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I’m Going Nowhere With The Work

Doing The Work is like watching raindrops on water. Most would call it boring. I call it beautiful, fascinating, and amazing.

I’m Going Nowhere With The Work

The Work of Byron Katie is a subtle process of increasing awareness. But it’s easy to turn this into a goal and to become discouraged when progress isn’t fast enough. 

A participant in The Work 101 wrote me recently asking about this experience for her. She described it as “walking but not getting anywhere.” Have you had this experience?

We Start The Work Because We Need It

Usually, it is a feeling of being stuck or frustrated or powerless that brings people to The Work. They are looking to relieve some stress. And from this perspective, there is a clear goal and path to follow: do The Work and suffering will decrease. The extreme version is “Do The Work enough and suffering will disappear.” 

This is the hidden promise we often see in The Work. And if we’re not making progress in that direction we judge The Work or ourselves as not good enough. This leads to frustration and usually quitting.

But What If We Reframed It?

What if we questioned the idea that we need The Work at all? I have done this and I find that The Work is just a reminder to come back to my own experience—a reminder to come back to myself instead of focusing on how things should be different. 

I do this all the time without The Work. I have done this all my life without The Work. I think we all do. So do I really need The Work? Of course not. 

The Work is just a speedy way that works for me to bring me back home. When I see it this way, I love to do The Work but I don’t need it. I’m not obsessed with it. I simply enjoy it.

And That’s When The Work Really Opens Up

When I don’t need The Work and I enjoy it instead, I slow down. This is the opposite of trying to use The Work to “hurry up and get free.” Ironically, if I keep doing The Work I get much more out of it. But it’s nothing showy. No miracles. No wow! Just quiet easiness.

So my question to this participant was this: “You need to get somewhere with The Work, is it true?” Who would you be without that thought? I can feel the difference just thinking about it. 

Without this concept of “getting somewhere,” I’m free. I’m really in touch with whatever I find: maybe I find my original statement is true after all. Maybe I discover some new insight. Maybe I feel no different. Maybe I feel a shift. Without any idea of needing to get somewhere, I’m free to experience all of it. 

This Is Loving What Is

Not, someday I will be free. Not, I’m making progress (or not). Just openness itself. Open to feeling bad. Open to feeling better. Open to not feeling any difference. Exploring with an open mind. And the richness of the universe can be tasted with such an open mind.

So, next time you think, “I’m getting nowhere with The Work,” be grateful. You have arrived! I can hear Talking Heads now…

“We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride”

Join Us On The Road to Nowhere

Whether you feel like you need to get somewhere with The Work or whether you just want to explore, join us for the heart of this practice. Start The Work 101 anytime and join us for Inquiry Circle afterwards. Or join us for the Winter Virtual Retreat, Jan 13-15. 

It’s more fun going nowhere with others who are going there too.

Have a great week,

“Mind appears to flow everywhere, but it is the unmoving, the never-having-moved. It appears as everything. Eventually it sees that nowhere is where it is.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Further reading: What To Do When You’re Making Little Progress In Your Work?

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.