Byron Katie and Mutts Mobile Wallpapers

Welcome to the new world of Byron Katie wallpaper; a way to carry reminders that peace is possible in every moment,
Our first batch features the wonderful MUTTS comics by Patrick McDonnell.
These are all here for you, free of charge, to enjoy as you will.

Just download any or all to your phone and set it up as your wallpaper.


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South Carolina Grief Project

Do The Work
Helpline
South Carolina Grief Project

After receiving the following letter from Justin, I immediately invited all Certified Facilitators to specifically be available for all the people whom Justin and many of us care about so deeply. Certified Facilitators, please go to the Helpline and volunteer your time to those people wanting help through their recent tragedy. For those of you wanting help, please go here. Our facilitators are here to support you on the Helpline, free of charge.

Thank you, Justin, on behalf of everyone who understands the suffering that grief and fear can bring, and on behalf of all of us at the Institute for The Work, our gratitude for the invitation to serve peace.

In the interest of peace and the end of suffering,
Byron Katie and the Certified Facilitators at the Institute for The Work

P.S. The Helpline is a volunteer-based service offered around the clock, seven days a week, as volunteers are available. This helpline is for people new to The Work and for those needing occasional help or support in doing The Work.

* * * * * * *
Justin’s letter:

Dearest lovely Byron Katie,

My name is Justin H. and I am a 26 year old, South Carolinian living abroad currently in Mallorca, Spain, teaching English. I am writing to you now in what I would call a “completely out of character” way, but after reading this morning´s news about the truly heart-breaking gun attack in the place where I grew up, I haven’t been able to focus on anything else but writing you this email.

As Mallorca is an island in the Mediterranean, normally I would be enjoying this paradise on earth, and reveling in the wonderful fact that I have distanced myself from SC, which I once believed to be such a backward, suffocating, and unloving place to live, but I have recently come to truly SEE, by doing The Work, that this idea was simply the filter that I chose to see it through. I CANNOT thank you enough for bringing such clarity into my life and in such a short amount of time (I discovered you and your fabulous body of accessible ideas in another book only 2 weeks ago), and I think ALL of South Carolina deserves this same blessing. It´s our birthright, as I’ve heard you put it.

In the news today I have simply been witnessing the storm of panic…people fighting political wars in message threads…de facto discussions about the history of racism in the United States…gun-control debate renewed…intrigue into profiling this young shooter…is capital punishment appropriate for him or not…is the United States a fundamentally bad place…which news sources have right on their side and which are racist…is the Governor´s response to the shooting heartfelt enough…should the Confederate flag be removed…and all I can think is THIS:

THEY ARE MISSING THE POINT TO BRING ABOUT TRUE CHANGE… (Well, not all of them are missing the point…)

Chris Singleton, the son of victim Sharonda Singleton said, “So if we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.”

(To me, these beautiful lives are the point.)

What I´m asking, Katie, as a man with limited resources and connections, and literally thousands of miles from my home (at least physically) is this: Can you help open a dialogue among the people of South Carolina and show them your wonderful way, as you have shown me, that transcends racism, politics, violence, and FEAR. If I can catch a whiff of freedom in two weeks, thanks to YOUR Work (OUR Work, as you might say), then I can only imagine what it can do for all the people of South Carolina and the nation in such a time of true need for its universal message. Can you help us to make the way our people think, as beautiful as the land the live in???

A very big request from an eternally grateful fan.

Thanks for your consideration,
Justin

How do I Forgive Myself?

The email below was submitted for a Conversation with Byron Katie webcast from S. in Rhode Island.

 

Hi Katie,

I cannot thank you enough for sharing your wisdom from Loving What Is with me: A 40-year-old mom who FINALLY removed the painful thoughts haunting me my whole life, going as far back as 30 years ago!

MY QUESTION IS: HOW DO I FORGIVE MYSELF????

Using your Method, inquiry, 4 questions and turnaround, I have detached myself from so many negative thoughts and forgiven people for any wrongdoing. But, when I judge myself with a truth like: “I want to forgive myself for my mistakes,“ “I want to not be so hard on myself,” or “I wish I could love everyone in my life effortlessly,” or “I wish I had more self-confidence,” and the list goes on and on. How do I find this peace in myself? I just don’t know.

PLEASE, PLEASE SHARE YOUR HEART ABOUT THIS. I AM STUCK!
S.

 

Dearest S.,

I suggest that you close your eyes with that in mind as you begin to clearly locate one of those apparent mistakes in your life. Locate a situation where later you were hard on yourself. Or you can begin to recall a situation where you were not effortlessly loving someone, a moment when you were not loving toward a friend, stranger, family member, a situation where you weren’t self-confident, and fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on any of those situations, writing from that moment in time.

Let me know how you do, angel. There is no moment in time that you cannot recall as vividly as possible, collect your thoughts, write them down, question them, and set yourself free.

Loving you,
bk

Fearful Judgments Belong on Paper

The email below was submitted for a Conversation with Byron Katie webcast from S. in Hungary.

Hello Katie,

I’ve been a long practitioner of The Work and despite that, I’m stuck. Lately I’ve fallen into the bad habit with my girlfriend of excessively judging our country and the world, despite all the beauty that there is.

I feel that this kind of non-conscious behaviour is causing a great roadblock in my life and I find it very hard to question this even when I have moments of clarity.

With kind regards,
S.

 

Dear S,

I invite you to judge your country on the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. That is where all fearful judgments about world and country belong. For example, if I express my fearful theories to someone, such as, “Our country is ….. Our leaders are ….” (fill it in yourself), and in that moment I am upsetting myself and upsetting any listener who may believe what I think I believe, then I am very clear that upsetting you or me is not the path that interests me. So how do I come to know what is true and what really matters? I identify and question the thoughts that take my awareness away, that take “me” away from my life now and plunge me into horrors that don’t exist in reality, right here right now, in the moment and place where I can be of use, and if I am fearful, I’m not serving what I want and am clearly directed to serve. So rather than inflicting painful, unquestioned beliefs onto others, I find it kind to test them first, on paper, running them first through my authentic self. This process can only be appreciated within me, so my family is spared those fear tactics of mind that I used to hold onto so tightly.

