Our Year of Inquiry group had such a powerful session yesterday.
We’ve just begun Month Nine and our topic is Underlying Beliefs and Revisiting the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.
I always say this every month about every topic, but this really is one of my favorites….it allows us to sit with the JYN prompts, before we even apply the four questions….and fill it out as a meditation.
When I take time to go very slowly and identify my thinking, my objections, my worries, my fears, what I truly wanted, what I believe should have happened, what I needed….and really write it the way I’m perceiving it, listening to myself with great acceptance….wow.
My entire perspective of life is revealed in just one situation.
I was so moved by the inquirer in our Year of Inquiry call, so very touched, because I could follow right along with her and do my own work.
Her situation: taking a relative to dinner who has been living on the street for several months, deep in drug use. The relative asked to spend the night on her couch, and she said no. Dropping the relative back on the street, she felt guilty and frightened.
As she did her work (me asking the four questions), everyone on the call did our own inquiry along with her, silently.
We pictured a moment where we believed someone could get hurt, something terrible could happen, we could experience loss, guilt, pain….the world is a harsh place, the street is dangerous, sickness, homelessness, death is bad.
I had images of some of my own family, when they’ve been in pain.
I saw all the people feeling so frustrated about eating issues and suffering over compulsion, all the alcohol users, the people in psych wards or hospice I’ve visited.
I thought of a client who came once with severe depression who sat on my couch and cried, he had so much grief, and then said he wasn’t up to doing The Work….then stood up and said “we’re done for today” and left.
I remembered how I felt bad about him leaving.
He’s not OK. I need to help him.
The world is full of suffering. He’s in a dangerous place. I should have been more useful. I failed.
Is it true these people are in danger? Is it true they need help?
Yes! Of course it’s true!
Isn’t it mean or cold to NOT believe they’re in danger, or suffering?
Long ago at my first School for The Work with Byron Katie, I raised my hand in the big conference room full of people, after a morning walk.
“I just passed a woman lying on newspapers on a stone bench by the busy rush hour road. It’s sad, Katie. There are people suffering out there. She didn’t have a place to sleep last night!”
Katie asked me “is that true?”
I realized I couldn’t know. I had no idea. All I did was walk by her.
But isn’t that uncaring? Isn’t that ignoring the reality? Who lies on newspapers at 7:00 am by a busy road?
I sure don’t.
Or, if I did, I’d be suffering. I like beds.
And by the way, what kind of God allows all this anyhow, plus all the other millions of incidents and situations causing pain?
But as I sat back in my chair after that brief conversation with Katie, I realize how my mind had taken off with the assumption of pain and agony that woman must be going through, and how terrible her life was to bring her to that place, and I could not know anything I was thinking was true.
I didn’t even really know that if I myself were on a stone bench sleeping on newspapers that I would be unhappy. I had never done that before.
Back to my client.
I should have stopped him and said “you still have 20 minutes for our session, so just sit here and say nothing, but don’t leave!”
(I thought of me saying that later on, not in the moment).
He’s not OK.
Is that true?
I don’t know.
I can’t absolutely know he’s not OK. At all.
So….no. Not true.
How do I react when I think someone else I care about isn’t OK?
I have all kinds of images in my head about terrible things getting worse. I picture them suffering, going crazy, in hospitals, dying.
Who would you be without the thought that he’s not OK? She’s not OK?
And while we’re at it, let’s say it also doesn’t mean you’re an uncaring cold-hearted jerk if you don’t believe they are NOT OK.
We’re just wondering what it’s like without assuming they aren’t.
I immediately feel as if I remember they are quite powerful. I have no idea what brought them to the moment where I happen to see them, and it’s just a moment in time.
I’m aware they are here on planet earth….being themselves. Alive. Breathing. Crying. Asking. Sleeping. Taking care of themselves as best they can.
I’m not in charge.
Without the belief “that person is NOT OK” I’m still seeing them, I’m not dumb, I’m aware….I’m here with them. I have a sense of trust, not suspicion.
I’m open to my mind might be seeing this a little wonky: assuming there’s a God allowing terrible things to happen hither and yon randomly screwing with the human race.
That might not be true. Heh heh.
I had time to take a walk after our group inquiry call, before my next client.
The sun was shining brightly and blossoms literally bursting everywhere–it seemed the air was full of sugar perfume, and oh the colors. Red, purple, pink, white, blue, yellow in every floral shape and size danced along my entire walk.
I thought more deeply of turnarounds on my walk.
He IS OK, she IS OK.
I am not OK, especially when I believe those people are not OK. My thinking isn’t OK.
These are all just as true….truer.
The inquirers in Year of Inquiry as they shared their own situations and feedback with the woman who had done The Work were so touching to me.
They had such deep reflections about someone they love in their lives dying, changing, or suffering in some way….and the brilliant shining awareness of how much they love that person.
Hearts bursting with love for the people close to them, with appreciation, gratitude, wonder.
And I saw on my walk how much I loved an almost-stranger who sat on my couch in tears, a woman I saw for only fifteen seconds on a bench one time, my family members, my kids, my parents, these Year of Inquiry people who are helping me see how much love is showering the world, in any situation.
“When this Work found me, my daughter was, in her words, an alcoholic and doing drugs. And the questions were alive in me. ‘Her addiction is killing her’–can I absolutely know that’s true? No. And who would I be without this story? I would be totally there for her, loving her with all my heart, as long as she lasts. Maybe she’ll die tomorrow of an overdose, but she’s in my arms now.” ~ Byron Katie
P.S. There’s still room for you to come to spring retreat next week. Jump on a plane, drive your car, take the bus. Doing this kind of work can change your entire perspective, about the whole world and everyone in it. Amazing. Give yourself the time. I’ll be right here with you.
There’s something extra-special about gathering in person to do this work for several days. Inquiry, silent walks (I’ll show you my favorites), inquiry, sharing, meditation, sacred poetry, more inquiry, ah-ha moments, allowing everything to be as it is.
- Eating Peace Process Online Brand New Version. Same principles, delivered better. Lifetime access. May-August 2019
- June 27th East West Books evening 7-9 pm.
- June 12-16, 2019 Breitenbush Retreat with Tom Compton
- Summer Camp for The Mind Online Inquiry
- Divorce Is Hell 8 week course Aug 18-October 13, 2019 Sundays 11 am PT/ 7 pm UK with Nadine Ferris France
- Year of Inquiry begins Sept 8, 2019–a whole year of monthly topics in The Work, and sharing inquiry together
- always free: First Friday inquiry power hour (90 mins) 7:45am PT