Why The Work of Byron Katie Works Well as a Daily Spiritual Practice

Great deserts can be crossed one footstep at a time.

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.

I’m happy to announce that there will be a four-day workshop in Chamonix, France, Aug 2-6, 2019. Members of my ongoing Inquiry Circle group will be there with me to support you as you peel away some layers of stressful thinking.

This kind of quick immersive dip can become an inspiration for creating a daily spiritual practice of The Work after the course. Join us for Inquiry Circle in the French Alps.

Have a great week,
Todd

“The 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

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Getting to the Root of How to Say No and Mean It

how to say no and mean it when someone wants to give you something
People love to be of service. But what if you don’t want their service? I’ve had to learn how to say no and mean it because saying no didn’t come naturally for me.

Saying No Is Not Always Easy

Just one syllable, “No,” can be the hardest sound to make. Especially in the moment when it’s most crucial to utter this sound.

Not being able to say no is a debilitating handicap that I grew up with. But with practice, I’ve learned to find my voice.

What is involved in saying no? Why is it difficult? And how could it become easier?

No Itself Is Not Difficult

It’s what I’m thinking and believing in a particular situation that makes saying no so difficult. And each situation is different because my thinking is different.

In one situation, I can’t say no because someone expects me to say yes, and they will be disappointed if I say no. They may withdraw their love from me as a result, and I’m afraid of that. In another situation, I predict that someone will be offended if I refuse to agree with them, and I fear that they may attack me as a result. In another situation, I worry that someone may start beating themselves up if I say no and go into a depression because of what I said.

There are so many different situations where no is difficult to say. But it’s always my perception of what will happen if I say no that stops me. Instead of listening to my heart, my honest no inside, I get caught up in the other person’s business, worrying about how they will react, and trying to protect myself, or trying to protect them.

There Is No Magic Formula for How to Say No and Mean It

There’s no external formula because it’s always my internal thinking that stops me from saying no each time. My thinking is different in each situation, so I can’t simply apply a one-size-fits-all technique if I want to get to the root of how to say no and mean it.

To really mean it when I say no, I have to actually see things differently. And that takes real inquiry.

In order to say no and mean it when someone may be disappointed in me, I have to see that it’s okay for them to be disappointed in me. In order to say no when someone may attack me for saying no, I have see that the attack may not be as personal or as terrible as I imagine. And in order to say no when someone will be hurt by my no, I have see that it’s not actually my responsibility to think for them and protect them. 

I have to see a lot of things differently in order to say no and really mean it. And that can take a lot of stretching and changing of my point of view.

My Favorite Way to Change my Point of View

Instead of using a technique for saying no, I like to question my thinking. I like to play with lots of different points of view. I like to question my assumptions about the other person. And when I do, I often find that my thinking was not actually showing me the whole picture. When I start to see these other points of view, saying no becomes very simple.

Here’s How I Do It

I do something called The Work of Byron Katie (The Work), a simple form of self-inquiry. And I do this with any situation where I don’t know how to say no and mean it. I may use a situation where I failed to say no as a place to look at my thinking and question it. Or I may use a future situation where I know that I want to say no but am afraid that I won’t be able to. 

The main thing is to find a real situation.

When I use a real situation, I know exactly what I’m thinking about that situation. I’m very familiar with the reasons why I’m having trouble, or had trouble, saying no. Then I literally write down my thinking and start to question what I wrote using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

I Use a Worksheet for This

I write my stressful thoughts about the other person on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. For example, if I was afraid that the person would disapprove of me if I say no, I would write a worksheet like this.

Line 1: I am afraid of her because she will disapprove of me (if I say no).

Line 2: I want her to like me.
I want her to keep being my friend.
I want her to understand me.

Line 3: She should understand that my no is not a rejection of her.
She should not take it personally.
She should appreciate my courage to be honest with her.
She should see that we can be closer when we’re honest.
She should see that I love her.

Line 4: I need her to share openly why it’s hard for her.
I need her to use it as the start for deeper communication.
I need her to be willing to be vulnerable with me.
I need her to thank me for being so honest with her.

Line 5: She is scary, intimidating, reactionary, not understanding.

Line 6: I don’t ever want to feel intimidated to say no to her again.

This whole worksheet is about a very specific incident. I’m just getting my stressful thoughts onto paper. Then I go through and question everything I wrote. For each statement, I ask myself:

1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought?
4. Who would I be without that thought?

And I turn each thought around:

“She will disapprove of me” becomes:

1. I will disapprove of me.
2. I will disapprove of her.
3. She won’t disapprove of me.

And I find examples for each turnaround. For example, I find that what hurts most is when I disapprove of myself. This actually hurts more than when she disapproves of me. I’m the one who takes it all the way into my heart. And it’s also possible that she won’t disapprove of me, not as much as I am imagining. And not more than I can handle, or more than our friendship can handle.

In This Way, I Look at Every Angle

And as I do, my thinking starts to shift. I find myself less afraid of her reaction, and more empowered to say no.

Doing The Work on situations like this can be an ongoing process of learning how to say no and mean it. I’m not forcing myself into saying no. I’m questioning the underlying thoughts and beliefs that stop me from saying no. And in doing so I often find that I start to gain freedom in expressing myself.

In my experience, this gets to the root of the problem. As I’ve done these worksheets, my ability to say no has become stronger. Even in new situations, I find myself seeing though my old patterns, and I find myself spontaneously less intimidated to say no.

For me, learning how to say no and mean it is a side effect of my ongoing practice of The Work of Byron Katie. Through this practice, I’m becoming clearer not only in how to say no and mean it, but in many other ways as well.

If you want to learn how to do The Work, or start using it on a regular basis to look at all the angles your mind may not be seeing, I invite you to participate in my online course, The Work 101.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Honest communication begins with you communicating with yourself. It means responding with what is true for you, regardless of how someone may react to your answer. First you have to discover what is really true for you. A dishonest yes is a no to yourself.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

When Am I Going to Deal with My Emotions?

If I’m holding on to the past, wishing it were different, I’m still hurting inside no matter how much I try to convince myself that I’m beyond it. The only option is to deal with my emotions.

It Takes Courage to Deal with My Emotions

That’s why I’d often rather forget about it.

I think, “My life is okay. I’ll just focus on day-to-day living.” I distract myself with other more pressing things. I keep busy. I keep my head above water. But something still feels like it’s trying to pull me down.

The effort of treading water is constant and it can eventually become exhausting. Or it can lead me to addiction, anger, or negative behavior.

Though time does heal, it is often not enough.

What Is Missing Is a Gentle, Direct Way to Deal with My Emotions

When my mind is stressed, it’s not gentle. So every time I touch the old subject, I hurt myself with it. No wonder I try to avoid it! No wonder I don’t want to deal with it!

There is nothing worse than stepping into quicksand. It is actually intelligent to avoid it. But unfortunately, avoiding it doesn’t make it go away. And I have to spend my life avoiding certain areas of my thinking. In fact, as more stresses accumulate, my navigable area of thinking becomes smaller and smaller.

There needs to be a way to safely deal with my emotions.

Here’s What I Use

Since 2007, I’ve been using The Work of Byron Katie (The Work), a way to question stressful thoughts and turn them around. This meditative practice involves writing down my stressful thoughts. Just this act alone is therapeutic for me. Instead of a swirling pool of negativity in my mind, I’ve identified some concrete thoughts that I’m believing at the center of the negativity.

When I write them down I have a handle on them. There’s some distance on them, and that helps a lot.

The next part of The Work is to question what I wrote down. This is not about trying to change my mind. This is about truly questioning myself. I want to open to what’s really true for me inside. Is my thought really true for me or not? And how do I react when I believe it’s true? And who would I be if I happened not to believe this thought?

These questions make me go ‘Hmmm…” The questions support me to look a little more closely at the quicksand. And when I do, I often find that there’s solid ground in there. This allows me to step into the quicksand and explore less fearfully.

Which brings me to the final phase of doing The Work: finding the turnarounds, and examples of how the turnarounds could be true.

This Is Radical Work

It turns my world inside out and upside down. What I thought was scary is often found to be completely benign. But it’s a process. Little by little, thought by thought, I question what I believe and a new understanding often emerges. 

But even when I know how to do this work, I sometimes put it off. To not deal with my emotions seems easier. And so the tool sits unused. And I continue feeling the heaviness of not having dealt with something.

