The Work of Byron Katie Free First Friday – ending our own suffering

First Friday Inquiry Hour is 7:45 am – 9:15 am Pacific Time.

Join me live right here. Audio only. Use phone or WebCall to connect for free and be heard (should you decide to share). If you prefer to be listen-only then connect using Broadcast.

The options for joining First Friday sometimes don’t appear until 15 minutes before the call. Come at 7:30 to take your virtual seat on the call.

Can’t wait to do The Work with you.

This past week, in the very same format as First Friday,(everyone gathering via teleconference) a profoundly stressful thought appeared from one of our group members in Year of Inquiry.

About mother.

She should have stopped the suffering.

I witnessed precisely this same thought a few weeks ago on retreat, and the same thought in a retreat last year.

I’ve sat individually with others investigating at this thought.

I’ve felt the rage of wanting Someone Else to fix it, and believing I was unable–but they were.

They should stop the suffering!

She should take us to safety. He shouldn’t have let this happen. They shouldn’t have taken such risks.

I remember believing this about my father and mother.

We’re driving in our van on a dirt road through tall yellow grasses. My mother is looking tensely at a map and speaking sharply to my father who is driving and saying “this has to be the right road, there aren’t any other roads!”

The sun is getting low.

I sense we were supposed to be somewhere by now, wherever our destination is for the night. My three sisters and I have been playing word games and looking out the window at the African landscape.

We hear gun shots.

In the distance I see a lone house begin to come into view in the orange light. Someone is standing and waving their arms back and forth above their head in the way that appears to be a universal sign for “Look here! Over here!”

We bump down the dirt road, my dad stops the van, and grown ups are talking to one another while we four kids are still in the car. My parents come back to say we’re not staying here, we still have a ways to go to get to the peanut farm.

Nothing more happened. Nothing terrible occurred.

But there was so much tension in the air, I still remember it quite vividly. The fear, the sharp words, the not knowing what was happening or where we were exactly (a country called Rhodesia).

When we get to the peanut farm, the white family greets us (we are also white) and there are whispers about the dangers, but we’re ushered into comfortable bedrooms with mosquito netting.

I look back and learn of that year we were on the road, and all the insane political events happening very close. I wonder about my parents taking us to dangerous places.

Is it true they should have stopped?

No.

The situation I describe was nothing compared to the other painful situations I’ve explored with brave inquirers looking at the violence in their childhoods.

You might answer “yes” to this question. The one I trusted, the one who was supposed to look after me should have taken me away from that danger.

Can you absolutely know it’s true?

This is never about condoning or passively accepting an awful situation, or saying it was good when it was not.

But what a profound question: Is it absolutely true–is the entire story true–is everything I think about this situation actually true?

For me, no.

For the inquirer in our group, even though the answer was initially “yes, it’s true”….

….we kept going.

How do you react when you believe the thought that someone (mother, father, anyone) should have protected you, done something, stopped the suffering?

Who would you be without this belief?

As I’ve heard others answer this question, the compassion that arises for the one who couldn’t protect is astonishing. The compassion and sadness for the whole situation. The heart-break for humanity.

To touch into the power of this kind of love for what we thought was dangerous, frightening, intolerable, someone-else’s-fault….what a gift.

I hope you’ll join me for First Friday in a few hours. Let’s do The Work.

Connect with us here.

No one is guilty of anything other than believing their thoughts. ~ Byron Katie

Much love,
Grace

The solution to shame: showing what you really feel (come work it at autumn retreat)

One of the most powerful experiences of transformation I’ve ever encountered is to truly, honestly, openly and without shame (or, even if I do have shame) express my feelings, and be witnessed by others.

Thirty years ago, I was in a powerful weekly group process for 3 years where we looked closely and deeply at our troubled feelings, and shared them.

We showed them to others.

Instead of talking about fear, or sadness or hurt….we cried, screamed or spoke the story we were believing with an honest heart. Self-consciousness dissolved. The energy changed.

Something’s been happening within me for the past several years where I’m connecting this honest expression of feeling with self-inquiry and The Work, which seems to require thinking.

It’s been underway as a weaving together for a very long time. In this autumn retreat coming up, we’ll gently and kindly spend more time allowing the feelings that appear. We’ll notice them, encourage them, be with them.

I love these feelings, our inner world–the temple bell that says “time to inquire”. If you’d like to join me in the honoring of your inner life, and self-inquiry, then consider coming to northeast Seattle in three weeks to be in the adventure of loving kindness with who you are, even when you believe un-believable and very troubling thoughts.

Especially when you believe unbelievable and troubling thoughts. Join me in the retreat by signing up here.

Speaking of unbelievable thoughts. I’ve had kind of an embarrassing thought that’s reared it’s head lately again–but also many times in the past.

I shared about it on facebook today. I keep forgetting to tell you all I’m doing a facebook live every single Tuesday at 4 pm Pacific Time. The video gets recorded and posted immediately on my facebook page here.

The stressful and slightly embarrassing thought I’m bringing to The Work today?

“I don’t have enough money. I want more.”

In my facebook video, the story I told from ten years ago felt like a threat to my very survival.

When I had the thought recently it was different. But both times, I definitely felt ashamed.

This more recent kind of not having enough is like a sorrowful, complaining, piteous kind of Not Enoughness.

I just want more.

I already know I don’t neeeeeeeed more. It’s not urgent, it’s not an emergency.

But by comparison those other people have so much more than me. And I hate it. They can do whatever they want, buy whatever they want, decorate however they want, have whatever they want, spend their time however they want, go wherever they want.

And what makes it worse is, I shouldn’t be complaining about this. There are starving people in Africa. I’m such a greedy American. It’s ridiculous. Poor baby can’t have her electric car or gym trainer or yoga retreat.

Yikes.

That sounds so harsh, right?

I work with so many people who have stressful thoughts, and then think they’re being horrible people for having them.

I can relate. But even if embarrassing, I still have the belief “I don’t have enough money”.

I don’t have enough money for doing lavish things I’ve seen in the movies or heard about from time to time like hiring a plane to take me to an island. I don’t have enough money to go on another retreat. I don’t have enough money to do nothing all day.

Instead of hitting yourself with harsh-ness for having a thought, let’s actually do The Work instead. Because it’s sweet and loving and very kind to give yourself the care and attention of looking at a thought that feels true.

Here are my favorite questions to ask first, when it comes to thoughts about not having enough money:

1) What would you have, if you had all that money you dream of and could acquire the things you want? Success? Rest? Ease? Freedom? Security? Look at those other people you’re comparing yourself to….what do they have that you don’t have?

2) What’s the worst that could happen if you never, ever get that amount of money? Lack of fun? Failure? Lack of comfort, or care? Will you suffer?

Is it true I don’t have enough money to have freedom, fun, joy, comfort, security right now?

Can any amount of money guarantee any of these things?

Haha. No.

Do you really need more money to gain time, happiness, safety, or freedom?

You might genuinely be able to attain a little more comfort. You might get to sit in a chair that cost $3800 instead of $38 and notice it feels a bit softer or looks more elegant.

But as Byron Katie says so beautifully….sitting is sitting.

Is more money really seriously required for you to be happy right now, in this moment?

Are you sure you need as much as those Other People, who have millions? Are you sure you aren’t equally capable of obtaining as much as them, whether it’s money or other interesting adventures in life?

Who would we be without our beliefs about wanting or needing MORE?

Wow.

I’d feel very connected to those others. I’d trust they need what they have, and I need what I have. I’d be aware that money comes and goes and moves about and stays or doesn’t, like the weather.

I’d notice I love receiving money and trading it for other things I need like food, or heat, or clothing.

I’d notice how much fun this is, like a game instead of a serious dilemma. Just as much fun to be connected and play and delight in money as in lack of money.

Turning the thought around: I do have enough money. I don’t have enough supportive/clear thinking (about money). Money doesn’t have enough of me.

Those qualities or conditions I want from money? Perhaps it’s time for me to give these to the world, to others, to money itself: support, service, respect, comfort, ease, freedom, love. I could give these qualities to others, to the world, instead of grabbing for them in this situation.

Today I received two registrations for fall retreat within an hour, and suddenly my thought about not having enough people signed up went away.

Until.

I thought about the two empty rooms with king sized beds still available for participants to stay onsite that are not yet filled. I’ve already paid for them. I won’t get reimbursed if no one stays there. I’ll lose money. It will be bad. I need more money for those rooms.

LOL.

Who would I be without this thought?

Noticing I watch, wait, write, act and it’s a big wonderful magnificent dance. I have no idea how many people will be sleeping onsite until October 17th.

I don’t know how many people will attend retreat until it’s over.

Recently, as you probably know if you read Grace Notes, I got to attend and witness so many beautiful people doing The Work during a 3 day retreat I was not leading. One person left after the first day. Slipped away without saying goodbye.

Reality shows us who is supposed to be there and who is not.

How very, very exciting. What a wonderful sense of trust, joy, and action. I notice I still speak or share about the upcoming retreat, but no one has to come.

If no one showed up at all (which appears to be untrue based on the list of committed folks I have…but you get the idea)….

….if no one shows up, then I notice I get 4.5 days of silent, peaceful, quiet retreat time to do The Work on my own and really be my own facilitator in a way I could never imagine in my past life. Isn’t that truly what I always wanted, to be friends with silence, and my inner emotional world, and my thinking?

What a spectacular fun turnaround scene to notice in the mind in my imagination: that if no one came, or no money showed up when I think I want or need more, no vacation or skin treatment or new bicycle was ever possible in my entire life (or anything I think would be nice)….

….that I’d know I did my best, I stepped forward with courage and willingness, I’m not wrong or some kind of greedy weirdo, I treated money as a loving friend not an enemy who’s teasing me or leaving me out, that I questioned my stressful opinions and found humor and joy.

Who would you be without your story of Not Enough?

Much love,
Grace
P.S. As I mentioned, when I was in my late 20s, I was in a drama therapy and primal/gestalt corrective parenting group for three years. Fifteen years later I found The Work.

