I have to admit it.
I haven’t done The Work in writing in almost 3 weeks, until today.
And let me tell you, questioning stressful thought on paper is stunning.
I’ll tell you about it in a minute, but first…..
…..I can’t wait to start questioning thoughts that create suffering again with Year of Inquiry folks next week.
Everyone enrolled will receive an email from me with all the dial-in information on Monday.
You’ll have four time choices to come on board and do The Work–and yes, this will be your opportunity almost every single week for the entire year. (The last week of every month we generally don’t meet, so we can breathe, connect with our facilitation partners if we have them, digest, and….notice what it’s like WITHOUT inquiry).
The best way to stay in touch with the experience of inquiring into my sadness, irritation, anger, resentment or fear about anything in life is to have some scheduled regular consistent time to do it.
In Year of Inquiry, that’s what we’ve got together: Tuesdays 5 pm Pacific, Weds noon PT, Thursday 9 am PT, Fridays 10 am PT.
Come to one, or come to all.
Me? I’ll be at all of the inquiry sessions every single week, since I’m the organizer…..
…..and since, for some odd reason, life has unfolded so that this person called Grace Bell gets to do The Work a lot, and not quit.
I never planned this.
But because I have this role in life, doing The Work and being so deeply interested over and over again in questioning thought….
….there’s a freedom about being here as a human being that is brilliant and wild and truly astonishing that I always, always had but couldn’t see before (even though it was always there).
I created Year of Inquiry because I can hardly believe how helpful, how life-changing, doing The Work became for me over ten years ago, when I dipped my toe in the water.
And lately, like I said, I have NOT been doing The Work with pen and paper for nearly 3 weeks.
Yes, not one time of sitting down, writing out my thoughts, and considering what’s happening in my mind that’s affecting my actions, behavior, mood, connection with my environment or connection with silence in the rich, slow way offered by The Work.
There’s Good News and there’s Bad News about the way life’s gone without doing The Work daily, as I usually do when I’m living in the same place every day.
(I’ve been traveling for 3 weeks and my computer crashed, and my cell phone has spotty wi-fi reception and I didn’t bring a notebook or journal and I’ve been very busy seeing important things….and who knows what other excuses I can list all very legitimate).
I’ll start with the Bad News.
Because that’s where The Work starts.
We’re not trying to be positive or happy-happy or stiff-upper-lip or getting a new technique that will be The One that works for all time to allow us to be wonderful amazing productive successful people, like we always dreamed to be.
The Work starts with the juicy, sometimes ugly, chaotic and wild beliefs passed on from generation to generation through being a human being and having a mind and the capacity to think, and feel.
The Work starts with feeling.
Feeling bad. Feeling upset.
And then, instead of trying to smash down, or get away, or escape, or go to war with the reality of this discomfort–sometimes heart-breaking agony–we wait.
We slow it way down.
We get to investigate what’s being “thought” and concluded and assumed. We get to identify the ideas and pictures and the feelings we carry within from experiences or interactions that feel threatening or difficult.
The way I always was before The Work is I noticed life and people and difficulties, and I thought what I was thinking was True.
Something terrible just happened. This is bad. It could happen again.
Quick, do anything and everything to make it not hurt. Make it go away. Please, make it go away.
Before I had The Work and knew what to do with stressful thinking, I was on a quest to feel better and end my suffering and I wanted angels, guides, wise mentors, a zap of lightening to the head, awakening, transformation, God, magic.
Anything to end the pain.
With The Work I see myself as having a spark of every single one of these qualities. It’s like I am my own guide, and I take me with myself everywhere I go.
Even if I am thousands of miles from my “home” (my home is really everywhere and nowhere) and I don’t know the people around me (not actually required or true, everyone is so beautiful and fascinating, and human).
These qualities of angelic guidance, wisdom, lightening zaps, awakening, transformation, God and magic are within me and available to me any time by becoming silent, slowing down, questioning what I’m thinking, asking if what I’m believing is really true.
They are available to me by doing The Work.
You have these qualities, too.
I cannot tell you today how happy I am to be able to borrow another computer (since mine crashed on Day #2 of this long journey) and sit down and do The Work.
I had thoughts zooming through. Stressful ones.
(You probably notice how fast the mind is….faster than the speed of light!)
My mind was giving me some Bad News.
Thoughts like “my son is going to get lost walking through the night-time dark streets of London to meet up later” or “my daughter is going to fall and hurt herself” or “when I get home, I need to get a regular job because this volatile income I can’t take anymore” or “the people staying in our house hate us because the dishwasher broke” or “they owe us because they broke the dishwasher!” or “the world is so full of human beings, what are we all doing here?” or “the weather is crap” or “traveling is overrated” or “I wanna go home.”