Thank you for your email,
Love,
bk

Shootings in Paris

The email below was submitted from the United Kingdom for a Conversation with Byron Katie webcast in regards to the events in Paris, France on 7 January 2015.

 

Q: How should the world react to the shootings in Paris this week?

Katie: Exactly the way they reacted. How did you react to the shootings in Paris?

Notice what you were thinking and believing. Were you able to stop what you were thinking, saying, doing, believing, in the moment you experienced it happening?

 

Q: How can we stop the response to it just creating more hate?

Katie: “The response is creating more hate”—is it true? Etc. Or is it not wiser that you look at your own responses, any response of hate, fear, etc. within you?

 


Q: Can religious extremists ever live peacefully side by side?

Katie: Is there someone in your life that you can’t live side by side with in total peace? I suggest that you begin there, dearest. If you can’t do it, why would you think that others can? Peace really is up to you. When do you begin? Always now.

 

For more information, visit thework.com

Winning and Losing in Relationships

The email below was submitted for a Conversation with Byron Katie webcast from A. in Sweden.

 

Dear Katie,

Sometimes I think that I am stuck in relationships that are no good, for instance when I argue heavily with someone. If things get heated, thoughts like “This is not the type of relationship I want to be in, I am looking for something and someone who can do, better!”

or “This type of argument is reason enough for me to leave!” and usually I storm out, determined never to look back.

When cooled down, I do look back and think that my negative thoughts are probably not true, and that it only takes one person for a happy relationship. I will then do The Work and take responsibility for my part, but it tastes a little bit bitter still, as if I am compromising myself in order to be able to stay and not have to leave the relationship.

Can you please talk a little bit about doing the work with a motive? I find it a bit difficult to make the distinction between “This is another way I deny myself and my integrity,” and “It’s just my thinking there’s something wrong with him.”

L.

 

Dearest L.,

Are you into winning and losing as a game within yourself? When I win one of those arguments, do I lose an opportunity to Work through my thoughts, or am I teaching myself that freedom comes from winning an argument with myself? “If he really loved me he would….! I would ….!”, or maybe, “If he were really valuable he would ……, wouldn’t …….” “I would ……, wouldn’t ……”

Just because we love someone and have a really good relationship with him doesn’t mean we have to be in a partner kind of mental relationship with him. Don’t you stay in relationship because you want something or because you fear losing something? What is it for you? What you discover in your answers are the motives that are driving you. Your answers, the ones that reveal your motives, may give you a really interesting Worksheet.

Love without choice,
bk

Working with Alzheimer’s

The email below was submitted for a Conversation with Byron Katie webcast from A. in Sweden.

 

Dear Katie,

Thank you for bringing The Work out in the world. It has helped me greatly. This past year there is an issue I have had trouble working through. Here it is coming from my scared thoughts:

My father is in his early 60s and has got a rare kind of Alzheimer’s or frontal lobe dementia. The doctors are not sure yet of which diagnosis it will be. If it is Alzheimer’s, then there is a medication that can slow down the process. If it is frontal lobe dementia the process will be more aggressive, leading to loss of speech and apathy. Eventually the body breaks down and the doctors do nothing to support it. You die at quite a young age. Frontal lobe dementia is caused by a mutated gene, and there is a risk that I have it and will suffer the same fate. It scares me terribly to have to see my father getting worse and worse and to not know if that same terrible disease will happen to me. I get thoughts of not having children on my own and have trouble functioning through the day due to anxiety, heavy thoughts, and fear. It can feel like my life is over. Please help.

Love,
A.

 

 

Dearest A.,

Here are some thoughts for a sample Worksheet that you can put up against inquiry:

1) I’m scared because my father has Alzheimer’s.

2) I want my father’s Alzheimer’s to stop progressing. I want my father to be healthy, happy, and lucid.

3) My father’s disease should stop progressing. His disease shouldn’t be passed on to me.

4) I need this fear to go away. I need Alzheimer’s to stop being such a threat.

5) My father’s disease is unreliable, getting worse, and has been passed on to me.

6) I don’t ever want to have Alzheimer’s. I don’t ever want to have dementia. I don’t ever want to see my father becoming worse and worse.

These are just examples of fear-making thoughts. I suggest that you be thorough, sweetheart, as you write your own Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to go to thework.com and find one of our very fine Certified Facilitators to support you.

Loving what is and what isn’t,

bk

Unshakeable Inner Peace, A Brief Description of How The Work Works

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.

Diamond Sutra, Chapter 2

Then the monk Subhuti, who was in the midst of the assembly, stood up, bared his right shoulder, kneeled on his right knee, clasped his hands together in reverence, and addressed the Buddha: “How exquisitely considerate you are, Sir! You are always concerned about the welfare of your disciples, and you are generous with your teaching. Sir, when sincere men and women seek enlightenment, what should they do and how should they control their minds?”

The Buddha said, “An excellent question, Subhuti. If sincere men and women seek enlightenment, it is essential for them to control their minds. Listen, and I will explain how.”

Subhuti said, “Please do, Sir. We are all listening.”

 

Commentary

Subhuti stands up and with the most beautiful gestures expresses his reverence for the Buddha. From the Buddha’s point of view, Buddha is just a word for himself, and it is a word for Subhuti, and it is also a word for each of the monks in the audience. The dialogue that follows is between the Buddha and the Buddha. It’s the internal self meeting itself. There is no self, and the no-self meets itself. There is no other, and the no-other meets the no-self.