In autumn retreat we’ll listen to our emotional experience and listen to our bodies as we do The Work. There’s no shame in our feelings. They point us to our stories. They tell us and show us what we’re believing. Come join me in this transformational Work of Byron Katie. Questions? Hit reply here or call me 206-650-1230.

The torture of You Should. The freedom of Don’t-Know.

Do you remember (if you were here back then) when I used to write and send a Grace Note every single day, without missing even once?

I think that happened for about five years. (Some of you are saying to yourself, thank goodness for fewer emails–LOL).

Something then shifted.

I love how the flow of activity, reality, the pace, the attention, creativity, focus, results….somehow change.

Did I plan it?

No.

Did I decide the way it would go or should go?

No.

In fact, if left up to my mind, the directive was to keep it up. Keep writing as my meditation, my work shared with you.

NEVER STOP.

That mind will shout internally “You should ______!” or “I have to_____!” or “I’m going to start ______ !” or “I’m going to keep _____!”

There are common lists of what we ought to be doing or what we need to keep doing, even if it doesn’t always serve.

It seems they’re usually related to improvement of some kind, or an effort to become better, or grow, or make sure we don’t lose.

So internally, my voice said “you should be writing every day” but I noticed I wasn’t anymore. My thumb grippers had a little ache from carpel tunnel overworking. I wanted to dedicate more time to an actual book on dissolving compulsion especially around eating using self-inquiry (which appears to be underway, slowly but surely). My heart wanted to fall into more silence and meditation and holding still.

It can be very stressful to want to relax, and yet have a voice screaming in the mind that you should be doing something (in my case writing Grace Notes, daily).

People have “dictator” voices telling them to do all kinds of things that are supposedly good: do this, acquire that, stop x, quit y.

What I notice sometimes, too, is that when a voice like this gets too loud, it backfires. A rebellion strikes. Less is done, not more.

But let’s look at this stressful belief “I should change”. 

Think about something you want to accomplish or achieve. It can be as simple as weeding the garden. Losing weight (as you probably know, I went far, far down into this one and love the study of compulsion and freedom). Upgrading something around you. Contributing. Giving. Donating. Building.

There’s something so appealing about being in action, participating, “doing”.

And yet. Ugh.

The pressure of “I should_____.”

Let’s inquire and see what happens when we question the thought “I should” that involves some kind of change.

I should be writing. 

Is it true?

YES. What good is sitting alone in your room (remember the line from Cabaret)?

We need to DO.

Right?

This here isn’t good enough. I’m missing success right here. I’m missing love, sharing, clarity, peace, sustainability. All these are accessible if I write! I can’t slow down! I need to write, write, write every day, day, day.

Heh heh.

Who am I with the thought that I need to write? How do I act? What do I feel? What happens?

I stay up until midnight. I don’t take vacations. If I’m actually on a holiday, I’m writing every morning and skipping outings with other people. I’m fretting.

The actual thing that was fun becomes burdensome, and harsh, and weird.

So who am I without this thought; “I should be ______” (in my case writing)?

I am entirely free to notice what I want to actually do in any given moment. I’m free to choose. I’m not living a prison sentence.

I remember this well with food and eating. As soon as I began to limit and restrict and set up conditions for my own eating, I got jittery. I got thin, and nervous, and then freaking out by binge-eating and swinging to extremes. It all became overwhelming and chaotic and off-balance.

I was no longer myself, sitting in the center of my heart, doing then not doing. I notice we’re all awake, then asleep, and everything in between.

Who would I be without conditions on any of it?

Taking a deep, long, wonderful breath and not having any unbreakable rules. Rules unnecessary. Freedom.

I’d be present in this moment, now, without fear about what happens next or what is required for success, or what is required to hold on to.

Turning this thought around: I shouldn’t be writing. I should be NOT writing. I should be nothing. I should be thinking. I should be. Writing should be me-ing.

How could these be just as true, or truer?

Well, the carpel tunnel ache said stop. I love meditating. I love not having conditions on my own existence (right!?), I value sitting and thinking, and being. I know it’s very precious to be quiet and Not Know.

I can see how writing or creating or doing anything in this world are spontaneously born. A thought happens, an idea occurs, someone suggests or invites, an offer is presented.

We respond with a yes, no, or maybe. The next day, the response might change.

I notice I’m not the one “in charge” (it’s almost funny how not in charge I am). Many events and activities and happenings are going on right now, in this very moment.

Life.

If writing is occurring it should be expressing whatever “me” is (or not). I definitely should be nothing. One day, I will be anyhow. If I’m not writing, then I shouldn’t be (what’s the reality of it? Not writing).

There appear to be advantages for doing or being exactly as I am in any given moment. Just like sleeping sometimes happens (which looks very still) then also “doing” happens (which can look very active).

All of it interesting. That’s freedom.

“When you discover–inside yourself, behind everything you’re thinking–the marvelous don’t-know mind, you’re home free. The don’t-know mind is the mind that is totally open to anything life brings you. When you find it, you have found your way.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

P.S. If you’re in Seattle, two events: June 3rd East WestBooks on healing eating issues with self-inquiry 1-4 pm. Also June 10th last half-day retreat of the year Living Inquiries Group 2-6 pm.

With inquiry I didn’t stop the problems…they just stopped.

PeaceTalk Episode 141: When my kids were younger, I was virtually obsessed with their well-being, especially when it came to them attending school(s). Regular school, homeschool, what was the “right” or “best” way? Thank goodness I was exposed to The Work when they were 7 and 10, and I could question my belief “I am responsible for their happiness and education”. Listen here:

http://peacetalk.libsyn.com/website

There’s something especially beautiful when we go through this process of self-inquiry, step by step, and then have a little light-bulb moment of surprise (or a huge in-breath and gasp).

We find a turnaround that brings a smile to our faces. A discovery. Even laughter.

Living our turnarounds is where a particularly beautiful transformation seems to happen when it comes to questioning stressful thinking, for all of us.

It’s the last step in The Work.

First, we take a stressful belief through the four questions, starting with asking if what we’re thinking is actually true?

Then, we study what it’s like, what we’ve been like, what we see happening, what we notice, and how we’ve reacted because we’ve believed this troubling thought.

But then, the fun really begins.

Who would we be without that thought?

Yes…without THAT thought. The one you’ve thought so many times. Like “she abandoned me” or “life is hard” or “they don’t love me” or “I need more_____”.

What if you didn’t think it?

This is an exercise using your imagination. You don’t have to automatically already BE the one who isn’t thinking it. That’s too difficult. If you’re thinking about pink elephants in the room, or the mean world out there….too late. You’re already thinking.

But you have such a genius imagination, so it’s only about wondering, creating, seeing who you WOULD be without your stressful belief?

Then, we find all the turnarounds we can. She didn’t listen to me? Turned around: I didn’t listen to myself. He didn’t love me? I didn’t love him. They didn’t accept me? I didn’t accept myself. He ruined my life? I ruined my own life. I don’t have enough money? I don’t have enough of myself.

If something “clicks” and feels curious, fascinating, or “wow”….

….then we might have hit a turnaround we know we want to live, to work with, to practice, to hold in our hearts.

We might ask ourselves the question “If we lived this turnaround we’ve found….what would it look like? What would it feel like? How would we talk, act, walk, be?”

Last Friday morning (Pacific Time) on the First Friday call….we filled out, slowly and methodically, a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on a stressful situation.

I love how everyone has a completely and entirely different situation custom made for their own life, totally unique to their experience….and yet on the page we all write the same kinds of thoughts.

He wants me to…..She doesn’t think I can handle….They don’t like me when…..I hated that they…..

It’s actually wonderful that your thoughts come right out of you, without editing, and you get to write them down. They’re stuck there, on paper. They can’t move or wiggle away.

Good.

At the end of your inquiry work, you can feel what it’s like to be aware of a wider, different, grander perspective.

Who knows what can happen when you become aware of a different way of believing, thinking, noticing or being when it comes to your stressful relationship or situation?

Not long after I got off the First Friday call, a sweet inquirer wrote me a note.

She said that after her inquiry the previous First Friday on nobody caring about an important health concern in her life, she easily found someone who DID care. She got something handled that she said was the best it felt in 55 years.

She let go of needing to go to where she always had gone, and went somewhere new….after questioning the belief “they don’t care about me”. She found the turnarounds “I don’t care about myself” and “they DO care about me” and “I don’t care about them”.

It all came together to a living turnaround that carried her right into a new and satisfying solution.

WOW.

Hearing her turnaround, I felt so happy to be witnessing The Work.

That’s what I know to do: question what I’m thinking that feels off, or hurts…and discover the safety, clarity, happiness or joy I was missing.

The Work uncovers blind spots. Who knows what can happen then.

“The turnarounds are your prescription for health, peace, and happiness….

….Through these realizations, the doing changes. I was the same as you. I couldn’t change. I couldn’t stop hurting my children and myself. But as I realized what was true for me, with the questions alive inside me, the doing changed. The problems stopped. I didn’t stop them; they stopped. It’s just that simple.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Much love,

Grace

P.S. I’ll be a part of a pretty incredible summit of speakers where the focus is parenting….but my part will be sharing about doing The Work. I’ll be sharing how questioning our thoughts about our kids, ourselves, our own parents can change our lives. To sign up for free, click here.

Put yourself back into reality when it comes to you and money (or any disturbing relationship)

Let’s talk about shame, guilt and unhappiness on facebook live today (Tues Feb 20) at 11:00 am Pacific Time. The way you can find the video, even if you don’t join live at 11 am PT, is to head to my facebook page here.

Why am I on about this topic?

Because in the money course underway right now an entire handful of participants wrote to me or shared with me that they feel guilty, ashamed or upset about the way they were with money at some point in their lives.

At least four of the comments I received from participants in the money class were about events they felt embarrassed or troubled about that happened in the past two weeks. 

Not the distant past (although those can bring on shame as well). But yesterday.

I can relate.

I have a few items that might be considered shame-worthy crossing my mind recently, too:

  • I just opened an envelope containing this piece of paper above. I have the money to pay this bill and have no idea what happened, I don’t remember ever receiving it. What do they think of me? Embarrassing.
  • I have three different events I want to attend including a memorial service, all of which require plane travel next summer. I feel bad about the cost and not sure what to do yet. I’m greedy if I do them all.
  • My husband paid for two nights at Cannon Beach, Oregon over the past two days and it’s very high for his salary as a preschool teacher–it was a gift but I keep feeling torn that I should contribute, but I also don’t want to. I’m so selfish.
  • I should put every extra penny into the plans and building of this second small cottage in our backyard which will be the final home for my mother. I have the secret thought she’s going to live until she’s 100 and I will never recuperate the cost or pay off the mortgage, and I should absolutely pay off the mortgage.
  • I need to leave my kids money, so I should just focus on work. I was too irresponsible and screwed up in my past life. I need to pay now.

I could probably find more.

 

And by the way, in the past one of the worst things I did with money is I shop-lifted when I was at college for no good reason, it seemed. I had the money. I resented having to count every penny and be so frugal and work as a waitress. So one day, I stole laundry detergent and toothpaste and other basics, and put the $20 back in my pocket for “fun”.

What I love about The Work, is if something feels and appears really, really true….and is really, really stressful…

….I can question it.

It’s that simple.

These stories and pictures flash through my head, and I can believe them, or question them.

I notice I like it much better when I question them. I love that I have that option in this lifetime. It’s an incredible option, and truly life-changing.

So let’s do The Work.

I thought the wrong way, did the wrong thing, acted selfishly with money….is that true?

Yes.

I should be completely free and “get” there’s no need to worry about money. I should pay attention and not be a flake with bills. I should be more clear, and generous, and relaxed. I shouldn’t complain. Jeez.

Can you absolutely know it’s true?

No. What’s the reality of it? I’m not always at ease when it comes to money. I make mistakes. I want to sneak spend on travel or education, when I think I should be saving. Sometimes I don’t want to share. I compare with others who did it “right” over many years and saved for retirement, which I did not.

No, I can’t know it’s absolutely true any of it should be different. It happened.

How do you react when you believe you screwed up, or you better be careful and watch out, or you shouldn’t spend or have a mortgage (which means “death” in French) or a Past Due notice?

I feel bad, bad, bad. Embarrassed. I imagine the way I would look if I was carefree and light and breezy and I think I should act like that.

I feel deeply apologetic.

So who would you be without this dreadfully stressful story of money and how bad I’ve been with it?

Wait.

You mean, NO THOUGHT of having been bad with money?

But that’s impossible. I have proof. (See above list, and that doesn’t include volumes of other examples I can surely find if I consider my entire life with money).

This is just a question, though. It’s wondering what it would feel like without believing in the absolute truth of this painful story?

This isn’t an invitation to enter the land of denial. It’s noticing who we’d be without the story entitled I Am Bad With Money, by Grace Bell. 

What if you were doing the best you could in every moment involving money? Would we do any less than the best we knew how, given the fear or trauma or confusion we’ve had about right, wrong, true, false, wounding, healing, enough, not enough?

Ahhhhhhh.

Without the story of money and me and all the angst of the past and the projection into the future….

….I’d relax. I’d be very present in this moment here, now.

I might even chuckle about the Past Due notice and how I received it a few hours after facilitating the money class today.

How nutty is that?

I’d notice I’m human. I’d notice how strange, and inexplicable and joyful and funny it is to be human.

I’d notice how comfortable I am, typing away here, drinking tea, looking at a whole bouquet of small orange roses from Valentine’s day still sitting in a vase of water on the table near me.

Turning the thoughts around:

I thought the right way, did the right thing, thought selfishly about my own mind (especially when it came to money). 

How could this be just as true? Well, when I believed money was required for happiness, fun and comfort, and that I couldn’t get enough of it or could lose what I already had….then my thinking matched this story of danger, worry and loss.

I did exactly the right thing that anyone would do who believed what I did about money. I sought protection, safety, rest. I was confused.

I should NOT be completely free with no need to worry about money. I should be a flake with bills. I should NOT be clear, and generous, and relaxed. I should complain. Jeez.

I could say so much about this turnaround. How terror, instead of pretending not to care about money, brought me to the deepest clarity I ever could have imagined. I finally asked for help. I questioned the worst case scenarios in my head. I got really open about my complaints. I stepped forward like I never knew I could to meet money. I started this powerful work in my life, with true sincerity.

Nothing made me do The Work like my relationship with money. Well, death, sickness and betrayal are up there near the very top, but the fear of not having enough money was stunning.

It showed me where I doubted the universe had my back, where I thought I was inadequate or undeserving, where I thought I needed to hold on for dear life or else I would suffer even MORE later on.

Who would you be without your story?

If money has given you it’s greatest support, being the way it is, what’s been great about the way it’s come and gone? What is it inviting forward in you?

What’s the BEST thing that could happen now, if everything that’s happened so far has been important to experience, for your own awakening?

Much love,

Grace

P.S. I made a new Peace Talk 135 the other day, and it’s right here on itunes.

P.P.S. you can substitute anything or anyone you feel a troubling relationship with into this inquiry: mother, father, sister, brother, partner, boss, co-worker.

Have you ever stopped to see if you believe your depressing thoughts?

Live on facebook was sweet on Feb 14th. I received many wonderful terrible thoughts about relationships to question (thank you all who sent them).

The chosen Valentine’s Day thought? What I have, should be different. Different relationship. Coupled, not single. Other person, not the one I have. Different relationship status.

Different is better. THIS isn’t good.

To see how the inquiry turned out, head over to the facebook page right here.

And for those of you patiently waiting for the website to work again, it now does (don’t use www): https://workwithgrace.com.

Finally, I did it. Peace Talk Podcast has been revived after a quiet spell.

The first topic of inquiry after this time of silence?

Gaps in communication, death, dying, endings. Except, sometimes, revivals.

You just never know how something’s going to unfold. You never do really know, do you?

Who would we be without the story that it’s better to know what’s going to happen? Or even that we can? Or that we need to make a plan, and follow it?

Not that there’s anything wrong with plans and schedules. Let’s not get crazy….knowing what time it is and agreeing to some basics makes life simple.

The bus leaves at 7:05, so get there at 6:55. You still may not leave, there still may be no bus, but oh so sweet if everything comes together and there is one. It’s fun, rather wondrous, people sharing needs and services, efficient.

Who would be be without our stories that it has to go the way we want, in order to be happy?

In a big ongoing adventure! And most importantly, feeling super curious, and having fun. Maybe having more fun than if it went the way you planned.

You can listen to the new episode 135 of Peace Talk on itunes right here. Look for the latest new episode also on google play, soundcloud, I Heart Radio and several other audio services.

Thanks for listening, for being here with me in The Work in all these ways, for coming along for this ride of questioning thoughts and unraveling the unnecessary pain.

“Do you believe what you think? Often, within pain or depression, there are thoughts you’ve had for so long and held so close that you don’t even know they are there. And you’ve never stopped to see if you even believe them.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

Do you have a haunted house? You can be your own exorcist with The Work!

It’s funny how we have thoughts, and instantly believe them without question–at least that’s how my mind has worked.

You can spook yourself instantly, by believing.

Have you noticed?

It doesn’t take Halloween ghosties and goblins to scare you. Your own inner Haunted House, the one that holds your painful thoughts, can do the job on any day or night.

But if you don’t really want to haunt yourself with your thinking anymore, you can study anything you fear more closely.

One of my favorite things to study, hands down, is a stressful thought. By sitting with it for awhile, you can explore why, how, where you might have learned it or “bought” it or started carrying it around with you…..where you began to believe it to be true.

The best question for exploring a fearful thought in depth is to ask the following: What do I think this belief means? What does it mean about me? About the world? About someone else or a group of people? What does it mean about my future? Or my past?

In other words, what meaning am I placing on that thought.

The other day, I heard Byron Katie refer to the “meaning” we put on a thought, or a concept, or a story as being like a post-it note.

You grasp the story title, or the meaning, or the whole general feeling of that situation you dislike, and it’s as if you wrote it on a bright green post-it note, or a bright neon yellow post-it note, or maybe a pink one….

….and that’s your label of that situation.

No questioning it. Just assuming it to be true!

For example, you may have had the thought about a partner, just like I have: “he’s boring”. 

There he is watching TV in the den. (Or you can pick your moment that proves that person IS boring).

You’ve got a blue post-it note that has written on it “BORING PARTNER”. Your heart sinks. You wish there was someone around to have a stimulating intellectual conversation with. You want more entertainment in this moment here, right now. Maybe you even feel sorry for yourself because this is yet another boring partner in a string of them. Or you criticize yourself for always being critical.

The whole story is a bit sad, and blue (hence the blue post-it note).

Self-inquiry to the rescue! And let’s use these exploratory questions to dig a little deeper.

What do you think it means, your partner is over there being boring, watching TV? What does it mean about him, about you, about life?

If my partner is boringly watching TV, it means:

  • I must seek excitement elsewhere
  • I am not close to my partner
  • our interests should be the same, but they aren’t
  • he loves something I dislike (TV) so we are incompatible
  • he doesn’t care about using his time well
  • he doesn’t care about being creative
  • he’s addicted to the screen
You may have other different thoughts that come to mind. But the fun thing is, no matter what they are….you can question every one of them, one at a time.

 

Is this story true?

 

You can also ask what you think each one of these new additional concepts means and keep adding to your list of stressful or fearful beliefs.

 

What does it mean that we’re incompatible, for example? Oh no! It means we should break up! Which means we’re getting divorced! Which means I’ll be alone! Which means I need to work harder than I’m already working so I have enough money! Which means I need to find a new partner!

 

(Talk about Haunted Houses….jeez)!

 

See how the mind strings together an image of seeing someone I love watching TV, and it turns into needing to find a new partner?

 

That mind. Silly Rabbit.

 

Always running around in wild directions so speedy quick, dashing into the future or the past chaotically.

 

Who would I be without my story “Boring Partner” and everything I think it means?

 

I’d be laughing.

 

I’d be carrying on with my activity. I’d be noticing Man Enjoying Himself. I’d be free to be with myself and notice the splendor of the moment. Me moving with the flow, dancing with the world which in only a flash of a moment had a man-watching-TV in it.

 

Noticing I move back out of the room with TV, drawn to another place joyfully. Noticing a relaxed body, a part of the mind totally open to whatever happens next with wherever this is going.

 

What a ride! And a stress-free one!

 

I don’t know about you, but when I have a haunted thought….I’d rather question it than scream.

 

Or OK, you can go ahead and scream for the fun of it first, but then….take your belief through inquiry.

 

Best way to exorcise your fearful thoughts ever.

Much love,

Grace

They should stop fighting

Yikes. Those two are fighting again!?!

Have you ever witnessed two people arguing with each other, and you wind up feeling super uncomfortable, sad, disappointed, frustrated, furious, or even scared?

Two siblings are fighting over a toy. A couple you know is arguing again over which music to play during the party. Your mom and dad are yelling at each other about who’s responsible for the broken dish. Your grandpa and your dad (hmm, sounds familiar somehow) are furious with each other about where the money went. The two political candidates are interrupting each other constantly.

They shouldn’t be fighting. Hands over ears. It’s driving me nuts. (I remember having this thought once when my kids were little).

Someone I was working with recently knows a guy and his mother-in-law who constantly bicker. At a family reunion, they yelled in the kitchen. One threatened to leave the event. For good.

They really shouldn’t be fighting!

Is it true?

Yes. Come on people. Let’s be civil! You don’t have to fight! Jeez!

Can you absolutely know it’s true, though, that they shouldn’t be at each other like that?

Hmmm. It feels true. It was very alarming for the entire group, for the other people in the room, for the kids, for the neighbors.

It seems absolutely true. This is a deep one. People really shouldn’t fight. Wars happen….people get killed.

How do you react when you believe they shouldn’t fight, when….they’re fighting?

Oh man.

I start to get furious myself. When my kids were little, they were in the back seat of the car, and I screamed so loud all of the sudden they gulped and went silent.

I feel frightened.

I think “those people are wrong! They should Grow Up!” I get very judgey. I might take sides. One of them is a problem. The other should never react. I discuss strategies for helping everyone with the outcome called Project Stop Fighting. I’m on a mission.

But who would you be without this story?

Oh. Wait. You mean, it’s OK that they’re fighting? Because people are getting hurt and….

Just pause. It doesn’t mean, without the thought, that you love war and you’re letting it happen, or that it will never end unless you believe this thought. You aren’t condoning the fight.

It’s just wondering what it’s like without the belief they shouldn’t be when they are.

Deep breath.

People fight sometimes. Humans get hot-headed. We tend to feel passionate about our position, or what’s right and what’s wrong. It does seem to be the way of it. And there are many ways to address that fighting feeling. Communicating with some openness, and willingness. Sharing honestly. Expressing our needs and wants. Saying what we fear. Doing The Work.

Who would we be without the belief those other people shouldn’t fight?

Noticing they are, and not fighting myself.

Turning the thought around: They should be fighting, I shouldn’t be fighting THEIR fighting. 

They are feeling threatened, and some kind of opposition. They don’t know another way to protect, defend, find resolve, be OK with what is. They’re raising their voice in order to be heard, to say what they need to say. Animals do it, too. Why would I argue with reality, with nature?

Fighting also helps people draw lines, create boundaries when they feel frightened. It may not be the easiest way, or kindest way, but it’s what they know best.

And oh man oh man, I definitely shouldn’t be fighting. I get all riled up, tense, angry, and join in the energy to blow the whole fight up. Violently. It doesn’t feel so good.

I should be peaceful, and when I’m not, I can question my thoughts about fighting.

“I saw that the world is what it is in this moment and that in this moment people couldn’t possibly be more loving than they are. Where reality is concerned, there is no ‘what should be.’ There is only what is, just the way it is, right now. The truth is prior to every story. And every story, prior to investigation, prevents us from seeing what’s true.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

True freedom: feeling the answer to this question

A friend of mine and I were talking closely.

These are the kinds of conversations I love, and seem to have on a regular basis–not just with clients questioning thought, but with others journeying on the path of life as well.

“What if you got your arms and legs cut off, would you still be you?”

Of course!

I’d be me, maybe a little traumatized, but I’d be “me”. I might be someone who had gone through a huge transformation, never to be the same again.

But still with all my memories, my childhood, my personality, the Enneagram 5 and INFP on the Myers Briggs personality test. I’d recall the times I could walk and hold a pencil and even what those felt like probably.

“So if you got your head cut off….how ’bout that? Would you still be you?”

LOL.

Except, this is a fantastic question.

I mean….?

We usually believe that without our minds, we aren’t ourselves. If someone loses all their memories, or has brain damage, or is in a coma, they aren’t themselves anymore. Right?

But are we our minds? Our thoughts? Our memories?

Woah.

This is related to the fascinating and contemplative fourth question in The Work of Byron Katie: Who would you be without your story? Who would you be without your stressful thought? Who, or what, would you BE without all that energy focusing on danger, worry, sadness, upset?

Who would you be now in this moment, if you couldn’t reference the past or the future, or make comparisons, or judge something as Good or Bad?

It’s almost like the mind itself, which is the one pondering that question apparently, says…..I don’t know. 

What else could it say?

Who would I be without a head?

I don’t know.

Kind of hilarious, though, to consider.

I can imagine two ways I might contemplate this question. One is without life. As if my head has been cut off (original question). In that case, I certainly no longer exist as that individual life. There was a me, if anyone remembers it, but whatever “I” am is one big I-don’t-know. A mystery no one ever knows, until we die.

The other option is with life. That is, I am still functioning as a living entity, and human body that’s called “alive” but I have no believable mind. No thoughts, sight, hearing, smell or taste. Heart is still pumping. Life force or body intact. Just no “head” in the sense of the head being the center of thinking energy.

Without the head in full operation, or the brain doing what it seems to do, I notice what’s left is feeling. Touch. Sensation. Aliveness, all by itself.

An openness is left. I don’t believe it is a certain way, without question.

I notice things are OK in this moment, with this deepest sensation of feeling, sensing the pulse of life, not knowing for sure about what anything means.

Why is this so appealing?

You can only find out by trying it. Sitting still and feeling, and noticing what’s here if you didn’t have a busy, stressed-out, upset mind?

“We suffer because we overlook the fact that, at heart, we are all right.” 
Douglas E. HardingOn Having No Head

“This is true freedom: a mind that is no longer deceived by itself.” ~ Byron Katie

That one thing you’ve been so bothered by today? Take a moment to wonder who you’d be without your thoughts and beliefs about it.

Just a moment of deep breath. Being.

Much love,
Grace

 

Exclude nothing, welcome it. The astonishing practice of The Work.

Have you ever experienced the feeling like you know The Work of Byron Katie is transformative, you’ve tried it, you’ve done it, you’ve been in workshops on The Work, you’ve sat with Katie in person, you’ve even gone to The School for The Work….

….and yet, something isn’t jarring loose? Something keeps on keepin’ on, it keeps repeating itself, you keep feeling bad about the same thing, you don’t really get how to address your particular relationship(s) or issue?

It can’t be so simple, can it? You can’t just “question your thinking” and change your life, can you?

Yet we’re drawn, constantly, to inquire once we’ve been bit by the bug of the power of self-inquiry. To wonder about if what we’re thinking is actually true is amazing!

What if everything I’ve ever been terrified of isn’t actually true?

Wow. Exciting.

But even though I’ve known and deeply experienced and been fundamentally changed and impressed by The Work, I haven’t always felt the power of it.

know how to do The Work, but….(we have our reasons we don’t do it, or we think it won’t work….)

The grooves and habits we’re in are perhaps deep, and practiced for many years (since childhood)!

Over the past ten years I’ve worked on my own thoughts about the following topics, and worked with so many people who were suffering about the very same situations.

  • Doing The Work on someone who really angers you, where you felt resentment or even rage for being betrayed, ignored, hurt.
  • Doing The Work on money, or loss of your job, or feeling anxious about your survival because of the volatility of money or your career.
  • Doing The Work on addictions, like going to the fridge for more, more, more when you’re clearly not hungry, or drinking to where you don’t remember what you said, or smoking cigarettes when you thought you already quit.
  • Doing The Work on love, sexuality, couples, marriage or divorce
  • Doing The Work on getting cancer, hurting yourself physically, aging, or not being attractive enough.
  • Doing The Work on the pain of being alive, on mother, father, sister, brother….on everything we learned or experienced when we were tiny things.

If you wonder about hitches or blocks about doing The Work, like thinking it’s not as big a deal as it seems, or it’s just not so light and easy, you may enjoy listening to the live immersion webinar today.

Come join me for an investigation of what typically blocks us when it comes to this profound and transformational self-inquiry.

We start today, Tuesday, August 22nd at 8:30 am PT: Ten Barriers to The Work and How To Dissolve Them. (2 hours) Click HERE to register. Bring a pen and paper.

At the very end, and I mean truly after 90 minutes of only focusing on barriers to The Work and wonderful exercises to help crack them….I’ll talk about Year of Inquiry for those interested in the one year program starting soon (live calls start the week of Sept 15).

But if you aren’t drawn or can’t attend this live webinar….don’t worry.

I’m here with you in The Work. No one needs a webinar to do The Work. The Work is something you can do, free of charge, by answering four questions and finding turnarounds.

All you need to do is identify one particularly stressful thought today. Write it down.

Then hold it up against the four questions. Keep repeating it over again, as you wonder about every question, and every answer. Then find your turnarounds….all the opposites to your stressful belief.

If you have a special and particularly difficult stressful thought, hit reply and let me know what it is and if you’ve worked it before. I’ll write about it in a Grace Note soon.

“When the mind begins inquiry as a practice, it learns as a student of itself that everything is for it. Everything adds to it, enlightens it, nourishes it, reveals it. Nothing is or ever was against it. This is a mind that has grown beyond opposites. It’s no longer split. It keeps opening, because it’s living out of a fearless, undefended state, and it’s eager for knowledge. It realizes that it’s everything, so it learns to exclude nothing, to welcome it all.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself

Let’s do The Work. Because nothing could be so wonderful as to not be against what happens.

Much love,

Grace