Deciding to Deal with my Emotions

For me, I have to have a few things in place before I can actually start to deal with my emotions in this way:

1. A working knowledge and trust of The Work
2. A dissatisfaction with my current state of emotions
3. A willingness to put in the time to do The Work.

Recently, I started doing The Work on my parents’ divorce from when I was 15. This was one of the biggest trauma’s of my life, and while I’ve done a lot of The Work, I haven’t done a lot of work on the divorce.

I can tell you after just a few days of questioning my thoughts about the divorce, I’m feeling so much lighter. The process of letting go takes time. But I’m actually now grieving this loss after three decades.

The Work Makes Grieving Easier for Me

I did The Work every day for two months after my mom died, and in that time I worked through my grief effectively. I found my peace. 

And now I’m opening this cold case of the divorce. For me the divorce was the death of my family. And I never gave myself the same amount of time doing The Work on the divorce as I did on my mom’s death.

Now the time has come. And it feels so healing. I will continue to work on this until I deal with my emotions completely. I love having a tool that is so effective for me.

If you want to learn how to do The Work, and start using it on a regular basis to deal with your emotions, I invite you to participate in my online course, The Work 101.

Have a great week,
Todd

“The thing you’re terrified of losing—you’ve already lost it. You may not have noticed that yet, and it may take you a while to grieve, and then you may realize that there was never anything to lose.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

It’s So Freeing Not to Believe that I Have to Be Competent

I’m a reasonably competent photographer, but when I was a professional photographer for seven years, there was always a nagging anxiety that I have to be competent.

“I Have to Be Competent” Is a Stressful Thought

It has many facets. First of all it is assuming that “I’m not competent,” and that “I should be competent.” And it may also include thoughts like, “I don’t know how to be more competent,” or “I can’t be more competent.”

This can be a depressing, or anxiety-producing, mix of thoughts. It’s an internal war with two opposing sides: I should be more competent and I’m not more competent. In other words, I’m arguing with myself, which uses a huge amount of energy.

This internal distraction quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as energy gets sucked out of productivity into worry, nervousness, and self-attack.

But All of These Thoughts Can Be Questioned

I love to question the literal thoughts that are running through my mind, especially when they’re stressful. For this I use a simple method of self-inquiry called The Work of Byron Katie (The Work).

I would literally question:

I have to be competent.
I’m not competent.
I should be competent.
I don’t know how to be more competent.
I can’t be more competent.

When I do this work, I often find that what I thought was true, is not true. And what I thought should happen is actually not necessary at all.

I’ve done a lot of questioning of stressful thoughts around being competent over the years using The Work. And it has left me in a different space from where I was when I was a wedding photographer and a nature photographer, and even in my beginning years of being a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie professionally.

I used to put so much pressure on myself. Now I don’t. Because I don’t believe those thoughts anymore. Or rarely do.

I Had a Dream the Other Night

I was sitting face to face with the Byron Katie, the founder of The Work, whom I look up to and admire for her clarity, honesty, and humility. She’s also my teacher, which means that I sometimes put her in a position of authority in my mind.

In the dream, she was looking directly at me and said something like, “I sense a lot of non-clarity in you.” And later she said, “You’re incompetent.” 

Coming from my teacher and someone I respect, this should have been devastating for me. If I were the “me” before I had questioned my thinking about being competent, I would have become defensive, pushing her away, reactive, etc. But I didn’t.

It Surprised Me

Instead, I said something like, “I’m totally incompetent and unclear inside in so many ways. I just don’t believe anymore that I have to be competent.” It felt so peaceful to simply be incompetent, exposed in whatever way I was exposed to her without a need to cover up.

Without the thought, “I have to be competent,” there was no shame. No disconnection.

I Love My Job Without this Belief

In this space, I’m always learning, always open to becoming more competent in the areas where I’m not competent. But there’s no fear in it, and no shame in it, and no pressure in it.

I don’t make any claims this way. And I don’t have expectations that I can’t live up to. I literally don’t have to be competent. It is the most freeing way to run a business, or to learn a sport, or to work through any new challenge that life gives me.

When I don’t expect myself to be competent, I can just be myself.

Learn How to Do This Work Yourself

No one can do The Work for you. It’s up to you to learn how to question your thoughts, and to do so. All it takes is an open mind to try it out. 

I also find that The Work of Byron Katie is a practice. That’s partly what I mean when I think of The Work as meditation. I have done The Work nearly every day as part of my routine since 2007. And with practice it continues to deepen.

If you want to start a practice of The Work, or just want to learn deeply how do The Work, I invite you to participate in my online course, The Work 101. The next one starts Feb 24.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Q: What do you mean by ‘Don’t be spiritual—be honest instead.’

“A: What I mean is that it’s very painful to pretend yourself beyond your own evolution, to live a lie, any lie. When you act like a teacher, it’s usually because you’re afraid to be the student. I don’t pretend to be fearless. I either am or I’m not. It’s no secret to me.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

How to Let Go of Jealousy

Jealousy comes from wanting something you think someone else has and you don’t.

Jealousy Is a Stressful Experience

Jealousy is the opposite of contentment. And it is very personal. Not only do I want what the other person has, but the fact that I don’t have it means that I’m a lesser person. Jealousy is really a kind of self-attack. 

And it is also blind to what I do have. It’s obsessive. Only what the other person has will do. Only when I get it will I be happy.

This Happens a lot in Relationships

If I want my partner’s love and attention, and he gives it to someone else, I may feel jealous. I don’t want the other person to have it. I want it all for myself. This is very stressful because, even though I know I shouldn’t feel jealous, I still do. It comes up like an obsession and takes over.

The same is true of jealousy of position, name and fame, money, status in society, etc. It’s easy to understand that jealousy is a destructive emotion, but like a drug addiction, it’s not always easy to quit.

In Fact, I Would Argue that you Can’t Let Go of Jealousy

Just like you can’t just “be peaceful.”

The mind doesn’t work that way. The mind is jealous because on a gut level I’m confused (even if I understand how destructive jealousy is). Until that confusion is first of all heard and listened to, and then patiently examined objectively, it will continue in the face of any attempt to stop it.

Letting go of jealousy is not something you do. It is something that happens when you hold your jealousy tenderly in your arms and listen to it with understanding and compassion. You must converse with your jealousy, listen to its arguments, and invite it to consider different points of view. 

I like to treat my jealousy with respect, and support it to find a way to see through its own stories. Only jealousy can undo jealousy. All I can do is invite it to look again. If jealousy sees the light itself, then it lets go of me. I can never use force in this process.

The Work of Byron Katie Can Help

The Work of Byron Katie (The Work) is a simple form of inquiry that is a perfect match for jealousy. It consists of allowing the jealous mind to write down the jealous thoughts and let them be heard without judgment. This is such an important step: to allow the stuck mind to just be heard and understood.

And then The Work presents some simple, experiential questions to the jealous mind. The Work is a way for the stuck mind to question what it thinks. So if the mind is full of jealousy, The Work provides a way for the mind to question its jealous thoughts, one by one. 

As the story unravels through inquiry, the jealous mind itself starts to see things differently. And jealousy loosens and often falls away. With this work, you never know how long it will take. It’s never up to me. It’s up to jealousy.

If my jealousy truly sees a more peaceful way to be, it will usually choose it on its own. But it cannot be forced. My only job is to keep listening, keep questioning, and keep testing what I’m finding as I do this work. In time, it is the truth becomes clearer deep inside. And that is what sets me free.

How to do The Work on Jealousy

Here’s how I use the four questions and turnarounds of The Work on jealousy.

I find with jealousy there is always something I’m wanting. The other person has it, and I don’t. So I write down what it is they have and question that.

For example, Let’s say you’re jealous of your boyfriend’s ex love. What what does this past lover have that you don’t have? To your mind, she still has his love (and you don’t—even though he’s with you now). So you can question the thought, “She has his love,” like this, “She has his love, is it true?”

Then, to take it further, I also question if I really want what I think they have. This is a second, separate inquiry. For example, “I want his love, is it true?” This has a different flavor to it, and the inquiry is quite different.

These two pieces of inquiry, “She has his love, is it true?” and “I want his love, is it true?” are a powerful place to begin, in my experience. Of course, I encourage you to use all four questions and find turnarounds and examples as you do this work.

