Surviving Sexual Assault

On April 29th I was attacked by five armed men with balaclavas. I was tied up, beaten, and sexually assaulted. I realized that night that I might be killed. I remembered Byron Katie’s words when she spoke of having a gun put to her belly. “If these were your last breaths, wouldn’t you want to be present?” I made the choice of savoring every breath! I believe that through her teachings she saved my life. I stayed calm and present throughout the horror that went on for hours.

I want to incorporate trauma counseling into my work, since there is a lot of violence and crime in South Africa. I want to share my experience and The Work and show people that they don’t have to suffer for the rest of their lives from a trauma. I believe I am being called to facilitate healing for others, and I want to participate deeply in the 2016 School so I can really prepare well to facilitate The Work effectively. I also experienced my dad’s death as a special gift, thanks to Byron Katie again. I have so much gratitude and so much to give and share with others. I don’t hate my attackers. I said “God bless you” when they left. Everyone has been amazed by my attitude and the way I have dealt with my attack.

Muriel
Johannesburg

 

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

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

Letter: “You are your own suffering”

Byron Katie’s words suddenly make perfect sense! What a gift to be able to actually ‘feel’ this ‘simple’ sentence!

I’ve recently been shown just how true this statement is! I just wanted to share what came up for me around this. It’s been an amazing realization for me—not just shown to me once, but over and over, until the lesson was learned and the message heard! Yep! got it! loud and clear!

I was recently rushed into hospital following a major surgical procedure. I’d contacted septicaemia and pneumonia quite severely afterwards and was very ill. I had to have two further surgeries to ‘save my life.’ I was admitted to Critical Care, where I was in a small coma for just under five days—‘being breathed’ and such like by machines.

The thing that has hit me with a huge impact since, is that whilst I was ‘unconscious’, I had no pain, no thoughts, no images, no past, present, or future, no stories, no attachments, no judgments, no love, no hate, no business, no logical awareness of what was going on around me, happening to me, how it was affecting my loved ones, no fear, and so on, therefore, no suffering! Just pure peace! Bliss! Rest! Calmness! Just being! Not one stressful thought that I can remember in any way shape or form.

It was only as I started to come round back to the ‘land of living’ that my suffering started!

My mind kicked in the second I opened my eyes (or so it seemed) and the thoughts, images, stories and fears started to take over.

It was at this point that my peace went out of the window and my suffering started. I began forming all kinds of stories once I saw the machines I was attached to, the drips, the needles, the blood, dressings, etc. Pure panic kicked in and my mind went into overdrive. I had no idea where I was, or why, and yet, I’d developed a whole story in my mind. K Magnified several times over. Shock. Confusion. Disbelief. Denial. Insanity!

It was painful to let it all out and it was painful to keep it all in!

Then, I saw the blood I was having via a transfusion! That was it! Fear kicked in and the mind stated all over again, like a broken record. I started trying to make sense of things, piece things together, and understand what was happening. My head was like a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, and yet, I still didn’t know what had happened. I had nothing to base any of my thoughts, presumptions, or theories on. No proof. No memory. No evidence. No knowledge. Just my own stories keeping me in my own prison.

What was this constant need all of a sudden to understand everything? I’d never really paid much attention to my body before, and yet now, it’s all I could think about! It’s almost like I HAD to focus on something—there HAD to be a reason for it to be ok! Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain and torment? ME!!!!

What was even more remarkable, is that I hadn’t had any physical pain, until the doctor explained to me what had happened. It was then that I suddenly started ‘feeling pain’ in the effected area and was plagued by it. It became hard not to focus on it, and yet, it had been that way for days. Nothing had changed: just my thoughts and attachments!

It’s since made me stop and think—was it that I could feel the actual physical pain in my body? Or, was it that I was attaching to the story of what had happened to me that made me aware of the pain? Nothing had changed (physically) from the time I was in a coma to the time I had opened my eyes, and yet, mentally, all hell had broke loose. The wound was in the same state. The dressings were the same, etc. Nothing new… just that I was now awake and ‘processing’ all around me.

I’d gone from being comfortable and rested, totally oblivious, to all of this, with the opening of my eyes, and the instant attachment to my thoughts in those surroundings. Would the outcome be the same if I’d woken up on a tropical island somewhere? I cannot know that, and it’s doubtful. Fascinating!

Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain & torment? ME!!!!

