I am sooooo excited today to learn that the Breitenbush Winter Retreat in The Work of Byron Katie is filling up beautifully. We have plenty of folks registered.
That’s not always the case. Last year the winter retreat got switched from Breitenbush to my house in Seattle with seven people attending.
But it’s not always an easy time of year to travel, and the resort is deep in the woods of the Oregon Cascades. One has to fly to Portland, then rent a car. It will take us six hours to drive there from Seattle. There’s no cell phone service, nor internet.
My husband Jon will be accompanying me. We made a little introductory video we shared on facebook. Sending it to you now with our joyful invitation to you to join us in this somewhat odd time (is it true?) for retreat, December 6-9.
And, there will be dancing on Saturday night.
See our video share here.
Sometimes, I’m so happy an event with The Work is on the horizon, my hands are clapping.
I forget, there’s also a part of the mind that’s so full of moaning and groaning, wailing and lamenting that says “Do I have to? I don’t wanna! Waaaaaah!”
That voice or resistant part of mind will complain about anything, even doing The Work. Even having such an amazing job as doing The Work.
It loves to complain.
Which happens to be our third month topic in Year of Inquiry: complaining.
I love looking up words, and their etymology.
Com is Latin for bringing together, merging, intensifying, pressing together. It shows up in the beginning of so many words, to emphasize the intensity of whatever follows.
And then “plaint” meant to beat one’s chest. Grieve, moan, bewail.
It’s quite dramatic, and yet we refer to complaints often as things we shouldn’t bother bringing up. Irritants. Unimportant. Unaccepting.
“Stop complaining about the weather!” we might say. As if there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, so stop. Pull it together and try to enjoy yourself for a change!
At least, this is what I discovered when I realized my complaints were most of all about……complainers.
They’re so negative. Why don’t they stop?
I couldn’t see the plank (or is that “plaint”) in my own eye.
So here’s an exercise we all did in Year of Inquiry that you might find very helpful if you find yourself complaining, whether inside your own head or verbally speaking it to others:
What’s wrong with this thing you’re complaining about, for real? What don’t you like about it? What bothers you? What’s the very absolute worst that could happen if it never stops?
Traffic, lateness, time, work, money, weather, procrastination, mess, family, dirty dishes, tone of voice, inefficiency, taxes.
What’s one of your most common, persistent complaints?
The thing I love about The Work, and looking directly at this “problem” we perceive in reality, is instead of brushing it aside and trying to ignore it, we’re treating this complaint with some respect.
We’re turning towards it, to understand this predicament better.
As I looked at my old co-worker (the one I thought was the star complainer) I could see that as she spoke I became worried too. Her complaining was so discouraging.
I was upset about all the things she mentioned: her neighbor, her car, her health, the environment, her upbringing, poverty, this organization we worked for, mean people, liars, eating troubles.
It was like a big balloon within me let all the air out and I felt defeated, and unable to solve any of the terrible problems she shared. Sad, sad, sad. Bringing me down.
Underneath my belief she shouldn’t keep complaining all the time, was another more serious story to question: Reality is tough, life is hard, bad things happen, the world is harsh, people suffer terribly, you have to watch out.
Ah, but can I absolutely know that it’s true?
If I think these fearful thoughts, if I notice I keep saying the same upsetting comment to myself, if I keep feeling bothered by some life activity or a person I encounter….
….then the moment is worthy of inquiry. I want to investigate.
Is it really as bad as I think?
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.” ~ Byron Katie
That joy is in everyone, always?
But let’s see: the moment you’ve been complaining about, you know, that one?
There is no joy anywhere to be found in that moment, anywhere. It doesn’t exist. It’s not possible. No Joy. Ever.
Can you absolutely know that’s true?
Are you sure your perspective is the ONLY perspective in this complaint-worthy moment?
Are there other things in the environment, like a relaxed rug, a comfy chair, a quiet soft sofa? Is there oxygen dancing everywhere? Is there a pillow, a book, a happy mug of hot tea? Is there a desk ready to serve 24/7, a bright computer, a smooth cool notebook?
Are you sure every story is sad in this moment? Or is it just a thought?