There’s nothing like gathering with a group of people for the sole purpose of questioning our stressful thinking.
Our autumn retreat collected last night in a cozy, gorgeous living room with soft light, a fire place, big comfy chairs, and a piano in the corner.
The rain had drummed down all day long, and still it hadn’t stopped. People arrived in dripping coats from Florida, California, Arizona, Whidbey Island, Oregon, Olympia, Idaho, Seattle. Cups of tea, introductions, and then….the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.
Spending time with the very first step, the one where we identify the thoughts that bring us pain, is soooooo powerful to do slowly….and difficult, too.
We’re visiting a scene we don’t like. Perhaps a scene we wish had never, ever happened. Sometimes, the memory is so painful, we feel disturbed right here in this moment now, the one where we’re writing these thoughts down.
Last night I shared something I recalled Byron Katie saying once, although I don’t remember the exact quote: I’m asking you to go to hell. It’s not easy.
I also know, from experience, that it’s not easy NOT to go there.
If you try to plug a hose, it’s going to eventually burst the faucet, and before it gets to the bursting point, the pressure will be enormous, right? To suppress, repress, hold down, or hold back the emotions that want to be expressed from that troubling situation is really hard. It takes work, energy, and “keeping it together”, as they say.
It’s very stressful. Full of Stress.
The way I see it now, after doing The Work so often in my life, is how much better it is, every time, when I take the lid off and write honestly on a situation that hurt.
For a long time, I didn’t know what Katie was talking about when she said she began to get excited if she had a “thought” that was in any way stressful, even just a little.
I did The Work, but I never thought it was exciting that I was having a stressful experience I could now investigate.
I mean, really?
This sad memory is NOT exciting. Nor is this one where I felt betrayed. Or that one where I felt terrified.
Yet something in me knew I had no choice but to do The Work. It was either that or become an addict of some kind to keep the memories and emotions at bay.
But somewhere along the way, miracle of miracles, I had the thought one day when I had a difficult exchange with someone I loved….”Hmmm, this is exciting. Let’s take a look.”
And then “wow, did I just say that”?
I felt that last night when everyone was sharing their first Judge Your Neighbor worksheet….the depth, the heartbreak, the courage to sit with a painful moment in their lives, and write about it.
So profound, such a privilege, so very moved by these human conditions and situations, and knowing what can become of exploring them with The Work.
It is exciting. I want to know about every single person’s situation and what they share. It’s like I feel a surge of thinking “oh my, yes, we have to look at that moment, that is an amazing human moment and it sounds so tough….let’s find out what’s true and see what happens.”
I don’t even know where it will go. None of us do. You have to “do” The Work to see.
But it’s always fascinating, interesting, and very often inspiring, and life-changing.
“It takes an open mind to question your certainties. It takes a mind that is fearless in its journey inward, a mind willing to go to places it has never been before.” ~ Byron Katie
I love when people appear in my world, ready to show me such fearlessness to take a journey inward. Where they are willing to go where their mind has ever been before. So grateful.