Again it happened when the time came to change my dressing. I’d only heard about my surgery, what was done, how it looked, and what to expect. It would seem that I’d chosen to ‘ignore’ all of this information and detail, on the basis that: a) It didn’t suit me at the time; b) I was too wrapped up in my own images and stories; c) I’d had no visual stimuli / trigger and d) I was so out of my business (amongst other things!).

Then, when it was uncovered and I actually saw it for myself I was beyond shocked. I couldn’t speak. It was ‘worse’ than what my mind had allowed me to visualise. Or, at least, that was my story!

Again, the stories came flooding in—supported now by images. I was in the past, in the future—trying to fight reality once again. I made instant judgments. I focused on my body and how ‘ugly’ and ‘disfigured’ it was. How ‘damaged’ it was. How I’d never be the same. How it had ruined my life. Endless thoughts of suffering—which, I’d not had when the wound was hidden!

Who was causing my suffering? ME! Everything else was just doing its own thing blissfully as it should, minding its own business, and yet, I couldn’t seem to do the same. While I was ‘out of it’, ‘unaware’, I was silently fighting some how without even knowing—with no stories, no pressure, no expectations, no motives. Once I became ‘aware’, I’d started to do the opposite, putting my body through even more turmoil, thinking I had some kind of control some how. Remarkable!

Several days later, I learned that my nan had been told to ‘prepare for the worst’ and that the medics ‘didn’t hold out much hope with my chances of survival.’

Again, it was only when I heard this story that my suffering started. My mind bypassed the information I had just heard and I went straight into feeling guilty. I blamed myself for putting her through all of that (like I had a choice!). I pictured her being ill from the stress of it all and so on. Mind overload! It became unbearable once again!

Previous to knowing this piece of information, I was oblivious. I didn’t have any of those thoughts. I wasn’t even headed in that direction. It wasn’t an option. It’s amazing.

Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain & torment? ME!!!!

There was much more too. But, all in all, my main point throughout is based on Katie’s sentence:

‘You are your own suffering.’

The words keep ringing through my mind. I’ve heard this many times since doing The Work, and never really fully paid much attention to it. I was convinced that it couldn’t be true. That it was others who almost certainly caused my suffering. I was in true victim mode. How could I possibly cause my own suffering? It was other people’s actions / words that hurt me. How could I possibly be my own suffering, when all I was doing was trying to find peace, a ‘solution,’ a ‘way out’? And so on.

Now, this sentence alone holds a whole new meaning for me, and I FEEL it.

‘You are your own suffering!’

This has certainly been true in my experience and, it is only now, after my recent journey, that I can digest those words and really embrace them. I love the peace that I’ve found around this and that I can share it with others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long realization & be a part of my journey.

Jai Jai xoxoxoxo

* * * * *

Dearest Jai Jai,

I am grateful that you shared your experience with us and so very grateful for your journey to love in this world. Your peace is my/our teacher.

Always, always,
bk

Letter: “My Dad is not okay”

Hello, Byron Katie,

My name is Janet. It has been 18 months since my dad was killed (radiation treatment for cancer) and I just cannot come to terms with what happened to him. He is my best friend; I love him more than the universe. He wasn’t a very happy man in his later years, but was only 70 when he was killed. I let him go initially as I felt there was a hereafter, but I have not heard from him personally, nothing, no dreams of him. I cannot believe that a person I (and my mum and twin sister) can be so close to, love him so much and not know for sure he is okay. I cannot stop being in agony all the time and no-one understands. What can I do? I also lost my beautiful dog, my uncle my aunt and my grandmother all around the same time (18 months). I can cope with their loss, just, but not my dad. Thank you for your time. You are the most amazing person I have ever read about, you know the truth, see through the illusion, and I would love to hear what you have to say about my hurt. Thank you again.

Best wishes and thank you for your Work,
Janet

Dearest Janet,

I hear from you that you’re afraid your father is not okay in death. I would ask that you answer the following questions. “Your dad is not okay”—is that true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true that he is not okay? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I hear that you are in agony, you feel that no one understands, you believe that you can’t cope, you are hurt. What else? Get as quiet as you can and trace what happens as a result of believing this very painful thought. How do you treat yourself when you believe it? How do you treat the people around you? Notice what more is affected when you believe the thought. Then ask yourself who you would be without the thought. Who would you be, living your life after your father died of cancer, if you didn’t even have the ability to think the thought “My dad is not okay”? Then turn the thought around and find at least three genuine examples for each turnaround. How is each one true? For example, “My dad is okay.” Would you like to hear two examples that I found? 1) He has never spoken up to give you any sign that he is in agony, that he isn’t okay. 2) You are guessing and don’t know. What other examples can you find on your own and without my help?

