Attacked by pain?

It’s been awhile, oh illness.

Awhile since I’ve done The Work on you. In fact, it may be at least a decade since I was this sick with the flu.

Ah, but the physical body sometimes calls out for attention: Ouch! This hurts! Something’s off. Sickness is here.

Something is here that isn’t usually here (germs, microbes, influenza, aches, fever heat, physical pain).

But I can so feel the difference between being stressed about it, and not being stressed about it.

The stressed voice says:

This shouldn’t be here
I have to work, (not lie down)
This is hurrrrttttiiiiing me!
I can’t do what I want
I can’t go see friends
I’m going to miss “x” (some event)
I want my mommy
I’m the one who caused this to happen

Of course, it’s not life-threatening as far as I know.

But in the middle of the night, burning and shivering with fever, my mind had images of the plague in the middle ages, and I reminded myself that people die of the flu every year.

How do you react when you’re against some kind of disease? That it shouldn’t be happening?

It’s almost hard to imagine NOT being against illness. Who wants disease? Jeez!

But I noticed, in the night as I propped myself up onto a second pillow since my congested head hurt so much, that not being against this condition is different than being in favor of it.

I can prefer being well, and also not have a war with the flu.

How do I react when I’m against it?

I feel soooo sorry for myself. I want to cry. Like a little bird voice saying “I can’t…..(list of all the things I was going to be doing that must be cancelled)….

So who would I be without the thought “this is horrible”?

Hmmm.

I can still feel the body aching with fever, still feel the sinuses throbbing, still feel the nausea….and something relaxes anyway. There’s a letting go.

This just is. The way of it. Health, Sickness. Day, Night. Rain, Sunshine. Winter, Summer.

Who knows where it came from or why it’s happening? Not me.

Can I turn it around?

This is OK (let’s not say this is wonderful, that’s going a bit far and isn’t true right now for me–LOL).

Why is this OK that it’s happening…and can I even find benefits for it in my life?

Well, I’m reminded of death, which can be very powerful. I consider this temporary time of the body in the world. I think of how my friend Carl must have felt at the end of his cancer, and how my first husband and friend Tom must have felt before he died of cancer. Bodies overriding the mind’s desire to live longer. A movement into a next life, or whatever happens beyond this one.

It’s OK because I’m resting. I have a soft bed. I have water, tea, fever medicine. I can feel the amazing pulse of fever. Noticing I’m so curious about it–how does that happen? How did something come in to the body anyway, that is now being burned out?

It’s OK because when I cancel plans or appointments with people, everyone is very understanding.

*this should be here, because it is, and it’s OK
*I have to lie down, (not work)–there’s a time and place for resting and lying down every single day–these several days have more of that in them
*This is not hurting me–I’m forgetting about the ache while I type this, and I’m sleeping sometimes
*I can do what I want–what I want is to rest
*I can go see friends–I can see them later, or in my mind, or share via email
*I’m going to miss “x” (some event)–YAY! You can’t be everywhere! Even if I wasn’t sick, I’d miss something.
*I don’t want my mommy–I was lucky enough to talk with my mom on the phone, and I’m mostly hanging out by myself–it’s quiet and peaceful here as the body goes through this thing
*I’m not the one who caused this to happen–I don’t even know how I would have done that if I tried.

“Discovering yourself to be the wide-open space in which pain appears and not the story of someone who is being attacked by pain, that is true healing–the healing of identity.” ~ Jeff Foster

The reality is I don’t favor this pain, high fever, aching throat, swollen glands, congested head and coughing….

….but without my story that it’s “making me” suffer, or that any circumstance is “making me” suffer….

….WOW.

Something’s weirdly exciting about it. I get to find out where this is going. Still alive here in the body, wondering, noticing how I have no choice.

Noticing the liberation in that. I’m not in charge. Ahhhhh.

What will happen next?

Much love,
Grace
P.S. A year ago, I attended a retreat in The Work with Roxann Burroughs, Byron Katie’s daughter. She calls it Sit In The Fire. Each person who attends has the opportunity to fully express their pain (if they choose), rather than trying to bypass or fix it or push it down.

I went because I did this kind of work in my past group therapy years ago, and I was curious. Everyone who chooses gets to sit in the question “How do you react when you believe this thought?”

When I was there, I did The Work on cancer and all the people I’ve “lost” through the disease. I sobbed my eyes out. That was the reality: grief beyond anything I could ever “think”. It was beautiful and heart-breaking and just…real.

I am hosting another retreat with Roxann in March here in the area where I live (somewhere near Seattle, but slightly remote–it will be within an hour of Seatac airport). We have room for only 2 more. We begin Friday morning 3/22 and end Sunday afternoon 3/24. All meals provided as well as lodging in the big house we’ve rented. Please hit reply if you want to attend and send me a note, and I can give you more details.

Question “waiting”, end compulsion

Live from retreat!

Well, OK, I’m not exactly “live”.

I just arrived home after my four minute drive from the retreat house I rent when I run a retreat, to my little cottage in Lake Forest Park, Washington.

I noticed an excited question pop into my mind and heart as I drove home. It’s a question that’s been in my awareness before.

What is “waiting”?

This particular retreat I’m facilitating has a focus and invitation on eating peace. We gather for 6 days and 5 nights in total (and we’re not complete yet).

We’ve just had a marvelous and full 12 hour day, and everyone sleeping at the retreat house are tucking themselves in soon, perhaps a few participants soaking in the hot tub with the bright sliver of January moon glowing above.

In session, we do a lot of meditations on eating. I say words out loud, and often questions.

Today, I said out loud a variation on question four specific to our situation.

“If you were an alien from another planet, or an angel, and just landed here on earth in a human body sharing a meal with a whole entire human group sitting around a huge, long oak dining room table….

….what or who would you be without your food or eating stories?

If you had no upsetting, agonizing, condemning stories about eating, food, what’s right, or what’s wrong…and no reference for them?

I know it’s a huge question. The mind answers “I don’t know!”

I also notice I feel the body when I answer this question. I feel the chair I’m seated in, I hear the sounds of birds, the distant hum of a seaplane, the click of fork on plate.

I notice all is very well indeed with this moment. Nothing more required. Nothing magical or fancy, to access peace.

And there is a wonder about this state of being: No Waiting.

I notice the most fascinating thing about slow, mindful eating (which we always do at Eating Peace Retreat):

Stressful thoughts arise.

They go something like this, and I know them because I’ve lived them, and I also hear them when participants share after each meal: it’s going soooooo slow, I can’t stand this, Grace (that would be their version of me) is trying to control me, she must like watching people suffer, this is torture, I can’t take it another minute, I’m so hungry I just want to eat everything as fast as possible, I’ll never be able to do this on my own in my daily life, I just can’t be trusted, eating peacefully is too hard.

