Byron Katie: Seeing Things As They Are

An interview with Joanna from, welldoing.org

Byron Katie is a speaker and author, and the creator of The Work, a system that promotes generosity, selflessness and harmony. This extract of her new book A Mind at Home with Itself shows The Work in action:

You’ll notice that Katie is very free in her use of terms of endearment.This annoys some people (not all of them New Yorkers); one reader of Loving What Is grumbled that if she wanted to hear a woman calling everyone “sweetheart” or “honey,” she would go to a truck stop in Oklahoma. To her, these endearments sounded conventional and insincere; for Katie, they are the literal truth. Everyone she meets is the beloved.

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The Work in Russia

Dearest Katie,

Thank you for sharing The Work with the world.

I just came back from Russia, where we had the most joyful and wonderful Work event with 48 participants, and then there was a wonderful one in Kiev, Ukraine.

It is difficult to describe the joy, warmth, and love that were there, so many open hearts and so much connection. Thank you so much for all your blessings and support and for inviting the dear ones to the School.

With love and gratitude,

O.B.

Podcast: How to Listen to Your Partner, Part 1—The Work of Byron Katie in Zurich

 

Listen to the Podcast on iTunes.

A husband and wife do The Work with Byron Katie during her 2017 Zurich event. (In English with German translation.) Katie asks the husband to look his wife in the eyes and read from the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet he has written about her.

BK: I invite everyone to this exercise. Allow yourself to listen to your partner and notice: is what they are saying true? Are they right? And if they are, you’re going to feel the burn if your ego is defending you. When you feel that burn from thinking “It’s not fair; he always judges me,” just drop into silence and notice, considering for yourself whether it’s true or not. If he’s right, allow a response of “Thank you” to be enough.

 

For a list of upcoming events, click here.

Katie’s new book, A Mind At Home With Itself

Recent Podcast, Elise is Ignoring Me—The Work of Byron Katie

Podcast: My Sister Betrayed Me—The Work of Byron Katie in Paris

A French woman does The Work on a situation with her sister that occurred thirty years ago. The woman had just opened her first bank account and was already in the red. Sitting at the dinner table with their parents, her little sister said, “You’re irresponsible.”

The belief she finds by revisiting that moment is “My sister betrayed me.”

Listen to this Podcast on iTunes.

BK: She betrayed you. Close your eyes and witness. Notice how you physically react when you think the thought “She betrayed me.” Describe it as you witness.

Woman: It’s as if I’d been shot with an arrow in my heart.

BK: Did you give her “the look”? We’re looking for those physical tendencies. I want you to get still enough to observe. Does your body tighten? Your shoulders? Your neck?

Woman: I can feel it in my eyes. I’m judging her. I feel myself above her.

BK: Do you feel the pain? Continue to look with your eyes closed. Look at your sister in that moment without the story “She betrayed me.” What do you see?

Woman: Just a little girl with an opinion.

BK: Do you see her innocence?

Woman: She just wants to be part of the family and take part in the conversation.

BK: Look at her again with the thought. Notice the radical difference. Who caused all that suffering, your sister or you?

Together they find turnarounds to her original statement:

Woman: I betrayed myself.

BK: You put your untested thoughts over reality.

Woman: My sister did not betray me.

BK: Could be as true or truer. She just told the truth.

Woman: I betrayed my sister.

BK: In that situation, what does that mean to you? Examples?

Woman: I crystallized the idea that I couldn’t count on her.

BK: She makes a statement that was a simple truth. You betrayed her by what you believed onto her. Not what she did, but what you believed onto her. Not being good with money is a good thing to know about yourself. People who betray you support you to come out of denial. Do you see how this is the end of war? Defense is the first act of war and your reaction to your sister was defense. It’s how the ego stays identified as that self. We have an identification that we want to live up to, like “I’m the responsible one.” When someone threatens the ego’s identity, there’s war. That’s how war is created in our world. If we can’t end the war in our own minds and lives, how can we expect our politicians to? We can’t. When we believe our thoughts, we create not only suffering in our lives but in the world and within our own families.

