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.

Video: Introduction to The Work of Byron Katie—He Lied to Me

A man is convinced that his friend lied to him; he feels hurt and angry. But when he questions that belief, with the help of Byron Katie, everything shifts. “This is the most empowering thing that you’ll ever learn,” Katie tells him. “It’s the truth that sets you free. Your truth, not ours.”

In this brief video, the four questions and turnarounds of The Work are clearly outlined for the concept “He lied to me.” This is a wonderful reference tool for anyone who wants to understand The Work better, or for those just beginning to use The Work.

1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

Download the Facilitation Guide for helpful supporting questions: http://thework.com/sites/thework/down…

Download a free intro to The Work: http://thework.com/sites/thework/down…

Do The Work: http://thework.com/do-work

For the full-length version: https://youtu.be/bP_xX1CacEM

Huffington Post Article

Twenty-nine years ago, at the bottom of a 10-year fall into depression, rage, and self-loathing, I realized something amazing: that when I believed my thoughts I suffered, but when I questioned them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being.

It’s not reality that makes us suffer; it’s our thoughts about reality. I discovered that we can put any stressful thought up against four simple questions and a turnaround, and meet that thought with understanding. It’s the truth that sets you free — not the world’s truth, not anyone else’s truth, but your own truth.

The Work is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. The first step is to write down your judgments about any stressful situation in your life, past, present, or future — about a person you dislike or worry about, a situation with someone who angers or frightens or saddens you, or someone you’re ambivalent or confused about. Write your judgments about that person down, just the way you think them. Be harsh and childish, and write in short, simple sentences. (You’ll find a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet to download and print at thework.com/do-work, along with complete instructions on how to do The Work.)

Once you’ve filled in a Worksheet, put each statement on it up against the four questions of The Work, then turn the statement around. The four questions are:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

Turn the thought around, and find three genuine, specific examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

1 and 2 Ask yourself if the thought is true. For example, “He doesn’t care about me” — is it true? Don’t ask if the thought matches what you’ve been told or have learned. Don’t consider the way life is supposed to look. (He didn’t put down the newspaper when you came into the kitchen; he didn’t call to tell you he’d be late; he walked out the door without saying goodbye. Yes, but can you be sure that any of this means that he doesn’t care about you?) Don’t consult the part of you that knows what the answer should be. The question is, does the thought match what you know inside? Does the thought resonate with your deepest sense of reality? Can you absolutely know that it’s true that he doesn’t care about you? (Your answer to the first two questions should consist of one syllable — either “yes” or “no.” If your answer to the first question is “no,” go on to question 3.)

3. Explore how you live when you believe this thought. How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought “He doesn’t care about me”? What does it feel like to believe it? How do you treat yourself and others? How do you treat him? Take your time with this process. Do you react with sadness? Depression? Anger? Do you withdraw from him? Do you try to win him over? Do you judge yourself and feel like a failure? Do you light up a cigarette or head for the refrigerator? Be as precise and detailed as you can be.

4. Explore what life would be like without the thought. Use your imagination to give yourself a glimpse of who or what you would be if you didn’t believe this thought. Don’t look for a better thought to substitute for the painful one. Just live for a while in the space that opens up when you view your situation without the old thought. Pretend that you don’t even have the ability to think the thought. What would that be like? Look at him in your mind’s eye without the thought, “He doesn’t care about me.” Maybe you’ll simply see a man who is deeply absorbed in reading his newspaper, who loves his wife but doesn’t want to shift his attention to her right now. Maybe without the thought, “He doesn’t care about me” you’ll find it easier to take pleasure in his pleasure.

5. Turn the thought around. Consider opposite versions of the thought. If a certain turnaround doesn’t make sense to you, don’t bother with it. Turn the original statement around any way you want to until you find the turnarounds that penetrate the deepest. Turning around, “He doesn’t care about me”:

I don’t care about him. (When I feel hurt, I withdraw or I get angry, and I don’t care what he feels.)

I don’t care about me. (I don’t care about myself when I go to war against someone I love. I take away my own peace of mind, I put myself in a hostile situation, I create an enemy for myself, I give myself a lot of stress and sadness. This is when addictive behavior such as bingeing, smoking, or overeating begins to kick in.)

He does care about me. (He may love me and still speak harshly to me. He may love me and still want to ignore me or leave me.)

Ask yourself if any of your turned-around versions seem as true as or even truer than your original thought, and if they do, find three genuine ways in which each of them is true in your life.

Turnarounds can dramatically set you free from a thought, especially if you’ve loosened your belief in it by following the earlier steps.

Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. Who says that freedom has to be complicated?

Video: Can The Work Cure Allergies?

Michelle wonders if her allergies are psychosomatic and if she can get rid of the thoughts that cause them.

“I can’t get rid of a thought,” Katie says. “But if I question it and see something that is truer, then I can never believe that thought again.”

“My mother programmed me to believe that I had allergies,” Michelle says. As she questions this thought, she realizes what a burden it is and how much stronger and freer she feels without it.

“If you believed that thought,” Katie says, “how can you blame your mother? The only thing she’s guilty of is believing it, just like you, so there’s nothing to forgive.”

Website: http://www.thework.com
Webcasts: http://www.livewithbyronkatie.com
Subscribe: http://www.youtube.com/theworkofbk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theworkofbyr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ByronKatie.

Video: How Can I Ever Forgive Myself?

Shamyla tells Byron Katie that The Work has led to a deep forgiveness of others but not of herself.

As Katie takes her back to an incident that has caused the pain, Shamyla finds that the evidence of her misdeed is shaky at best. “To hold its identity,” Katie says, “the ego has to hold on to the illusions that keep us hooked until our deathbed. Inquiry shows us a whole different world that we have no access to when we are believing our stressful thoughts.”

Website: http://www.thework.com
Webcasts: http://www.livewithbyronkatie.com
Subscribe: http://www.youtube.com/theworkofbk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ByronKatie.

 

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