He or She Is Toxic, Is It True?

dead leaves in water

If I think this water is toxic, I am repulsed and run away.

I Love the Propaganda of the Mind

When the mind is triggered, it doesn’t think in calm, rational thoughts. It uses dramatic, inflammatory words and pictures to drive home the idea that this is life or death, and to provoke immediate action.

This is good for survival. All animals have it. It has kept us alive for millennia. But it is often misused by the mind. And questioning it can help bring the mind back to a more rational place.

Have You Ever Thought “He or She is Toxic”?

This is such a great word. It immediately connotes images of radioactive waste or bio-hazard signs. And the gut reaction is to get the hell out of there.

Now look what happens when the mind uses this word, toxic, to label a friend, family member, or coworker. Maybe you read about toxic relationships somewhere, or someone suggests that someone close to you is toxic. Immediately, the instinct kicks in, “I’ve gotta get out of here.” Or, “I’ve got to destroy them.”

In that state of mind, the person whom you’re close to is no longer a person. They’ve been labeled. They are now toxic waste to be gotten rid of as soon as possible.

The trouble is that if you look closely enough, everyone is “toxic” in some way or another. And if you keep seeing things this way you can end up being very alone and afraid. You may even start seeing yourself as “toxic” and try to run away from yourself.

It’s Time to Question What You Think

You can literally question, “She is toxic,” or “He is toxic,” even “I am toxic.” I use the four questions and turnarounds of The Work of Byron Katie.

I did this recently with a client. She found that when she believed that her boyfriend was toxic, she immediately pulled away from him. She wanted out of the relationship. She was frozen in fear. And angry at him. She had no patience for him at all. And she had a feeling like a dark energy was contaminating her interior.

When she imagined what it would be like to be in the same situation with him but without the thought that he is being toxic, she was much more neutral. She saw that he was having a hard time. Yes, he was being irrational, but it wasn’t actually dangerous or contagious.

She Saw He Was Not Actually Being Toxic

Toxic was just one way of labeling it (a convenient way of labeling it that fit with other motives running). It was the mind’s spin. The same experience could be seen in a different way: that he was caught in a trap in his mind and couldn’t set himself free.

It’s like he was a fly caught in a spider web of his own thinking. Every buzz of the fly, every complaint, was labeled as him being toxic. But in reality every buzz was just a symptom of his own struggle.

Seeing it this way led to a feeling of compassion instead of fear and disgust.

And It Left Her Open to Be Supportive

It reminded her of how doctors and nurses work around all kinds of dangerous, even contagious, diseases and rarely get sick. They are there to serve, to care for the patient, not to run away in an act of self-preservation.

This turn from self-protection to service changes the whole dynamic. Even if she is unable to untangle the fly from the web, she is available for the fly who is caught.

In this mode, there is no dark energy inside of her. There is only light, her own light that she shares generously. The darkness was only the darkness of her own closed and fearful heart. As soon as it opened again, there was nothing but sunshine inside.

If you want to dive deeply into doing The Work of Byron Katie with me, I invite you to join us in January for The Work 101, my eight-week online course in The Work of Byron Katie.

Have a great week,

“How do I help people who think that the rope is a snake? I can’t. They have to realize it for themselves. They could take my word for it, because they want it to be true. But until they see it for themselves, they would always in their hearts believe that the rope is a poisonous snake and that they are in mortal danger. Well, thoughts are like that, and inquiry is about the snakes in the mind—the thoughts that keep us from love and from the awareness of being loved. I can see that every loveless, stressful thought in the mind is a rope. Inquiry is meant to help you discover for yourself that all the snakes in your mind are really and truly just ropes.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

A Conversation with Grace Bell

cherry leaves

Podcast Recording

Grace Bell and I share the same enthusiasm for The Work. Grace is a certified facilitator, and has been writing a blog about The Work for as long, or longer, than I have. And she has a podcast.

