The Work Is Not an Intellectual Exercise
Intellectual means mechanical, detached from emotion.
Intellectual Is Dry
Have you ever had what I like to call “intellectual food”? You see this kind of stuff at health food stores. For example, health food store cookies taste like sawdust to me. Who wants to eat that crap? A lot of “healthy” food is actually just intellectual. I don’t buy it.
Or think of atonal music. I heard a guitar performance like this when I was in college. It was awful. No emotion at all. Just making noise in my opinion. Purely intellectual.
Sometimes People Think The Work Is Intellectual
The Work, of course, is as you see it. If you bring only your intellect to The Work, you’ll experience a very dry, intellectual process. But if you bring your raw emotion to it, you’ll be touched to the core by The Work.
At first The Work looks like just some intellectual jugglery. But it is not. The Work is an experience.
Here’s What It Looks Like
You start with a stressful emotion. This is the anchor point. This is what roots The Work in the heart, in direct experience. You’re dealing with something real when you bring a stressful emotion to The Work. It is deeply connected to you.
Then you identify the thought associated with the emotion. This moves up to the intellect, but remains connected to the emotion. A bridge between mind and heart is found.
Then you question the thought associated with the emotion. Because the emotion and the thought are intimately connected, when you move one, you move the other.
That’s How The Work Works
When doing The Work, you play with the thought. You transform your thinking, and because the thought is connected to the emotion, the emotion gets transformed too. That’s what keeps it real.
This is very different from doing a crossword puzzle or a Sudoku game, which use the intellect but are not connected to an emotion. These are just intellectual play.
The Work moves the emotions with each twist and turn of the intellect. That’s what makes it feel powerful to do The Work. That’s how it changes lives.
The Work Is an Experience
The Work is a way to re-experience any stressful situation first hand. When I do The Work, I am literally walking through a stressful situation and re-experiencing it anew. This changes my whole understanding of it. This gives me a whole new experience of it.
I am getting clear about what actually happened, as opposed to holding my previously limited story about it. As I see that there is more to it than what I thought, my emotions shift from stress towards peace.
But you Have to Walk Through It
It’s easy to say, “Yeah, I get it. I was confused there” without really re-experiencing it. Even though I “get it” intellectually, the images that my mind plays when I think of the stressful situation have not changed. And my emotions are generated from those images.
When I walk through the four questions of The Work and find turnarounds and examples, the images I had of that situation actually change. I don’t see it the same way now. I see it much more clearly. And my new images are not stressful.
So now, when I remember the scene, I am not stressed by it. This new experience doesn’t come from intellectually “getting it.” It comes from walking through it meditatively and re-experiencing the same scene with a new perspective.
This Is Why The Work Is Not Intellectual
Sure it uses the intellect. But what it is really doing is transforming direct experience, which is never dry or “intellectual.” I invite you to step out of the safety of your intellect and dive into the experience of doing The Work.
Walk yourself through this process on the experiential level. That’s when it can really touch you. And do yourself a favor, leave those health food store cookies on the shelf.
Here are some tips for how to do The Work with the heart.
Have a great week,
“To simply turn thoughts around keeps the process intellectual and is of little value. The invitation is to go beyond the intellect. The questions are like probes that dive into the mind, bringing deeper knowledge to the surface. Ask the questions first, and then wait. Once the answers have arisen, the superficial mind and the deeper mind meet, and the turnarounds feel like true discoveries.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself