Feel summer on the inside, with inquiry (+ Summer Camp for The Mind starts July 6th)

It’s that time of year where I live where the days are long, there’s a looseness in some daily activities, the schedule is changed, some travel takes place, we’re outside.

During this season where I live, and all the time I grew up, kids went to Summer Camp. No regular school.

Summer holidays are often a time of travel, rest, cleaning-out, home projects, classes, art, learning fun things, lazy days swimming in the lake, gardening, a change-of-pace, a summer job.

Right now when I write, I’m sitting by an open window smelling fresh air after a morning summer rain, and the sun has been up for hours already.

My favorite thing of all about summer is feeling the sweetness of summer on the inside: rest, relaxation, calm, enough time, growth, quiet, an inner change-of-pace.

This inner quiet couldn’t happen without self-inquiry as a practice.

How so, you might ask?

Well for me, to question a troubling worry, or an angry or frightened thought about life, has to come before I open up to peace, in general. Inquiry offers insight in the most soft, sweet, kind way I’ve ever experienced.

When I was filled with anxiety, or anger (even rage) or sharp opinions I knew were RIGHT, I sought peace and had a lot of advice given to me over the years. I read tons of books (many of which were brilliant and helpful). I took classes and programs. I went on retreats and had loads of psychotherapy.

I tried to think “positive”.

I set up my daily life schedule to be productive and NOT upset and I focused on the advice and support I heard.

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that–people have some amazing and good ideas about how to live, right?)

But when I used my own mind to inquire, wonder, consider, contemplate and meditate….hunting for no one’s answers but my own….that’s when my inner world started to truly shift.

To be honest, I didn’t like finding my own answers that much at first.

Can’t someone just tell me how to live well, what works and what doesn’t, how to be successful, how I should think….

….so that I have some peace for crying out loud?

I know. I’ll just copy someone. Like Byron Katie. Or Jesus. Or the Buddha. Or Gandhi. Or Adya. (And many, many more people who I encountered).

But.

It just never worked at a deeper, permanent level. Not ever.

Yes, I love the wisdom I gather from sacred texts, silence and the wise words of others. But the powerful, juicy, vital and deepest insights come from this mind actually identifying and questioning beliefs when it becomes confused or upset, and then continuing to connect, watch and be open to the world and reality.

Which is how summer got paired with The Work to form this fun program called Summer Camp for The Mind.

You stay where you are physically (your body doesn’t need to go anywhere) and you dial-in to share with others in The Work.

There’s no homework, no lessons or classes or requirements….which is like camp, right?

Summer Camp is simply people gathered together to bring some dilemma or problem to inquiry. Live. There’s a meeting every day, from Monday through Friday. And every single meeting is optional. Every day has it’s own special meeting time.

If you’ve been trying to keep a daily practice of The Work, or do it just a little more often since it can bring such interesting personal insights….then this may be a perfect way to try inquiry more regularly.

Here’s how Summer Camp for The Mind works:

  • Everyone joins live or watches the replay of Opening Day (July 6th).
  • Everyone gets the same dial-in number for all calls for the summer.
  • Everyone marks their calendar for the daily time-slots when we meet on the days you can attend.
  • You bring your one-liner (a stressful concept) or your Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on anything that’s bothered you if you want. 
  • You can listen-only and simply be there with us all in inquiry, if you want.
  • No one has to speak out loud, but there’s time for feedback, questions and sharing after every single inquiry
And guess what?

It’s sliding scale pay-what-you-can to join (recommended $150 – $500 for the program). You could calculate about $30 per session you’ll plan to attend if you wanted to cover all costs for the program.

There are many costs to run summer camp, and time and study put into it….and having said that, this is summer camp. It’s loose. Time for me to give, personally, and do my own work, honestly.

It’s also a time for people who have been curious but unable or too shy to come to any other more substantive program during the year to hop in and see if it works for you.

You can decide what works in your schedule and budget and what doesn’t. It’s a time when people can join who need the financial support of pay-what-you-can if you’ve been reading Grace Notes and want to go deeper.

You don’t have to be smart, or know The Work, or “get” the full process of inquiry, or know what you’re doing.

You can be a complete beginner.

We always have so much fun. A great group gathers. People from all over the world connect, and we just “go” and see where the inquiry takes us. Sometimes people find facilitation partners they adore and continue with in inquiry beyond Summer Camp.

Everyone joining Summer Camp can bring whatever ails them. People have so many kinds of problems and concerns that can be addressed with this powerful inquiry work: relationships, money, career, friendships, family of origin (FOO), love, decision-making, parenting, addictive patterns, worries, betrayals, fear, job changes, divorce, marriage, dating, moving homes, physical pain, sickness, loss.

Everything is welcome at Summer Camp. 

Wondering what the actual schedule is? All calls are 90 minutes and listed here in Pacific Time first.

Summer Camp runs July 6th – August 17th, 2018. The very first day, Friday July 6th, will be 2 hours long and open to absolutely anyone for free. 

 

For Opening Day of Summer Camp, click HERE to join on July 6th.

Then, for the rest of the Summer Camp, we’ll meet like this:

  • Mondays Noon-1:30 pm PT/ 3-4:30 ET/ 9:00-10:30 pm Europe
  • Tuesdays 8-9:30 am PT/ 11-12:30 ET/ 5-6:30 pm Europe
  • Wednesdays 2-3:30 pm PT/ 5-6:30 pm ET/ 10-11:30 pm London
  • Thursdays 4-5:30 pm PT/ 7-8:30 pm ET/ 7-8:30 am Australia on Fridays
  • Fridays 7:45-9:15 am PT/ 10:45-12:15 ET/ 4:45-6:15 Europe

You pick the days that work best for your time zone. You might come to Summer Camp once a week, or every single day. You get to choose! There are no requirements.

I can’t wait to begin and see where the summer takes us.

Read more details about Summer Camp, or go ahead and sign up, right HERE.

“It was the best thing I’ve done for many a summer, or maybe any summer for the past several decades. All I can say is….it started to change everything for me. Every relationship in my immediate family. All the people I thought were a disaster (and I include myself). Summer Camp I thought was going to be a way to try The Work, and it turned out to show me a way to living with The Work as a practice (as you know I joined Year of Inquiry). I just wanted to tell you, it all started with Summer Camp for The Mind”. ~ Participant Summer 2017

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Summer Camp for The Mind has always been seven weeks of jamming with inquiry without recording one single session. That’s changing this year. We record unless you request it NOT to be recorded (which is A-OK). This way, people can listen and listen, even if they can’t attend live.

P.P.S. For those seeking ITW credit (Institute for The Work) for Summer Camp you need to attend at least 10 classes to receive ten credits (attendance will be taken for you).

Who would’ve thought it? Becoming best friends with your mind.

One of the wonders of doing The Work so often with others in my life is how moving it is that people are willing to share their innermost thoughts.

And NOT the “good”, kind, gentle, mature thoughts.

The thoughts where we go in The Work are the painful, embarrassing, shameful, aggressive, completely irrational or immature thoughts running through our heads.

Thoughts like these:

  • they hate me
  • I can’t succeed
  • she loves someone else more than me
  • I made a mistake
  • I’m a terrible mom/friend/partner/daughter
  • he took my stuff
  • they don’t listen to me
  • he should do what I say
  • I need to know what to do

It seems we all have these kinds of thoughts.

It’s so touching when people are willing, vulnerable, ready to speak all the thoughts they feel so terrible about thinking OUT LOUD. Or to write them all down on paper.

Last night we began an 8 week adventure into Parenting, and doing The Work on our thoughts about our kids. (We’ll be doing The Work on our own parents too, during this course, as well as many kinds of common moments of angst with our children–no matter how old they are)!

As I hung up the line knowing 14 people are in this course, all who are so very deeply interested in examining their beliefs about child-raising….

….I had a familiar moment of deep, deep gratitude.

I get to hang out with people who are entirely aware that their beliefs–unless they’re questioned–drive their words, feelings, actions, behaviors, facial expressions, inner commentary.

And they know something is occasionally (or often) “off” with their thinking. Because they feel BAD.

Funny how just the very idea of NOT being alone in our stressful thinking is so….

….encouraging.

This acceptance alone is the nectar we often need to keep moving in The Work.

“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.” ~ Toni Morrison

Who would we be without the painful story that we’re uniquely wrong, we made a mistake, we’re unlovable, we have something missing that others don’t, or our thoughts are extra sick, mean, terrible?

We’d be gathered together, in this powerful work called self-inquiry, noticing what’s really true and what isn’t.

With a little help from some friends—other humans, who also “think”.

Which is all the more why I’m so absolutely thrilled to gather in six days for the annual Spring Retreat Seattle May 16-20 (we start Weds evening) and then again for retreat at Breitenbush from June 13-17 (with the lovely and experienced Todd Smith).

Is it time for Spring Mental Cleaning?

Come join the shared honesty, camaraderie, fascination, curiosity, clarity, awareness, truth-telling, laughter, inspiration.

Room for 1 more at the Seattle retreat in 6 days–a room at the retreat house has opened up, so if you want to, you can reserve it and stay onsite.

Room for 5 more at Breitenbush in June.

Most of all, find someone who can hear you, and do The Work with them. Trade back and forth with your facilitation. There’s nothing like having a person who can listen openly to your mind.

It gives such a deep practice of acceptance, it’s you who listens. You then become your own best friend. A friend to your own thinking.

  • they love me
  • I can succeed
  • I love someone else more than me
  • I made a correction
  • I’m a wonderful mom/friend/partner/daughter
  • he didn’t take my stuff, and it isn’t “mine”
  • they do listen to me
  • he shouldn’t do what I say
  • I don’t need to know what to do
What could be better than not thinking painful thoughts….are true?

“Together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller

Much love,

Grace

P.S. I just returned from facilitating–for the first time–a Strategic Planning Retreat for a small tech company. I really can’t wait to tell you all about it. Can you imagine Strategic Planning in business PLUS doing sincere inquiry around stressful status of the business? Wow. More soon.

The embarrassing thing someone wrote about Breitenbush and me

Someone the other day who lives in Seattle asked me….what’s Breiten-bosch? 

I forget that even if you live here in the Pacific northwest, you may have no idea what Breitenbush is, or where.

And, you may even have heard a few things you aren’t so sure about. Like Clothing-Optional mineral soaking pools.

OMG, I’ll talk about that in a minute. (Yikes)!

Breitenbush HotSprings Resort and Conference Center is a place located deep in the heart of the Oregon Cascades where underground thermal springs have surfaced and provided heated pools for decades.

Last year, someone said “I can’t believe how beautiful this place is, I thought it would be two hot tubs at the end of a dusty road, with some tree-huggers living in a tent.”

LOL.

Far from it.

Breitenbush is a place with a grand lodge, perfectly kept grounds including gardens of flowers and edibles, pathways and trails, a hard-working staff, and an entire catalogue of retreats, workshops and health-related programs for anyone who is a guest.

You can get a massage, take a yoga class, visit the meditation quiet-zone sanctuary, hike into the old growth emerald forest, and enjoy a cozy cabin with comfortable beds, built in cabinets, beautiful hot radiators, a desk and lamp and electricity, and a short trip to the men’s or women’s bathhouse to enjoy naturally heated showers.

And yes, it’s true. There are all-gender clothing-optional soaking pools in their own private areas for those who wish to take in the hot healing waters.

But no one has to go naked, or even go in the hot pools at all. Swimsuits are worn by many. Old-timers and their families tend not to.

You get to choose what’s comfortable for you on your time off during our workshop when the natural sauna or hot pools beckon. Not everyone comes for the waters.

If you’re not really a hot-tub person (I’m not) then we might find you down by the rushing river sitting in Adirondack chairs in the sun, or journaling on dark green moss in the forest.

And oh the meals. So delicious.

Mostly organic, all vegetarian and such a wonderful variety: salads, soups, hot dishes, rice, fruits. Anyone with special diets are accommodated (you tell them when you sign up). You’ll need to bring your own caffeine (lots of french presses and bottles of cream are in the community kitchen station). But you need not be ashamed if you do.

Why we really come to Breitenbush in June, is for the mental health that happens along with the physical health.

We’re there to do the powerful process of self-inquiry known as The Work. It renews mind, feeling, body and spirit.

Now, remember when I said “YIKES!” when mentioning clothing-optional soaking pools?

Once upon a time, there was a scary story for me about those clothing-optional pools.

Six years ago, someone composed a letter that got sent to a few administrative powers-that-be claiming that counseling-in-the-nude was happening at Breitenbush.

Who was the “counselor” doing this? Me.

Oh my.

This caused fear-and-terror, then a little sadness, and eventually a giggle.

Just in case your imagination runs wild at the idea of mental health counseling happening in the nude, please know that the pools are for your private, personal time at Breitenbush. They always have been.

The Work of Byron Katie isn’t really “counseling”…although this isn’t the issue. No counseling or non-counseling, no “work” or program is done at the pools.

The Work is a profound way to identify and then question for yourself what you believe, particularly about stressful experiences in your life. It’s open-ended, contemplative, and allows wondering to occur, beyond fear and stress.

Just like it was for me when I did The Work on someone accusing me wrongly of counseling people in the nude! 

Our work at Breitenbush doesn’t happen in the hot springs, unless it’s percolating within you quietly after our group sessions are over.

Our workshop retreat has its own beautiful space down near the rushing river…a truly lovely structure in-the-round that holds a large circle of people extremely well. We have our own private bathroom inside our round building and we gather in chairs or back jacks (you get to choose) with a comfortable carpeted floor, a white board, and a big projector for our movie night.

Our sessions are mornings 10 am to lunch, a 2.5 hour lunch break (time for a hike, massage, or a soak), 2 hours before dinner, and we only meet until 9 pm latest so in the summer dusk you can relax, soak again, share time with others, or head to an early bed.

But oh that accusation about naked counseling. Ugh.

It really did mention my name specifically.

And even as I remember it, I can still find the thought arising “that person shouldn’t have written that letter.”

Falsely accused! Ridiculous paranoid and jealous person! She was wrong!

Is it true?

So easy for me to see it’s not true, now. But I remember what it felt like when I believed it.

How did I react when I believed the letter-writer shouldn’t have accused me of doing mental health counseling naked in the hot springs pools at Breitenbush?

Defensive. Frightened. Freaking out with the need to make sure everyone knew how WRONG this letter was. That it was some kind of bizarre misunderstanding. That the person who wrote it was a weirdo.

But who would I be, who am I now, without the belief that this person (I since found out who it was, but didn’t know at the time)….falsely accused me?

I notice how clear and safe it was to be “accused” because it was all revealed very smoothly, caused no harm to anyone at all, and showed me who wasn’t supposed to be my friend or colleague.

It also showed me how deeply uncomfortable some people are with nudity, and how OK that is. It showed me how when I joke around, I can be misinterpreted.

Without the belief she shouldn’t have written the letter, I notice how words were read on a piece of paper, a few required steps were taken to respond, and it was over. I learned sooooo much.

And I still find the turnarounds for how it’s truer that she should have written that letter:

I learned how my credentials and my master’s degree were of greater importance than I knew. I could offer CEUs to other mental health professionals (26 for every retreat). I was completely up-to-date on all requirements for my degree and service. I met a fabulous lawyer who was so good to give me really incredible advice.

I felt more confident than ever, after that whole ordeal (which maybe couldn’t be called an ordeal anymore) was over. I felt the power of standing up for myself confidently, without shame. Steady on.

That experience was better than any personal coaching I could have received for feeling confident about my business.

And now, the Breitenbush retreat will happen for the 8th time. This time I’ll be accompanied by the absolutely lovely Todd Smith, who is so kind and grounded in his own work. I love his experience he shares with the world, and his knowledge and love for self-inquiry.

If you sign up soon, the tuition is still at the “early bird” rate, and I’ve heard while cabins are going quick they’re holding a few for our group.

If you fly from afar, don’t worry about having to bring a lot of gear. They supply sheets, blankets, pillows, pillow cases, towels and wash cloth. Bring shampoo and soap and your toothpaste. The little store has any necessities you might forget. The weather is a bit unpredictable (isn’t this the case everywhere now) so a jacket plus summer shorts or sundress. We were really hot one year. We were really cold another.

And one thing: you’ll be off the grid, outside of cell phone service (!) and no wi-fi. This is a time to unplug from the outside world, and plug into your inner life. Many people like to bring their journals, but we’ll have all the materials you need for The Work.

Who would you be without your stressful stories?

For me, without my story of false-accusation, I’m filled with gratitude. I’m clear as a bell. I’m open. I’m understanding. I’m trusting reality. I know who shows up are the right people and I can’t wait to spend time with you, opening our minds and hearts to the friendliness of life.

Without my story of someone freaking out about naked counseling being done at Breitenbush….

….I have a special deep appreciation for all the lessons, all the support this place called Breitenbush has given me.

Even when letters or words get written than don’t seem so friendly on the first read-through.

Learn even more about Breitenbush (and get their phone number) right HERE. Join the inner peace movement.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. If you have a fearful thought about what someone did, said about you, or wrote about you….you can question it! It might not be as bad as you *think*! It may be giving you some awareness you didn’t realize you had.

Come to Breitenbush to inquire this early summer (+ interview with me and Todd)

Several years ago, I had the delightful privilege to meet Todd Smith, a Certified Facilitator of The Work. His story is moving and profound for how The Work transformed his thoughts about partnership, the death of his mother in a plane crash, and his relationship with career and money.

To watch my interview with Todd, click here.

I was so excited about the interview, by the way, I spoke 100 miles an hour without any introduction at the beginning, plus I have no idea what the caption is doing at the bottom of my screen that’s half cut off. But I bet you’ll love hearing about The Work and Todd’s experience of it.

Super inspiring.

I’m so happy he’ll be joining me at Breitenbush this year, for the 8th annual immersion in The Work for four days June 13-17. Call Breitenbush at 503-854-3320 for all the information and to register. (You can also read about it on my website here).

And speaking of inspiration….I have a little secret to confess.

People like Todd who have transformative internal journeys about the hardest situations in life like conflict, anxiety, scarcity and death….

….are my heros.

Even though I do The Work and have felt change I never thought possible for this anxious mind, I am a huge secret admirer of everyone who is willing to question, even just one of their thoughts, with sincerity.

I had such low trust in myself and my ability to relax, I could barely even “do” The Work after I read Loving What Is. It took me diving in to attending the School for The Work to “get” the true value of it.

The learning I receive continues to this day.

I have the incredible joy of facilitating people and witnessing being with people who see their problems in a new way.

They’re been worried, upset, angry, or sad and don’t know what to do. Sometimes for years and years.

And *ping*!

They catch some amazing insight as they answer the four questions.

I honestly feel when people show up to do The Work and I happen to be facilitating, I’m the luckiest person ever.

Because there are many difficult experiences. There are dreadful experiences. Tough things happen in life to humanity.

It’s really quite miraculous that people can identify these painful experiences, write about them on paper, and take them through inquiry….

….and come out more aware, freer, more peaceful.

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.” ~ Byron Katie

The truth is, this work would not be interesting, magnetic or compelling if we were following someone else’s ideas or instructions.

It’s not about having any guru, and that includes Byron Katie (and I’m sure she’d agree).

It’s about answering the questions in the most deep, contemplative, honest way you can. No wrong way. No right way. Only your own genuine answers.

Amazingly, these answers bring light-bulbs, ah-ha’s, and new ideas. It doesn’t have to be big and like a gigantic firework going off.

Only a little shift can make a huge difference. The course is changed. There’s a new path.

Who would you be without your thought about that tough thing that happened?

Just a wee bit accepting. Or just a lot mind-altered.

Both are better than the suffering that was happening without The Work.

Much love,
Grace

P.S. it looks like the half-day mini retreat this Sunday is full. The next one is April 22nd or email to get on the wait list.

When a relationship is over? Be still and let love discover you.

You know how the other day, I shared inquiry on the belief about wanting things to go a certain way in the future?

Funny how thoughts shift, and sometimes so quickly through asking these four questions.

Today, I noticed feeling so happy and excited for upcoming retreats. Such incredible people attending spring retreat here in Seattle it makes me clap my hands (yes, you can commute daily).

AND Todd Smith, a long-time experienced Facilitator of The Work will be joining me for the Breitenbush Retreatt his year.

But mostly, I feel so joyful today with all the sweet inquiry I’ve had the privilege to witness in telegroups and individual sessions with such courageous inquirers.

It takes courage and willingness to question your thoughts.

Or, OK. It takes courage and willingness to even ADMIT your thoughts, which is the very first step.

The other day, for example, I worked with an amazing person who really touched me.

She was so unhappy because a love relationship had gone south quite dramatically, and ended.

She was so sad, she could hardly contain her grief and rage all mixed together. Her thoughts kept turning to herself, and how she was the one who screwed up and if she hadn’t said x, y, z or threatened to break up with him three months ago, this terrible ending wouldn’t have occurred.

I’ve known that voice that condemns the self. It’s dreadful.

But what if you paused before the beliefs come in about how rotten, stupid, and ugly you are?

Those thoughts only exist when you believe this situation shouldn’t have happened. It’s like we take out the whip and start beating ourselves with it mentally, for punishment of this crime of causing something to go wrong.

Are you sure a break-up or change or ending or move in another direction….IS wrong for you? For the other person? For the greater good?

Can you absolutely be sure it’s terrible?

Even if you say “yes” it’s a horrible thing….keep going with inquiry anyway.

How do you react when you believe the break-up, divorce, or getting fired is BAD BAD BAD?

Isn’t that when you begin to hate yourself, or think of yourself as unworthy?

Who would you be without this painful story?

I’m not saying a break-up isn’t shocking. It is sometimes. It’s unexpected, a surprise, and you may not have seen it coming. (And we could question that we should have).

“If we’re even one breath more or one breath less than anyone else, we’re not at home.” ~ Byron Katie

But what if the turnaround is just as true, or truer….that this ending, break-up, divorce, cut-off is good? Or interesting, fitting. Perhaps it has an important invitation.

When I was getting divorced, I sat with this turnaround for a very long time….many times, honestly. And I found examples of why it was good this had happened.

It brought me to know myself in a way previously impossible to reach. It gave the the beauty of becoming comfortable, and then ecstatic, with silence. It gave me so much time to meditate and read.

It gave me the power to question my thoughts like wildfire.

My thinking was the only thing that was painful. I got it.

“We do not need to go out and find love; rather, we need to be still and let love discover us.” ~ John O’Donohue

Much love,
Grace

P.S. a few more spots open for the next afternoon mini-retreat Sunday 3/18 from 2-6 pm. Register here.

Orchestrate your happiness. It’s not what you think.

Do you ever want the future to go a certain way?

LOL.

It’s almost considered odd NOT to think the future should go a certain way.

We so think we KNOW what would work best, what success looks like, or surviving well. I might lose what I have, or I might not get something I want.

The other day, my mind had the belief when I woke up in the morning: It would be bad if no one came to my retreats this spring. I need to make announcements about them. I wish there was only one, not two (because there are too many seats to fill). They’re too close together.  

I started dreaming of the work I’d do that day before I was even out of bed; posting the events to the free city events page for the general public, submitting to local publications, contacting the workshop postings for mental health practitioners.

And then, I chuckled.

The brilliant question hung in the air like a sweet melody, before I even started in on the tasks I had in mind:

Can I know it’s true not enough people will come to retreat if there are two right in a row? Can I really know it’s better if they’re “full”?

Is this really a scary scenario for me, this picture of “not enough”? Really?

This thought could be a story I’ve told a zillion times in my mind.

Later, soon, in the future….there won’t be enough support, there won’t be enough company, there won’t be enough money, there won’t be enough excitement, there won’t be enough time, there won’t be enough love, there won’t be enough health, there won’t be enough life.

What a nervous wreck to think these thoughts so regularly. The potential for things to go “wrong” always parading around. The desire for things to go “right” (and I know what it looks like) always hanging in the air.

What do you envision as successful in your future? What do you want to make sure NEVER happens?

How do you react when you think there’s a possibility for success or failure, and you want it to go the way you prefer?

I get all narrow-minded on the success track. I believe I ‘have to’ do certain things to make it go in that direction. I believe I’m the one running the show here. I work with urgency, or with a push. I don’t have fun. I’m determined in an intense way. I’m nervous about it going the “bad” way.

Everything becomes Not Fun.

Sometimes, I procrastinate. I think about doing something and say I should be doing it, but it feels so pressured I also rebel against it all, and go to yoga. I listen to youtubes. I watch The Crown on Netflix.

I get pictures in my head of other people thinking I’m a dork when it comes to marketing anything. Inefficient. Lousy at it. The people expecting incoming calls at Breitenbush to be disappointed, because…..crickets.

Who would I be without this stressful story that it would be bad if the two retreats coming up weren’t full?

A weight lifted.

I’d be happy. Today.

I’d notice the calendar has something on it in mid-May, and again in mid-June. I wouldn’t feel resistant to it, or concerned. It would be what it is.

I’d stop acting like I’m God the Dictator and I Know Everything. I’d let out a sigh (and a chuckle) of joy at how sure a thought flames up in a second about what needs to be avoided….but how I’ve also got the amazing and beautiful question “is it true?” (And it’s not even “mine”).

I’d feel the energy running through this very moment of aliveness. Hearing the dryer turn the clothes. See red sleeves near laptop keys. Gazing at wooden bowl next to a box of tissues. Hearing husband’s feet tap tap walking and opening a drawer.

This moment a poetry.

Every possible way the future goes….perfect.

Trusting what is. Letting life do it. Letting God do it (it is already). Noticing all the people already on the list for May. Feeling the happiness and peace whether events are full, or not full, or the worst turnout ever, or the best.

Noticing what is done today and very much enjoying the ride. I could die tomorrow, and what I did today to post information about these retreats would have still been interesting, even fun. Not annoying tasks.

Turning the thought around: It would be fantastic if no one came to my retreats this spring. I do not need to make announcements about them. I wish there was just the number there are (none in this moment as I am alone on my couch). There are not too many seats to fill. These retreats are perfectly spaced.

Turning the thoughts around again: It would be bad if I didn’t come to my own retreats this spring. If I didn’t approach my thinking with The Work. I need to announce my thinking, to expose it and share it with myself. There’s too much thinking to fill (yes, in my head). My thoughts are too close together. 

Good heavens. Is it my thinking that’s scary or the actual outcome I’m sure would be a disaster?

Only my thinking.

Can you find good reasons, interesting or helpful or advantageous reasons for it going the “wrong” way in the future, whatever it is you’re worried about?

Hmmm. If I have small retreat sizes, I can eliminate one next year. I can give lovely close attention and more time to each person who attends. I’ll have fewer supplies to put together. I’ll get to experience the joy that’s possible even if only ONE person is joining me in inquiry. If no one came at all, I’d get four days in silent inquiry with myself. I could further develop the curriculum. I’d relax knowing we have plenty of time for each exercise. I’d get to meditate.

“I invite you to look forward to an uncomfortable feeling, find clarity through investigation, and meet your own discomfort with understanding. Orchestrate your own happiness. Why wait for anything or anyone outside you to bring contentment and harmony?” ~ Byron Katie

What a beautiful retreat has arrived, after answering four questions. Like, right now.

Oh. Haha.

Who are you without the belief that something might not go right in the future?

Not believing your thoughts. Orchestrating your own happiness.

Feeling the harmony of what is.

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,

nothing is left undone.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.
~ Tao Te Ching #48 (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Spring Retreat

P.P.S. Breitenbush Retreat

You have no need for the belief “I have to” to get something done (+ this weekend mini-retreat)!

Oh my gosh gosh, it happened. Another Peace Talk Podcast Episode 136 on the pesky and horrible thought (when you believe it) “I Have To…” Find it on itunes here.

This Sunday, February 25 in-person Living Turnarounds mini retreat! Welcome one and all. It doesn’t matter what kind of experience you have in The Work, all you need is an interest in questioning your stressful thinking.

We have a cozy cottage, comfy chairs, tea, and worksheets. We meet 2:00-6:00 pm in northeast Seattle. Please pre-register and find out more right here.

The dates for the rest of this year have been updated. Come to one, come to all, your choice. I tend to forget to announce these half day retreats until right before they happen. Ahem.

  • February 25, 2018
  • March 18, 2018
  • April 22, 2018
  • May 13, 2018
  • June 10, 2018

For me, there’s been nothing like sharing time in The Work with caring like-minded folks who also want to question their stressful beliefs together. I get so inspired.

What is it about gathering together that offers something different to our inquiry?

I’m not talking about only a half-day group like this one. But all the other pairings and support, too. Like having an ongoing facilitation buddy, attending a meet-up, going to an intro night on The Work, participating in a retreat or course, going to the 9 Day School with Byron Katie, joining the Institute for The Work.

I find, just like meditation, we ultimately do it on our own, yet if we’re together there’s a structure, a shared energy. I’ve never had the experience of silent sitting at home that I do while on meditation retreat when hours are dedicated to sitting in silence and contemplating the experience without needing to do the usual tasks involved in life.

Isn’t that strange, in a way, that it can be so different being with others do something you really do all by yourself?

Because everyone else is agreeing to do this together, I do it too. I stay. I’m in the chair. No question about getting up and leaving and doing something else to avoid what is, or argue with what is, or complain about what is. I’m staying until I’m truly open to what is.

There’s an interested paradox here, however.

The deepest and most desired transformation, it seems, is when we are on our own–no one else in sight–and we remain seated, stay present, question our thinking, discover awareness is possible without any input or outside guidance required.

Isn’t this what we all truly want? To be our own personal wise advisor? To not have to go anywhere to find peace?

To find out that the most interesting, exciting, loving, supportive, clear person I could ever be with….is me?

Then, whatever we do and wherever we are, whether in a strange unrecognizable place, or our own living room, or in a noisy crowded street, or with a group of friends….

….no matter where we are, we’re with the most beloved and beautiful friend.

One of the things I most love about The Work, is that my stressful, uncomfortable, troubling, nasty, mean, vicious or violent thoughts are the ones that help me hear my inner compassionate advisor.

They are the loud voices that lead me to the still small voice.

Who would have thought the stories and yelling and panic that caused my suffering are the ones that bring the deepest awareness and awakening?

Strange. But true.

And so much help along the way by gathering with other people (still true) and sharing this inquiry. Exploring together is such a gift. It says “you are not alone”. It inspires connection and insight. It’s a practice arena that shows if I can do it with others holding my hand, or accepting me, I can do it.

If I can do it with others, I can do it with myself.

So if you find yourself willing, interested and drawn to connecting to your most inner wise compassionate advisor and awakened one within (yes, that one is there, always) then join me for a half day retreat, or the longer spring retreat coming in May (four days of The Work heaven)!

I’d love to spend time with you sharing the inner world we usually don’t think of as share-worthy (LOL). What freedom to find we’re all on the same journey, discovering peace.

“If you don’t know that who you authentically are does not suffer and has no need for beliefs, you are practicing believing that the separate self is real and that suffering is inevitable.” ~ Cheri Huber

Spend some time with others practicing un-believing how separate you are.

I love how Byron Katie says you have only two choices: believe your thoughts, or question them. There’s no other option.

I’d rather question them.

Even if you live on the other side of the world from where I do–find a partner, connect with people, call the Help Line (it’s free), come to retreat somewhere, anywhere.

Practice questioning. It’s more fun than believing. At least it sure has been for me. (Understatement of the century).

Sign up for this month’s Living Turnarounds Half-Day Sunday 2/25 right HERE.

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

This is the only time you suffer. Amazing.

There’s a little more than a whole month before registration for Year of Inquiry closes (August 31). Summer Camp for The Mind is still underway, and quite a few people won’t officially sign up until Summer Camp ends on August 18th. Space is limited, but I’m not over half full yet, so for those of you nervous about it filling before August 31st, you’ve got time. (I’ll send out a message if it looks like YOI will fill before August 31).

Speaking of deadlines.

I was working with a lovely inquirer the other day who wanted to know if signing up for Year of Inquiry would help her finish a huge creative project.

Will it help me reach success?

Ha ha!

I have no idea about that.

She laughed, too.

She’s done The Work enough to know, this isn’t about trying to get somewhere down the road, into a future place where we’re successful, making money, happy, in a good relationship, forgiving towards everyone, living the dream (whatever that is) or enlightened.

It’s a weird paradoxical thing, because those who will embark on a one year program together will apparently share many months and time watching webinars, posting and sharing insights or questions on our private secret forum, calling in to do The Work together, trading sessions one-on-one in The Work with each other, and joining together for retreats (those who can travel to Seattle area).

It’s a deep, regular return to self-inquiry, with others, with ourselves.

There’ll be a whole lotta inquiry going on.

The paradoxical thing about it is….when I hear of others doing inquiry over time, when I notice my own practice over time, I actually DO see change. Sometimes significant, astonishing change.

For myself, the “success” I feel in a creative way is enormous. When I have an idea or vision to invent or put together something, or a thought about including or moving towards something, it feels as if things move that way very easily. So although I have no idea about goals and striving and milestones….life sure does seem simpler and easier and quite amazing with inquiry at the wheel.

What I’d recommend first, if you have ideas about what you’ll achieve with anything, including Year of Inquiry, is to question anything stressful that appears to get between you and moving towards that lovely thing you’re envisioning.

Who knows what can happen.

Most important about Year of Inquiry is that it provides a structure for a way of life that includes The Work. Regularly. With other people. Sharing. Questioning your stress and suffering.

What could be better than this kind of intimacy?

All I know is, as I practice The Work, my thinking becomes lighter, and so does life. Things I thought were drastic and awful….just don’t seem that way anymore.

“The only time you suffer is when you believe a thought that argues with reality. You are the cause of your own suffering–but only all of it.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy

Now don’t take that personally. YOU are not the bad seed, the ONE who is a blight on living. It’s actually very, very good news that your thinking is the cause of all your suffering.

Because then, all I need for the greatest “success” is to question what I think is not success.

Who would I be without my story?

 

Starting another Year of Inquiry. LOL!

Much love,

Grace

It can’t be gained by interfering (+ Friday Immersion Webinar + BWBK)

Tomorrow: FIRST FRIDAY open free inquiry jam for everyone and anyone. 7:45 – 9:00 am Pacific Time. Join HERE. You’ll see your options for connection when you visit this link about 20 minutes before the session begins.

Then….also tomorrow, Friday July 7th from Noon-1:30 pm PT one of my favorite courses to offer: Ten Barriers To ‘Getting’ The Work, And How To Dissolve Them. A little different every time, and I will record it for all of you who can’t attend. To attend join me HERE. At the very end I’ll share and answer your questions about the Year of Inquiry, which is now accepting registrations for fall.

And if this wasn’t enough for our hungry inquiring minds, I absolutely loved the Opening Day to Summer Camp For The Mind yesterday morning. Tonight is the second option, Thursday Opening Day Summer Camp 7/6 at 5:30 pm. Three hours of a little mini-retreat for you virtually. This is audio only, you listen and write and listen and write and share if you’re drawn to give feedback or comment….or if you’re bravely up for doing The Work out loud.

I get amazed at how 3 hours goes by so fast. Such great questions from everyone, even from the very first steps of filling out the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.

Sometimes at the very beginning of a mini-retreat, or stepping into a session of The Work, we have a few stressful thoughts. One of them can be….where do I even begin when it comes to The Work?

There’s so much to worry about, right?

Look at this list!

Kids, money, job, car, house, tasks, reading, gaining knowledge, creating, taxes, diet, cooking, laundry, vacuuming, aging parents, schooling, success, disease, disappointment, terror.

Yesterday, I had people start with a little quiet, to write in a short list what they felt most disturbed by in their lives. Not too long a list, not too short.

You do hopefully just the right amount of writing to open the door to what wants to be investigated, for you.

Maybe you write down the names of people who bug you. Or who you don’t feel forgiving towards. Or who you feel hurt you. Or other issues you’re bothered by in your life–like your body, a sickness, an unpleasant surprise.

Here’s a key that’s really helped me over time to get into my inner world and my own work: It almost doesn’t even matter what our situations are. The FEELINGS are the important key.

I feel bad about…..

I feel troubled about….

I feel sad, worried, angry, scared, furious about….

Anything uncomfortable is a moment worthy of inquiry. Either lightly disappointing, or absolutely terrifying.

Your feelings are the brilliant compass, or the fog horn, that tells you something’s up. Something needs your attention.

I didn’t used to feel this way, truth be told.

If I was uncomfortable, my first order of business internally was to figure out when I could get to safety, how I could distract or change my feeling, how to fix the situation, and how to feel better ASAP.

Look directly at the feelings and the situation?

No thanks. 

I never realized I could question my assumptions. Like, the biggest one being that the situation is an actual problem.

I always just assumed it was. Of course it’s a problem! I’m upset! That proves it is worthy of upseted-ness!

Ahhhh, my little grasshopper, says the wise part of ourselves from somewhere perhaps distant, or over the horizon….’Are you sure that if you feel uncomfortable or troubled, you have a problem?’

I was already out the door, knowing I had a problem on my hands. I was already eating something, or gossiping, or planning which movie I’d be going to, or smoking–because, I needed to take the edge off the feelings. FAST.

It was an emergency, after all.

That’s what feeling strongly felt like.

I had a core underlying belief (which is one of the ten barriers I’ll talk about in the webinar Friday by the way that sometimes blocked my inquiry): Do Not Feel.

It hurts. Don’t do it.

How do you react when you believe feeling in a big way is bad, difficult, to be avoided, terrifying?

I spend huge amounts of energy trying to have a great poker face. Even on the inside. I personally developed wild eating behaviors, called disordered eating (no kidding) because of believing I must never be angry or afraid.

So who would you be without this very stressful belief that feeling big feelings is bad?

Wait. You mean….Huh?

But it IS bad. I hate seeing grown people go on a rampage, or act rude, or cry in public, or start yelling. It’s so….scary! I don’t like it when kids do it, come to think of it!

What if you didn’t know it was scary though? What if it was like the weather….sometimes cold, sometimes hot, sometimes stormy, sometimes wild, sometimes very still, sometimes wet, sometimes windy?

And yes, sometimes weather is a bit frightening. Although, I must admit, the more I’ve gotten comfortable with my feelings, the more willing I am to be in any kind of weather, without severe disturbance. I’m not chasing tornadoes, I’m not even thinking of them. There aren’t any in my neighborhood.

Who would you really be, without your belief that feelings need to be shut down, avoided, crushed, obliterated, cut off, controlled?

I’d feel them.

They’d course through me, sometimes with huge heart-breaking waves, or fist-gripping punches.

Then they’d fade away.

I remember Eckhart Tolle speaking once about big feelings, as he watched two swans attack each other, fight, and then move away from each other. He noticed they both shook and shook, as they glided in opposite directions, as if the fighting was spasming through them and out of them. Then their bodies settled down and relaxed.

Maybe it could be the same for us.

Turning the thought around: It’s safe to have big feelings. It’s dangerous to NOT have them, or to suppress them. It’s good to feel.

How could this be truer?

Oh so easy for me to find, now.

It allows me to address the upset directly, to wonder what’s disturbing me, to explore the inner landscape, to be a part of the human race–someone with reactions and perceptions and a mind worthy of listening to and questioning.

My feelings were what saved my life–they were so distraught and getting so twisted up inside, I had to disconnect from the “normal” path, and get help. They brought me to inquiry.

Becoming more open and familiar and loving towards my own feelings made me someone who could sit with other people having their feelings, and not be afraid. I don’t even have to know what to say, or do. I can just be there.

“It is what you’re believing that is the cause of those feelings and emotions. It’s so important to get in touch with how you react when you think this thought. All of the sudden you have a gifting of emotions to wake you up.” ~ Byron Katie

Even if you’re not sure what you’re believing that led to your troubled feelings, you know at least you’re thinking something. Remembering something. Worried about something.

The feeling is the clue. And with The Work, you can discover what’s behind the curtain–that stressful belief, waiting to be investigated.

Join me tonight for Opening Day, and if you want to come on board the Peace Train, to find peace towards your feelings and your thinking….Summer Camp for The Mind is a great place to share inquiry. Find out all about it HERE). We meet for our shorter 90 minute sessions every week day from July 12 – August 18.

“True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.”

~ Tao Te Ching #48

This includes feelings running through the body. Letting them go their own way. Not fighting them, the way I did all the time.

Instead of interfering with force…..try The Work.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. I am so excited my hands are clapping because Saturday is Being With Byron Katie. Instead of a webinar or telesession, we’re gathering in person together to watch Katie for 4 days (or however long you can join us) to be in silence and The Work and watch the retreat via streaming. Still room for 2 more, just hit reply if you want to come. Amazing group of people. I can’t wait! If you are dying to attend and you can only do it with financial help, please let me know. Find out more or sign up right HERE.