Another turnaround, a turnaround to the self, would be “I am not okay” (in the moment when I believe my dad is not okay).” Continue finding turnarounds and examples for each turnaround until you are free to think this thought, without believing it and without pain, angel. A thought unbelieved is a welcomed friend, not an agony-maker. You can take care of one of you, and that would be the one who you know for sure is suffering, and that would be you. I care deeply that you stay with yourself and give yourself the gift of freedom from agony around this unquestioned assumption, and if you want to end suffering in your family, deal with your own suffering first. If you can’t take care of your own suffering, how can you help others, “dead” or alive? Be still, angel. The answers that will set you free are within you. Ask, wait, listen, and be enlightened to what you already know. This enlightenment brings you closer to your father, much closer than agony ever could. Love is the power, and you have it within you to ignite that power.

You might also check in with yourself about the three kinds of business. Whose business is it if you are not okay? Whose business is it if your dad is not okay? If you can get only this straight, it could make things a lot easier for you to begin to do The Work.

Until we know that death is as good as life, and that it always comes at just the right time, we’re going to take on the role of God without the awareness of it, and it’s always going to hurt. Whenever you mentally oppose what is, when you think that you know what should and shouldn’t happen, you’re going to experience sadness and apparent separation. There’s no sadness without an unquestioned story. What is is, because it is. You are it.

You imagine an afterlife, and you feel devastated that your father hasn’t communicated with you, that you haven’t even dreamed of him, except as a waking dream, and it is a nightmare. No one knows what death is. Maybe it’s not a something; maybe it’s not even a nothing. It’s the pure unknown, and I love that. We imagine that death is a state of being or a state of nothingness, and we frighten ourselves with our own concepts. I’m a lover of what is: I love sickness and health, coming and going, life and death. I see life and death as equal. Reality is good; so death must be good, whatever it is, if it’s anything at all. Death is kind enough to be still and silent, and I appreciate that. Everything else is projected into that stillness by your mind.

I hope that you write down all your stressful thoughts about your father and your projected “afterlife,” sweetheart, and do The Work on them. That is the only way I know that will help you out of your misery. Whatever else I may say won’t help you, even if you believe that I am telling the truth, even if you believe that I am the most enlightened person who ever walked the face of the earth. It’s only your own wisdom that has the power to show you the way out of confusion. So I invite you to The Work. Question what you are believing about your father. It’s not your father’s death that is causing your suffering; it’s your unquestioned thoughts about him and “his” death. I invite you to question these, and set yourself free.

In deepest gratitude for your stillness and devotion to what lives in you,
bk

Sharing Your Turnarounds

Dear Ones,

Over the years, I’ve witnessed countless miracles as people question their thoughts and turn them around. Some of you may have heard me share these turnarounds (or have shared them yourselves) during the School for The Work or at weekend intensives, or may have read about them in my books. As many of you know firsthand, through your own turned-around lives, we exchange our war with reality for the peace that passes understanding.

The more turnarounds we experience and share, the more we open our hearts and our lives to the others who also want to wake up to who they really are.

Here’s a turnaround from a woman in Atlanta, which exemplifies what I’m inviting you to contribute:

The Man of My Dreams

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” These words, which introduce a spiritual self-study called A Course in Miracles, pierced my heart when I first read them in 1989. However, it wasn’t until 22 years later while attending the nine-day School for the Work that my mind and heart opened to their true
meaning.

At the age of 15, when most teenage girls were reading their first romance novels, I discovered the world of mystical poets and spiritual texts. My alcoholic father had killed himself when I was 12. During the years following his death, I sought comfort in the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, A Course in Miracles, and the words of poets such as Khalil Gibran, Rumi, and Hafiz. I was a spiritual-text junkie, always searching for the next fix, yet never being able to sustain a feeling of peace.

For many years following daddy’s suicide, he occasionally appeared in my dreams—always remaining distant and unresponsive when I would plead with him to not leave again. During a dream visit in 2001 (his final to date), he spoke for the first time, sending a clear and unforgettable message. As I begged him not to leave, he quietly but emphatically said, “Don’t do this to yourself,” as he gently released himself from my embrace and walked away. The dream left me reeling, yet oddly comforted.

