When I left my very first School for The Work of Byron Katie in March 2005, my feet hardly touched the ground.
I looked at the whole world with a new pair of eyes.
I kept shaking my head in disbelief, thinking….
I’ve never seen the sidewalk, people, carpet, airplanes, cars, water fountains, life….like this before.
I know that sounds a little cray-cray.
But there was an inner revolution happening called looking-without- certainty-what-I-think-is-true.
It’s not necessarily all roses and rainbows.
Not knowing what is true can be strange and disconcerting. At least for that mind that loves having a task, and Knowing Stuff.
Some of the floating, amazed, wondrous feeling I experienced, however, fizzled away just a bit over time.
I actually didn’t sleep more than 4-5 hours a night for 9 months.
I felt like I was riding a strange, unknown, wave….
….and my life was turning upside down.
The insight, when I look back, came first, before all the super-huge changes.
First, I raised my hand to do inquiry. I read Loving What Is, then I went to the School for nine days.
I knew I wanted to challenge my assumptions. I wanted to do this more than I wanted stability, certainty, or guarantees.
I was really moved by wanting to understand the truth for myself, not through any doctrine, or ideal, or religious or spiritual teaching (even though I loved the religious groups I had been a part of). I did not want to suffer. I had suffered so greatly, I wanted out.
I didn’t even want a special teacher. I didn’t want Katie herself to be my guru (and I soon realized she didn’t want that either).
I wanted life, and my own inner mystery and source, to be my guru.
But I really did want to take my newfound capacity to inquire, after that first school, into an alive, expanding practice.
I wanted to do The Work all the time.
What would that look like?
I noticed, after a little while, I didn’t do The Work every day like when I first got home.
I could hardly keep up, it sometimes seemed, with the quantity of stressful thoughts my mind would spew out.
Then more days stretched between reacting, and sitting down and doing The Work. More days would go by without me writing a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on stressful experiences I encountered.
Sometimes I would sit down, though, and write with great concentration and depth about a situation that had disturbed me.
Then I would have such sweet awareness. I loved it so much, I loved the investigation. I loved the lightness.
I am so lucky.
A friend called, who I had met at that very same first school, and asked if I wanted to become partners in inquiry together.
I knew immediately to say yes.
We met on the phone every single Monday morning at 8 am Pacific Time. I was unemployed, looking for work, and she had Mondays off. She lived several states away.
We had no idea how long we would go, how much we wanted to do it, what would result.
It was amazingly good.
Almost every Monday, without fail, we met for two hours on the phone (I didn’t have skype yet or know what it was). Yes, I was actually holding a phone, putting it on speaker phone for some of the time, for two hours. We hardly missed a Monday for two years.
I inquired into my own very stressful and painful thoughts. She inquired into hers. We almost always had whole Judge Your Neighbor worksheets written out. We held each other to inquiry.
I also gathered with almost 20 people for a reunion, all of whom had been at that same very first School for The Work. Many of us traveled by plane and car to get to the home of the wonderful man who hosted us all.
We created our own Morning Walk (a silent walking meditation offered by Byron Katie). We partnered up for inquiry sessions. We shared meals and talked into the night about questioning thought.
It was brilliant to stay connected to others doing The Work, and to practice, practice, practice without it being a demand, or a chore, or something I was supposed to do.
I’m sure, today, having these experiences made me realize how gathering a group to join for inquiry practice is essential for some of us.
At least, if you’re like moi.
Creating a group format or structure is not just kinda nice, like a hobby or something….
….It’s a life changer.
It’s the difference between actually inquiring into stressful thought, and thinking it’s a good idea but not trying it.
Which is, I am sure, why I kept going and kept doing it and kept participating and kept pressing on.
Inquiry became so deeply interesting, it finally stuck inside in a way that grew more automatic.
But here’s the thing that may surprise you.
I STILL notice a gap between the stressful experience occurring in my life (an exchange with a person, an issue with money, trouble in the physical body) and beginning inquiry.
My mind kicks into gear with reaction, with contemplating something, noticing, wondering, uncertainty, fear, emptiness….
….and I’ll be following a trail of thoughts, maybe even down a rabbit hole within a few minutes….
….Grace, you could inquire. You could do The Work. Remember? The questions? Is it true? Are you sure?
Wow, that mind is a speedy one.
What a genius project manager!
Which is why I personally love entering inquiry every single day, with other people.
It’s incredible. It’s built into my daily life. For all I know, it’s saving my life.
I’m the one who needed, apparently, the constant contact of doing The Work with others. Groups, individuals, classes, meetups, retreats, intensives, immersions.
And one of my favorite things in all the world is being able to pick up my phone, or dial in with skype and my headphones, and have people show up from all over the world to answer the four questions together.
It’s a unified spirit of dissolving our personal suffering.
What could be more supportive and incredible than that?
Pretty soon, the Year of Inquiry program will open for applications and sign-ups. This is a collective spirit of coming together, with a new topic to guide us, every month for a year.
We start in September.
Our tele-sessions are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at three distinctly different hours so your time zone might fit. Come to one session, or come to all.
Retreats (optional) are in September 2015 and May 2016. (They’re awesome).
If you’ve been wondering how to stay in touch with your own inquiry, if you’d like to have a group to carry you through a year of identifying and expanding your mind to understand your own inner life (and outer life, too, I find) then consider joining us this year.
Curious and want to know details?
Click HERE to read all about it. (You can fill out the info/application form there if you’re ready. Decisions made by August 15th.)