Recently I had the pleasure of reading the thought provoking work of author Byron Katie. Byron Katie teaches us the unique gift of inner reflection. I have really enjoyed learning how to use her process “The Work”, and was quite intrigued with her note that the questions are meditative.


I thought to myself what a coincidence that I have been doing my five minutes breathing meditation every day and now I am reading her amazing contribution to making peace with our own minds.

Byron Katie offers a three step process called “The Work” that shows you a way to understand what’s hurting you. It really is as simple as that. I was captivated with Byron Katie’s website for many reasons but the main thing that stands out is “The Work” is totally downloadable as FREE pdf files. There is more than enough help on the site with directions to actually start asking your questions and be on your own inner path to bliss, all with just a few clicks on your computer keypad.
Watch a video of Byron Katie at the University of Texas auditorium showing how to work with her question sheet, by clicking on “Begin The Work” on the home page of her website. Amazing to see so many young people in the audience working with her material, asking themselves questions to alleviate stress in their lives.

I am offering the following excerpt from her booklet: Loving what is. You can find it on her website as well.





An excerpt from Loving What Is: Four questions that can change your life by Byron Katie, with Stephen Mitchell.
“No one can give you freedom but you. This little booklet will show you how.” —Byron Katie
This booklet is an excerpt from Loving What Is. Each year, thousands of these booklets are sent by request, at no charge, to non-profit organizations around the world, helping people discover the life-changing power of The Work.
If you would like to explore this process further, we suggest you ask for Loving What Is wherever books are sold. The book version will take you deeper into The Work, and includes numerous examples of Katie facilitating others on issues such as fear, health, relationships, money, the body, and more. Loving What Is is also available as an audiobook, which offers you the invaluable experience of hearing Katie do The Work in live workshop recordings. The book and the audiobook are available on our official website as well, TheWork.com, or they can be ordered by calling 800.98.KATIE or 1.805.640.1935.
© 2011 Byron Katie International, Inc. All rights reserved.
Introduction:
The Work of Byron Katie is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all of the suffering in the world. It is a way to find peace with yourself and with the world. The old, the young, the sick, the well, the educated, the uneducated—anyone with an open mind can do this Work.
Byron Kathleen Reid became severely depressed while in her thirties. Over a ten-year period her depression deepened, and Katie (as she is called) spent almost two years rarely able to leave her bed, obsessing over suicide. Then one morning, from the depths of despair, she experienced a life-changing realization.
Katie saw that when she believed that something should be different than it is (“My husband should love me more,” “My children should appreciate me”) she suffered, and that when she didn’t believe these thoughts, she felt peace. She realized that what had been causing her depression was not the world around her, but what she believed about the world around her. In a flash of insight, Katie saw that our attempt to find happiness was backward—instead of hopelessly trying to change the world to match our thoughts about how it “should” be, we can question these thoughts and, by meeting reality as it is, experience unimaginable freedom and joy. Katie developed a simple yet powerful method of inquiry, called The Work, that made this transformation practical. As a result, a bed-ridden, suicidal woman became filled with love for everything life brings.
Katie‟s insight into the mind is consistent with leading-edge research in cognitive neuroscience, and The Work has been compared to the Socratic dialogue, Buddhist teachings, and twelve-step programs. But Katie developed her method without any knowledge of religion or psychology. The Work is based purely on one woman‟s direct experience of how suffering is created and ended. It is astonishingly simple, accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and requires nothing more than a pen and paper and an open mind. Katie saw right away that giving people her insights or answers was of little value—instead, she offers a process that can give people their own answers. The first people exposed to her Work reported that the experience was transformational, and she soon began receiving invitations to teach the process publicly.
Since 1986, Katie has introduced The Work to millions of people around the world. In addition to public events, she has introduced her Work into corporations, universities, schools, churches, prisons, and hospitals. Katie‟s joy and humor immediately put people at ease, and the deep insights and breakthroughs that participants quickly experience make the events captivating (tissues are always close at hand). Since 1998, Katie has directed the School for The Work, a nine-day curriculum offered several times a year. The School is an approved provider of continuing education units, and many psychologists,
counselors, and therapists report that The Work is becoming the most important part of their practice. Katie also hosts an annual New Year‟s Mental Cleanse—a four-day program of continuous inquiry that takes place in southern California at the end of December—and she sometimes offers weekend workshops. Audio and video recordings of Katie facilitating The Work on a wide range of topics (sex, money, the body, parenting) are available at her events and on her website, TheWork.com.
In March 2002, Harmony Books published Katie‟s first book, Loving What Is, written with her husband, the distinguished writer Stephen Mitchell. Loving What Is has been translated into twenty-eight languages. It was on bestseller lists across the country. I Need Your Love—Is That True?, written with Michael Katz, and A Thousand Names for Joy, written with Stephen Mitchell were also bestsellers. Question Your Thinking, Change the World was published in 2007, and Who Would You Be Without Your Story?, in 2008. Tiger-Tiger, Is It True?, published in 2009, Hans Wilhelm. Peace in the Present Moment (by Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle) was published in 2010.
Welcome to The Work.
What Is Is:
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. If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, “Meow.” Wanting reality to be different than it is is hopeless.
And yet, if you pay attention, you‟ll notice that you think thoughts like this dozens of times a day. “People should be kinder.” “Children should be well- behaved.” “My husband (or wife) should agree with me.” “I should be thinner (or prettier or more successful).” These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is. If you think that this sounds depressing, you‟re right. All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is.
People new to The Work often say to me, “But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I‟ll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act.” I answer them with a question: “Can you really know that that‟s true?” Which is more empowering?—“I wish I hadn‟t lost my job” or “I lost my job; what can I do now?”