People sometimes approach me with that kind of reverence, and it isn’t personal. They may come up to me after an event, when they are very moved because, through The Work we have all experienced together, they have understood something that was profoundly meaningful to them. They approach me with gleaming eyes and put their palms together and sometimes even kneel or bow, whatever is their custom. I know what reverence feels like, and I love that they are experiencing it. Recognition of the apparent me is only recognition of their own true nature. There can be no me in the equation. It’s their own recognition; it came from them and belongs to them, and as that recognition, I celebrate. I am always internally bowing at their feet, and at my own feet, and I understand that anything less than that is a state of separation. When someone bows in front of me, I am what bows and I am what is bowed to. Both positions are equal. There’s nothing personal in it.

It would be no different if I bowed in reverence to a grain of sand. It’s a falling into, a merging into. The oneness, the not-even-oneness, has to be realized; there’s nothing else you can do with it. Immersing yourself in it, rubbing it on your skin, rolling in it as it merges with your hair and gets in your nostrils (I say “your,” but it’s really “its”), doesn’t get you any closer, and to say “the same” is still far away. That’s how I experience reverence. It’s the self, intimate with… I can’t even say “the self intimate with itself”; it’s simply the self, intimate. This is true intimacy, the undivided. There’s nothing outside it, and nothing inside.

Humility means showing that kind of reverence to the sand, to the dust, to the sound of whatever is heard in this moment. If we were in our right minds, we would show reverence to everything in the world as the Buddha. That’s what realization is. You can’t ever grasp what is realizing. The thought that you’re realizing anything at all isn’t true; that’s at least one thought-generation away from the truth. It’s a beautiful moment in grace, and still you’re identified as the one who has realized. Once you get past the pain and eventual joy of surrender, you recognize something beyond your ability to identify, and you fall into a state of utter gratitude.

I am always the student. I love to be in that position, at the feet of anyone and anything I see. It’s wonderful. It doesn’t require an open mind: it is the open mind. It never has to take responsibility for knowing or for not knowing. It receives everything without limit, without judgment, since judgment would cost it everything. The moment you think you are someone, or think you have something to teach, the inner world freezes and becomes the realm of illusion. That’s what it costs when you identify as the person who knows. It’s a concoction of mind. You shrink down into the teacher: limited, separate, stuck.

Subhuti talks about the generosity of the Buddha. Of course the Buddha is generous! There’s nothing he would hold back, because for him the giving is the receiving. He is always only talking with himself. This whole sutra is the self (the awareness that is more accurately called the non-self) in discussion with itself. The apparent “other” is a self-image. If I can hear a question, it’s inside me; it’s coming from inside me, not from anywhere in an imagined “out there.” It’s immediate. There’s no distance in it, and answering one’s own question is what love does, always in service to itself. The “other” is grateful, naturally, since it’s a reflection of my own self. I would ask nothing of myself that was beyond me. It’s always a refreshment. It’s the clear mind, the real thing, the beloved, always expanding, stretching, soaring as beauty and goodness and creation without limit. Not to answer would be to limit its majesty. When questions appear, the answers are effortless. But the quality of the answer depends on the student. If I’m sitting with someone who thinks he knows something, he has limited himself, and my answers mirror that limitation. But if the student asks with a mind that is truly open, the answer is free. It comes from the bottomless source. That’s why in twenty-eight years I have never tired of people asking the same questions over and over. The question is always new.

Subhuti says that the Buddha is concerned about the welfare of his disciples. That’s my experience too, though I don’t see anyone as a disciple. To me, there are only friends. And I am concerned only if they are concerned; their concern is all the concern that’s left in me. When they ask a question, I see them as my confused self. I see them as the Byron Katie I used to be, suffering, without a way out. I would give those people everything I have. The question is needed, just like the begging bowl. It’s needed for the enlightened mind; it is the enlightened mind, igniting itself. And if they don’t question me, I’m never concerned about their welfare, because I know that everyone is perfectly all right, whatever apparent suffering they may be going through.

So Subhuti asks the Buddha a question, and it’s a good one. There are men and women who authentically want to go beyond themselves. There are sincere men and women who want to be free. I was one of those without realizing it. I tested what happened when I didn’t respond to the thoughts of “I want,” “I need,” “I should.” I witnessed the world beyond those apparent requirements, and I found none of them to be true. None of the thoughts could stand up to inquiry. You could discover this even if you tested it for just twenty-four hours, with one small meal. Someone could give you a bowl of filthy rice, and that’s it for twenty-four hours, and the I-know mind would say, “This isn’t enough nourishment; I’m going to be weak; I’ll get sick; I’ll die.” But when you allow each thought to be met with “Is it true?” life will show itself to you. You discover that every thought ends with a question mark, not with a period. You’re able to rest in the never-ending enlightenment of the open mind.

When I woke up to reality, I had children in need and property in need and a husband in need and people in need all around me, and none of that was true. I tested it. I found that nobody needed me, ever. And with the loss of all this came a further loss of self. It played itself out in the world. Gone was the house, gone the children, gone the husband, and there was no “me” to lose them. Everything without exception went to a better care than I could ever give them, a higher service, a kinder way. They all became my teachers, deleting me from the process.

Subhuti’s question is a good one, but there’s something slightly confused about it, since he asks how to “control” the mind. It’s a natural question; in the dream-world, the world of suffering, the mind seems wild and chaotic, and people think that it needs to be controlled. Some people would give anything to know how to control it. But the mind can never be controlled; it can only be loved and understood. It’s like an unruly child. Thoughts come one after another to pester us and demand our attention, like unloved children. Our job is to discern, to know the difference between an internal argument and a state where we’re open to receive. Suffering appears when we try to control reality, when we think that we are the source rather than the mirror-image or that we are more or less than anything else in the mirror. But everything is equal; it’s all a reflection.

We can control the mind only to this extent: as a thought appears, we can notice the difference between an assertion and a question. The assertion comes from the I-know mind, the teacher. The question comes purely from the student. In the questioning mind we experience a flow. There’s no interruption, no limitation. Control is just a matter of noticing. It doesn’t mean imposing an order onto the mind. If you’re a true student, the thought will always end with a question mark.

 

Q: Why would you bow in reverence to a grain of sand?