I stumbled across The Work the following year, as I was living a typical life of balancing motherhood, career, and an impending second divorce. I began doing the four questions and turnarounds on everyone from my mother, husband, ex-husband, children, siblings, and friends to the family dog, taking excruciating care to never question the black hole of my father’s suicide. My mind began to clear through inquiry, and the truth began to reveal itself in all its glory. Yet the fear of going deeper still lurked in the background—until I attended the School for The Work earlier this year.

As the School progressed and I ventured deeper into inquiry with the support of those around me, I found myself not only questioning the thought that my father should not have killed himself, but turning that thought around to what had henceforth remained an unfathomable thought—”Daddy should have killed himself.” How did I know this was true? Because he did. Not only did I experience a spontaneous release—I burst out laughing! Could I give at least three reasons why the thought that he should have killed himself was as true or truer than my original thought? Absolutely. My father released himself from what was, to him, an unbearable life by the only means he knew at the time. Secondly, even though I loved my father with all my heart, my family and I were spared the misery of continuing to live with a depressed, out-of-control alcoholic. And finally, I realized that the pain of my father’s suicide had attracted me to a spiritual path at an early age, for which I am eternally grateful.

That same day, I experienced an equally powerful turnaround to “My father should not have killed himself”—”I should not have killed myself (over the pain of my father’s suicide).” And I should not continue to kill myself over it. The man of my dreams, my father, had already delivered this message to me years earlier. But it took me questioning my thoughts and turning them around to arrive at the truth. As The Work reminds us, there’s nothing serious about life or death, for there’s nothing that can threaten what is real. Everything becomes as clear as day because, in Katie’s words, “There really isn’t anything; only the story appearing now— and not even that.”

Kathryn, Atlanta, GA

As this woman has come to understand, peace is who we really are without our stressful, fingerpointing, unrealized stories. Through The Work, we wake up to the amazing truth that everything happens for us, not to us.

Love beyond reason,
~bk

VIDEO: “I Made a Wrong Decision”


Does stress follow you around the Workplace? And do you bring it home?

A man is afraid that no one will come to his event because he has given it the wrong name. He’s made the “wrong decision.”

Is it true?

Watch as he imagines the worst thing that could happen at his event and discovers the possibility of freedom, right here and right now.

A Letter from “A”

Hello Katie and Staff from the school of the work October 2009,

My name is A and I was at the last School for the Work. I was the one who brought a companion and had bipolar. During the school I would often go to sleep early so I missed some School. I wanted to just let you know that the School was very beneficial and that I have kept up with my homework and done a lot of good work.

There are many things I could share but the main thing is that since the School I have severely reduced panic problems. Before the School I had what is called a Panic Disorder that developed after a severe seizure a couple years ago. My life had become small. I was very tired of suffering with it and I believed there was a better way – I wanted my life back!

It was a enormous thing just to get to the school and that in and of itself would have been enough of an accomplishment for me but there was more… something came loose during the graduation ceremony; like the hand that griped my heart just let go; like pulling off a silk scarf, it just slipped away. It happened the moment Sinead O’Connor sang: ‘thank you for not hurting me”.

It was a terrifying sensation, perhaps the worst thing I could imagine happening and so far from my home too. I went up stairs to my room and cried a beautiful cry and my panic disorder was dissipated from then on. For weeks after getting home I waited for it to wear off and for my panic to return; I waited for the other shoe to drop and 2.5 months later…still no problems, I’ve come to trust it! Can you believe it, its a miracle to me. I can go in the left hand turn lanes, in the drive through lanes, in an elevator, I can leave my house, be in group setting, go to the grocery store and more. I started volunteering at the Humane Society walking the dogs there every week! It is a great source of joy for me. I’m thinking about getting a job too. I just wanted you to know that I got what I came for and thank you for extending a scholarship to me.

I’m starting to get what you’re teaching and I love you for it. I’m living it.
Many ‘thank you’s 🙂

A

Letter: Worrying About Iran

Dear Katie,

I am stressed about the situation in Iran. My brothers live there. They are out in the streets but we can’t get through to talk to them at all.

I keep thinking they have been shot.

Is it true? No.

Maybe?

I don’t want them to be hurting. The situation is not good at all.