Grace and I got to know each other when we offered a retreat together at Breitenbush Hot Springs last June. When she suggested that we record a podcast episode together, I was happy to join her. I thought you might enjoy it too.

Listen to the recording here, or subscribe to her podcast on iTunes.

And check out what Grace offers on her website, including an online course called, Eating Peace, using The Work as a way to question the thoughts around eating disorders—an issue that she has recovered from herself with the help of The Work.

Have a great week,

“Every belief is about being careful; it’s about keeping the body alive. I’m not careful. I don’t live that way. I look forward to whatever comes.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

The Mind Tries to Avoid Coming Out of Denial

peacock coming out of denial

If this peacock does The Work, it’s probably going to find that it really is quite cocky. It’s not just that the other peacocks are off. He’s as prideful as the lot of them.

The Work Doesn’t Lie

So if you want to stay safe, don’t do The Work of Byron Katie. But if staying safe isn’t working for you, I invite you to question what you believe. Just be prepared.

This work is not for the faint of heart. It is as gentle as gentle can be. That’s why I love The Work. I don’t know of a gentler way to see the hard truths about myself. But in the end, I’m still looking square at myself in the mirror. And mirrors don’t lie.

The Mind Will Try to Avoid This

And it has many tactics to keep the truth at bay: it may simply deny it, it may go into a renewed attack on the other person, it may tell a distracting story, it may stop doing The Work and go get something to eat, check Facebook, etc.

When faced with the truth, the mind can get very uncomfortable. It may cause the body to shake, or nausea to happen.

Another big way that the mind tries to avoid the truth is to attack itself. It cleverly steps out of itself, becomes a traitor to itself, and joins the “other side” in attacking itself (all to stay “safe.”)

This Happened with a Client Recently

While questioning what she wrote on her Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, she saw how demanding she was. She saw it in the situation she was looking at, and as a trend throughout her life. It was a clear view in the mirror.

It shook her. She felt nauseated. And immediately the mind began to wriggle its way out of this uncomfortable feeling. She began to attack herself. It’s funny how the mind often chooses self-attack over standing in the truth.

She spoke out her self-attack and defensive thoughts:

I’ve humiliated myself.
I’m so stupid.
I’m making problems.
I’ve been so arrogant.
Everyone hates me.
I made too big of a mess to be cleaned up.
Nobody cares.
They just want to see me gone.
It hurts.
I can’t bear this.
I wasted so much time.
I hurt everybody.
I can’t admit to that.
I’ll get obliterated.

These thoughts could all be questioned. They are the distractions the mind puts up when it doesn’t want to fully sit in the truth, in this case, “I am demanding.” Just knowing that these are the mind’s distractions helps a lot. Questioning them can also help.

The Mind Is Coming Out of Denial

I remember when I fully believed I was a nice guy. Now I know it’s not true. But coming out of denial was scary at first. And my mind did everything to avoid it. But when I could see and fully own the fact that I can be mean, I was free.

Free because I no longer had to pretend.

I didn’t have to keep up appearances of being a nice guy, and covering up when I wasn’t so nice. I didn’t have to cover up by blaming others when I was really at fault. That is the value of standing in the truth. It sets you free.

But you have to really stand in it. A quick peek at the truth is helpful, but there’s no substitute for fully coming out of denial and owning it. That’s what The Work points to over and over in the gentlest of ways.

There’s No Way Around It

The truth must be owned if freedom is to be gained. It takes courage. But it also takes awareness of how the mind tries to dodge the truth.

When you’re aware of what the mind is doing, you can be gentle with it, yet not be fooled by it. Maybe you question the self-attack thoughts. Or maybe you see through them the way you can see through the manipulations and tantrums of a child, and gently guide it back.

If peace is what you want, coming out of denial is medicine.

Join us for my eight-week online course, The Work 101, starting in January. We’ll be uncovering a lot of beautiful, scary, freeing truths as we do The Work together.