The Work reveals that what you think shouldn‟t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn‟t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle.
I am a lover of what is, not because I‟m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration. We don‟t feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.
Staying in Your Own Business:
I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God‟s. (For me, the word God means “reality.” Reality is God, because it rules. Anything that‟s out of my control, your control, and everyone else‟s control, I call that God‟s business.)
Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, “You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,” I am in your business. When I‟m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God‟s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God‟s business, the effect is separation. I noticed this early in 1986. When I mentally went into my mother‟s business, for example, with a thought like “My mother should understand me,” I immediately experienced a feeling of loneliness. And I realized that every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else‟s business.
If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We‟re both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn‟t work.
To think that I know what‟s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what‟s right for me? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you.

And if you practice it for a while, you may come to see that you don‟t have any business either and that your life runs perfectly well on its own.

If you understand the three kinds of business enough to stay in your own business, it could free your life in a way that you can‟t even imagine. The next time you‟re feeling stress or discomfort, ask yourself whose business you‟re in mentally, and you may burst out laughing! That question can bring you back to yourself. And you may come to see that you‟ve never really been present, that you‟ve been mentally living in other people‟s business all your life. Just to notice that you‟re in someone else‟s business can bring you back to your own wonderful self.
Meeting Your Thoughts with Understanding:
A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It is not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it‟s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we‟ve been attaching to, often for years.
Most people think that they are what their thoughts tell them they are. One day I noticed that I wasn‟t breathing—I was being breathed. Then I also noticed, to my amazement, that I wasn‟t thinking—that I was actually being thought and that thinking isn‟t personal. Do you wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “I think I won‟t think today”? It‟s too late: You‟re already thinking! Thoughts just appear. They come out of nothing and go back to nothing, like clouds moving across the empty sky. They come to pass, not to stay. There is no harm in them until we attach to them as if they were true.
No one has ever been able to control his thinking, although people may tell the story of how they have. I don‟t let go of my thoughts—I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.
Thoughts are like the breeze or the leaves on the trees or the raindrops falling. They appear like that, and through inquiry we can make friends with them. Would you argue with a raindrop? Raindrops aren‟t personal, and neither are thoughts. Once a painful concept is met with understanding, the next time it appears you may find it interesting. What used to be the nightmare is now just interesting. The next time it appears, you may find it funny. The next time, you may not even notice it. This is the power of loving what is.
Putting the Mind on Paper:
The first step in The Work is to write down your judgments about any stressful situation in your life, past, present, or future—about a person you dislike or a situation with someone who angers or frightens or saddens you. (Use a blank sheet of paper; or you can go to www.thework.com to the section called “The Work,” where you‟ll find a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet to download and print.)

For thousands of years, we have been taught not to judge—but let‟s face it, we still do it all the time. The truth is that we all have judgments running in our heads. Through The Work we finally have permission to let those judgments speak out, or even scream out, on paper. We may find that even the most unpleasant thoughts can be met with unconditional love.
I encourage you to write about someone whom you haven‟t yet totally forgiven. This is the most powerful place to begin. Even if you‟ve forgiven that person 99 percent, you aren‟t free until your forgiveness is complete. The 1 percent you haven‟t forgiven them is the very place where you‟re stuck in all your other relationships (including your relationship with yourself).
If you begin by pointing the finger of blame outward, then the focus isn‟t on you. You can just let loose and be uncensored. We‟re often quite sure about what other people need to do, how they should live, whom they should be with. We have 20/20 vision about others, but not about ourselves.
When you do The Work, you see who you are by seeing who you think other people are. Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is the projected image of your thoughts.
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.
I hope you enjoyed the read.


Have a beautiful day,


photo: ‘There’ PKM



Joy,


Rena

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