I pray for the bravery of our Iranian students. But I also worry about my brothers.

How to stop worrying?

Sheila

Dearest Sheila,

How to stop worrying? I invite you to all four questions and to consider any genuine examples discovered after each turnaround.

Question your stressful thought, “My brothers have been shot.”

Ask yourself:

1. Is it true? Yes or no?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Answer with either a yes or a no after you consider the question. Take your time. Notice that your mind tends to justify or defend what it is believing, and gently return to “Is it true? Can I really know that it’s true that they have been shot?”

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought “My brothers have been shot”? Do you see images in your mind’s eye of them being shot? Do you see them bleeding on a sidewalk, maybe? Maybe you them dead in your mind’s eye? Are they really your brothers or are they images in your head? I am inviting you to notice. Are your emotions being produced as a result of your brothers being shot in reality, or are your emotions the result of what is appearing, now, only in your mind’s dream? I invite you to realize for yourself the difference between mind and reality, the differences between the images in your mind and the state of grace of reality, this moment now and its gifts.

4. Who would you be without that thought, “My brothers have been shot”? Free to notice the grace of this moment, right here, right now. Able to watch television or YouTube or Twitter without fear. Perhaps appreciating the courage and bravery of the students without feeling panic, learning from them as you watch their courage, a courage that is also within you any time you become aware that everything you fear about the future are things you cannot know. Perhaps speaking out clearly in the protests in your part of the world (for me “protest” means to offer up intelligent solutions and examples of why what you believe to be true is a wiser, kinder way of governing). Perhaps reaching out without fear to a friend or relative who is also worried.

Now consider turnarounds to the thought “My brothers have been shot.”

What are some alternatives? One turnaround would be “My brothers have not been shot.” Give yourself examples of why this turnaround might be true.

Another turnaround: “I am shooting my brothers.” In your mind, aren’t you shooting them? And are you using their enemies to shoot them? What is the point of creating your brothers’ death and using their “enemies” to do it with, in your mind, over and over, when you don’t really know what is happening or even what they are doing right here from where you are, right now? The reality is that they are alive, as far as you can know, until you learn otherwise. When you accept reality just as it is, right here, right now, there is nothing between you and reality that would cost you the ability to serve what you can serve and to change what you can from where you are, right here, right now. This is just one of the advantages of the fearless, loving mind wherever you are. (Does fear feel kind to you when you’re in it? Is that what you use to motivate you into action? Fear is limiting; test it yourself.) As it is, you are superimposing your thought onto reality. To project your fears and experience them as real is often self-defeating and terrifying. Your blood pressure, your health, your energy, your right to the gift of real life is imagined away and replaced by unchecked imagination. Your physical health and the health of those around you are affected when you are lost in imagination as though it were real, swept away in the dream of what isn’t, right here, right now. Unquestioned thoughts are the root cause of all suffering and can be debilitating. It is a wonderful thing to question one’s mind, to do The Work and wake up to, be transformed into, what has been referred to as “the peace of God,” “the peace that passeth all understanding,” and be left with “What can I do to help from here, right now?” The Work offers each of us the opportunity to wake up from the nightmare, to wake up into what is real. Thank you, dearest, and let me know what you hear of your brothers.

Also, please do The Work on this: “My brothers are hurting.”

And there is another turnaround that I challenge you to consider through examples: ”My brothers have shot someone else” or “My brothers are shooting someone else.” Be gentle with this one. Though it may sound like a horrific concept to consider, to Work this thought can bring great insight and much peace. Those of you who have brothers sisters or friends in your life that you worry about in this kind of situation, I invite you to Work the turnaround, “My brothers are hurting,” and to get back to Sheila with what you find to be true. Please feel free to use the One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheets; they are also a free download on thework.com. I invite all of you interested in Working this concept the opportunity to type in your response on this blog in the “comments” section below.

In love as you are, waiting for you to wake up to you as I see you to be,

Love,
kt

“I Lost My Job”

Dear Katie,

I’m a sixty-two year old computer consultant, and I just lost my job two months ago. The stress is unbearable. I keep looking for something to do, but the positions out there are just not for me. They’re not ready to hire someone my age. I have tried everything, from going to job fairs, to sending out my resume to all the businesses around town. I go to networking events and use the Internet. Nothing. Portland is a beautiful city, but it has a very high unemployment rate. I’m one of the statistics, as they say.