We don’t think this only about food and eating.

I’ve noticed the exact same thoughts about anything I believe is slowing down when it first begins to slow down. It’s not the norm. It’s not what I’m used to. There isn’t enough time. This HAS TO get done.

I need to be in a future moment, not this one, when I’m satisfied, and happy, and not upset, and not waiting anymore.

Can’t we do something else?

This moment here is actually quite unbearable. It’s empty, painful, lonely, vacant, boring, slow, stupid. I have other more important things to do. Seriously.

You might be able to imagine having these thoughts while standing in line. Or dreaming of your new job. Or your new lover. Or wanting to become enlightened. LOL.

The process of “waiting”.

Thank goodness for The Work.

Find your moment of “torture”. The moment when you’re waiting.

You can’t stand another minute. You absolutely must hit the escape hatch. The energy is boiling inside.

Is it true “this is torture?”

YES! Oh the agony! So agitating!

Are you absolutely sure? Can you know it’s true?

Um. Well, heh heh. I do notice there’s nothing really happening here except silence, people standing in line, a sense of waiting, some kind of urgency appearing in my torso.

But an emergency? Suffering? Torture? Frustration?

Not absolutely true.

How do you react when you believe you can’t stand holding still, and the world is moving slowly (in your opinion)?

I try to force it to change.

I push forward, imagine jumping the line, I huff and scowl. I tell the people around me my story of what a pain this is.

Or I begin to feel sorry for myself. I guess I just have to put up with this pain in life. So inconvenient, nothing I can do. I’m trapped, stuck and sorry for myself. Inside, I lie on the floor and give up. Kind of.

Who would you be without this thought that you are waiting for something? That something better is going to happen? That you’re going to get somewhere? That this moment will be done soon, thank goodness?

Who would you be without your story of waiting for Some Other Thing or for This To End, right now in this moment?

Perhaps nothing would change at all about this moment. It would still be quiet, there would be a long line, or slow eating, or a room with chairs full of people in it and a “take a number” sign, or one human sitting in a chair meditating, or the doing of errands, cleaning, working, moving….

….but what I notice is there is a beautiful alertness that comes alive, in a joyful way. No future moment. No scarcity here. No waiting for the better (or worse) moment, yet paradoxically still a sweet thrill, a happy anticipation, a love of what surrounds me.

Turning the thought around: There is no need to wait. In my thinking, there’s waiting, and only in my thinking. This is paradise, not torture. I am safe in this moment here.

What do you love or find interesting or fascinating about this moment? What strikes up your curiosity? If this was a fabulous moment offered just for you, where everything in your life had led to this “now”, how could that be true?

I notice I love watching people–absolutely incredible creatures and movements. I love space, quiet, physical feeling, hearing. I notice there is abundance of things everywhere–table, chairs, dishes, window, light, brown wood, sky, trees stretching up, floor.

I notice there is movement, energy, activity, sounds, sights, smells, focus, thoughts. I notice I am OK. Better than OK, I am so curious, safe, comfortable, interested, awake.

Without the belief I have to wait….I love this moment so much.

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance. They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water. Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
~ Tao Te Ching #15 Translated by Stephen Mitchell

“I am not waiting, I am just here.” ~ Mooji

Much love,
Grace

They banished me, cut me off, left me, ditched me….

I’m jumping up and down (well, not literally–but almost) with joyful anticipation of the Eating Peace Retreat starting this very dark and rainy evening in Seattle.

What better time of year than to be in a retreat? It’s cozy and warm inside, and misty, mysterious and cloudy outside. The warm inside beckons. We go inside our hearts and minds. Let it rain!

We get to gather kinda like we did down in the dark Breitenbush woods last month, only we’re in a secluded elegant spot right in the city.

It struck me last night, during the eating peace group immersion call, that feeling connected to oneself in some ways is all this whole entire healing-from-compulsion-or-any-suffering thing is all about; it’s about feeling separated, or feeling connected, and how that moves based on our perspective of What Is.

I’ll explain.

On the inquiry calls that I run, we always do The Work. I have programs that run 7 months or a year: Eating Peace Immersion and Year of Inquiry (and shorter programs too where we’re meeting on video–like the Divorce/Break-Up/Separation is Hell Telecourse that started a few days ago).

People who dial in to the calls check in, share where they’re at, and honestly speak what they notice about their thinking. We tell the truth. We say our painful beliefs out loud.

Whether our thoughts are about eating, our bodies, certain foods….or about other people, our fears, agonies, irritations, disappointments, worries….we share them.

So last night, the stressful thoughts noticed were about losing a friendship, being banished, not being included, feeling separated.

From our clan. From our group. From our family. From a love interest. From a best friend. From mom, from dad, from sibling.

We’re so distressed about this separation, we feel nauseated, numb, terrified. (And maybe we eat….or drink, smoke, spend, grab, work, distract, drug).

Maybe these kinds of thoughts about being separated from love start at a very young age: they kicked me out, they cut me off, they hate me, they don’t want me, they withdrew from me, they dismissed me, they broke up with me, she ditched me, he left me.

Can you find a moment when you believed this to be true?

I remember my best friend Sarah. We were in sixth grade.

Sarah and I both loved gymnastics because Olga Korbut had just won the Gold Medal. Sarah taught me how to do a cartwheel and stretch daily for the eventual splits. We both had crushes on the same boy named Josh. We both wore levis with the leg hems picked out so it they had shaggy edges.

We went home on the bus almost every day–on HER bus instead of mine–after school. We ate raw brownie mix dough and watched TV (both of which weren’t allowed at my house) in her spacious empty living room.

Then I walked home from her house, down north Capitol Hill on the steep sidewalk, along Lake Union where boathouses floated, through the big apartment building parking lot into the tall reeds and wetlands and secret shortcut walking trail, popped out into the Montlake playing field, then up the hill to the busy road and a block to my family’s home.

One day, Sarah seemed irritated with me when we were on the bus. Like she was tired of me, or bored with me, or wanting to do something else, with someone else.

I don’t even remember if there was a specific argument (I don’t think so) but this plunging feeling of my best friend being tired of our time together….felt devastating.

On the eating peace inquiry call, the person doing The Work had a similar story.

Headline: Girl gets ditched by best friend!

A Mean Girl experience.

I didn’t get on Sarah’s bus the next day. She didn’t call me on the phone. She didn’t really speak to me at school the following day, either.

I felt a slight panic, and pushed it down and away. I pretended it didn’t bother me.

But it did.

Several years ago, as an adult, a very dear friend of mine sent a false accusation to the government body overseeing my mental health credential here in Washington, prompting an investigation which was soon dismissed, as the complaint was untrue.