Defense is the first act of war. —Byron Katie

Podcast: Bregman Leadership Inteview

Can you reduce the amount of suffering in your life just by asking a few specific questions? Peter Bregman started reading Loving What Is years ago. “The idea of accepting life as it is scared me, so I stopped reading the book. Recently I stepped into a workshop with Byron Katie, thinking to myself ‘How can a couple of questions make a big difference?’ but found the experience extremely powerful and now live with the daily awareness of how these simple questions can deeply impact our lives.”

The Bregman Leadership Podcast

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Listen to this podcast on itunes.

Links:
thework.com
Katie’s new book:
The Mind at Home with Itself
Katie’s other books:
Loving What Is
I Need Your Love is That True?
A Thousand Names for Joy

Questions and Answers

Suzannah from Egypt

I feel that when I change my suffering because I feel it to be unbearable and/or wrong, I learn to embrace it and then I feel like I am sold the lie that 1) I was suffering in the first place, 2) I needed to change my suffering because suffering is bad or not a part of life, and 3) I was the one “changing” my suffering. Three years ago my best friend died of stomach cancer, and I felt like I could not handle her death and slowly my old life was beginning to leave me. I did not enjoy life, I did not feel the need to eat or to make friends or to have sex or to improve my relationships or to get anywhere in life anymore. Everything that I thought kept me here in this world, my basic instincts, were falling away. Today I see it as kind of a liberation instead of depression. A liberation from the fear of death, from the guilt of hurting and in this way hurting others around me, and from the anger of not getting enough friends, sex, etc. Where is the freedom in being forced in your mind to change suffering because suffering is “wrong” and “to be changed”? Can we enjoy suffering?

No one wants to suffer. We all want to be happy. It’s not that suffering is “wrong.” It’s that we naturally want to be free of it. The best way I know of to be free of suffering is to question the thoughts that cause it.

Can suffering give us peace?

Yes, because it points to its own cause and reminds us to question the judgments that are the cause.

Does suffering exist or is it just another word for peace?

It’s another word for illusion, a past/future trance.

If all suffering in the world can be embraced, why would I want to embrace it?

I don’t embrace suffering. I identify the cause of it (my stressful thoughts), write them down on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, and question them. The answers shown to me are the embrace.

Shouldn’t I celebrate others’ suffering as their own interpretation of peace?

Suffering isn’t peace. Suffering is one path to peace.

I work at the airport in Budapest, Hungary, and I face this question every day.

I would question the thought. “Those people are suffering”—is it true? Can I absolutely know that it’s true? I would meditate on how I react when I believe the thought and notice who I am without the thought. And when I turn the thought around, I notice that though I can’t absolutely know that they are suffering, I do know that I am suffering over their imagined suffering. So I Work with myself and relieve the suffering of one human being: myself. In this way, I am free from suffering and more able to support those who ask for help.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Ting Zhao from Georgia

Do you suggest that someone do The Work the moment they feel upset about something or someone?

Yes. And if not, to question their thoughts as soon as they are able to.

How do you do The Work in the middle of a hard discussion, when there is turmoil and you feel it in your stomach?

To feel the turmoil, I would be as quiet as I can possibly be. If I feel out of control, I excuse myself as politely as possible, leave the room, write down my stressful thoughts on a Worksheet (check out The Work app in the app store for iOS and Android), and question what I was believing in that particular situation. Or just do the best that I can not to hurt the person or people I’m with (to do as little harm as possible) until I’m in a position to question the thoughts I was believing at the time and make right any wrongs I feel that I need to make right for my part.

Rawan from Egypt

I’m ultimately grateful to you for finding The Work and getting me out from those very small places I used to be stuck in for years. I have so much joy and most of the time I’m at peace and loving what is, yet sometimes I get hit by this awful thought “There’s something rotten inside me…”

This was true for me. My unquestioned judgments about myself, others, and the world were poison to me—a rotten way to see life.

“…and my heart can never fully open.”

How can a heart be open when it is believing rotten things about yourself and life? A very difficult way to live.

I try so hard not to believe it and question it, but I end up grieving and being shattered.

That’s why I call it The Work. It’s hard work, but life is harder without it!

I feel my mind is so tricky and scary that I can’t even trust it during the process of The Work.

Work with a Certified Facilitator (thework.com). They will direct you in how to meditate on a specific moment in time, to anchor your thoughts, to be still, to question those thoughts, and to realize the freedom that was already there.

I fear hurting people, and I can’t feel safe with myself.

Do the best you can. (And know that, like all of us, you do.)