Now, because I have gotten to sit down and get quiet and spend time with my thoughts, I’m remembering the joy inquiring brings.
I’m remembering at a deep level the peace beyond all beliefs.
Being human means, apparently, I carry along a mind full of thoughts about everything I notice around me.
Which brings me to the Good News.
Remember I said there was some Good News?
The Good News about NOT doing The Work daily while traveling?
The good news is that in this moment AFTER doing The Work and questioning my very stressful beliefs, I have the most intense, deep, moving appreciation for investigating my thinking, and for this brilliant, powerful mind that goes along with me everywhere.
Here’s what I have found in my turnarounds today as I’ve taken time out to sit quietly:
“My son is going to be found walking through the dark nighttime streets of London to meet us later” and “my daughter is going to fall and then heal” and “when I get home, I already have an irregular job (facilitating The Work) and I CAN take it” and “the people staying in our house do NOT hate us because the dishwasher broke” or “no one owes me anything, hooray” and “the world is so full of human beings, it’s amazing we’re all here” and “the weather is gorgeous” and “traveling is just traveling” and “I am home, always.”
I notice how when I do The Work and I feel what it’s like without my stressful thoughts, and I find turnarounds, my thoughts all blend together and connect and expand.
I sink into a smile.
I am so, so grateful for The Work after noticing a pile-up of thinking without entering it more deeply.
It is no small thing to come across this simple way to question suffering.
Suffering appears to happen. Life bumps us up against hardship, physical pain, destruction, fear, confusion, and death.
There is no getting away from any of it.
But with The Work, I remember over and over again (just like I have today) that it doesn’t matter if I believe I can handle the suffering or not…..
…..I notice the truth is, I do.
If you’re here, you’ve handled it too.
Even if you think “that was too much, I’m too screwed up, it’s too painful, I can’t take it anymore” you can and you are.
You are amazing, really.
We all are.
The mind is busy, running on, doing it’s job of protecting and trying to understand and control the environment…..
…..and life unfolds as it does.
I notice my thoughts sometimes go to visions of bad events, or terrible things happening. My feelings sometimes move to sadness or terror.
But something brilliant and wild, beyond all thought, is at work.
Doing The Work, I realize for the thousandth time today, allows this mind to slow down, to rest, to Not Know what’s true.
It allows me to feel the Silence Present here where I sit (which happens to be rocking gently on a barge on the River Thames in London, England).
I remember, with The Work, that I have no idea what’s going to happen today. I can make a few educated guesses, but really, I have no idea.
With The Work, this is great news instead of alarming news.
The difference is so incredible, it’s hard to put into words.
All I know is, last night I was thinking “traveling is hard, expensive, pointless, tiring, scary.”
And now I’m open to the turnarounds “traveling is easy, priceless, expansive, restful, loving.”
It was my thinking that was hard, expensive, pointless, tiring and scary.
I even remember that traveling is wonderful, and not traveling is also wonderful.
It doesn’t really matter.
The most exciting traveling happens internally with The Work. It’s an exploration of the whole world of suffering and peace.
I hope you’ll join me for steady inquiry throughout a whole year, to learn, grow, rest, access silence and Not Knowing, refine your life journey no matter what age, circumstance or situation(s) you’re in.
I can’t wait to get started, and get back to regular inquiry again with others.
My appreciation after this gap in practicing The Work is bigger than ever.
If you know you’d also love the structure of group support and scheduled inquiry time, check out the Year of Inquiry (link below) and get ready for the greatest adventure ever (you won’t need to physically go anywhere, unless you come to our retreats in Seattle).
With The Work, I discover peace to be possible in every kind of place, in every situation. You don’t need to travel in the way I’ve been traveling, or do anything special, or find the golden key.
You question your stressful thinking, you Un-Believe the way you see your life, other people, and your world.
Your inner life becomes the Greatest Adventure on Earth.
“So, how do you get back to heaven? To begin with, just notice the thoughts that take you away from it. You don’t have to believe everything your thoughts tell you. Just become familiar with the particular thoughts you use to deprive yourself of happiness. It may seem strange at first to get to know yourself in this way, but becoming familiar with your stressful thoughts will show you the way home to everything you need.” ~ Byron Katie
Will you join me back at home, your home you carry everywhere but may sometimes miss due to stressful thoughts?
It may sound a little crazy, but all you need is a pen, paper, and to answer four questions.
What you discover can become your new world. Heaven right here on earth.
P.S. Year of Inquiry starts on September 8th and you can attend once a week, twice a week, three times a week or four times a week. You can listen to the recordings. You can skip whole weeks altogether. I’ll work with you up to four times individually during the year, you decide when you need your individual sessions.