Have a great week,

“The Buddha says that even one glimpse of the truth is worthy of our deepest respect. The basic realization that other people can’t possibly be your problem, that it’s your thoughts about them that are the problem— this realization is huge. This one insight will shake your whole world, from top to bottom. And then, when you question your specific thoughts about mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, boss, colleague, child, you watch your identity unravel. Losing the “you” that you thought you were isn’t a scary thing. It’s thrilling. It’s fascinating. Who are you really, behind all the façades?” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

The Source of “Too Much to Do”

apple bins

If I told you to peel all these apples, would it be too much to do?

“Too Much To Do” Is a Concept

It’s a stressful thought I sometimes have as I try to balance all the different things I want to do. But each time I question this thought, I find that there really is not too much to do. And that I’m the one who gets to decide what I’ll do next.

The Source of “Too Much to Do” for Me Is Not Saying No

This seems obvious, but to really see it changes everything. If I say yes to everything, I will quickly have too much to do.

But I really want to do all these things. That is the driver.

This thought can be questioned. I want to do this, is it true? I want to do that, is it true? When I question my wants, I often find that I don’t really want to do some things. And that I’ll be okay if I don’t do other things. This starts to form a natural sense of priorities.

But I have to do some things.

These “have to” thoughts can also be questioned. It’s scary to question everything, but without questioning, I become a slave to both my “have to” list and my “want” list. I stop asking myself what I really want, and my life feels overcrowded and burdensome.

Formal Inquiry Is Helpful

I like to put my to do list on the chopping block sometimes. I question that “I have to” or “I want to” do each item. I’m not trying to be brutal (I find that I like being busy). This is only for the purpose of being more realistic in the limited time I have.

It can be an amazing experience to question my to do list (both today’s list and my long-term future lists).

This Inquiry Becomes Automatic with Practice

I find myself changing the order of my to do list every day as I go through my day. I give myself permission to not do some things on my list, and to be willing to take the consequences of that (people not liking it).

I do this for my own sanity because it’s not possible to do everything anyway, let alone do everything well. So I pick my projects and leave the rest.

And as I keep rearranging my priorities and cutting what I don’t really want or need to do, I get better at saying no to new requests. I find myself looking at my limited time realistically more often now and asking myself, “Do I really want to give up this task in order to take on this new one?”

I no longer believe that “I can do it all.” So I make some decisions and live with them. It feels much better than the juggling act I’ve always tried to do.

Learn how to question anything. Join us for The Work 101 online course.

Have a great week,

“There’s never a task too great or too small, because the only task to accomplish is the one in front of me. It might appear that there are a thousand things to do, but in fact there is never more than one.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Taking Time to Identify What Is Really Bothering Me

pasture in fog

What is really bothering me about the weather here? Is it the fog? Or the cold? Or the darkness? Or is it the wind? And why does it bother you? Is preventing you from hiking? Or is it forcing you to dress differently? Or making you cold? Or is it depressing you?

It’s Not Enough to Find a Stressful Situation

The first step of doing The Work of Byron Katie is to identify a stressful situation and to write down the thoughts that are bothering you. This can be done quickly or meditatively. Both are good.

Today, let’s look at the value I find in slowing down and taking time to identify what is really bothering me. When I do this, I often find that my work really addresses the issue that is up for me and my turnarounds become very targeted medicine for me.

Taking time to see what is really bothering me can be done when looking for one-liners or when writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. The approach is the same.

I First Start by Identifying a Stressful Situation

It helps to find a specific instance where I had a stress reaction. This way, I’m not talking about my stress in general, but have a real live incident to write about.

Once I’ve identified the situation and what was going on, I like to narrow it down a little further. What was the key moment in that situation that upset me? I can often narrow this down to one precise moment (though sometimes this is not so easy, and is not always necessary).

Regardless of whether I can find a specific moment in my situation or am left looking at the situation as a whole, my next step is to identify who or what is causing my stress. Often, it’s someone else in the situation, but sometimes I may find that I’m blaming myself. Either way is fine. I’m just looking for what is really bothering me, and I trust that.

