I want to catch the ways that I make myself suffer. I don’t want to turn a blind eye, even to the little ways that I drag my own life down.
That’s why I have been doing The Work of Byron Katie as a regular practice since January 2007.
As a client of The Work, I have healed what I thought was a broken relationship with my partner over the course of several years. I have come to peace with my mother’s unexpected death in a plane crash. I have come out of the closet about being in a gay relationship for many years. I have overcome impatience in my spiritual development. I have become more comfortable than ever with the naturally slow progress in business. I have become less fanatic about my eating habits and less influenced by what others want me to eat. I have become more comfortable with criticism. I have become comfortable with people arguing or raising their voices at me. I have become much more comfortable asking for what I want, and saying no when that is my inner truth.
Byron Katie has a list of seven “Principles for Facilitators.” I like to use these as a benchmark for how I am doing as a facilitator. Here’s my most recent self-evaluation on each of the seven principles for facilitators.
I trust the four questions. I usually feel they are enough. For me, sub-questions are purely optional as a support for question 3. The only aim I have in asking the four questions is to give the client an opportunity to experience the same situation with the thought, and then without the thought. I listen closely to what the client is reporting, and don’t ask sub-questions that the client has already answered.
I hold clients in the specific situation when looking for turnaround examples, though I am not rigid about where examples may come from. When the client is stuck or asks for assistance, I share my own examples, or ask the client to look for an example in a specific place. Sometimes, my suggestions spark the client’s own ideas, and sometimes they are too much of a stretch.
I join my clients as they do their work. Many times, their work is my work. I follow what they are saying closely, and measure it against my own heart as they work. If it doesn’t make sense to me, I just listen with an open mind.
I have listened while clients went deeply into traumatic situations, I have witnessed clients stop and cry for five minutes, I have listened while they questioned their sex stories in graphic detail. There is no place I’m afraid to go with The Work. I’ve even had clients get mad at me for asking the questions.
Over time, I have found a balance between listening with compassion and staying in my own business, knowing that my only job is to lovingly support them in inquiry. I love seeing that they don’t even need to do The Work, ever!
I am aware of my own moments of inspiration during a session, my judgments about the client, and the areas that I have not yet worked that come up for me in a session. I make note of these for my own future work.
Sometimes I do not understand a client. Then the questions still hold us in inquiry. I am also willing to stop a session if it doesn’t work for me, though I don’t recall having done so.
My only negative feedback is that I sometimes assume that the client thinks just like me, which is not always true. I am willing to back-up and apologize if I step into the client’s business.
I have come a long way with this one. When I facilitated years ago, I did a lot of interrupting and suggesting but I have noticed myself getting quieter and quieter. I notice how many times a client comes up with examples that blow me away. Things I never would have thought of. It can give me chills to experience that wisdom.
I also have gained a lot of trust over the years that what my client finds for himself or herself is more valuable than anything I have to offer. Self-inquiry means that each person finds their own wisdom. I find that sharing my wisdom usually interrupts my client from self-inquiry, or makes them more dependent on me. I don’t want either of these things so I generally find myself sitting in a very neutral place.
This has developed a lot for me over the past years because I keep formally questioning my motives as a facilitator after specific client sessions. Being a completely neutral witness has now become one of my strongest qualities as a facilitator.
I have had to overcome a lot of resistance to this principle, with the underlying belief that “I want my client to like me,” and “They won’t like me if I bring them back,” and “Interrupting is rude.”
I discovered through inquiry that friends interrupt each other all the time, and it’s not rude. Rudeness comes from judging the other person as inferior. I have found that I can interrupt someone who is going off into their story quite easily and bring them back to The Work without making them feel wrong. I do this in my own gentle way.
And I watch the fine line between the client’s justification and her answering the question. Sometimes it’s not clear which is happening. I wait until I’m clear that the client is no longer answering the question until I bring him or her back.
I also recognize how I also am sometimes unable to hold the questions myself when I’m doing my work. This gives me compassion for my clients. When I bring them back, it is gently and with understanding. Sometimes I do get swept up in a client’s story. In that case, I consider that it’s never too late to go back to the question we were answering and start again.
I do have a history of wanting to teach, but in facilitation I find that I get so engrossed with wanting to learn, that the tendency does not surface very often. When it does, I usually recognize it right away and back off, either exposing my motives to the client directly, or noting them down for future work. This tendency has reduced almost to nil over the years.
I remember working a related thought, “I want the client to get it,” once. It was relieving to discover that I would be just as happy if the client decided never to do The Work again, that it didn’t work for them. It leaves them free to find a way the works for them.
I remember thinking, maybe chess would be a more enjoyable experience for them! I often remember this discovery when I’m working with a client, and it is delightful not to have to accomplish anything in a session. It leaves me free to witness The Work having a life of its own, and my client giving me an education.
Doing The Work pretty much consistently, five days a week since 2007, I am amazed that I still love this simple process. I keep an eye out for stress reactions in my heart, or body, or emotions throughout the day. I find myself looking forward to those stress reactions, because I know I’m going to learn something.
I do The Work in written form five days a week in my Inquiry Circle group online. That’s my baseline for doing The Work. I also meet to do The Work with friends and other members of Inquiry Circle each week in spoken form. The Work has a special place in my life, just as important as my meditation practice, or exercise, or health routines.
I notice many insights come from facilitating others. It is quite self-serving. In fact, Most of the time, I find myself standing squarely in my clients’ shoes. Their issues are my issues too.
Also, I love seeing the subtle ways that my own issues play out when I’m facilitating someone, a desire to be liked, a desire to control, etc. They all come out from time to time. Because the relationship with the client is a real relationship, as real as any other. My stressful thoughts and reactions when I’m facilitating show me what to work on next.
Likewise, being in business as a facilitator has brought up all kinds of stressful thoughts, around money, and perfectionism, and, of course, “living up to my full potential.” I have enjoyed using my business as a testing ground for my own process of self-inquiry. Once, I exposed to my whole email list my motives that they spend money with me. It was so freeing to make that amends.
As I continue to work my own stressful thoughts, I love to be of service as a facilitator to anyone who wants to do The Work. I also find that my understanding and practice of The Work deepens as I continue to put attention on how to best share it with others.