My wife is worried out about me. She’s barely holding on to her job and together we are scraping by. Every day I try to think of what I could do to make things better, but I can’t seem to find my way out of this sick feeling. I have difficulty sleeping. And I have lost my sense of humor.

A friend of ours gave me a copy of Loving What Is, and I’m trying to find my way through it. I don’t love this. I don’t love what is happening to my life. I would much rather have a job.

Desperate in Portland,

B

Dear B,

Let’s start with “the stress is unbearable.” Is that true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought “the stress is unbearable’? What are the images that flood your mind? Do you see yourself as never working again, as destitute, as a homeless person pushing a shopping cart on the street? How do you treat your wife when you believe this thought? How do you treat yourself? Does this thought bring peace or stress into your life? Anything else? Be still. Watch, notice, what else do you see. Notice and identify the emotions that are the response to the images that you experience as though they were real. What else do you see in the silence and stillness of observation?

Now ask yourself: Who would you be without the thought “the stress is unbearable”? Who would you be if you were incapable of thinking that thought in the midst of your emotions as they were happening? Just notice, go back into that space and look again. What did you miss?

Now turn the thought around. “The stress is not unbearable.” Can you find three examples when the stress, at its worst, was not unbearable, and it felt to you like it was? Can you get out of bed? Is the stress too heavy for you to brush your teeth in the morning? Perhaps you went to the park for a walk with your wife. Maybe you were watching your favorite TV show, or simply sharing a joke. Find at least three specific, genuine examples. Who knows?—you may find dozens of them that are true for you every day. I have noticed that in the face of what we are believing, reality waits to be noticed; eventually we wake up to it or not. (Some choose not to and some can’t yet, and it is until it’s not.) The Work is about collapsing that time, that dream, that trance. The unquestioned I-know mind will lead you to believe that your stressful thought in the moment is not only true but it is true forever. A belief in the moment is more powerful than any “thing.” It is powerful enough to create the entire world as you understand it to be.

The original thought, “the stress is unbearable,” is itself the cause of stress. When you realize this, you may also realize that every untrue thought that you’re believing creates not only life but a life with stress. And then you may realize that stress can only come from believing your thoughts about the world. It does not, it cannot, come from the world. Realizing this is a very major road to inner peace.

I invite you to write down your stressful thoughts as they occur, and investigate them. Use the four questions and the turnarounds, with examples of each turnaround. “We’re going to lose our home.” “I’ll never get a job.” “I’m a failure.” “I’ll be out on the streets.” “My family will fall into ruin.” “I can’t survive on the streets.” “I can’t survive.” “My family will leave me.” ” They will lose respect for me.” And on and on.

What is is, but only because it is. Until you wake up to reality in the moment, it is very difficult, even impossible, to love what is. Have you noticed? The only thing that can cause you stress is the story of a past or a future. What I love about the past is that it’s over! What I love about the future is that it doesn’t exist. What I love about this moment now is that I can “be” this that I am awake to. No problem! I already am.

In this moment now, all the pain that was ever suffered in the world is past, and that is the grace that we cannot appreciate when we are believing our past/future stories. Because the mind is believing its thoughts, often we feel tortured now as we live in reality, a true state of grace in the moment. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just that reality is always kind. But the story we superimpose onto reality can be hell. So I invite all people directly to the wisdom inside them, and The Work can take you there anytime you are open to your own self, your own true wisdom. Find the way out of the nightmares that you experience by going in.

And if there’s something to fear, wait until it happens and be fearful then. Why be frightened about a thought of a possible future when it is only a thought that is producing the movie?

Once you can think clearly, without the stress of your painful thoughts, the whole world, in all of its unlimited abundance and glory, will open up for you. A fearful mind is limited; it can see only a very few options. A clear mind can see many more options—unlimited options. It can act efficiently, effortlessly, intelligently, in the present moment, and not be stuck in its deadly stories of past and future.

My job is to extend the invitation to do The Work and to let you know that The Work works for everyone whose mind is open to it, and that the only thing that stands between you and a peaceful life is your unquestioned thinking. That’s all. I invite you to question “We are barely scraping by.” And to move to other turnarounds on the above concept, “the stress is unbearable.” What is the opposite of “unbearable”? Have fun with that. Or what is the opposite of stress? “Joy”? The joy is unbearable?

I am loving what is in this moment now, “it” works,

bk