Michael from Colorado

I keep creating difficult ways of living by not completing things. Pulled out of massage therapy school and am living in my car. Have had difficult living situations with roommates and not making enough to pay bills. My family says I am mentally ill, I feel like I’m just unhappy, and I just want to feel good about what I’m doing.

You’re living in your car: can you feel good about that? Life as you see it in the moment is the beginning of where to be happy and the “how” is a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and an opportunity to be free of suffering. Wake up in the morning, do The Work. No job? No rent or mortgage payments! Can you make a list of things to be grateful for? The Work is my job whenever I am unable to love what is, now. Not having a job, living in your car—what a perfect opportunity to make self-realization through inquiry your job! Be well, dearest.

Chandika from Oregon

I am super addicted to comparing myself to other people! I’ve done enough to see that this all stems from comparing myself to my older sister, and I think I understand the full extent of destruction it causes, yet I can’t seem to stop myself. I need help applying the work in this area.

What “other people” are you referring to? The people of past/future? When you’re comparing yourself to your sister, be aware of what you are comparing. Is that really your sister? Is that really you? Are the people of past/future real, or are they simply imagination, images in your mind’s eye? Comparing one image with another image: what does that have to do with you or your sister? Hmmmm.

Fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on your sister in any situation where you felt hurt by, envious of, or less than her. As you sit in the third question—“How do you react when you believe that thought?”—notice the images of past/future, and notice the emotions that happened (in the past) as you silently witness how you felt and reacted when you believed the thought in that moment of envy.

Tess from New York

Hi Katie, Tess here. My question is: Is there an actual physical place in Ojai, California, where Work events take place? Like a permanent building/retreat center?

Yes, the Center for The Work is a physical place. Watch the calendar for our events. For example, we held the “Who Am I?” event here recently. Also, we use it daily during our 28-day Turnaround House event and more.

A Letter from Tania Fierro

Dear Friends of The Work,

Carla Gonzalez, Founder and Creative Director at Mission School in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico (www.colegiomission.edu.mx), invited my husband, Pedro, and me to support bringing The Work into their K-12th-grade school and greater community. Early in 2016, we started by offering a four-month immersion program in The Work to thirteen key educational leaders. In this program, educational administrators, counselors, key faculty, and management had the opportunity to attend workshops on The Work, one-on-one sessions, and were able to facilitate each other through ongoing partner exercises.

Additionally, this April, Carla hosted an introductory three-day workshop in The Work at Mission School, inviting all members of the extended school community, including faculty, parents, and their families. This event was attended by more than seventy participants. As of that day, Carla has established bi-weekly inquiry circles at Mission School.

The Thinking Project with Rachel Pickett and Linda Dellet is coming to train teachers to further implement The Work for teachers and students in the classroom, bringing ITW (Institute for The Work) volunteers and facilitators from across the world to support this project.

The next phase of this long-term project includes a second immersion program for school leaders, focusing on bringing The Work into school planning, operations, governance, and policy implementation. We are also planning a year-long immersion and two-year coaching program for the extended school community. Mission School is also planning on hosting a program to bring The Work into classrooms this year.

In this way, Mission School is one of the first K-12 schools in the world to have training and implementation of The Work at all levels of the organization, including school leadership, management, parents, staff, faculty, operations, and the classroom.

For more information, visit: www.colegiomission.edu.mx and www.innerland.com.

The Work in Russia

Dearest Katie,

What a joy and privilege to be in the room with you and all the beautiful people here at Omega Institute. I want to give you the love and gratitude of many many Russian-speaking people doing The Work daily.

I’m so thrilled to tell you more about the Russian-speaking School of Consultants of The Work that has been going on now for two and a half years:

  • There are twenty-eight participants.
  • The program has provided more than a hundred hours of free volunteer sessions to anyone who wants to know more about The Work.
  • It now includes 350 hours of teleclasses, one-on-one sessions, and in-person workshops.
  • Four graduates now are offering teleclasses and workshops in The Work.

Below is a letter from one of the Russian participants:

Dear Katie,

My name is Konstantin. I am forty-one years old and a Russian Orthodox monk. I originally came to the monastery because of depression and alcoholism. Recently I started to use The Work as a practice.

Asking the four questions and the turnarounds, I was able to experience clarity, happiness, and peace. Pen and paper became my close friends; I wrote down situations I found stressful, my mother’s phone calls, conversations with friends, and so on, and I worked on everything I could. I soon realized that I could not go as far along as I wanted to with this practice, so I joined the school of consultants led by Olga, and I received the support that I needed.

I also started using the Work with the parishioners. When I listen to people’s confessions, I sometimes notice, with sadness, that after they confess they leave with the same despair. When I notice that someone might be open to it, I offer them The Work. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the sacredness of the confession allows a person to relieve themselves and tell their stories to their confessor. The Work complements religion in this way, providing the other oar to the boat.

For a long time I have been looking for a tool that will support me spiritually, any time and any place, and The Work of Byron Katie has become that for me. The goal of religion is to join with God, and The Work allows the opportunity to be with him. In the Gospel it says “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself,” and just like that The Work of Byron Katie brings us to the here and now. I have used it—four questions and turnarounds—with several people, and they were quite stunned.

Right now I regularly attend classes at the school of consultants, and I live in a much more peaceful state of mind. Sometimes I spend the whole day sitting by the window, just looking out. I need nothing in those moments, because I have everything I need inside me. And when I feel bad, I know that I haven’t been using my pen and paper for a long time. The deep contemplation with the Worksheet allows me to enter the most exciting adventure within myself. I am so happy to have an opportunity to be in the program, and I will continue sharing The Work with others.

Dear Katie, from the depth of my heart I would to thank you for The Work.
Konstantin

Olga B.

Photos from 2016 ITW Worldwide Convention

Join Byron Katie and your ITW family from around the world for this wonderful opportunity. Connect with trainers, Certified Facilitators, and candidates; witness, learn, and collaborate. Here are some photo’s from January 2016 convention.

Join us for the January 2017 Convention here.

Photos from 2015-2016 New Year’s Mental Cleanse

The New Year’s Mental Cleanse is a rare and wonderful opportunity to spend four days immersed in the power of The Work. Join Byron Katie as she does The Work all day long with participants from all over the world. Katie’s deep insight and humor, her total accessibility, and her untiring commitment to your freedom are some of the reasons it has become an eagerly anticipated annual tradition. Come cleanse yourself!

“My mommy and daddy do The Work.”
 

Check out the next New Year’s Mental Cleanse, here.

Photos from The Thinking Project

Photo’s from The thinking Project:

A note from Rachel Pickett:

These photos were taken during a teacher training workshop in October, 2015. The Thinking Project has been partnering with STEM Launch K-8, an urban public school in Thornton, Colorado, with the goals of helping kids to identify and question thoughts that cause stress, think and see from multiple perspectives, build self-confidence and empathy with others, and create a kinder classroom setting rooted in the study of thinking. In October we trained the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade teachers at STEM Launch both in The Work and in ways to integrate The Work into classroom management and curricular content.

We often use metaphors when we design curriculum. One metaphor we use in camps and classrooms is the Brick Wall of Stress → Tree of Questioned Thoughts → Sky of Possibilities. During the teacher training, we learned this metaphor/process by experiencing it. Teachers first wrote down a situation that stressed them out on a “brick” (a red sticky note), and then shared their “brick” with the group and placed it on the Wall of Stress. After we did The Work on a stressful thought, we wrote the thought we questioned on a leaf sticky note, shared it aloud, and then placed it on the Tree of Questioned Thoughts. The leaves on the tree represent new growth. As we question our stressful thoughts, it allows new growth in our minds, in our ways of thinking. Finally, on a sticky-note star, we wrote a new perspective or possibility we discovered from doing The Work. We shared these out and then placed them on the Sky of Possibilities, to symbolize the infinite possibilities and perspectives we begin discovering as we question our stressful thinking and see our turnarounds.

We also explored ways The Thinking Project can test out the integration of The Work and the study of thought into content curriculum. We brainstormed ideas for making The Work accessible to sixth graders (example: “start with ‘what are you feeling?,’ use emojis”), how to make copies of Common Stressful Thoughts About School and teen One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheets available digitally, ways The Work connects to learner traits STEM Launch is already using (example: without a stressful thought we often experience ourselves as compassionate, collaborative, courageous… These are also Habits of a Learner characteristics that STEM utilizes), and ways The Work can integrate with upcoming Problem-Based-Learning units.

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