Then I Look at What They Actually Did

I sometimes call it the “statement of fact.” For example, “She interrupted me.” I can simply question this statement of fact as it is. Many times I have put the statement of fact in Line 1 of a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet like this, “I am angry with her because she interrupted me.”

This is what is really bothering me. So I trust that. I write my worksheet on her interrupting me.

But There’s Often Another Layer Underneath

I ask, “What is it about her interrupting me that is really bothering me?”

When I look closely, I often discover that I have a number of interpretations lying underneath the statement of fact. These are usually what are driving the emotions that I’m feeling. These are what make it personal for me.

I find it very valuable to take some time to identify these interpretations. I usually make a list of them before even starting to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.

For example:

Statement of fact: She interrupted me.


She is trying to control me.
She thinks I’m wrong.
She doesn’t care about me.
She thinks she’s better than me.
She’s trying to dominate me.
She is not being fair to me.

Notice that all of these statements are about her. They are my interpretations of what she is really doing when she interrupts me. Because of these interpretations, her interruption is emotionally charged for me.

I Take Time to Build my List of Interpretations

Sometimes it takes me a day just to do this. And I also take time to consider which interpretation is really at the heart of it for me. It is a practice of paying close attention to my own feelings when I look at what the other person did.

The emotions will be different depending on my interpretation. For example, I feel angry when I think she is trying to control me. But I feel defensive when she thinks I’m wrong. And I feel sad when I think she doesn’t care about me.

Sifting through these interpretations, and adding any more that come up, is something I like to spend time on. I want to see if it’s really anger or sadness. Maybe both are there, but which one is closer to the heart of it for me?

Finding the Heart of my Emotion

With awareness it becomes clearer which interpretation is bothering me the most. But even if I don’t find “the one” it doesn’t matter. I just pick one and get started writing the worksheet. I know that any of them will take me home.

This is what meditating on the stressful experience can show me. When I take my time to identify what is really bothering me about what they did, my worksheet will allow that deepest pain in me to be expressed.

And when I write down all the stressful thoughts that are connected to my interpretation on lines 2-6 of my worksheet, it feels like a deep emotional purge. Just writing the worksheet brings relief. The part of me that was silenced is now allowed to speak.

And when I get around to actually doing The Work on all of the statements that I wrote, they are so connected to my emotion and what was really bothering me that each piece of work feels like medicine that directly addresses and heals what was really bothering me.

It’s Just a Matter of Paying Attention

And I find that there are layers to it. I may write a worksheet about being “angry that she is controlling me,” and when I’m done with it and the anger has lessened or disappeared, I may find that the sadness of her “not caring about me” is coming up more strongly now.

So I may go back for a second pass and write a whole new worksheet based on this second offense, “I am saddened by her because she doesn’t care about me.” It’s the same situation, but it’s a very different worksheet.

Like an archeologist, I can peel off the layers one by one until all aspects of my stress have been fully met with understanding. In this way, I don’t feel a rush to move on to another situation to write a worksheet, I can reach all the way to heaven just working this one.

Have a great week,

“We’re meditating on a moment in time, and allowing that moment to enlighten you.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

What Are your Requirements for Letting Go?

Oregon Coast

Letting go is not always easy.

We Have Our Requirements

And these requirements are what keep us from moving on, forgiving, letting go, and finding peace again. Until these requirements are met, we are stuck, fighting with the way things are.

The Work of Byron Katie is a form of self-inquiry that helps us identify these requirements and to question them. When I do this, I often find alternatives that make my requirements irrelevant.

When my requirements fall away, I can’t help moving on, forgiving, and letting go.

To Do The Work, You Have to First Find Your Requirements

This can be done free-form by writing them in a list, or by using the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.

The Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is a great way to get really close to a particular stressful moment and to collect all of the requirements you may be holding that keep you feeling stuck.

Here’s How It Works

In Line 1 of the worksheet, you write the perceived offense that the other person did to you. This sets the stage for the rest of the worksheet.

In Line 2, you write how you want them to change. This is a major requirement. The mind thinks, “I’ll be happier if they change.” So write down all of those thoughts about how you want them to change.

But it’s not enough to want someone to change. It’s hopeless actually, unless I can figure out how to get them to change. That’s what Line 3 is about: how to advise them so that they really do change and move in the direction you want.

But Even this Is Not Enough

Even if they did change, and followed your advice, and started doing it the way you want, there is still a requirement that has not yet been met. And it is needed in order to fully let go and move on. This is why there is another line on the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.

Line 4 addresses the wound that the other person caused. I need them to fully own what they did to me, to share what was going on for them as a human being, and to make amends.

This is the missing piece, the final requirement that I need, to fully forgive them. Until this requirement is met, I’m still holding on—even if they do change otherwise.

Of Course, All of this Can Now Be Questioned

That’s the beauty of The Work of Byron Katie. When you have systematically identified all of the requirements you need in a situation, your work is well begun, but it’s only half done. Now, you can question each requirement you wrote on the worksheet using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

What I find when I do this is that the requirements I had for the other person are really just requirements for me. My advice to them becomes the perfect advice for me. And what I need them to do so I can forgive them becomes what I need to do so I can forgive myself and them.

The Work takes the dependence I have on them away. I no longer need them to change. I no longer need them to meet my requirements. I simply take my own advice, and meet myself the way I wanted them to meet me. My requirements get filled by me instead of them.

This Can Be Powerful Work

I’ve witnessed deep-rooted beliefs fall away. I’ve watched feuds evaporate. I’ve experienced relationships change. And just from filling in this simple worksheet and questioning the requirements that show up on it.

If you want to get deep practice working in this way, I invite you to join us for The Work 101, my eight-week online course in The Work of Byron Katie.

Have a great week,

“You don’t need to let go or understand or forgive. Forgiveness is realizing that what you thought happened didn’t. You realize that there was never anything to forgive, and that’s what The Work makes evident. It has all just been a misunderstanding within you. When you can see that, someone else has to say, “Oh, you’re so forgiving,” because you wouldn’t have a clue yourself. That’s true forgiveness.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Sitting with Byron Katie’s Teacher

lake in rain

Who was Byron Katie’s teacher?

I Was Working with a Client Recently

He was doing The Work on anxiety, which has been a constant companion in his life.

He was questioning some one-liners such as: “I wish this anxiety wasn’t coming up. I wish I didn’t have this in the first place. This is getting in the way of what I really need to be doing.”

These Thoughts Cause Stress

When he is believing these thoughts, his anxiety increases. And so does his frustration, hopelessness, and depression. Without these thoughts, it would be much less stressful for him when anxiety shows up.

It was fascinating to see that the resistance to anxiety was the biggest cause of making it worse. Without the resistance, he would be listening for what the anxiety is actually trying to tell him. He would be alert, tuned-in, hanging on every nuance.

He Started to See the Anxiety as his Teacher

The anxiety has always let him know when he was resisting some truth, was attached to some goal, or was trying to prove something. Anxiety let him know when he was trying to protect some version of himself that he was pretending to be.

The only purpose of anxiety has been to let him know. And he’s been vigilant about checking it out: listening, and questioning what he was believing.

As he’s done his work over the years, his anxiety has gone down a lot. But now he sees the parts of his anxiety that remain not as his enemy to be destroyed, but as his friend, as his continuing, ever-patient teacher.

In Fact, Anxiety Is Just the Teacher’s Bell

The real teacher is simply the truth. If he listens to each truth that presents itself, anxiety is not needed, just as no bell is needed when the student is listening.

The turnarounds were so sweet from this perspective. “I’m glad anxiety is coming up. This is not getting in the way of what I really need to be doing.” It’s so helpful that the teacher has a bell and uses it.

He immediately saw that even when anxiety comes up at inconvenient times for him, by facing it and listening to the truth behind it, he is doing what he really needs to be doing. Other priorities become less important from this perspective. When he listens to the internal teacher, and questions his stressful thought, he can then go back to his other priorities with his heart engaged again.

It Reminded us of Spiritual Teachers

One way people learn from spiritual masters is to devote themselves to them. If the master calls in the middle of the night, or in the middle of something important, the disciple drops everything and runs to them, hanging on every word.

This is an external expression of what can also be done internally. When anxiety calls, the “disciple” devotes herself to attend to it, hanging on every word of wisdom that it brings.

This is how I understand Byron Katie’s path. She didn’t have an external teacher. Instead, each stressful experience was her internal teacher’s bell calling her to look closely and question what she was believing.

This idea was fun to play with: maybe my client’s anxiety was the same teacher—Byron Katie’s teacher, the original teacher of all spiritual teachers throughout time. Suddenly, the call from anxiety seemed very significant indeed.

The dates for the next Work 101 course have been announced: Jan 13 – Mar 17, 2019. I’d love to have you join us for eight weeks diving deeply into The Work.

Have a great week,

“When you follow the voice inside, you lose your sense of self. In my world, I can’t do anything wrong. There’s no plan. I am just an internal yes. That voice is clear to you, it’s clear to all of us, but it’s overlaid by the thoughts we believe. I used to call it the voice of the heart. I didn’t have a teacher to tell me, “This is spiritual and this isn’t,” so I just kept following the voice and losing everything. People would say, “You’re crazy,” and I would just say, “Oh,” and keep on following the voice. It’s a wonderful experiment, and what happens is that you expand into that awareness and lose yourself in a deeper and deeper way. And then other people, who are just you again, say things like “You’re so loving,” and there’s no one to thank, and you receive it fully. It’s the space that opened as you.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Tips for Going Deeper in Question 4 of The Work

Half Moon Bay, California

The Work will take you as deep as you want to go.

Going Deeper in Question 4

Question 4 of The Work of Byron Katie is a powerful question. The question is, “Who would you be without that thought?” In The Work of Bryon Katie, we are questioning thoughts, beliefs, or stories. You start by picking one thought, usually a stressful thought and questioning if it’s true or not, and reporting how you react when you believe it (questions 1-3).

Question 4 is a chance to explore new territory. Who would you be without that thought (in the same situation where you were believing it)? Answering this question can open up new worlds. But it can also be challenging at times.

Here Are Some Tips for Going Deeper in Question 4

1. Go back to the situation where you were believing the thought. Just like when you answer question 3 (how do you react?), go back and walk around in the situation again. Be there and go through every experience again mentally, but with without the thought this time. The more specific and thorough you are, experiencing every aspect of the situation again without the thought, the more you will get from question 4.

2. Pretend. The biggest obstacle to going deeper in question 4 is the belief that you have to get rid of the thought. This is not true! You don’t ever have to get rid of your belief when doing The Work. You are just experiencing the effect of it (question 3) and imagining what it would be like without it (question 4).

Many people think, “I can’t be without it because I believe it.” But you don’t have to stop believing a thought to pretend who you would be if you didn’t believe it. Take the liberty. Explore. Who would you be without that thought? The thought may be perfectly true. You don’t have to stop believing it ever! Just who would you be without it? Be a kid. Pretend. Just because I can’t fly, doesn’t mean I can’t pretend that I can fly over my house and experience it from the air.

3. Use the subquestions from question 3 again in question 4. Ask yourself what emotions or physical sensations do you experience without the thought, how do you treat the other person, how do you treat yourself, is there any difference without the thought?

4. Take your time. Maybe take ten minutes to really explore who you would be in the stressful moment without the thought. Look at the other person. What do you see when you look at them without your story? Maybe even sit in question 4 for a whole day, thinking about it from time to time throughout your day. It is a meditation.