A: The grain of sand gives itself entirely. Even though I may be totally unaware of it, it waits for the opportunity to show me itself and how it exists through me. It is patient, solid in its purpose, unchanging in its present identity, it doesn’t pretend, it doesn’t mind if I step on it, honor it, praise it, or belittle it; it remains what it is, without disguise or deceit, it is perfectly allowing, doesn’t resist the name I give it, lets itself be whatever I call it. Who of right mind wouldn’t bow to such a consciousness? I honor it as a teacher, and I meet its nature in everything I witness. If you throw me away, step on me, judge me as useless, overlook me, do I remain with the same constant and generous nature as the grain of sand? This is the Buddha mind. It’s what I woke up to. I also learned from the grain of sand that physical bowing is unnecessary. My bowing is now an unceasing internal experience, like the emptying I underwent in the desert for so many months, an emptying that left me with reverence toward everything I met. It left me as the student. Subhuti in the presence of the Buddha. The Buddha in the presence of Subhuti.

 

Q: What’s the difference between humility and humiliation?

A: Humility looks very ordinary. It’s hello and goodbye. Sometimes, at first, it looks like tears, sometimes like dying. It’s total surrender. The thing you were so proud of is seen as selfish; you treasured it, and it falls apart, and there is a change that takes place within you. If there’s any hint of humiliation, it means that your ego hasn’t totally surrendered; if you feel humbled, it means that your ego is surrendered, and it’s the softest, most lovely experience, and in that experience you see everyone as your teacher. You stand in what’s left of you, and you die, and you keep dying. It’s like the tree that lets go of its leaves. That beautiful clothing has fallen away, and the tree just stands there in the cold of winter, totally exposed.

 

Q: You talk about the position of being the teacher as “limited, separate, stuck.” But aren’t there teachers with open minds?

A: Yes. But the teacher who thinks of himself as teacher, the want-to-be teacher, the one who’s invested in it, is trying to teach the student what he himself needs to learn. If I identify as a teacher and see my students as any less than teachers, I’m reinforcing what I think I know. The teacher who is always a student, who lives as the don’t-know mind, is free to continue expanding his consciousness without interruption. For the true teacher (that is, the true student), teacher and student are always equal.

Experiences with The Work

Here is another response to the extended questionnaire I sent to Certified Facilitators.

 

Dear Katie,

It took me a while to put this together little by little in the past few weeks. Just writing all this down has had a tremendous positive impact on me and I am not sure some of the stuff is still true for me as things come and go in cycles and I am mostly in a peaceful place at the moment.

What I noticed is that when I thought that some parts of what I wrote might be shared or published, I would censure myself, hence distorting the purpose of the exercise. I decided not to do that and I am now asking you to consult with me before publishing or sharing it. There are also large parts of it that I am fully willing to share with anyone, should you think that what I wrote has value for other people.

 

Questions

1. Has your life changed since you began doing The Work? Sum up the changes in a few words.

– I experience more peace more often.
– I am happier.
– I am my best friend and really enjoy my own company.
– Less driven, competitive and ambitious.
– Get on better with people around me.
– Fewer requirements to feel safe / feel good (people, money, health, a plan…).
– No need or desire to be in a romantic relationship.
– Better connected to my body and a felt sense of being.
– Not systematically distressed or distracted by physical pain, able to watch it with curiosity.
– More in touch with my emotions and freer in expressing them.
– Feeling that no matter what happens in life, I am able to handle it.
– More adventurous in inner and outer life.
– Living more on an even keel and more flexible / adaptable.
– A better listener to myself and others.
– More genuine with my words and actions.
– Not so quick to blame others or myself.
– Better at taking responsibility for my own part.
– The world looks benign, inviting, and fresh a lot of the time.
– Never bored anymore.
– People are more and more fascinating to me.
– Less of a rescuer, and more available to others.
– More intuitive.
– Feeling more integrated in the world.
– Not in control and with less of a need to be in control.
– Deep sense of trust, of feeling accompanied or even ‘carried’ and cared for a lot of the time.
– More gratitude.

 

2. Write a brief account or anecdote that illustrates how your life has changed.

I have been living with no fixed abode for two and a half years now. Little by little, the things that were seemingly of utmost importance to me are leaving my life and I welcome that with a sense of relief.

 

3. Anywhere in this questionnaire, if you think the question is best answered with an anecdote, please write it for us.

Shortly after I discovered The Work, I went to Brittany to visit my mother and stepfather. I moved in with them when I was five and a half years old and had passionately hated my step-father ever since. It was time to do something about it. I had a three-hour train journey ahead of me so I pulled out a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, wrote it on him, and spent the whole journey working on it. When I reached my destination, I busied myself with my luggage and making my way through the crowd to the exit and then I saw him. He was waiting for me at the station, as he had done so many times. I literally fell in love with him in that moment; all the things he had done for me over the years, how well he was doing in spite of his condition (nowadays, I think he would be diagnosed with having a form of autism or Asperger’s), his humility, his kindness… it all made sense to me in a flash. I greeted him with sincerity for the first time in my life. Our relationship has radically improved since. I wouldn’t describe us as ‘close’ yet, and now we have respectful exchanges and extend support to each other when the need arises. There’s more harmony in the home when I pay them a visit.

– – –

One night, two years ago, in Africa, I got bitten by a guard dog. He came from behind, didn’t growl or bark, just nipped my calf. Just as the bite happened, I started watching my physical and mental reactions. There was some pain and it was very bearable. I noticed I didn’t feel anger towards the dog or towards my hosts, who had released him in their yard before I left the house. I took care of the wound as best I could and continued with my trip. Two weeks later, I was dealing with a major infection. My leg was painfully inflamed and swollen; I had a high fever and threatening septicaemia. After a memorable bursting of my abscesses by squeezing out the pus without anaesthetics while lying on a wooden table in the local Guinean hospital, I travelled back to France, where medical staff took care of my leg with more sophisticated means and put me on a first course of heavy-duty antibiotics. What was interesting is that I was concerned and did all I could to help my leg heal, and yet I couldn’t get worried about it until after six weeks of daily packing of the wound, etc. A doctor in the U.S. took the last routine swab to see if the infection was resolved. I got a call from her a couple of days later to say that the infection was back and the antibiotics (2nd round) were not working anymore.

I felt the fear fill me up and take over my mind and body within seconds. It was squeezing my chest, rising up my neck all the way to my jaw. All that the doctors had been saying in France and then in the U.S., and that I hadn’t really integrated so far, came rushing in: they had been talking about how serious this could get, amputation, septicaemia….

That was the first time I felt the need to inquire on that topic and I don’t fully remember which thoughts were on my Worksheet apart from ‘no one cares whether I end up with just one leg’. By the end of doing inquiry, I was okay with the possibility of ending up with just one leg, even peaceful. It came to me to call a friend of mine who helped me work out a more accurate homeopathic prescription than the generic first-aid remedies that I had been taking. I started a new course of antibiotics and booked a session with a local bio-energy practitioner whose flyer I had been given at the market. I don’t know what worked to help resolve the infection. I still have two legs and now a heart-shaped scar on my right calf. History.

About a year and a half later, I was back in Africa and entered the ‘wrong’ yard. A large dog rushed towards me while barking, baring his teeth. I felt some fear rising and then abating again within seconds, leaving me very peaceful internally. I knew that I couldn’t take a step forward or backward, or I would get bitten. There was nothing to do so I just waited. He came closer and closer, still barking loudly and bearing his teeth until I could feel his wet nose on my bare legs. He even stuck his nose in my groin. Eventually, his owner chased him away with a broom. It was so fascinating for me to witness the absence of a fearful reaction in me and the simple, clear messages I was getting instead.

Yet another year later, I was doing a very early morning walk in an unfamiliar part of the French countryside when again a big black dog pounced towards me, barking loudly. I immediately stopped walking and got quiet inside, like a reflex. That time, the owner called him back before the dog reached me. I am left wondering how many more times I need to get threatened by a dog to learn what I need to learn. It is also fascinating to me that I still react more to verbal attack than to physical attack.

 

4. Is there any area of your life that The Work doesn’t seem to have reached and you wish it had? Do you have anecdote about that?

I feel a deep sense of loss or lack that underpins all the thoughts that I inquire into. Just now, bringing it to mind puts a knot in my stomach and tears of powerlessness and confusion are rolling down my cheeks (and I am on a busy train…). It is a sure button to press to get me going when this is active in me. It is the one thing I don’t feel equipped to deal with. I have spent hours sitting with it and inquiring when it arises and yes, it helps every time, for a short while. My inquiry on it feels stale at this point, as nothing new comes to me. I hit on a motive and when I question it, I may find another one, then eventually entitlement, resistance, or unworthiness. I feel very stuck with it. I would love some guidance and don’t know who to turn to.In my relationship with others, especially with my parents, I feel a barrier preventing closeness and intimacy. There has been much improvement on that front over the years and I still experience entrenched restraint.

 

5. Describe yourself before and after The Work. What do you think is the most striking change in you?

(Another way of saying this:) If someone you know were to describe you before and after The Work, what do you think would be the most striking change?I am more tolerant, less argumentative, taking things less personally, a better listener. I have a long-term tendency to act impulsively and before The Work, that could be either in a destructive way or a generous one. Now this trend expresses itself in kinder ways.

 

6. What is your moment-to-moment experience like, when you see a problem? How is it now and how was it before you met The Work?

I see much fewer problems now. I can find myself in the strangest of situations and watch with curiosity, wondering what is going to happen next. For example, the other day, a foggy day, I tried to drive my 29-year old jalopy out of my father’s place. He lives on the edge of a busy road with a lot of heavy truck traffic. As I engaged on the first lane to get across it, the car stalled and would not start again. The key would not turn in the ignition. So there I was, stuck across the road in the fog, blocking potential oncoming traffic. I listened and peered into the fog to see if a car or lorry was coming. Inside I didn’t feel afraid, just very alert and somewhat amused. I was about to just exit the car and leave it there when my father, who I thought was pottering in the garden behind the house, arrived on the scene seconds after the car stalled and helped me push it over the second lane and I parked it on the grass on the other side of the road. My father was pale and looked frightened. He said that I had put the ‘wrong’ key in the ignition (the car has a key for unlocking the door and another for starting the engine; they look identical) and that I should have had the reflex to put on my warning lights. I knew that none of it was true: there was no right or wrong key and the information about the warning lights had not been available to me in that moment, so his comments didn’t affect me; I just noticed that he looked and sounded frightened. Later, he said that I had actually used the ‘right’ key in the ignition and that I was innocent after all. I smiled. In my world, I had been innocent all along. I have driven that car for thousand of miles now in several countries in the past few summers; I have had regular breakdowns with it and every time help came within seconds. It’s like a magnet for kindness.

 

7. Do you experience times of disturbance, confusion, or frustration? If so, write something about your process. How do you move through these times?

Recently, I have had a more intense and entrenched conflict with a couple of people than I have had since I started doing The Work. I knew what to do and yet the resistance was huge and I actively sabotaged most things that could give me some peace and bring resolution to the conflict. I was as frustrated with myself as I was with those two people, embarrassed about my pettiness and desire to retaliate. The first real shift happened for me when I realised that I could not pretend to me nor to others that I was feeling any different from what I was experiencing. I couldn’t deny it, suppress it, or hide it. I realised that what I was actually working with was the fear of losing people’s love and support when I let rip and I am at my worst, of being labelled as an angry and difficult person, of never being forgiven, of being punished and ostracised. Once I noticed that none of that was happening in spite of giving my best shot at being horrible, I could at long last genuinely get down to the business of doing some Work on those two people and things started getting better and better as I started seeing my part and resentment started to leave me. On the spur of the moment, when something affects me and if I have the reflex, I just notice the intensity of the negative emotion and accompanying sensations and try and sit in it and do nothing else. My mind reels with defensive thoughts, anger comes with subtle internal shaking and heat, even if I look composed on the surface, fear makes my mouth dry and my throat tight, etc. Accepting that it is happening takes the edge off it and as soon as I have an opportunity, I jot down a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and start working at least the first concept, often using the recording on my phone (see below). I may finish the Worksheet later during the night if the issue is still charged for me.

 

8. Describe how you do The Work now for yourself. Do you have a personal way of self-facilitation? How does it sound when you question yourself?

Do you still fill in Worksheets and ask all the questions and turnarounds? If not, what are you most likely to skip?I find that I have what I call a ‘day-mind’ and a ‘night-mind’.During the day, the questions now have their life in me most of the time and I also do inquiry more deliberately almost every day. I have different ways. Sometimes I write a ‘formal’ Worksheet on my iPad and investigate most statements, sometimes I scribble a quick Worksheet on the back of an envelope. I always have a few going. I rarely have the time to go through one from top to bottom in one go. I also do close inquiry while facilitating a client and if I feel there is still something remaining, I may rework their Worksheet on my own after a session, as I find it often fits like a glove what is going on in my life. I don’t finish all Worksheets; however, I try to finish inquiring into each concept that I start exploring. The questions often run into each other and there is a direction or a flow that I find I miss out on if I don’t work a concept until the end. It is about finding the balance between mustering the necessary focus and then letting the answers come without any effort or involvement required on my part. Paradoxically, it takes something to require nothing. Initially, for the first couple of years after I discovered The Work, I wrote everything down and filled in dozens of One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheets, there was never enough space on them for all that poured out of my pen. Now I very rarely do The Work in writing. I have recorded the questions and sub-questions on my mobile phone. I pause the recording with the button on the cord of my headphones to give myself time to answer the questions. I have found this very helpful to keep my mind in focus and it helps me do inquiry at my own pace. If I get distracted, the recording brings me back. That’s handy when travelling, cooking, and performing other routine tasks and in ‘emergency’ cases when I get upset about something and want to work on it on the spot. It is like my own private helpline with my favourite facilitator that is always there for me. I listened to you often talking about stillness and about The Work being a meditation. I was left wondering what exactly is stillness and how do I know when I have it or enough of it and how to go about cultivating it. After doing Turnaround House, I felt some strange physical sensations. My legs from knee to toes were tingling and felt immaterial. I used to call that ‘my energy boots’. I mentioned it to Jimbo who told me about Vipassana meditation. So in August 2011, I enrolled in my first 10-day silent course where we meditate 10 to 12 hours a day. We spend the first three and a half days watching the breath to concentrate the mind and the rest of the course is spent in becoming acutely aware of sensations, pleasant or unpleasant, with equanimity and an awareness of impermanence. We just observe reality and nothing else, at the physical level. At some point the awareness starts sweeping and dissecting the body, and it is accompanied by an experience of free flow.

The whole focus in that technique is on sensations, there is no mention of thoughts at all in it.

I use it together with inquiry. Becoming aware of my sensations has helped me a lot in identifying thoughts, since the link between sensation and thought is so evident in that space. My first retreat was amazing. I discovered thoughts I never knew I believed, fears I didn’t know I had, I had nightmares when I am not usually prone to them, long-forgotten memories came up, visions, etc.

Then pain came (we are invited to sit completely immobile for an hour three times a day and just observe sensations with equanimity) and I got really angry at it. We are not allowed pen or paper on these courses so I wrote a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet in my head for the first time, a short, simple one with carefully chosen statements, and I then proceeded to do inquiry on each sentence. I don’t remember the exact concepts I Worked, apart from ‘Pain is cruel’ in question 5 of the Worksheet and the enormous release when I turned it around to ‘pain is kind’. I sat the remaining six days of the course with no pain. I have done a further 12 courses since and I experience very little physical discomfort during that time, and if I do, it is welcome, the fear of it seems to have left me for now.

Ever since my first Vipassana course, I start meditating prior to doing inquiry. It only takes a few moments to get relatively still.

At night, I am more in tune with my inner world, things come up for me that I am not conscious of during the day (images, fears, sensations, sense of loss…). I can go through days when I only sleep 4 or 5 hours a night and I can still function normally during the day. Then I hit periods of resistance or not being so interested and I go back to a more usual 8-hour night for a while.

Nighttime is my favourite time to do self-inquiry: my mind is full of weird stuff and it is also open to exploring beyond it, it has nothing else to do. I usually wake up in the small hours of the night. I just lie quiet but I run the risk of falling asleep during inquiry, so I often sit up or quietly go to my meditation cushion. I find it distracting to get up or switch on the light, so I do inquiry without pen and paper, while continuously sweeping the body for sensations until it becomes automatic. It is a little like doing an internal morning walk but without naming, just noticing. I just wait for stressful thoughts to arise. Sometime they are just like a tiny whisper and I really have to pay attention to catch one, at other times they are as painful as a fire bullet. Once found, those don’t let go, they are like a broken record. At times I mentally compose a simple Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, at other times I work the concepts as they arise, one leading to another.

I have found that at the beginning of inquiry, I need the framework of facilitation and questions or else, particularly in question 3, my mind wanders away and gets lost frequently and for long periods of time. So I have put together a list of sub-questions that I answer in a particular order and that I use to hold myself in inquiry. They are like a downward spiral staircase for me. When my mind wanders, I bring it back to the last sub-question. It even works as an anchor when I fall asleep and wake up again: I can resume my inquiry where I left it; something tracks it. The sub-questions are the usual ones and some deal with hope, regret, things I try to hide from myself and others, the assumption behind the thought, etc. While answering, I am watchful of my physical sensations. When I get ‘in the zone’, I don’t need the sub-questions any more and question 3 naturally flows into question 4 and the turnarounds are obvious. At times, just ‘Is it true?’ is enough for the whole inquiry to unravel. It is timeless and usually ends in an overwhelming need to lie down and sleep or else I lie immobile while something is pumping in waves in my ‘physicality’ (I couldn’t call it a body at that time). I often don’t remember the next day the concept I took to inquiry during the night, and if I do, the thought sounds totally insignificant and I wonder why I got so caught up in it.

At other times, I wake up distressed or crying, the impressions are fast and furious and so strong that I just have to wait for the storm to pass before I get a chance to inquire. I get persistent recurring images, some of them sad or scary, some of them not, and I don’t always understand why they are so distressing. When it doesn’t pass, I get really distressed and lost, and yet I am also aware of something in me that doesn’t want it to pass, that indulges in it, that wants to resist and feel bad and that in turn feeds the sense of powerlessness, it is a vicious circle. Eventually, it passes and it may not recur for months. When I spend a lot of time with myself or go to one of your events, my night-mind is more active during the day and I may spend hours crying. I am okay with it now.

 

9.If you facilitate others, how do you go about it? How has your way changed in emphasis or in any other way? Describe the most remarkable result of facilitating someone you’ve experienced, positive or negative.

The way that works for me has influenced the way I work with clients, albeit with a much lighter touch. When facilitating, I first get connected to my breath and/or my physical sensations. The sweeping of my body now often starts automatically, especially when being one on one and face to face with a client. I get more easily distracted on Skype or on the phone. It may be because I can’t see the facial expressions or notice the way they are breathing. When my client answers very fast and when the answers seem to have been co-opted by the mind and become rote or if the client seems to be giving me the answers he/she thinks I want to hear, I ask my client if he/she is interested in looking a little closer at what is happening inside of them, at the experience that the words describe. If they are, I use questions such as: ‘Anger? Where does that live in you?’ or ‘What lets you know that you are angry?’ or ‘How do you know that you are angry?’ and once they find it, I may invite them to give the sensation/feeling/emotion some space, time, and all their attention or to fully let themselves experience it for a little while. They often close their eyes without me even suggesting it and once ready, deeper and more genuine answers come out of them without me having to prompt them again. I use the same invitations for stress reactions arising from question 3 as for what arises in question 4 like ‘calm’, etc. or for insights in the turnarounds. In most cases, once my client sinks into a state of closer inner observation, I just listen and remain silent again. I have witnessed some of my clients go on wonderful journeys within themselves, tracking sensations, thoughts, images, and gentle tears… All of this only works if I am connected to my client and really listening (and that’s not just with my ears) and tracking him/her as well as my internal reactions. It is like a twosome meditation. I love the timelessness of it; I get a lot out of it too, of course. I see facilitating as part of my practice now.

 

10. What has been the biggest shift in your form or experience of inquiry over the months or years?

Shift in form: Doing inquiry on my own, slowing it down, paying more attention to the actual experience that comes with the ‘worded’ answers.Shift in experience: more trust in the process, more closeness to myself, better connexion and more empathy with my client.

 

11. Has The Work created any difficulty in your life or in the lives of other people you know?

I have detached from my ex-partner for no apparent reason. He is a wonderful man and a great friend and I have no need or desire to be in a relationship with him or anyone else at the moment. I am following something else. He hasn’t been demanding at all about it, and yet finds it hard to understand and doesn’t know how to move on at times. At the end of my first School, nearly six years ago now, I was left feeling very different. It was like being shrouded all over in a balmy feeling. It was sensual without being sexual and got more intense when I found myself in places like airports, where there were a lot of people. It remained intense for about three weeks, and then started to subside. Now it comes and goes and I get to experience it intensely every few weeks or so and a residue of it is constantly there. The other side of that coin is that my sexual energy, which used to be quite high, literally collapsed after that School, as I was to find out when I got home. Doing Vipassana meditation and more inquiry later took care of whatever was left of it. I was concerned and even ashamed about it at the start and now, I feel grateful as my life feels so much simpler now. I couldn’t care less if I never had sex again. That has been tough on my partner. Some members of my family are concerned about my frequent trips to the U.S. and the fact that I have left my home, partner, business, and career, that I am not making much money and am now living a nomadic, unconventional, and seemingly disjointed life. I think they see me as lost and having regressed, my lifestyle is so far from their frame of reference for ‘a good life’.I got to know the paternal side of my family only in recent years. A family gathering with them sounds like an extended version of the ‘I complain about’ exercise. I don’t partake in the incessant string of complaints about the weather, the government, young people nowadays, lack of care for the elderly, etc. and I often just sit there, listening in silence, present, entertained, and even amused. They have tried at times to draw me in and encouraged me to join in their litany. I remain neutral, careful not to teach, often answering that I just don’t know or that these things sincerely don’t bother me when they ask for my opinion. Yet they have labelled me ‘too quiet’ and there is a feeling of ‘you are not one of us’. I feel they see me as distant and indifferent to their lot as victims on this planet. That is not my internal experience, and what can I say?

 

12. What aspect of The Work, if any, do you find most difficult or confusing?

On a personal level:I feel I have been diligent and sincere in doing my Work for six years now and the change in me is more rapid and radical than with anything else I have ever done or witnessed and yet, in my dark moments, I feel I have such a long way to go for my Work to be done. It is not so much The Work that is confusing me as life itself, the way it is set up. Why is there so much to undo and why is it taking so long? And why are there so many peaks and valleys? And why do I have a longing for something different on the one hand and motives and resistance on the other hand? How did I end up so far from home?Another thing that is confusing me is the recurrence of identical concepts and the fact that they are still painful after years of them paying me regular visits, no matter how thorough and sincere I am in my process. As much as I love being left to my own devices and doing self-inquiry, there are times when I really wish I had someone with more experience to talk to, someone who would share their experience and point out to me things I have missed or other directions when I get stuck. I understand that ultimately, it is all up to me to do my Work and it is still a lonely old road at times. I would love some guidance and at the same time, I am ashamed of my neediness and feel I am taking up time and space and being a bother. On a more global level:

I would love events and experiences as deeply transformative as the School or Turnaround House to be more affordable, widespread, and accessible.

