You could be in paradise and still do The Work.
But it’s not.
It’s about being peaceful.
And even that is not true.
If anything, The Work is about not being anything.
It’s about being free instead.
Some people use The Work just to take the edge off of the pain. And they stop as soon as the pain decreases. With this approach, The Work is like an aspirin that sits in the medicine cabinet and is only brought out when there is a headache.
Others use The Work as an ongoing meditation. A way to step closer to themselves. With this approach, pain is often still the starting point for inquiry, but they keep going even after the pain has subsided because they are interested in deeper balance.
This is like getting some sleep to cure a headache, but then continuing to get extra sleep going forward to prevent further headaches.
I’m not looking for quick fixes when I do The Work. I prefer the slow approach of questioning all of the thoughts that originally caused my suffering. For me, it doesn’t matter if the pain goes away after working Line 1 of a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. I could quit at that point. I’m no longer in pain. But I don’t.
I tend to work almost all of the statements on my worksheet, even if they don’t stress me anymore. The reason is that the seeds of pain are still lying there in the other thoughts I wrote down.
Even if the thoughts I wrote are no longer active for me, they are still there, sitting unquestioned, waiting for the next opportunity to sprout. When I question them, it makes it that much harder for me to fall for them again.
Instead of stopping a worksheet once the pain has subsided, that’s exactly when I start setting my teeth into the worksheet. Now, there is no resistance as I do my work. And there is no distracting motive to “feel better.” Now, I’m just doing The Work for the sake of truth.
This is the sweetest, most unbiased place for me to do The Work. And I would miss it if I stopped working my worksheet once the pain had stopped.
The more I do The Work, the fewer crises there seem to be in my life. I tend to have a more even keel as I believe my thoughts less. That means that extreme suffering is less and less the motive for doing The Work. And I don’t have to wait for it to start.
Instead, I tend to write a new worksheet or write a new one-liner to question, just because I’m in the habit of doing The Work. This means that my worksheets are sometimes very minor. Ironically, when I work these kinds of worksheets, I tend to have even more insights than I do with the painful worksheets. They are such low-pressure worksheets that my mind is much freer to explore as I work.
Instead of pain, I may notice just some attachment to something that I don’t want to lose. It’s not pain, but it’s the slightest rub of discomfort that prompts me to do The Work.
I don’t need to wait until I lose it, I can set myself free of that attachment even while I still have it. It’s just a matter of questioning what I think I want.