It is nighttime in Tel Aviv. In the last three days I have immersed myself in The Work here in Israel by attending all of Katie’s events. They were so impressive for me, and for everyone I have spoken with, to come face to face with someone who has taken total responsibility for her own thinking and to see how the whole world is changed as a result.
The events were so sweet and smooth. You couldn’t even tell that 1,200 people each day were in the hall; you could hear a pin drop, and anyone who knows Israelis knows that it’s highly unusual for them to be so quiet. Katie’s depth and amazing penetration blew everyone’s mind and swept us off our feet.
The first two people who did The Work with Katie were women who worked with her last year on sexual abuse in their family, and both were so grateful. One of them said how after not speaking for years with her father who had abused her, they are now on speaking terms again and are even able to hug each other, and she said that instead of meeting the monster, for the first time she met the human being who is her father.
All the people who came on to do The Work with Katie dared to expose their deepest fears in front of more than a thousand people. Among others, there was a mother who lost her son in a car accident and a girl with burn scars all over her face because a terrorist blew up the bus she was on. In working with these traumatized people, and with “normal” people as well, Katie was so skillful, so intelligent, so wise, she knew so well when to push hard and when to let go, and as my skeptical friend sitting next to me began to sob, I noticed how many other people in the audience crying as well.
That burnt girl—so innocent, so delicate, with such a complicated, sad story— rediscovered herself again right in front of our eyes, showing us and seeing for herself that in the midst of the suspicion that her mind created to protect her, her beautiful soul lives on and is entirely untouched by any of the outer scars. The power of her choosing life was overwhelming. I felt that no one in the audience was a bystander, that we were involved and doing our own Work.
The weekend culminated with a huge inquiry circle. More then 1500 people sat in pairs facing each other on the lawn outside under a beautiful blue Israeli sky. I was overtaken by the blue sky for a minute; then I noticed how involved Katie was, that she missed nothing: here she saw a person needing a partner, there she asked the Hebrew translator to wait a moment and she asked for an Arab translator as well, so that all would be included. I noticed how, just by watching her and her tremendous compassion and inclusiveness, I felt as if I was becoming more compassionate and inclusive myself, and I begin to feel love looking at itself as I looked around me.
Even the TV news people seemed touched and came to talk with the Arab translator, asking her to talk to them about The Work and how it had affected her life. “Well,” she said, “I’ll give you an example. Someone from Europe just asked me if I felt discrimination in Israel, and I noticed how different my answer is now after I have been doing The Work for a while. The charge is gone. Discrimination? Well, yeah, maybe, but it exists all over the world, not just here, and not just because I am Moslem, but everyone sees everyone else from their own world. And I can also find how I am prejudiced against all kinds of things, even toward some animals, so I guess you could say that I don’t take it so personally anymore. The Work freed up my energy, and I can do other more productive things with my time.”
The next day by 7:30 a.m. Katie was already visiting inmates at an Israeli prison, and at 10:30 had arrived at Baka-el-Garbiya, an Arab village, for a session dedicated to the Arab audience (although a few others like me snuck in). I was watching history in the making; it was nothing short of that.
The event for Arabs only was amazing. Hundreds of Arabs came, mostly women, and I recognized an important editor of a very well-known magazine hiding in the crowd. It was very impressive. She adapted so well to that tradition and so skillfully enabled everyone to understand the meaning of being kind to one’s self, how war starts with us, how we can also end it. We have a choice. It was so important.
I watched people get empowered as she was speaking and felt that everything she said was of outmost importance. The fact that Katie’s love and clarity could sound and reverberate in that space today, maybe for the very first time, enabling these people to find their way out of suffering, was a magical moment with immense proportions. I felt such a powerful focus develop in the audience, and it all seemed to penetrate and touch people’s hearts. Katie couldn’t contain her tears, it was moving to the depths.
I've just got back from attending today's event with you in London, and I'm so full of gratitude to you and to everyone involved and present (including me!) for making it possible, and for giving the gift of a wonderful, open-minded experience.
I was particularly moved by the Work of the gentleman who had the thought "my father shouldn't have died when I was 9 years old". As I listened and watched, I did the Work for myself, because my mum died when I was 9 years old (is it true?).
Soon, I found tears of gratitude flowing, because it gave me the opportunity to remember what I had discovered when I worked that very thought: the joy of my memories of my mum, and of how they are always with me (and so SHE is always with me); the privilege of becoming closer to my dad, and of being a comfort to him in his own grief; the amazing experience of getting to know my stepmother (and falling absolutely in love with her - I always say I had one wonderful mother for the first nine years of my life, and I've had another wonderful mother since I was eleven!); of learning, through my bond with my stepmother (and her family) that water is JUST as thick as blood; of becoming independent at a young age, learning that "I can make it" which stood me in such good stead when I moved away from home and came out as a gay man.....the list really is endless. And in all of that, my love for my (first) mum remains absolute and unbroken, yet I am able to be open to the amazing realisation that her death was a gift, just as her life was a gift.
(I would love for you to publish this email in your blog, or in The Parlor, in the hope that that gentleman may be reading. I'd like to extend my thanks to him.)
It was also wonderful to see you "for real" for the first time, although I found myself smiling to think that thought, because when you walked on stage, I had also the thought "oh, I've met her before, she's a friend of mine"! Thank God for YouTube! I had the same thought with everyone who joined you on that stage too! Truly - no new thoughts.
I continue to do The Work. I've been making use of the resources on your wonderful website. The Hotline, the Round Robin....thank you for them.
I hope you'll come back to the UK again soon. I echo one of the questions you were asked at the end - "when will you bring the School to the UK?", and on the one hand I repeat it in earnest - it would be so wonderful to have it and you here, reaching so many people who may not "find" it otherwise - and on the other, I hear your answer: "when you answer the four questions for yourself, in your own mind, whenever you need to". What a hoot!!
Thank you Katie, it was an amazing day, and I'm coming to realise, bit by bit, that they all are.
I love you, and your Work.
This is from Jaya Walsh. It came with a note: "To my imagination, this could be used to stir up more interest in the upcoming Workshop for parents and children."
Children are very good at following the simple directions: "I’m hot, I’m thirsty, there are popsicles in the freezer—let’s ask Mom." It’s a simple question: “Can we have a Popsicle?” But Mom has no simple answer because she is operating under the delusion “I should be consistent with my children.”
She leaves the present and travels to the past: What do I know about Popsicles? What have I told them before about Popsicles? What have we said about when we can have them and when we can’t? She travels to the future: What will happen later if I give them a Popsicle now? What will happen if this isn’t when I said I’d give them a Popsicle? What patterns are being created or broken here?
Mom looks down at the children’s little faces and sees the enemy looking back. They will run over me if I don’t defend myself against them with consistency. I must maintain a sense of power and control with consistency. I know what they’re thinking: “We want as many Popsicles as we can get, no matter what it does to our relationship.” They don’t know any better.
She is now totally disconnected from them and totally disconnected from herself. The search engine of her brain is so muddled as it sifts through the data around “Popsicles and consistency” that she can’t make a simple decision. She can’t trust herself as a parent to make a good decision—about Popsicles—and she has a moral imperative to make a good decision, because the ramifications are huge and far-reaching and she needs to weigh them out carefully before she can give a balanced answer.
Chances are good that by the time she chokes out an answer through the clutter of thoughts—“Well, no, this doesn’t seem like the right time”—it’s going to feel disconnected to the children. So they ask a question to get clarity—“Isn’t this when we always have a snack?” They might even add more data because, obviously, Mom needs help here—“It’s really hot and we haven’t had any sweets yet today.” Now, anything they say becomes the proof that they’re manipulating her!
What’s really going on here? They asked a simple question and their mother left the planet. She’s trying to show she’s a reliable person by being consistent about Popsicles but all they’re seeing is a total lack of presence. Is it any wonder everyone’s confused and cross?