Have a great week,

“Picture yourself standing in the presence of the person you have written about when they aren’t doing what you think they should be doing, or when they’re doing what you think they shouldn’t be doing. Now, just for a minute or two, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine who you would be if you couldn’t think this thought. How would your life be different in the same situation without this thought? Keep your eyes closed and watch them without your story. What do you see? How do you feel about them without the story? Which do you prefer—with or without your story? Which feels kinder? Which feels more peaceful?” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Great new book on The Work of Byron Katie

How to End the Stories that Screw up Youur Life

Ernest Holm Svendsen sent me a preview copy and I love it. The comes out in early September.

I’m Really Impressed with This Book

Ernest Holm Svendsen is a certified facilitator of The Work and it is obvious to me that he has been practicing The Work himself for a long time and thinking about how to present The Work to others for a long time.

His experience comes through loud and clear as he explains what inquiry is, and all the details of how to do The Work of Byron Katie. I especially love his wonderful analogies which illustrate so many of the points he is making. His clear writing makes inquiry understandable to all levels. I’m planning to read it again!

Get the Book for Free for a Limited Time

Ernest is promoting the book on Amazon and, for a limited time, he is offering a free (digital) version of the book. If you sign up to his pre-release list, you will receive an email when the book comes out in September with an option to download it at no cost from the Amazon website (if you do it within the first couple of days of the launch period).

Why free?

This helps to ensure a strong launch of the book on Amazon. There is a window in the first few days when they will be increasing the number of downloads by offering the book for free. This helps the book get noticed.

Have a great week,

“I am here to take the mystery out of everything. It’s simple, because there really isn’t anything. There’s only the story appearing now. And not even that.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

Stretching vs. Forcing

redwood forest

These redwood trees have stretched far beyond the comfort of their original seeds. But each step of growth has been gentle, rather than forceful.

There Is a Balanced Way to Grow

A way to stretch without using force. A way to remain peaceful even when moving out of your comfort zone. A way to grow without burnout. This is the way nature grows.

And it can be helpful to emulate nature in this way when making The Work of Byron Katie a daily practice.

This Comes up in Inquiry Circle

In Inquiry Circle, we do The Work more or less on a daily basis. Everyone works at their own pace, but the idea is to keep practicing on an ongoing basis.

Making The Work an ongoing practice is a balancing act. It’s a balance between listening to the part of me that wants to stretch and grow and to the part of me that wants to take it easy. If I listen only to one side, I go towards one extreme.

Either I don’t engage enough to get the momentum going (even though I want to do The Work), or I engage more than I want to engage, pushing myself towards burnout.

In both cases, the result is the same: I eventually quit the practice.

Opposites Must Coexist for there to be Balance

To maintain an ongoing practice of The Work, I have to be willing to push out of my comfort zone, but I also must be willing to pull back sometimes too.

It’s like driving a car. If I only push on the brake, I will go nowhere. But if I never use the brake, and only use the accelerator, I will surely crash the car. Effective driving comes when there is an ongoing conversation between the break and the accelerator. The driver is constantly adjusting the break and the accelerator based on the conditions of the road. Then she can drive anywhere with ease.

Likewise, engaging in doing The Work—maybe even pushing myself a little to do so—may be necessary if I’m stuck in inertia. It does takes some effort to do The Work. But once I get going, slowing down with The Work can also be important. It’s a constant conversation between these two opposites.

Are You Finding Your Balance?

How are you doing in finding your balance point with making inquiry a steady practice? Are you pushing yourself too hard? Or are you letting it slip? What thoughts are making you push too hard or let go too easily?

I suggest writing down the thoughts that keep you from practicing The Work in a balanced way. And, yes, you guessed it: question them!

Join me for The Work 101 online course, Sep 2 – Nov 4.

Have a great week,

“The practice of inquiry requires a careful listening, a witnessing of what meets the questions.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself