great information for those of you out there that are well aware of The Work but would like to be reminded of the power within it. I am attaching a link just below to a recent podcast of Alanis Morissette and Byron Katie discussing her story, the process and so much amazing information about self-inquiry and the Ego. Also, in the comments I will share the link to Byron Katie’s website where ALL the information you need to do The Work is available there for FREE, plus tons of videos with BK there as well.
If you have previously heard of Byron Katie and The Work, how has the practice impacted your life? How has the Work been a useful tool in your tool belt? If you have never heard about BK or The Work, what are you excited to learn more about or what kind of questions do you have? 💖
“Who would you be without your Story?”
– Byron Katie –