I see you, Katie, as tired at times and I hear about your physical health being challenged and I am concerned about that. You say to us, ‘You are the ones who’ll be giving The Work its life in the future’ and I am wondering: are we ready? For my part, I don’t feel I am. Humanity doesn’t have a very good track record in passing on something not fully lived and integrated. Truth so easily turns into dogma in our hands.

To be totally honest, I see us, the people really focussed on The Work, as so few and not always well equipped or ready to do justice and faithfully maintain and develop what you have set in motion. The people whom I see as having been really steeped in The Work and now truly inspiring as a result are also ageing and moving towards retirement. Not all of us have the stamina or the natural inclination to move The Work at events. All I can do is keep doing my own Work and yes, I will probably die happier than if I didn’t have The Work, and that feels so insignificant on the scale of things.

 

13. What aspect of The Work do you find most wonderful or enlightening?The sheer fact that it exists, that it came my way, that it gives me a way out of my own insanity.In contrast to what I wrote above in the last questions, it works every single time if I answer the questions. The benefits I have derived from doing The Work far outweigh the difficulties I encounter with it. The fact that it doesn’t require anyone nor anything external, that it is devoid of rituals, tricks, trends, things to learn or practice, that I can let it evolve within myself at its own pace.

 

14. Do you know anyone who has experienced The Work and doesn’t like it? Can you describe why you think that is?

Some French people to whom I gave Loving What Is came back to me saying that it was ‘too American’ and when I probed a little, they were not able to tell me exactly what they meant by it apart from ‘too optimistic, based on a recipe like U.S. movies that are all built on the same model’. I am not sure they read it to the end. The videos they say are ‘like any other American chat show where you make a fool of yourself pouring your guts out on TV’. They seem to have a fear of being tricked, roped into a cult, of losing one’s discernment to an ideology or religion. I also heard things like: ‘There is no magic trick’ and ‘It couldn’t be all down to me’, ‘It’s not healthy or helpful to dwell on what’s painful in your life’, ‘leave well enough alone’.Some of my African friends were afraid The Work could go against their religion or take its place, they were afraid that God would be angry when the answers they found in themselves clashed with what’s in the scriptures—for example, the fact that we are all sinners, suffering being a necessary retribution, God being in charge of our redemption, the fear of hell and the devil as healthy. They saw judging God as blasphemous. They were not comfortable with seeing things like homosexuality, divorce, abortion, or adultery as okay and not as the work of the devil.

 

15. Is there anything you don’t like about the way I do inquiry?

No. I really enjoy it, especially the fluidity, nothing mechanical about it, the humour and the straight-to-the-point approach. I can – and do – listen to it for hours.

 

16. How would you improve The Work? Please write specific suggestions.

Just leave it alone. It works best for me in its simplest, original form. Yet I enjoy being facilitated by someone who has developed their own style, their favourite sub-questions, etc. I don’t enjoy it when the ‘add-ons’ or variations are mechanical and generalized across the pool of facilitators, like a learned format. I feel I am being facilitated by a robot or the police.Doing The Work requires the questions and the stillness to answer them. The Work itself is just fine the way it is. What I see as helpful is guidance and/or a framework to find and cultivate the necessary stillness to do The Work. Specific suggestions:

  • Not adding techniques unless presented as a way amongst many ways and not ‘the desired way’, but presented more in the spirit of ‘this one works for me; are you open to trying it?’
  • Supporting inquirers in finding and cultivating stillness. Their own style of inquiry may emerge naturally from practice and experience. In my experience, learning a time-tested form of meditation has been very beneficial as well as practicing the morning-walk meditation in all types of circumstances, like sitting on a train, etc. Also setting time aside to be alone, with nothing else to do…
  • Providing a framework: making available an affordable retreat place where we can have time, space, silence, and solitude and each other to turn to when the need arises.

I find that the aspect of integrating The Work as a daily practice within one’s busy life is very well covered through the tele-classes, the one-for-ones, the use of Skype, etc. and that’s wonderful. Thank you for making it so easy and accessible. Yet, since I discovered The Work, I have also felt the need for the opposite of that: to step out of my busy life while being in a supportive environment and initially I didn’t know where to go. Attending and staffing Turnaround House met that need, as well as attending your events. I am lucky that the finances have always worked out and that you supported me in making it possible and when other circumstances prevent me from being there, I go and squat Vipassana centres instead 😉 (I am not entirely comfortable with that, as I go partly under false pretence.) I would love to have a place or a choice of places where I could be supported to go and sit in inquiry for anything between a weekend and a year, surrounded by people who are doing the same and can support each other.

 

17. Write about who, what, and how you are without your story?

When I am most free of my story, true listening happens. I watch life happening automatically. Walking, in particular, totally happens on its own, and it is like that for speaking some of the time. I may feel grateful for the slightest little thing like a trash-can sitting there just when I need one, and if there is not one, I notice I have a pocket, and if not, I have two hands, etc. I stop taking things, and people in particular, for granted. They are all gifts given deliberately – I don’t know by what agency – and I am conscious of being the one all of this is gifted to and I wish to be fully part of the giving back to what’s giving. On a physical level, I feel radically different. Even when ill, I feel alive and vibrant. There have been times when I felt as if my bones were crumbling or that mini nuclear explosions were taking place inside. There are times when I feel I am being held in the deepest place in somebody’s heart. This can happen anytime, for no apparent reason, walking down a busy street, in the shower, anywhere. It comes with tears. It is both beautiful and somehow painful; I can’t explain it. At my last retreat, on day 8 I think, I was just sitting there meditating and questioning thoughts as they arose and all of a sudden I perceived ‘little me’ as a fictitious character in a made-up cartoon strip. What was perceiving that was pure compassion. It extended to everyone, with some extra tenderness for ‘little me’.

 

M. D.

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