And You Can Take It Further

Here are some additional concepts you could question (using the four questions, turnarounds, and turnaround examples for each one):

I need to know how they interacted.
I need to know what they talked about.
I need to know how things were between the sheets.
She has what he had always wanted in a woman (blond, tiny, lovely figure).
He is thinking of her when he is with me (including in bed).
He wishes he was still with her.
I am just a Band-Aid to his pain of being broken up with.

I recommend questioning every one of these kind of ruminating thoughts that show up. I suggest doing The Work, one statement at a time without keeping score about how far you’re getting. I encourage you to do this work as a daily practice, meeting the jealous thoughts each day as they come up. Even just questioning one of these thoughts a day is a powerful practice.

People Say “Just Let it Go”

But the mind cannot do that until it sees things differently.

A new way of seeing things comes slowly through inquiry for me. That’s why I make it a practice to do my work every day. I don’t have to solve all my problems today, I just do my work and then do my best during the day.

Then I come back and do some more work. It is a process that has slowly transformed the way I see many situations that used to be stressful for me.

Get Support with this Practice

I also suggest that you join us for my weekly Open Sessions (or get the recordings). In these sessions, I am available to facilitate you and others who show up each week. Doing this work is like learning a new language. The more exposure you get, the more it makes sense.

You might also consider The Work 101, my online course, if you really want to learn this language of inquiry. If I can be of any other support, let me know. I also offer private sessions.

My invitation to you is to meet your jealousy with understanding and inquiry. I find that jealousy responds well to this kind of respectful questioning.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I began to seriously question my thoughts—to ask “Is it true?”—when our fights about jealousy became so extreme. First I investigated what happened when I saw him smile at a beautiful woman or talk with her. I thought I knew what it meant. With inquiry, my first surprise was that I couldn’t be sure that my thoughts were true.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

New Course: The Work 101 for Busy People

Learn how to use the tools of self-inquiry in The Work 101 for Busy People online course.
The Work 101 is about learning the basic skills of doing The Work and about establishing a regular practice of The Work.

Are You Too Busy for The Work 101?

The Work 101 is a nine-week online course requiring about 40 hours of your time. It’s a great way to take a deep dive into the practice of The Work of Byron Katie. But what if you don’t have 5 hours/week to dedicate to this practice?

Until today, I offered no other option. But based on feedback from those who have wanted to take The Work 101 course and couldn’t due to time restraints, I’ve created a new version of the course just for busy people.

The Work 101 for Busy People

This version of the course is exactly the same as my standard 9-week course—no changes to the The Work 101 curriculum. You’ll get the same course either way.

But instead of 5 hours/week for nine weeks, this version of the course takes only about 10-20 minutes/day, five days/week for nine months.

This allows you to build a slow, steady practice of The Work at a very comfortable pace.

Now You Can Fit the Course into Your Busy Life

Just set aside 10-20 minutes five times each week on your own schedule to come to our password-protected forum to do the assignments. If you get behind for a few days, you can also catch up.

You’ll get the same great feedback on your work from me and the co-trainers who offer the course with me.

I encourage you to set up a regular time each day to do the assignments. Consistency is even more important with this course because it’s slow and steady. By the end of nine months you could have a really solid practice of The Work.

The Work 101 for Busy People starts on Feb 24 and goes through Nov 10, 2019. There is room allowed for vacations and unexpected things that happen during the year. I allow ten months to complete this 9-month course.

If You Have the Time, the 9-Week Course Is Still Great

There is something really powerful about the intensity of the 9-week course. I have run it now 12 times and it has stood the test of time.

But if slow and steady is more your style, or if it’s the only thing you can do, then The Work 101 for Busy People may be for you.

You can read about the course in detail on the sign up page.

The Price for The Work 101 Goes Up on Fri, Feb 8

If you sign up this week, you’ll save $90 CAD.

The current price is $470 CAD (approx. $359 USD, €313 EUR, $495 AUD). As of Feb 8, the price will be $560 CAD (approx. $427 USD, €373 EUR, $590 AUD). This increase of price will allow me to pay the co-trainers for the course a better wage for their services.

Sign up before 4 PM Pacific Time on Feb 8 to purchase at $470 CAD.

Three Courses Now Listed on the Website

I’ve now listed three courses to choose from:

Apr 7 – Jun 9, 2019: The Work 101 (Nine-week course)
Sep 8 – Nov 10, 2019: The Work 101 (Nine-week course)
Feb 24 – Nov 10, 2019: The Work 101 for Busy People (Nine-month course)

The price is the same for all of these courses. And the price will go up for all of them on Feb 8. Sign up for any of them now to take advantage of today’s pricing.

The Doorway to Inquiry Circle

This course is the entryway to our ongoing practice group called Inquiry Circle.

Inquiry Circle lies at the very heart of what I offer. This is where we take Byron Katie’s invitation to make The Work a daily practice and make it a reality. I’d love to have you join this amazing group of dedicated practitioners of The Work once you complete The Work 101.

Learn more about The Work 101 and sign up here.

Have a great week,
Todd

“The Work is merely four questions; it’s not even a thing. It has no motive, no strings. It’s nothing without your answers. These four questions will join any program you’ve got and enhance it. Any religion you have—they’ll enhance it. If you have no religion, they will bring you joy. And they’ll burn up anything that isn’t true for you. They’ll burn through to the reality that has always been waiting.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

How to Make Peace with Anything

How to make peace with anything that is not a beautiful as the Oregon Coast.

It’s easy to be peaceful in some settings, but can you be peaceful even when you’re being challenged?

How to Make Peace with Anything

Have you ever wanted to make peace with someone, or something, in your life but found it difficult to do?

This is especially hard when the other side is not budging. I’m often much more willing to give a little if the other side is also willing to compromise in order to make peace. But what happens when someone, or when life itself, offers no compromise?

Is Peace Still Possible?

Making peace with anything is the simplest thing in the world. It requires only one action: letting go. But letting go may be nearly impossible in a stressed state of mind. This can be a bit of a catch-22.

Letting go is easy for those who are well practiced at letting go, but for most of us it is easier said than done. “Just let go!” is great advice, but how do you do that?

Here’s How I Do It

There is no magic formula for making peace. No one can do it for you. In fact, in my experience, peace is not something I can really control: it comes in its own time. But it is possible to create favorable conditions for peace to arise in any situation.

One of my favorite ways to do this is called The Work of Byron Katie (The Work). The Work is a simple form of self-inquiry that helps me to identify a stressful thought, write it down, question it, turn it around, and find examples of how the opposite could be just as true.

This simple, meditative process opens my mind to experience the very opposite of what I believe. This process of expanding the mind often leaves me in a much more peaceful space, without changing anything else. Often after doing The Work, the same situation that stressed me no longer causes me stress at all. 

This is very freeing because it means that I don’t have to fix the situation to be at peace with it. Yet ironically, I often find much more energy and creativity available for problem solving when I’m no longer arguing with reality.

How to Do The Work

The Work is something you can do in written form, or with a partner in spoken form. The process itself provides no answers, but the questions invite the mind to settle deeply into itself. I find that this allows hidden experiences and wisdom that were already in me to surface.

I’ve been using The Work personally as an almost daily meditation practice since 2007, and professionally since 2010. I have witnessed over and over and over again the power of this simple set of questions. It somehow gets my mind, and the minds of my clients, to look at things very differently in a very short amount of time.

How to Make Peace with Anything

Some things are harder to let go of than others but, in theory, it is possible to make peace with anything. I continue to test this theory every day as I do The Work on the things that stress me. 

I encourage you to challenge yourself too. Can you make peace with anything? I’m willing to bet that, if you’re willing to question your thinking, that peace will have a hard time staying away from you.

If you want to begin this practice in earnest, I’d love to have you join us for The Work 101, my online course for learning and going deeply into The Work. The price goes up on Feb 8, so sign up now if you’re interested.

Have a great week,
Todd

“If you are tired of suffering, I invite you to The Work.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

The Freedom in Owning Your Part

oil tanker

It’s easy to blame others for environmental issues for example, but if I can find my own contributions to this problem, there is no need for anger or attack. My heart opens to a more humble, peaceful, and effective way forward when I’m owning my part.

