Gathering with a group, writing down thoughts, asking people the four questions one by one, answering the questions internally, listening, watching minds scamper around, connecting with others in deep honesty, questioning again, sharing very authentically, dropping in deeper.
This was retreat.
The past three days were so sweet, like eating the most delicious food in the entire world.
I looked around the room gathered with 15 people and thought of them all as the most unique, fascinating, adorable, courageous, willing people.
Many of them part of a Year of Inquiry. A handful simply coming to do The Work, to learn it, to apply it and “do” it for the very first time. Everyone is welcome on the two retreats I do per year (the next one is May 13-15 by the way).
A feeling of great joy filled my body and heart for the entire retreat, the intention, purpose and sincere beauty seen in questioning the mind.
Warm, thrilled, touched, connected.
Looking at a circle of people, for me, was not always this way.
At one time, if I was one member in a circle of 15, including myself, I would have been sizing up everyone as fast as you can say Jackie Robinson.
If I was the facilitator (by some some weird fluke)…..oh boy.
Kill me now. My heart would have been beating fast, I would have had adrenaline. I would have wondered how I got to be leader, was there some mistake?
I would have been judging who I needed to be careful of, who was mentally off, who was needy, who was a blabber mouth, who needed psychological counseling, who to avoid.
My mind would have been the #1 sound, running the show with great precision and speed.
So proud of itself at the helm. So shiny and strong and genius.
…..I still think of the mind as an astonishing genius. It still comes up with ideas that are so crazed and insane and loving and hilarious they’re ah-mazing.
But I get the idea now, the truly tear-filled idea, that I do not have to believe everything I think.
Who would all of us be without our very sad, or very traumatic, or very tragic, desperate, or empty stories about our lives?
This isn’t something that comes in the snap of two fingers.
For three days, with beautiful meal breaks and bathroom breaks and silent walks and nights to ourselves sleeping, most of us looked at one situation that brought deep disturbance to our peace.
A daughter who lied.
A wife who might embarrass her husband.
A sister who died young.
Husbands who didn’t care, didn’t love, didn’t treat his wife fairly.
A body that gained weight.
Supervisors at work who criticized.
A mother who was mentally ill.
A mother who never succeeded and wasted her life.
These seem like small slices of the whole big pie of life, right?
Sometimes, one situation seems like such minutiae.
That one five-minute moment where I felt suffering.
Could I really find freedom if I question that one thing, that one situation, that one interval out of my whole existence?
Answer the questions on the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet about only one tiny (or very big) interaction with a person in your life who disappointed you, angered you, or made you truly sad.
It’ll come back to you anyway.
Just trust the process and watch your judgments towards another person.
Give the judgments a voice instead of ramming them underground or deciding you need a lobotomy or hating yourself or doing positive affirmations.
Don’t be such a meanie to your own mind and your own thoughts.
Let them all be there.
Have you tried to CHANGE your thoughts, with aggression? Have you said things like “I’m such a sh*$ I really need to get this together” or “if only I could stop thinking this thought” or “what the hell is wrong with me”?
Well, now you can try another way.
I notice the self-condemnation doesn’t work. It would have worked by now, if it was going to work, I notice.
How about you?
……Halleluia, you’re thinking a stressful thought!! You hate someone, you’re really annoyed, they’re driving you bonkers, you can’t stand it, you lost someone!
Let this passion live and come out on to the paper.
This past three days I saw what happens when people explore a situation they experienced as suffering, with The Work. This is what happens when they don’t tell themselves they better stop thinking….or else….
….I call it Love.
At least, it feels like love to me.
“No one knows how to let go, but anyone can learn exactly how to question a stressful thought….After that questioning, you can’t ever be the same. You may end up doing something or doing nothing, but however life unfolds, you’ll be coming from a place of greater confidence and peace.” ~ Stephen Mitchell (married to Byron Katie) in 1000 Names For Joy Introduction
Even if YOU do not see exactly how you are changing, or you throw another log on the fire of hating-what-is and you say something like “I can’t do this questioning thing” or “it doesn’t work for me.”
Your path is very exquisite and unique.
Questioning your situations must become your own.
And it can, and must, become your own inquiry.
Your life is all about being with you and who you are, is it not?
I saw people give themselves this incredible opportunity these past three days to study themselves very closely.
It was soooooo inspiring.
Find YOUR way into self-inquiry. You might wonder if your stressful beliefs are true, and wonder if you’re worthy, or desirable, or important, or loved.
At least, that’s what I keep seeing as I connect with people in The Work.
People I’m so in love with.
This is one of the things that has happened over time, with the capacity to inquire: I love the people I sit with in a circle.
It is no longer alarming, or something to worry about.
Even if I get a little excited and have damp underarms the first day, and notice my body feels a little electric and on and awake….
….it no longer feels frightening.
Holy Holy Moly that is FANTASTIC for someone with all those pounding judgments in the past, and so much hesitation and caution.
I LOVE EVERYONE.
Then I turn this thought around and realize….
….I’m so in love with me, too.
“Gratitude, you could say, is what remains of the experience of humility. That’s my favorite position. It’s a sense of kissing the ground, licking the ground for its pure deliciousness, kissing the feet of the master that is everything without exception. There is such a sense of thankfulness for no longer being the person who thinks she knows and who has to live life out of that limited, claustrophobic mind.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy
P.S. Starting a special inquiry circle in Seattle second Sunday of every month from November 8 until June 12 (time TBD). Eight sessions. For those of you who love in-person rather than phone and want to keep inquiry alive so you can practice falling in to love and out of the limited, claustrophobic mind.