A Canadian mom named Caitlin, who loves questioning her parenting notions with The Work, noticed that her stance on consistency was creating what she was trying to avoid: internal muddle, confused, combative discussions, stern tones in her voice, and whining, complaining tones in her children’s. What she was especially after was being present, staying connected to her children, and living out of integrity. Instead, she was gone, disconnected, confused.
She took the statement “I should be consistent with my children” to The Work. This exploration revealed to her all the behaviors and thoughts from the Popsicle story above. She found that the belief was founded on distrust: she couldn’t trust her children to have authentic interactions with her, and she couldn’t trust herself to be a good parent to her children in the moment. As she witnessed her life following this session of inquiry, she noticed how many times a day a new opportunity arose for “I should be consistent.” Only now she was no longer believing the thought.
Caitlin’s inquiry led her to trust herself to simply check in and give an answer in the moment. “I can be consistently myself,” she realized. “I can show up in each moment and trust that.” What followed was a new ease in her interactions with her children. The ease was in herself, with a huge reduction in mental work and no more separation—which feels dense and heavy. Now her children ask a question and she gives a response after a two-second check-in. Caitlin’s new modus operandi is “Put in the question and see what it says. It knows the answer.”
In the moments when the answer doesn’t come right away, she notices that now curiosity arises instead of confusion and panic. She tells her children, “I don’t know yet. Can you come ask again in about ten minutes?” Then she does The Work to get back to clarity. The children respond well to this: they, too, seem to prefer the clear mother with the clear answers.
Caitlin marvels at how often her children simply trust her answer these days. When they get a no, they’re more likely to carry right on with what they were doing than to argue about it. Sometimes they do have a response: “I’ll say, ‘No, I don’t want you to have a Popsicle.’ They’ll say, ‘We didn’t have one in the last couple of days, what do you think?’” Then she checks in again—new moment, new information. In her mind, she doesn’t go to, I’ve answered. I have to be consistent or it will mean . . . What she loves is that her children present the new information in a very peaceful way. They don’t speak with the charge they used to put into it, with a torrent of “It’s not fair . . . You said . . . We never get . . . That’s not the way . . .”
And then there are still those moments when a child really doesn’t like the parental answer and responds with tears, anger, and accusations. Even this has become welcome in Caitlin’s world because she doesn’t feel instant anger well up inside herself, worry about or judge the child, question her decision or whether or not she’s a good parent—all the confused craziness this response used to yield for her. Her daughter was raging recently when Caitlin’s answer was “Yes, in ten minutes,” instead of the desired “Yes, I’m jumping up right away.” Caitlin found no judgment or anger in herself as she met her daughter’s response. What she found was true love for her daughter and a clear holding to her true “Yes, in ten minutes.” Her daughter’s emotions spent themselves quickly and, ten minutes later, both were happily engaged in their shared activity. And Caitlin spent the interim ten minutes at peace in her own mind.
A bonus she has discovered in her new way of being is that her children involve her more in their processes. They trust her to be present and simply curious with them about whatever they’re dealing with. Together, they come up with ideas and create solutions to problems and conflicts. “They know I’m with them—present in the moment and not gone, lost in all those thoughts as I search for my Parenting Plan and Theory on Popsicles. In that clear place we can really hear each other and connect, and there are so many more options and possibilities.”
Finally, trust has moved into their home: mom trusting herself, children trusting themselves, and all trusting one another. It’s a good life—and it’s amazing how consistent it looks once the religion of consistency is dropped.
hey, my name is tamar and i don't really have a question right now. i would like this e-mail to be a direct line of gratitude to katie.
i had heard her name for the last few years, but never got deep into the work. last week i was at my father's home and saw a pamphlet of katie coming to israel. something deep in my being urged me to visit her web site when i got home, and I've been doing that daily since and starting to recognize the endless opportunities of the work. it is endless beauty for me, and i thank you for that.
the reason I'm writing this letter is that today was my first day of manifesting the work in my relationship with my lover. after talking to him and really listening to him and giving him the chance to be as he is and by that being me, i saw his beautiful essence. what became present since then is a sense of responsibility in my life, and even though I'm still new to this process, my being is at peace more than with any of the stories i have been telling myself for my 33 years of life (and believe me, they were big glorified stories attached to a never-satisfied ego).
thank you, katie, from the essence of my being. thank you, thank you, and thank me :-)
Here are some School aftercare experiences sent in by participants at The School (Trumbull, CT 2007) in answer to the question: Have you kept The Work alive since leaving The School through the partnering exercise? If yes, what was your experience?
Yes! My experience has been profound. One of the things that I have noticed is an empty feeling. This has been somewhat disconcerting because suddenly my stories are not relevant, and I have somewhat of an experience of not knowing who or what I am. I guess this is where “It” comes into play. It is noticing certain things today.
Some of my children are expressing displeasure with me but I believe this has been accumulating for years. And, even though I have some fear that they will always feel displeasure with me, I am just as hopeful that expressing themselves will in some ways contribute to more intimacy, maybe. At any rate, I find myself being more okay with them expressing their “stories” of who I have been and am.
I have been amazed at how similar my situation has been to those of my partners, who were selected at random. One person whom I had some initial judgment about and who ended up as a partner turned out to be most like me. I have found some incredible unconditional acceptance coming from perfect strangers.
Also at home, which I dreaded returning to, it’s been a more peaceful and loving experience. My partner, ex-husband, has been very supportive even though I had anticipated that he would have a problem with me talking on the phone long distance every day instead of joining him in front of the TV set. Some of my grandchildren have actually asked for The Work and one plans to accompany me to see Katie in Kansas City next spring.
I am doing The Work and seeing results. I am sleeping better than I can remember in many years, maybe ever. I am addressing some problems and issues that I have spent years being fearful of and procrastinating over. I feel no need for medicating my problems or myself for the first time since I was a child. I know there is more but these are my initial responses to the questionnaire.
Thank you all and Katie, God Bless
Yes I’ve kept it alive and it has been an amazing blessing; it creates a space of openness and presence that stays with me until the next stressful thought. I’m doing The Work all the time and am offering it to others with very open responses. It’s like Katie says: When you think things are so good that can’t get any better, they have to.
When we received the original assignment I was in resistance. I didn’t really want to have to do the 28 days! I am so grateful, now, that we were asked to do it! Connecting with others to do The Work has been very gratifying and helpful.
Toward the end of the School Katie asked, “What is the worst thing that could have happened at home while you were gone?” My reply was that my grandsons were kidnapped. Because I was still having angst around that thought, I did the one liner “My grandchildren SHOULD be kidnapped” with one of my partners. As a one liner, I was terrified to even say it out loud. The awareness and clarity and peace that came from doing The Work on that one liner was very powerful and healing for me. One point that came to me was to experience my grandsons as first generation thought: boys. NOT as the source of my happiness and fulfillment...just boys!
I have kept The Work alive. I am doing The Work usually twice a day with my 4 day partner and my round robin partner. I’m also reading in between and looking at underlying beliefs that have come up. I have found the experience of going home fantastic. It’s really neat to see how my friends and family are my mirrors. At times when I normally would get angry, I can laugh because I can see where I do that too. I now also see when something happens, it happens for me. It also helps me to see what I need to work on next. Just recently, I came upon a big underlying belief. I thought by punishing myself with my thoughts I was helping me to do better. That was such a nice find because I can see where that belief is underneath a lot of my stressful thoughts.
I love the partnering; it has been very helpful. I used it partly to “inoculate” myself in anticipation of a multi-generational, once a year, multi-day family gathering. And, not surprisingly, nothing really fazed me in interactions with others. In fact, I was able to casually mention this cool thing I’d just done (the School) and how it was helping, when others were having meltdowns, were trying to pull me in, and I wasn’t buying.
It’s also helpful in business and other personal relationships.
My partner is most appreciative of my School experience, so much so that I only mildly get flack on the extra hour a day on the phone...teasing flack. Also, we worked through the biggest regret in her life; that seems to have won some appreciation for The Work and my participation in it.
Recently I was struggling with an issue; I had done many Worksheets and was at a loss. I was in the car and oddly lost despite the map I had printed before leaving. I turned on the CD, A Thousand Names for Joy, and the idea came to me to turn the question around to ask myself, “What in me does this person represent? What part of me is being mirrored?” That changed my perspective and gave me the piece I was missing and, interestingly, I found the right street in that moment.
The nine days was life changing and this follow-up is vitally important in my opinion. I feel I can call several of the people I partnered with for support beyond the end of this exercise.
This has been a wonderful way to keep The Work alive and to demonstrate how easily I can make time for it in my life. I’ve been impressed at how my partners and I have been so flexible and persistent, and how we’ve succeeded in making connections even when one partner was on a beach in Hawaii and I was sitting on a stoop in Chinatown, New York City! Having so many partners was a great idea as well, not only because I got to do such a variety of Work through them, but experience a variety of styles of facilitation for my own Work. It was fascinating.
I’m grateful that the partnering exercise was part of the School because I am now a much freer person emotionally. Even while at the School, I often didn’t know what to work on. NOW, as thoughts come up, I’m able to label them as something I should question. On of scale of one to ten, I think my experience was an eleven! I’ve concluded that you can’t take $10 out of the bank when you only deposit $5. Also, I’m taking The Work into the addiction facility I volunteer at. I use it for Relapse Prevention. (I’m a Drug and Alcohol Counselor)
I have had a phone session every day except the 4th of July. And I have sessions lined up to cover all the days ahead until I have a round robin partner. I am listening to the BK Rap in the car, and have listened to various other CDs as well.
The weeks since the School have deepened my commitment to doing The Work a lot. It is so wonderful to have a tool to pick up whenever stress arises. It is like having the right screwdriver at hand for just that screw. I get discouraged when the same old stuff comes up, but then I just do The Work on it again, and I can see that the ground of my responses is changing. And I love that there is nothing that can’t be addressed by inquiry.
Another experience I want to mention is the sense of seeing down through a root system of beliefs, each of them linked to the others in a web. I call this the knot. I have worked on many of these issues for years in other modalities and I have made progress… but here they are still, and I had never seen how they are connected until yesterday.
Yes, I have kept The Work alive since leaving the School, through the partnering exercises. My experience was very interesting.
I stayed at the hotel for 2 days after the School, so did the partnering exercise in my hotel room the first day. Then for the next 3 days I was at home. After that I had a 14 day holiday in a very remote resort with NO technology but a very old phone both about a 15 minute walk away from my cottage. The phone both was really cool, you know, like the “Superman” phone booths, only older. The calls became such a financial burden, at $40 per call, that I decided to ask my husband to do The Work with me the second week. The Work went very deep for me with my husband. At one point, we worked for 2 hours together. There were lots of ups and downs and by the end I had a long list of one-liners for me to work on.
When I got home I found my request for a round robin partner was answered. I continued to do The Work with my school partners and when I could not connect, I had my round robin partner to do The Work with.
My experience with The Work has been kind of “out of this world”. Sometimes doing The Work seemed to not go too deep and that was perfect. It felt like my brain needed a rest and I was still processing The Work of the day before. Sometimes I would do a one-liner by myself. It would wake me up in the middle of the night at 3 AM or 5 AM and I would be taken to notebook and pen to fill in the one-liner. These sheets went very deep with up to 10 extra pages and lots of tears and laughter.
My round robin partner has been very helpful and gracious in doing 1 hour and 1.5 hour calls. She is also in the certification program with me and I feel very blessed to have connected with her. The most valuable one-liner work so far has helped me to notice how I have used great amounts of energy to keep one belief alive: “I need to protect myself by competing to be the best, or no one will love me.” This opened up a beautiful list of more one-liners that I am eager to work on. One thing I learned is that I can be impatient to push myself to be the best and now I’m learning that The Work finds its own time to be Worked. When I am patient and wait to be moved to do The Work, it flows out of me with ease and grace.
photos: C. Pratte