Not Owning My Part Is Stressful

This came up so elegantly in last week’s Open Session. The person doing The Work made it clear for all of us that owning her part led to peace. She saw herself being punished for an innocent action that she had done earlier, and her mind cried out “Not fair!”

The mind not only attacked those accusing her, but also those who advised her to do the action in the first place. And in the same stroke the mind also attacked her for doing it, thinking “I should have known better.”

In All this Attack there Was No Peace

By going through the four questions and turnarounds of The Work, she saw clearly how her mind got wrapped up in everyone else’s business when she was not owning her part. And as soon as she did own her part, she experienced peace.

This is how The Work works. I start by blaming others, or myself, and end up finding that there is no one to blame.

Whatever happened simply happened. That’s all. That’s where my mind can rest.

Owning It Is Different than Beating Myself Up

Owning my part means accepting responsibility for my actions. But it also requires that I don’t attack myself for what I did. Self-attack is not the same as owning it. One is violent, the other is peaceful.

When I attack myself, I get to look like I’m owning it but I’m really still not owning it. I’m just blaming myself and staying separate from myself in the process. True ownership happens when I fully join myself and embrace both the fact that I did it and the fact that there was a certain innocence in my doing it.

When I can hold both my “guilt” and my “innocence,” then I am truly owning my part. And my heart can relax. I have nothing to hide, even from myself. And all attacking stops. There is no need to attack others or myself when I’m able to see it this way.

Join us for an Open Session

Every week, we get together on video conference to do The Work and consider questions about The Work. During these half-hour, free sessions, I am available to facilitate anyone who shows up. I’d love to have you join us some time.

Also, if you can’t make the time of a meeting, you can still sign up for that meeting in advance and you’ll get the audio recording emailed to you afterwards.

Learn more about Open Sessions here.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Do The Work until you see your part in it.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

How I Like to Slowly Begin a New Habit

raindrops on a lake

A gentle rain that begins slowly often lasts longer.

I Like to Begin a New Habit Slowly

At this time of year, it’s natural to become enthusiastic about starting new things. With a whole new year ahead, the mind gets excited about what it could do. But unfortunately, most of us bite off more than we can chew and end up dropping new plans within a few weeks.

Here’s how I like to begin new things (at any time of year).

Phase 1: Contemplating the Idea

Before I jump in with a new routine, I like to sit with the idea I’m considering for a while. I may take several weeks, or months, or even years considering adding something to my routine.

The reason I like to take my time is that my time is limited. That’s just reality.

There are only so many hours in a day and, when I do too much, I end up feeling stressed instead of excited. So, as I consider whether to add something to my routine, I’m considering it along with my other priorities.

Is it a higher priority than something I’m already doing?
How much time will it take?
Is there a niche in my day that would work for this?

As I sit in these questions, I consider all the options, and mentally experiment with it. Over time, it becomes clear what the priorities are and whether it is doable or not.

Some great ideas wait a long time before I add them to my routine. But I’d rather wait than overburden myself. And some great ideas get left behind. As I get in touch with my true priorities, these things sort themselves out.

Phase 2: Getting on the To Do List

Once I’ve decided that this new practice is something I really want to do, and that I really can fit it into my routine without overburdening myself, I start adding it to my to do list every day.

I have a flexible to do list. Every day of the week has a template of basic things I want to do that day. Each morning, I copy my template for the day to my active to do list and I prioritize it. I also add any special or unexpected jobs for that day. The most important things go to the top of the list, and less important things stay at the bottom.

I know that I will probably not get everything done on my to do list every day, and I’ve become very comfortable with that. Regardless of whether I finish everything that day, at the end of the day I cross out any of the recurring items at the bottom of the list that I never got to by the end of the day. Even though I didn’t do them, I am reminded that they are something I’m working towards doing.

Phase 3: Checking in for Just a Minute Daily

As I start seeing my new routine showing up on my to do list every day, I start looking for ways to actually do it. The first way, is simply to open up the project for a minute. I may do very little in that time, but at least I opened it up, even for just one minute. And I can check it off for the day.

I find, as I keep opening it every day, I want to spend a little more time doing it. So it starts to catch, and soon I’m spending 5 or 10 minutes, or more, every day on it. It’s amazing how much I can do with just 10 min a day.

