Why The Work of Byron Katie Works Well as a Daily Spiritual Practice
Why Are Some Things Considered a Practice?
If you want to improve at playing a sport, you make it a daily practice. If you want to become fluent in a language, you make it a daily practice. Same with playing a musical instrument. Some things lend themselves well to daily practice.
A daily spiritual practice is also a common type of practice. Meditation, yoga, prayer, worship, mindfulness: these can all become daily spiritual practices. And the same is true for the practice of The Work of Byron Katie, a way to question and unravel any stressful story.
But why do some things fit with a daily practice more than others?
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Some experiences in life are full of sensory fireworks: food, sex, social interactions, entertainment, etc. I sometimes call these “loud” experiences because they can overpower the mind easily. They call attention to themselves. You can’t miss them.
But there are other experiences in life that are more subtle: the joy of learning, the joy of letting go, the joy of noticing, the peace of being. These experiences don’t always get noticed when the loud experiences overshadow them.
It takes practice to slowly cultivate awareness to experience these subtle joys of life. They are easy to miss without some daily spiritual practice.
When I First Started Doing The Work
In 2007, when I began my journey of making The Work a daily spiritual practice in my life, my stresses were very loud. They overshadowed me very much. All I could think about was my feeling of being trapped, angry, frustrated with my life as it was.
And my work naturally reflected this. I did The Work on what was bothering me at the time. Relationship issues, money issues, and stressful situations in daily life that would make me explode or melt down completely. I came to The Work each day out of a need for survival, a kind of desperation.
But as Time Passed, My Work Changed
As I dealt with the issues that were so huge for me at that time, I became more peaceful. Parts of me relaxed that has not been able to relax. And I found that my stressful thoughts became more subtle.
Instead of screaming-loud stressful thoughts, my daily spiritual practice began to uncover hidden stressful thoughts that had always been there. I had not seen them directly because of all the loud thoughts running in my mind. As I dealt with the loud ones, the quieter ones came out.
Daily spiritual practices of any kind have often been described as peeling an onion: one layer reveals another, and another, and another. This has been my experience.
The Work can go as subtle as I wish to go. And over time, my awareness has become quieter and more relaxed on deeper levels through this steady practice.
That’s Why I Make The Work a Daily Spiritual Practice
Just as a musician never stops practicing her music, so I don’t stop practicing The Work. It continues to deepen and open parts of me that I didn’t even know were frozen.
Now my motive in doing The Work is less about desperately getting out of the pain, and more about curiously getting to know the parts of myself that I am still asleep to. This has become an exciting journey that continues to pull me more deeply into my work.
The Value of Routine
My life thrives on routine. There is stability in routine, and continuity. And it allows me to do great things in little steps.
A daily spiritual practice of The Work is what allows me to keep going without fighting with myself each time: “Will I do it today or not?” I don’t have that thought. I just have a time in the morning for my work and, unless something unusual comes up, I simply sit down and do my work.
Daily spiritual practice creates an evenness and a continual deepening for me. And it takes away any pressure to have amazing breakthroughs in any session. I just sit and do my work, not worrying much about it. Some days are really insightful, others less so, but over time it is cumulative.
A practice is built for things that build cumulatively. That’s how I experience The Work.
Jump Start Your Practice
The most valuable services that I offer are The Work 101 and Inquiry Circle, which are built on this idea of creating a daily spiritual practice of The Work that continues long term. But sometimes, it can help to jump-start your practice by going to a shorter workshop or retreat. Check out my virtual retreats for a chance to do The Work in this way.
Have a great week,
Work too is like a raft. The four questions and the turnarounds help
you move from confusion to clarity. Eventually, through practice, you no
longer impose your thinking onto reality, and you can experience
everything as it really is: as pure grace. At that point the questions
themselves become unnecessary. They are replaced by a wordless
questioning that undoes every stressful thought immediately, as it
arises. It’s the mind’s way of meeting itself with understanding. The
raft has been left behind. You have become the questions. They’ve become
as natural as breathing, so they’re no longer needed.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself