At the same time that a flower is being born, a flower bud is being destroyed.
Change Can Be Challenging
When it first starts to happen, it can seem like a bad thing. All I can see at first is the loss and destruction of what was familiar. If I am attached to it, it can be emotionally stressful to watch what I’ve come to count on change.
But change it will. Nothing stays the same for long in this world.
When I’m only looking at the loss, it can be disheartening. But that is only because I don’t see where it is heading. I am always in the dark about the future. I don’t see that the destruction of the flower bud is the start of an even more beautiful thing: the flower. And that the flower in turn will fall away in order to give rise to the fruit.
Here’s what it Looked like for me in May
I started noticing that people were leaving Inquiry Circle, my ongoing practice group for The Work, more than usual. Normally, I don’t worry if people come and go in Inquiry Circle, but this time it was happening more than usual and somehow my mind was not open to seeing the good in it.
Here’s how the process evolved for me:
Stage 1: Emotional Resistance
The first thing that happened was it got me down. I took it personally.
I started wanting to give up. All I could see was the destructive side of the picture. I was not looking at evolution. I was seeing it as loss.
And my mind went to all or nothing. I really did contemplate discontinuing the program that has been running continuously for many years.
Stage 2: Doing The Work
The only thing that saved me was The Work. When I feel emotional, it’s my clue that it’s time for me to do The Work. So I did. I wrote a worksheet on Inquiry Circle and did my work in front of the Inquiry Circle group, as I do every day.
The result was that I started to see how I was the one making it into a terrible thing. It was my interpretation that was getting me down. I made it mean that Inquiry Circle was a failure, that I was a failure. I was literally zapping my own energy.
The people leaving was not the problem. My thinking was. As I started to see this more clearly, the emotions lifted. I became more neutral. I no longer wanted to just run away. Instead, I became curious about the next steps.
Stage 3: Asking for Feedback
When I’m taking it personally, I don’t want to hear feedback. I just want to run, to trash it all, to give up. But once I did my work on the emotional thoughts around it, I was suddenly open and interested in what others had to say. I was not afraid to face reality.
So I asked for feedback. And I got a lot of very helpful feedback. For example, one of the main reasons why people were leaving Inquiry Circle was because I started keeping attendance. Inquiry Circle is not a course, it is an ongoing practice group. The attendance idea works great in a course, but in Inquiry Circle it felt a bit oppressive.
It was clear that I was using too much “stick” and not enough “carrot.”
Another suggestion to me was that I was spending too much time doing administrative tasks for the group, sending emails, billing, setting up systems, etc., and not enough time participating in the group (reading and commenting). Having done The Work on my emotional thoughts, I was now open to hear this.
Stage 4: Making Changes
Based on the feedback I received, a picture started becoming clear for me of how to move forward. I wanted to simplify things so that I would have less administrative work and be more available for participation.
So I discontinued the different “tracks” I had created. I stopped using individual work spaces and brought us all together into one big forum called “The Work Forum.” Suddenly, an ancient problem in Inquiry Circle evaporated. Now it didn’t matter if some people were less active. When we all do The Work together in one forum, those who are active don’t feel isolated like they do when we are in small groups of 3 (if two people become inactive).
I also started reading The Work that others write each day as a high priority. That’s one way I can serve in this group. And I created a special forum for questions about The Work. Now, like in my Open Sessions, people can ask questions about anything in addition to doing The Work.
I am also now planning more fun and diverse activities and exercises to keep it fresh. The core of Inquiry Circle will always be doing The Work, but sometimes doing group activities can spice it up, and stimulate each of us to find new areas to work.
And finally, I changed the membership from a monthly membership to an annual membership, and I cut the price in half. This makes administration easier for me, so I can spend more time participating.
Stage 5: Long Term Growth
Now that the revolution has happened, evolution can continue at a slower pace again. The bud has been transformed, and the flower is now opening. I’m excited about the new changes. And I continue to add new changes as they come up.
For example, I’ll be creating a one-month “Inquiry Circle Prep Course” that participants will complete after finishing The Work 101 and before starting Inquiry Circle. This not only gives a taste of Inquiry Circle before committing to it for a year, but it also makes sure that everyone is clear about all of the options inside of Inquiry Circle and how to use them.
I will also be experimenting with more ideas to make spoken work easier in Inquiry Circle across time zones. And I’ll keep adjusting and adding new things as suggestions come in. But I’ll also keep an eye on keeping it simple.
None of this Would Have Happened if I Didn’t Get Over the Hump
The key in all of this was The Work. Without it, I would have just given up. But I recognized my negative emotions as a sign to do The Work, so I was able to identify them and question them and let go of them. Once I was no longer feeling sorry for myself, I was able to open to a whole new way in Inquiry Circle.
So my gratitude is to this simple way of questioning anything. With it, negativity is not bad. It is just the first stage of my next step of evolution. The Work helps me get over the hump emotionally so that I’m open to the goodness that awaits.
Have a great week,
“It’s good that you think you’re going to lose your job. This is exciting. Do The Work, live The Work, notice, and know that if you lose your job, there is something better waiting for you. But when you’re stuck in a belief, you’re blind.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World