Meanwhile, I’m still juggling my to do list and working through items in order of priority. In fact, after every item that I complete on my to do list, I revisit my list and rearrange things as priorities continue to shift during the day.

Phase 4: Booking Time in my Calendar

Time in my calendar is reserved for my highest priorities that I’m committed to giving regular time to. If I notice that I’m opening and working on one of my new practices every day consistently and it really has become a high priority for me, then I block out some time in my calendar for it. My very highest priorities tend to go at the beginning of the day.

This feels very nice to me. I can now count on time for this practice each day. And all of the other items on my to do list will have to fit around it.

Of course, if my priorities change again, I can always remove it from my calendar time and put it back on my regular to do list. The key for me, is continuing to listen to my ever-changing priorities. As they change, I adjust with them.

Guilt-Free Practice

I love this way of doing things for many reasons:

1. I am never pushing myself to do something.
2. I respect my priorities as they continue to change.
3. I remain realistic as I experiment with new practices.
4. It is not stressful.

My way may not be your way. This is just how my mind works, and I share it only for you to see it as an option. Your mind will find its own best way. if you have an idea you want to share with me, send me an email.

Here’s wishing you a happy 2019!
Todd

“The Work wakes us up to reality. When we take it on as a practice, it leaves us as flawless, innocent, a figment of pure imagination. Practicing inquiry takes us to the Buddha-mind, where everything, without exception, is realized as good. It leads to total freedom. Why would you want to experience a problem and pretend it isn’t there—to skip over it and find just some tiny place inside you that’s free? Don’t you want to find freedom with every breath? Nothing exists but the concept in the moment. Let’s meet that now with understanding.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Seventh Annual Address Book Challenge

address book

Every year I challenge myself to make peace with someone.

Take a Look at Your Address Book

In it you will find the names of so many people in your life, as well as people who are no longer in your life. There are names of people that you’d like to spend more time with, and names of those who you’d rather forget.

This exercise is about using your address book to clean up your internal world.

The purpose is not to re-engage in dysfunctional relationships of the past but rather to free yourself of any stickiness left in you from those relationships.

Here’s How to Do It

Open up your address book and scan through the names. Pay close attention to your emotions as you scan. Your emotions are a very sensitive meter for old stickiness.

As you read through different names, you’ll feel that meter bouncing up and down inside of you. Looking at one name, you may feel joy and love, and be flooded with pleasant memories. Looking at another name, you may feel complete neutrality.

Looking at yet another, you may feel a little hint of anxiety, anger, sadness, or disgust as the images of your past interactions with this person show up in your mind.

Here’s the Challenge

When you come across a name in your address book that causes a stressful emotion to show up, slow down and look at the memories associated with that person. Look at the images of past interactions if they arise.

Follow the thread of stressful emotions to a situation where they began—some specific incident with this person. If there are many situations, pick any one that is clearer to you.

This is an opportunity to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on the person from that old forgotten situation.

Healing is Needed Here

It’s as if you have been slowly bleeding from that wound all this time. It’s hardly noticeable, but this can be where your energy continues to get drained today. Here is a chance to go back and stop the bleeding.

My invitation is to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on one person from your address book and to take your time to work through it slowly.

I like to write a worksheet one day, and then question one statement per day until I’ve questioned enough statements from my worksheet that I now feel peaceful instead of stressed when I think of this person or the incident.

This Is About Cleaning Up Your Heart

This is not necessarily about making amends, rekindling old friendships, etc., though that can sometimes happen. What it is really about is getting clean inside. It is about forgiveness and letting go and making peace. That’s all.

It’s your heart that you live with every day. Only you can create peace and order there.

If you want to do this exercise in a classroom setting, join us for The Work 101 starting January 13. (By the way, the Canadian dollar is low this week, so take advantage of the favorable exchange rate.)

Have a great week,
Todd

“I encourage you to write about someone whom you haven’t yet totally forgiven, someone you still resent. This is the most powerful place to begin. Even if you’ve forgiven that person 99 percent, you aren’t free until your forgiveness is complete. The 1 percent you haven’t forgiven that person is the very place where you’re stuck in all your other relationships (including your relationship with yourself).” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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