But it was a shocking experience at the time.

I wrote at least five Judge Your Neighbor worksheets on this friend and got help with facilitation. It felt so serious.

How could she betray me like that?

How could Sarah get tired of me?

What does it mean when someone doesn’t want to be in your presence anymore?

Something about the inquirer’s work last night reminded me not only of the profound rift in my adult friendship in the past decade, but also the memory of my dear friend Sarah.

Sarah and I had an encounter where we came down the hall at school in opposite directions, approaching each other when class was in session–both of us going to the bathroom with a hall pass.

We couldn’t avoid each other.

In the bathroom, she smiled, and we connected and my memory is one of us might have even said “I missed you” and the other might have said “I’m sorry”. I’m not sure much was actually said–we were eleven, after all.

Shortly after that, Sarah moved away to White Plains, New York.

Sitting in the inquirer’s childhood work last night I felt the profound awareness of how we betray ourselves, don’t speak up, don’t say “hey, where are you going?” to our partners, our friends, our family members, with a concern that’s open, wondering, curious.

Instead, some of us have curled up like those little pill bugs that tuck into a tight hard roly-poly ball. We’re crushed.

I once did The Work with a lovely woman who was brought to her knees, and to The Work, because of a very close friendship that ended–and she never knew why.

Separation.

Who would we be without this thought?

Who would we be without this dreadful story and all we think it means about our future, and about love?

One way we would be, as I heard from the inquirer last night, is aware of what did not leave.

Which is everything else in the world, almost.

Even that person didn’t fully “leave”–she was still around, and there was still a connection, and unsaid words, and possibility that might have gone a different way if I hadn’t believed so fully in separation.

Even if the person died, they’re in my heart and soul. They’re part of my DNA. They’re part of my life journey.

Without my belief in separation back then, I might have seen I didn’t help myself, I ditched myself, I dismissed my own feelings, I betrayed myself, I ignored me, I didn’t reach out for what I needed.

“Each apparent separateness is a micro-glimpse of the whole, each word spoken, each syllable broken down, each wave of a hand or crossing of the legs, each squeeze of toothpaste onto the bristles of a toothbrush. Each is different, each is necessary. Someone lives, someone dies, someone laughs, someone grieves. For now, that’s the way of it, until it’s not.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy pg. 148

Who would I be without my story that I’m separate and alone, even if someone else leaves?

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel like overeating. I wouldn’t want to drink. I wouldn’t want to get away from what I’m feeling….I’d be kind to myself, whoever that is (or whatever).

Turning the thought around: I am connected. Fully, entirely, deeply, profoundly connected to all of reality. Including those friends and family and partners I’ve loved so much. Including the chair I’m sitting in, and my blanket on my bed. Including new friends I meet at retreat, or gatherings of fellow travelers.

Could this be just as true, or truer?

Yes.

Find examples. Spend the whole day finding examples of what you’re connected to. If you want or need a hug, find a human to give yourself one.

Much love,
Grace

You have a goal? You want something? It starts in this moment, now.

All these incoming emails about the New Year…yikes. I’m on a lot of small business lists. 
Everyone’s asking things like “Have you set your goals?” “Do you want to achieve x finally this year?” “Are you sick of failing at the same plan once again?”


And then all the solutions for making sure failure does NOT happen this year and you DO reach your goals.


Sigh.


Fortunately for me, after a sense of feeling a little like a deflated balloon, since I don’t really enjoy goals….


….I felt The Work also bubbling within, with its beautiful and freeing questions.
‘Oh!’ (I suddenly thought). ‘I seem to believe I should have goals and plans and growth targets and new ideas and big surges of energy about what I desire and what I can “make” happen’.


Is this true?


Can I absolutely know this stance is the “best” one to take about this “new year”? A stance that feels like a warrior on the edge of the battle field yelling “CHARGE!!!”?


What a relief to notice the answer to the question “is it true?” was quite fast….”no”. 


How do you react when you make plans and pull yourself together and focus energy on your goals for the upcoming year, and all you want to accomplish?


I get hyped up and tired at the same time. Life begins to look a little bleak a moment later…all the expectations come swarming in. 


I’m completely out of this moment now, and in the future in my head.


Who would you be without this belief that NOW is the time to push forward with plans for accomplishment?


It doesn’t mean you give up joy or excitement about what’s possible. 


It feels to me like without the thought about getting somewhere else that isn’t here, I access a true joy and peace right now, right in this moment. Like really feeling the immense beauty of this precious life, today. 


I’m also paradoxically holding a sense of wonder about what 2019 will bring. Who knows? 


Instead of that being an alarming thought when I wonder what this year will bring, as the mind has had it in the past (including needing to MAKE something happen)….I can question the images, pictures, stories that have bothered, upset or deeply disturbed me about life.


When I do this, then this moment right now feels kinder. 


Turning the thought around, like trying on a different pair of shoes: I do not need to set goals for 2019, achieve something, or consider what I’ve done in the past to be a ‘failure’. 


Could these be just as true, or truer? 


Of course. 


I can work with my mind today. 


What I notice as I question anything stressful, whether it becomes meh, interesting, or even exciting….is something shifts here. And as they say, when my perception of What Is shifts right now, there will be a different future, naturally.


Without a ton of “hard work”. 


(Unless you think of this inquiry as hard work, which it can feel like sometimes I know, but it’s not the hard labor we often envision about getting somewhere else than we are). 


“If you want to create something, if you realize from the depths of your being that something wants to be created through you….the power of manifesting is to experience the fullness of the present moment. It’s what Jesus called life in its fullness. Life in its fullness is an inner state of being. The ‘I am’. Consciousness itself. To realize that. Once you realize that, no future moment can possibly be better. ” ~ Eckhart Tolle

It doesn’t mean we don’t have preferences. We do. It’s OK.


I love this question: How would you feel, if you had that experience or achievement or condition you want?


Can you feel right now what you imagine you’d have, if you had that experience, thing, goal, accomplishment–even just a tiny bit?


Right now, can we find what is OK and what is working in this moment, or the advantages of What Is…and even the advantages of What Has Been?


If it feels like too much to bite off at once, just take one thought at a time. That’s all. Nothing more.


Not always obvious, or easy for the mind. But this is The Work, and I love how Byron Katie says that’s why it’s called the “work”. 


I find, this is the solid foundation, the ground of anything we might want or think would be fun or exciting or wonderful or peaceful in the future: asking if what I’m believing that’s stressful is actually true?


In this moment, when I question what I think needs to happen for me to be truly happy, I notice both the sweetness of life happening here, and what’s possible, all at the same time. Amazing. 


Trust this moment.

It’s here for us, and anything can happen. One tiny questioned belief at a time. One little baby step at a time. Nothing huge or massive required.


Start where you are. Inquire within. 


Happy New Moment! 


Much love,GraceP.S. If you notice a goal for you is to be at peace with a primary relationship gone south, and pain, fear, disappointment or anxiety appearing with separation, break-up, or divorce….join the upcoming Sunday telecourse beginning January 6th. Divorce/Break-Up/Separation is Hell: Is It True?

Taking the plunge into Step One: Dear Reality, Here’s What I Don’t Like About You

Have you ever believed someone could do or say something that would make you happy, or repair a difficult situation for you?

He should calm down. She should come back. He should be kind. She should stop criticizing. They should be healthier.

And what about what happens next, after you have that wishful thought? 


You may notice that part of your reaction to this thought about someone else, as it comes wildly careening through your mind, with accompanying images and wishes…..the next common thought: 


Sheit. It’s me. 


(That’s ‘shit’ for some of us, but as a British citizen, although raised mostly in the US, I love the expression of “sheit”. Something about it is perfectly artistic and sharp, right? “Sheit. It’s me.” Not long ago in Year of Inquiry our group was laughing hysterically at our new phrase “embrace the sheit” and we imagined getting t-shirts).


After we have the glimpse of how that other person could change so I might experience a little happiness, I may do a u-turn on my demands, and think the thought….wait a minute….


….I shouldn’t want that person to change! Jeez!


If only I was more x (mature, calm, detached). If only I could stop caring. If only I were different.


There must be something wrong with ME…..


I should do The Work on myself! I’m the problem! I need to fix my thinking! That’s right!


But we’re invited over and over NOT to do The Work on ourselves, or the way our minds are working. 


What we’re invited to look at is the actual incident that caused the riot. The moment we objected to. The thing that happened we didn’t like, first. 


This can be the way someone behaves, or what they say. It can be the way things unfolded in a relationship. It can be a big unexpected change. Something involving money. Something involving food or my body.


So what to do, instead of doing The Work on myself?


Write the worksheet on the situation that prompted all this suffering. The Other Person. That thing that happened. 


BE HONEST.


There is something quite remarkable that can happen, and details that can go differently, if you let your mind download all the pain you feel about whatever is Out There, and not “you”. 


It’s all you anyway. You probably already know this. You are a smart one. You’re very aware. It’s why we quickly think “it’s me” after having a stressful thought about something or someone else.


But letting the mind express it’s fears about whatever happened Out There is so genius for identifying the places we get stuck. 


It’s raw, immature, small, original, petty, small, me-vs-universe….it’s got a basic kind of fear or anxiety or sadness or disappointment to it. 


And here’s the thing. 


When I let my mind express it’s objection to what’s Out There (separation), I’ve got some very simple core ideas about Reality right in front of me–and it becomes a conversation with the Great Mystery, or God (whatever God means to you). 


My mind thinks. It has objections. 


This mind fills a difficult moment with imagination about what was in the past, and what’s going to happen in the future. It loves to think it’s in control, or has some semblance of control. 


Can’t I direct….something? 


Please? (LOL).


Well, the way we can give the mind a little rope, is to let it express it’s desire to control and direct on a worksheet! So amazing! So cathartic! My tantrum with reality, written down. A hissy fit, in all it’s glory. 


Dear Reality, Here’s What I Don’t Like About You.


It’s specific, on a thing you don’t like. A moment in time. Not too much, just enough. 


So Step One: The Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. 


Follow the simple directions. Write your childish, ridiculous, babyish, stupid, silly, boring, awful thoughts. Write them all down. Judge the heck outta those other weirdos in the world. 


Be with the reality you want to fight. Notice it, and write. 


You can’t get away from this objection, so write it down!(Well, you can avoid it temporarily through all kinds of activities including eating, drinking, smoking, spending, obsessing–I’m an expert–and you can run, but you can’t hide). 


I find when I allow the unedited voice to write, I’ve got GOLD for mental activity to question. I’m not on the self-improvement plan or ANY improvement plan. 


I’m interested in the truth. The Truth. The place that’s possible to visit with an open, unsure, unknowing, unidentified mind. 


“Arguing feels unkind inside me. Just to notice what is, is love….It hurts to fight what is. And doesn’t it feel more honest to open your arms to it? This is the end of war.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

As I do The Work, it always feels kinder to open my arms to myself as well as anyone else, to open my arms to how I’ve behaved. I love noticing that what I am, is love. I love noticing that when I do The Work, it moves to the end of war. 


Including me objecting to me (the “it’s all me” foghorn).


I am questioning what I think. I am questioning “my” reality. 


A few years ago in Year of Inquiry, someone said in one of our fabulous group calls where we all feel like one mind doing The Work together: ‘I’ve given up doing The Work on myself. It’s too shallow and gets me nowhere. I find now, there’s so much insight in doing The Work on what’s outside me, and it’s all inside me anyway.’ 


What I know is, when I constantly tried to improve myself so I’d have a great life, it failed. 


So let’s do The Work on what we oppose about What Is. I love this inner exploration, with you. 


Bring your Judge Your Neighbor worksheet to the next First Friday Open Inquiry call on January 4th. Come to retreat and study your compulsion to eat (to believe your thoughts) January 9-14. Call the Help Line. Sign up for a solo session. Get a friend to hear your JYN and facilitate you. 


Questioning your suffering thoughts can change your entire world. It has changed mine deeply for what appears to be better–but maybe it’s just my mind that’s changed and my life was always very good indeed. 

Dear Reality, Here’s What I Love About You: Everything.

Could be just as true.

Much love,
Grace

Love

Thank you for being a part of this amazing world, so full of infinite experiences, situations, inquiries, silence, possibilities….


….and this quiet moment, now. 


I love you’re here.


Much love,Grace

I had to admit it. Yikes.

First (before today’s inquiry) an accidental merging of my mailing lists (in case you haven’t read the news): I pressed a button and all Eating Peace subscribers were combined with regular Grace Note subscribers. 

But I figure this has lead to something perfect: you updating your subscription with what you want to receive from Work With Grace, and what you don’t. 

Grace Notes (like the email you’re reading) come out 1-3 times a week with the The Work on some stressful thought (plus all upcoming events are announced, the Peace Talk podcast updates, and First Friday monthly free sessions). 

Eating Peace Notes are all about eating, self-inquiry, and ending troubled relationships with food and our bodies (and especially our minds) and comes out once every 7-10 days with a youtube video.

How to update: scroll down to the link at the very bottom of this email (or any email you ever receive from me) and click the Update Profile link. It’s in tiny pale letters.


The whole list debacle makes me think of fessing of up to mistakes made, and how this goes in the world whether between two people, or huge groups, or whole countries. 

It can be incredibly powerful to admit your part in an interaction gone “wrong”. Or to tell the honest truth when you’re asked a question directly.

“The answer is…..”
“I have something to tell you….”, 
“I must admit that….”
“I’m worried about saying this, but the truth is….” 
“I’d like to have a heart-to-heart conversation about….”

The other day, my husband, who is a school teacher, stood in the kitchen looking into a bag of fabric someone donated to him for his classroom. 

“Oh look!” he said with delight, “this design is so beautiful! And this one looks like a picnic table!” 

He continued to scrounge through the huge bag of large and small fabric pieces. 

Then he pulled out some kind of white mesh thing with sticky sides and held it up and looked towards me, sitting over in the living room. 

“Do you know what this is?”

I stood up and came over to look. 

I had no idea. Some kind of backing perhaps, something used in sewing. 

My husband left it on the counter. 

Several hours later I was back in the kitchen making a cup of tea, cleaning everything up the way I do while the water boiled, emptying the dishwasher, wiping counters, putting things away where they belong.

I held up the folded white mesh thing-we-didn’t-know-what-it-was, paused, hesitated, and then threw it in the garbage. 

Um. Heh. Yah, I did that. (It’s not the first time).

That evening, my husband poked his head into where I was reading. “Do you know where that white meshing stuff is from the donation bag?”

Oh. 

“I’ll get it!”

I noticed myself jump up, go into the kitchen and fish the stuff out of the garbage, with him following me and seeing me do it. I kinda wish he wasn’t following me, if you know what I mean.

What did I think, earlier? That he’d never notice? (Yes, and I remember hesitating with the gut feeling to ask him first).  

“You threw it out?!”

Fortunately for me, I have the dearest most patient husband in the world. The stuff was slightly moist in one area from a tea bag, but intact. 

While in this situation part of me knew to take the time to ask first….I’ve been in situations before where I deleted documents, broke something, lost my wallet or keys, forgot an appointment….and I didn’t “mean” to do it. This one I actually basically knew not to, and did it anyway. 

One underlying thing was happening in all of them: wanting to go fast. Wanting it to be easy, and done. Finished. Over. Task Complete. Problem Solved. Kaput. 

Being someone who was once bulimic, literally, with a raging eating disorder, I watch the underlying belief in axing things, or purging, still arise. 

It happens so quickly, because speed is involved. 

Get this out of here, cut this off, remove it from my sight, off with his head!!

Have you ever handled relationships with others like this?

Jobs. Romances gone sideways. First husband when he said he wanted to end the marriage. 

People sometimes cut off their family members using this “delete” strategy rather than tell the full and honest truth, and listen to the other tell theirs. Which takes time, patience, slowing down, willingness to share together and speak and discover what it’s like for the other. 

But here’s the thing: For me, it’s always good to do The Work first, before such an intimate conversation.

It’s worth it. 

It’s literally one million times easier to share honestly with someone you love than to hold it in, pretend things are OK, repress, be super careful. Even better if you discover your own fears, motive or agenda beforehand, by doing The Work.

I know, I know….that other person may not want to speak with you even if you get to the place where you do. That’s OK. The best feeling is being open and willing. You can let them know you are (if you are) so they know you’ll be ready when they are. 

Meanwhile, I love the four questions.

I can just throw this away, and the counter will be clean. (I can just shut down, isolate, withhold the truth, and go on about my life leaving the past entirely behind…)

Is it true?

Um. Rats. There may be a few steps in between. These steps might look like feeling our full feelings, willingness, inquiry, learning, honesty, clarity, awareness, love, surrender, peace.

So, no. It’s not true that throwing it away will clean it up, forever…or with no consequence. 

How do I react when I believe safety lies in cutting something off? Or my goal will be realized if I throw something out (even if it’s not mine)?

I move fast. I toss it away.

Long ago, when I was trying to follow spiritual principles I was gathering from anything I could possibly read, I decided giving all my possessions away would put me into a state of wonder and lack of burden. 

I literally took everything, including photo albums with all my own baby and childhood photos, to the dump. I watched everything I owned practically go over the edge by my own hands into the pit. 

I still think about that purging. The desire to purge my mind of myself. The desire to be something that was Not Me. Really believing it would bring me to freedom, or peace.

It didn’t. 

Who would you be without the belief that throwing something, someone, that issue….into the garbage or out of your sight, will make things easier? Quicker? Handled? Safer?

Sigh.

I’d ask my husband if he wanted the thing, or not. If he said “no” I might even put it in the Goodwill box and treat it as something of value. (I still do love giving away things I don’t use very often, and prefer the more minimalist life of a little house, fewer clothes, just-right amount of pots and pans, one bookshelf of books).

Who would I be without the belief that tossing it away would clean it up? Including a relationship?

I’d be doing The Work. Checking my inner clenching. Watching “my” resistance. Noticing the fear at the human level and the absence of fear at a place beyond.  

I’d make contact with an open mind, with the other person. I’d share my inner life, and connect with them, without expectation. 

Turning the thought around: I can’t throw this away and expect the counter will be clean. I can’t just shut down, isolate, withhold the truth, and go on about my life leaving the past entirely behind…

Could this be just as true or truer? What’s the reality? 

I notice the mind, and the heart, want to catch up with each other and understand together what’s going on. I notice I want to connect with others in a really honest, open-hearted way and this takes time. Willing to listen, speaking the truth in response, sharing until it feels empty.

I notice I can’t throw my thinking away about something that happened that I found disturbing. I can’t just shut it down, isolate it and go on about my life without inquiry and understanding. 

It takes as long as it takes. It takes reflection, having an honest conversation with myself. Willing to be wrong or misunderstood. Willing to Not Be The Victim. 

And here’s the good news: you don’t have to have the other person say “yes” to a conversation, you don’t have to keep a job that’s really not right for you, you don’t have to keep the white mesh thingie on the counter when you want the counter cleaned off. 

It’s a clarity dance. 

I love slowing down, with the help of The Work. I love noticing the way the mind believes Fast or Over is better, instead of Slow and Steady.

Best of all, it’s a work in progress, this dawning of awareness. It’s underway. Happening. Doing what it needs to do. 

“I see people and things, and when it comes to me to move toward them or away from them, I move without argument, because I have no believable story about why I shouldn’t. It’s always perfect. A decision would give me less, always less. So ‘it’ makes its own decision, and I follow. And what I love is that it’s always kind.” ~ Byron Katie

If you’d like to question your thoughts about a relationship that ended (divorce, break-up, separation) then join me January 6th on Sundays at 11:00 am Pacific Time for 6 sessions (no class January 13th). Sign up here.

Eating Peace Retreat is also coming soon. Three spots left. This is a deep and powerful immersion in questioning thought, behaviors, relationship with food, reactions, compulsion, betrayal, disappointment. We start Weds night Jan 9th and end Monday morning January 14th. Life changing. 

Question your thinking, change your world. 

Much love,
Grace

If I say “no”, they’ll be furious

  • This coming Friday, Dec. 14th Let’s Do The Work: It’s free. 7:45-9:15 am PT. Bring a pen, paper and open mind. All levels of experience are welcome. Click here to join.
  • January 9-14, 2019 Eating Peace RetreatSign up here. If you’re flying into Seatac airport, land late afternoon Weds (4:30 pm), leave after 1 pm Monday. 4 spots left, and 3 rooms in the retreat house.
  • March 22-24, 2019 Sit In The Fire, a 3-day weekend of emotional release/trauma work in combination with self-inquiry, facilitated by Roxann (Byron Katie’s daughter). Watch Grace Notes for the minute we take reservations. Email me now to get on the waitlist (hit reply).
  • Spring Retreat May 15-19, 2019. Lake Forest Park, WA (Grace’s hometown in northeast Seattle). Best spring cleaning you can do for yourself. The mental kind!

A man sat with me on skype, far away in another time zone by distance, but fully present that moment to a deeply painful belief: if he said “no” to his father, his father would go ballistic with rage. 

He had proof. From his childhood. 

He was so upset with himself for feeling the same way for over forty years. 

“I’ve been such a people-pleaser. I’ve kissed ass, I’ve bent over backwards for my bosses. There’s no way out of this, I never change. I’m just too scared.”

He spoke the words of someone who feels hopeless. 

I could relate.

While I didn’t have a father who went ballistic with rage, and fortunately came from a household growing up where physical violence was rare, I had that same automatic reflex of wanting to be pleasing to others and not make them mad. 

Especially parents, people I believe I needed. 

If I said “no” they’d get really angry and stop talking to me, or punish me by withdrawing attention or support. They’d make it clear I was “bad” or “wrong” with my no, and maybe even tell other people who would also reject me.

Byron Katie talks about three things we humans tend to become crazed for: love, approval, appreciation.She calls it LAA for short.

It doesn’t feel so la-la when you’re desperate for it, right? 

Your thought is that person doesn’t love you, and you neeeeeeeed their love, approval or appreciation. The mind thinks “I can’t stand someone out there NOT LIKING ME!”

I thought this about siblings, romantic partners, parents, friends, co-workers, bosses. 

If I received a disgusted look, a critical remark, a dismissal, a sarcastic comment….oh no, here it comes: I can’t say “no”, I can’t express my own opinion, I need to be pleasing, I need their appreciation, I need to repair this, I need to get them to like me again.

Just like the dear inquirer who sat with me, let’s do this.

Is it true you need their approval, love, appreciation, acceptance?

Yes. I hate not having it. Except…..no. I will not die without their acceptance. 

Even in the case of this inquirer doing The Work where he thought because he said “no” in the past, his father would hurt him, he realized he survived. He was OK. He even ran out the front door. 

He then moved away and grew up. Reality was actually kinder than his expectations about it.

How do you react when you believe you need them to like you? You need them to approve, accept, appreciate you?

Ugh. 

It’s a horrible, endless effort to get what I think I want and need from them: Their smile, them saying “we’re so alike and you’re so brilliant” (or whatever I think I enjoy hearing), their hand reaching out to me, their praise. 

When I believe I want it, and I’m not getting it, I definitely don’t say anything I think they won’t like. 

Like, “no”. 

I don’t want to disappoint them.

I feel sick.

Maybe, I eat, smoke, drink, spend, watch TV, go to the internet, try to grab some kind of pleasure or avoidance somewhere else.

So who would you be without the belief “if I say ‘no’ they’ll be angry” or even more importantly “I need their love” (and disagreement means I don’t have it)?

It doesn’t mean you’d be a cold, heartless beo*%ch. 

At least that’s what I’ve noticed. Because I still see a human being who wanted time with me, who wanted me to say “yes”, who wanted it the way they wanted it. 

Just like me.

Without the belief I need anyone’s love, approval or appreciation….I simply tell the truth. 

I don’t feel afraid of people’s questions or requests or suggestions. I respond with interest, curiosity, and my own questions if I have them. I feel like there’s solution possible, even if we don’t know it yet. I don’t feel despair or like giving up. 

Turning the story around: 

  • If I say “no” they will love me. I don’t need their love. Could be just as true. Can you find examples? For me, I’m aware the person I say “no” to still accepts or appreciates me. Perhaps they’re disappointed, but it’s because they love me, not because they don’t. 
  • If I say “no” I won’t love myself. I need my own love. True. I see the other person’s upset, and I quickly decide it means something about me. I forget to love myself, and feel my open heart towards them even as they have a tantrum (LOL). 
  • If they say “no” I won’t love them. They need MY love. Also could be true! I’ve been angry that person didn’t give me exactly what I wanted, er, I mean demanded. Yikes! Perhaps they only wanted something, and I refused to give it, and just like me they perceived this meant I didn’t care, love, appreciate or approve of them.

“Suppose your hand moved for no reason, and he found that unacceptable–wouldn’t it be obvious that it was all his show? If he criticizes you, and you take that personally, you’re the one who hurt you. The story you impose onto his criticism is where the pain begins. You’re arguing with reality, and you lose.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself 

Woah. So, if I see that person upset when I’ve said “no” (or anything else for that matter) then I upset myself when I take it personally.
Who would I be without that story?

Free to say “yes”, to say “no”, to be honest and kind in the presence of anyone, and everyone.

Much love,Grace

P.S. If you’ve felt like you’re bracing yourself against the one who was once connected, and now is NOT (separation, break-up, divorce) and all the associated stressful beliefs that rise up around this person….you may love the upcoming class “Divorce is Hell: Is It True?” starting Sundays in January. Sign up here.

When I believe reality hurt me, am I arguing against it, and missing something immovable?

  • First Friday is Second Friday in December 2018: It’s free. December 14th at 7:45-9:15 am PT. Bring a pen, paper and open mind. All levels of experience are welcome. Click
    here to join (WebCall or phone if you want to speak and be heard, Broadcast if you want to listen-only and write in the chat-box).
  • January 9-14, 2019 is the annual Eating Peace RetreatSign up here. If you’re flying into Seatac airport, land late afternoon Weds (4:30 pm), leave after 1 pm Monday.
  • Online course: Divorce/Break-up/Separation IS HELL–Is It True? Sundays 11 am PT January 6-February 17, 2019 (no class 1/13) with me and Nadine Ferris France, two facilitators who have experienced divorce and now think of it as amazing. Really. $250.
  • March 22-24, 2019 Sit In The Fire, a weekend of emotional release/trauma work in combination with self-inquiry, facilitated by Roxann (Byron Katie’s daughter). Watch Grace Notes for the minute we take reservations.

**********************

Last Monday, I offered my weekly facebook live at 2 pm PT on PAIN.

Physical pain.

Although emotional pain can be right up there in the very same inquiry.

It burns and aches and hurts and stabs. We have physical symptoms. Our stomachs ache, we can’t sleep.

Even if we’re not physically suffering or injured, when we feel hurt, it seems like we are.

Five years ago, in the middle of a dance on a Saturday morning, bursting with energy and joy and so happy with the music….

….I ran across the whole dance hall wooden floor, almost leaping. I felt so excited!

I found myself suddenly, spontaneously, doing a handspring roundoff.

Now, you may think at age 52 which I was at the time, that this was pretty wild and ridiculous. But for me, cartwheels and handstands were a regular thing, probably since age 11 when I became obsessed with them.

I still seemed to fall into a cartwheel on beaches, on grass lawns, in big living rooms, and in dance halls where I knew I wouldn’t kick anyone (we hope) in the face. That is, if I wasn’t wearing a dress. Although sometimes, I still did it depending on the dress.

So there I was joyfully bounding across the dance hall floor when I went into a roundoff handspring, my old regular I performed over and over and over again at age 15.

Except.

When I landed and flung both arms in the air with the Olympic Landing gesture, I was up-side-down then right-side-up and both legs were perfectly straight….

…but something ripped or pulled in my right leg and hurt like nothing I had ever felt before–not even my broken ankle (also from gymnastics vaulting, but at age 15).

Now, if you haven’t done The Work on physical pain before, you might enjoy me doing it on the facebook live show I did earlier this week (scroll down for the video). That same injury was all flared up and really burning, for ten days straight.

I had not done The Work on it once. I was bearing it, suffering through it, and deciding “against my will” (LOL) to go to the doctor. They ordered an MRI. I felt like the pain was excruciating and nothing was comfortable: not lying down, not sitting, not standing.

And that’s not entirely what I wanted to talk about today.

What I wanted to talk about today was the way emotional pain of a relationship changing format can feel the same on a psychic level.

Tortured. Feeling angry, or sorry for ourselves. Shaking a fist at God. Or that mean, evil, nasty, thoughtless, sick person who hurt you.

Stop Hurting! Now! I am the one being hurt by YOU (picture person or pain or entity that’s causing pain)! Arrrgggghhhh! Cry!

There was actually a mix-up with the doctor’s handwriting that made the MRI order take six extra days, during which my right torn hamstring/sits bone kept burning, aching, hurting so it felt like a nail was hammered half way into the bone in my leg.

I called one of the office worker people once and felt a little choking cry in the back of my throat….”I’m in so much pain” I said. Waaaah.

That was all before I did The Work.

Oh. Right.

What struck me was the very same thing happened to me when my husband said “I don’t want to be married anymore.”

It was like I was stabbed with a knife.

Images of a devastated future. Images of being lost, lonely, single forever, the abandoned and hurt one. Images of having no money, and being a poor little piteous person. Images of never being the same again, in a bad way.

I was hurt.

Is it true?

Now. Some people will think if you ask if it’s true, it means you’re cold and heartless and you have no compassion.

Of course it’s true! I was hurt! What are you nuts? If you could feel my hamstring, you’d know what I mean!

This is where people sometimes exit The Work, or criticize the method for blaming the victim, or condoning violence or abuse or whatever causes hurt, or suggesting we’re questioning the person’s troubled condition.

But that’s not what I’ve experienced as I’ve answered this question deeply, honestly, compassionately: is it absolutely true that I am hurt?

Maybe I was hurt for a moment. Maybe I went through something that is NOT fun, and scared the s*%t out of me. Maybe I felt shocked.

But am I absolutely-for-all-time hurt in a way that makes my life impossible, or forever unhappy, or ruined? Am I sure I was “hurt” by someone else intentionally (or even accidentally)? Am I sure things should go differently than reality?

No.

Same with my leg being injured and in pain. I noticed there were many things I could do, even though I was in pain (I thought).

You also might answer the question about whether it’s true that you’re in pain with a simple “yes”. No wrong answer.

Yes, it hurts. Absolutely.

Keep going.

How do you react when you believe you were hurt? You ARE hurt?

Wailing. Angry. Desperate. Depressed.

So who would you be without this thought that you are hurt?

Holy smokes. WHAT??!

I feel that injured area. I feel that broken heart. I feel the awareness I look around the room I’m in. I notice a very quiet space. Quiet sofa, quiet table, quiet wall calendar. Very peaceful.

I notice this moment without the images of what I’m anticipating will happen in the future, without imagining what it means to have this sensation I’m calling “hurt”.

I notice this moment has no hurt in it, except for a thought.

Oh. Wow.

Turning the thought around: I am not hurt. In my thoughts, I am hurt. I hurt myself with my own thinking of being hurt. That other person is hurt (could be just as true–and usually is, if they’ve been hurtful). I am healed, mended, stronger, toughened, softened.

Could this be just as true or truer, that instead of being hurt I am actually OK, even if my leg may never be the same? Even if that relationship may never be the same again?

Is there something powerful, supportive, even incredible that’s come out of that relationship that caused “hurt” that’s contributed to my life?

Maybe I could spend time noticing this, instead of only noticing what’s been lost.

What could be good about pain?

It tells us to lie down, to visit the doctor, to rest, to question our thinking.

I have no idea if The Work shifted my leg pain, but the next morning after I questioned my pain, I noticed it was significantly diminished. If I wasn’t against it, or trying to ignore it, but allowing it to be as it is, I asked what it needed me to do….and I rested and lay on my stomach while running telecalls all day.

In my divorce, when I believe I was severely hurt, as I did The Work, I asked what it was the hurt needed. I rested within, instead of being so freaked out.

I gathered with girlfriends who had also been divorced (or were going through it right at the same time). I had a beautiful divorce ceremony with my mother leading where some of the most moving words were spoken, and prayers, poetry and holy gifts were given to me. When I moved, people donated furniture, dishes, napkins.

I discovered a career since I became obsessed with wanting to know the truth and was constantly doing The Work. I had time to read, meditate, and watch videos by people interested in peace and freeing themselves from being victims of reality (when my kids were with their dad).

I took classes like qigong, and did art projects, and started playing music again. I bought different kinds of clothing at Goodwill.

With my hamstring injury, I found yoga, stretching, stillness.

Who am I without my story of being hurt?

Well it seems like I’m so much more than I once was. How strange and mysterious, and weird.

I thought I was less.

It isn’t true.

“You can get clear, so others don’t have to suffer….This is a practice….Wisdom is running the show. Effortless. If I’m walking to the gas chamber, what an amazing day. Other than what I’m thinking and believing, it’s amazing. That doesn’t make it right. But am I awake to what is ultimately right. There’s something immovable–and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s always there. It’s yours. It’s perfect. It’s divine. It’s immovable. It hurts when you argue against it.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,
Grace
P.S. When you receive this Grace Note, I’ll be deep in the woods of Breitenbush facilitating the winter retreat. If you write to me or leave a comment, I can’t wait to read it on Monday! xo

When I believe they’ve hurt or threatened “me”….suffering in reality

First…a few upcoming events:
  • Thrilled that Breitenbush Retreat starts this Thursday night, and we have such a wonderful group coming together! The good people at Breitenbush may be able to squeeze you in if you want to attend. Call 503-854-3320.
  • First Friday is Second Friday in December 2018: Because I’m out of phone and internet service at Breitenbush, please join me for the monthly Friday open call on December 14th at 7:45-9:15 am PT. Everyone can walk through The Work on an important stressful relationship of your choice, from start to finish. Click here to join us (save this link). It’s free and donations accepted.
  • January 9-14, 2019 is the annual Eating Peace RetreatA most profound immersion into inquiry and mindful eating, where you’ll experience peaceful eating with food of your choosing. It is possible for anyone to end their war with eating, food and the body, and enjoy life with all three. Read about it and sign up here. Lodging available for those wanting to stay onsite (3 rooms left).
  • Online Video/Telecourse (we’re using zoom): Divorce, Break-up, or Separation is Hell–Is It True? January 6-February 17, 2019 (no class 1/13) co-facilitated with Nadine Ferris France, certified facilitator of The Work. Can’t wait to teach this course again! This work made all the difference in the world to me 13 years ago.
  • March 22-24, 2019 I’m hosting with Tamami Fujiwara, (certified facilitator) Roxann Burroughs for Sit In The Fire, a weekend of emotional release work in combination with The Work. Mark your calendar (not taking reservations yet). It will be in a cool venue somewhere near-ish Seattle (all day Friday, Saturday, ending Sunday afternoon).

Speaking of relationships.

Some of the most confusing or painful, I’ve noticed, have been between me and those I’ve been romantically involved with or attracted to.

The other day….sigh, alas, deep breath….I received a card from an old flame.

My mind started chattering as I opened the envelope, a little adrenaline flurry moving through the chest. 

He’ll never stop popping up every few years. What is his problem? This is so old and over with, why does he make any effort? Hasn’t he moved on, for cryin’ out loud? REALLY?!

I had just been noticing a few hours before fetching the mail, that when we do The Work, we’re always relating.

I was noticing when I identify stressful thought, I see a relationship with me and another human being, a relationship between me and a substance like food or drink or tobacco, a relationship between me and money, a relationship between me and the place I work, a relationship between me and a body or ailment, a relationship between me and a member of the family, a relationship between me….and whatever reality presents itself in the moment.

I love how the mind sees in duality or multiples. There’s a me here, and another and another, and then multiple gazillions of infinite others: fence, car, road, cement, wind chime, dog, leg, mug, laptop, glasses, earring, man, letter.

And the surprising fun of it all is the very same mind that sees all this gorgeous variety and “other” and “me” can also answer questions about any of it, instead of simply assuming what it sees is the Truth.

So back to romantic relationships. They sometimes bring pain, it seems.

He abandoned me. She hurt me. He insulted me. She confused me. He betrayed me.

Is that true, what happened in that romantic interlude (whether 1 month, or 30 years)? Is it true that person’s behavior or actions aren’t supportive?

Is it true he’s clinging, or obsessive, or trying to get on my good side again, or can’t let go (as I read the card)?

Can you absolutely know it’s true he hurt you? She hurt you?

This is a good question to sit still with for a long time.

Can you know it’s the Truth for All Time, if you had to answer to the Great Universe, that the person you have in mind….hurt you? Or shouldn’t be sending you a letter in the mail?

You might say “yes”. It’s OK. There is no wrong way to answer this question.

How do you react when you believe what’s happening, including a letter arriving in the mail box, shouldn’t be?

I react by calling up the whole story from the past in literally 2 seconds, remembering snippets of what happened, telling myself a story again of what was–and how it wasn’t good.

Unfinished business. Believed story.

I react with thinking something’s unsafe here, as I open the envelope. Curiosity, worry, memories.

So who would I be without my story? Who would I be without remembering the story of tragedy, abandonment, sadness, grief, confusion, drama?

Who would I be if I wasn’t so sure there was a “me” back then who got dogged, or disappointed?

It doesn’t mean I go into denial in this moment here now, fake pretending everything’s fine, when it isn’t.

I get to notice how quiet it is, and how cozy in my little cottage as I open a letter–which is requesting a get-together. I get to notice what’s unfinished from the past that still feels painful, and feel compassion for myself and for this Other person reaching out.

Without my story, I also notice I have no idea what the other person is thinking.

Turning the thought around: My thinking is dangerous here. My thinking and stories are popping up all over again. My thinking is old, done with. My thinking is confused. My thinking hasn’t moved on. I’m hurting myself, with my thinking. 

Could this be just as true, or truer?

Yes.

In reality, nothing much happening. Simple card received in the mail.

How could it be a good thing, that relationship went the way it did?

Suddenly, feeling appreciation for the old stories, the images from the past. A sense of acceptance…without having to know why or why not, without needing it to have gone any other way than it did.

Noticing in the moment the beauty of the room I’m in, hands that open an envelope, pictures of a man’s face in my mind (from the past). Noticing feeling laughter around the story of that romance, and to myself most of all.

Noticing reality right now is very quiet, and I’m here with this, with myself.

Can I find good reasons that relationship did the dance it did?

Oh yes. It was a most marvelous teacher, the best I could have ever imagined for learning about true, honest unconditional love and mystery. It showed me how stories rise up and fall away, and reappear and fade once again, like waves.

In this moment, the stories of that relationship feel mysterious and without answers, and like the couch I’m sitting on is my closest companion, and except for in my thinking, I’m never alone.

“If someone says ‘I’m leaving you’, she feels the excitement rising inside her, since she can see only the advantages that come from that. What could be a more fulfilling experience than to witness the gift of reality? If someone says, ‘I’m joining you’, she can see only the advantages in that. What could be a dearer experience than having you join me?…..The greatest gift you can give others is your realization that there is no self and no other.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself

Here I am noticing today, so much connection and joy with all the love I’ve had the privilege to experience with various humans, and how it’s always been kinder and more exciting than my thoughts about it.

If you want to join in the teleclass about relationship divorce, separation or break-up (no matter when it happened for you) then come discover the peace and excitement. Enroll here.

Much love,

Grace