Is there a wrong way to practice The Work?

Someone had to cancel their attendance at autumn retreat starting Weds due to medical emergency (she’s OK but going through a procedure on Thursday).

This means….we have room in retreat for you, plus a room available for you to sleep in a king size bed with plush beautiful pillows and comforter and everything you need, an absolutely gorgeous huge bathroom with a claw foot tub, and the peace and quiet of a retreat that shines a light on your inner transformation.

But, you don’t have to stay onsite to come. I myself commute daily the mile from my cottage to this beautiful house.

Last year, someone in fall retreat was chuckling with surprise at the antique flavor, the elegance, the hot tub, the quiet garden grounds in the middle of a large city like Seattle. Our retreat house was built in 1918. There’s a grand feel to the place.

Like a haunted mansion. LOL.

Isn’t that what it’s like sometimes in our minds, with all the thoughts, stories, memories, or nightmares from our past, or imagined future?

I love this time of year to question the haunted thoughts in our minds.

So, no matter where you are….you can bus, drive, hitch-hike, fly and you still have three days to call in “well” to your job. Come join us in the brilliance of doing The Work at this magnificent place only ten miles north of downtown Seattle. Hit reply if you have questions for me, and just ask.

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I receive a whole lot of brilliant, challenging and honest questions about The Work.

I got two this past week alone.

Different people from very different parts of the world asked these two separate juicy questions:

a) Do you think the work can be the only tool one uses in mental health therapy?

b) Isn’t all this self-inquiry kind of, well, self-centered?

Such great questions.

Every situation and every person is unique, even though we humans are so similar. But I can share with you my own ponderings, and you can sort out your own answers, as always.

First, I like to think about where my question comes from? Is it from my fearing mind, or a relaxed one?

I used to agonize endlessly about decisions and if I was doing something “right” or not. One thing I recognized was the belief I had about doing it “wrong” or making a mistake and the honest need to question that it was possible to do it wrong in the first place. I like to ask, when making decisions or wondering about something:

Is the question arising out of fear and urge-to-protect, or self-compassion, love and joy? Am I afraid something will go wrong?

If you’re asking Question A (can you use only The Work to address mental health issues?) then I love going further into it like this:

What part of me is asking? Who wants to know? Is it a voice that’s suspicious, or worried about using other therapeutic tools? Or is it a wise and loving voice?

(My thought is, why wouldn’t I use other therapeutic help, if it was in front of me and inviting or interesting?)

Sitting with these questions and noticing peace in the presence of your reflections can be so sweet, so easy.

Is a decision necessary? What do you notice works for you today, right now in this present moment?

With the second question, Question B, (“isn’t inquiry too self-centered?”) there could be a few things also to ponder:

What does self-centered mean for you? Like is there something you believe you’re missing, because you’re spending time questioning your thoughts or stressful memories?

What’s the worst that could happen, if you’re self-centered? Who is this “self’ that The Work is centering around?

I’ve had the thought in the past that if I meditated all day (or did The Work all day)….I’d be a lump of unproductive clay (unproductive sh*%t) and leave nothing to the world and offer absolutely no important wisdom.

But can I be sure the thing I’m expecting as an outcome is for sure going to happen?

No.

I love rolling up my sleeves and being in action. My capacity to be active and alive out in the world seems to be far more expansive since I’ve been doing The Work. The caution I once had is massively reduced.

It feels really good.

Who would we be without our stories, including our stories about inquiring into our stories….or receiving other kinds of therapeutic help?

I’d be open to however this is going, and however it changes.

If you walk through the world without suffering about what’s happened in your life in any area, who knows what amazing actions you might take and incredible things you might offer us all.

If you can’t take the spot in retreat starting Wednesday night, today there’s room for two at half-day retreat. We begin at 2 pm and end at 6 pm. Come on over.

Much love,
Grace
P.S.
Breitenbush HotSprings Resort Retreat is Dec 6-9. $245 tuition before 11/1 (you add your lodging and all meals are included–it’s a very sweet winter deal).

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

I am not home–how do YOU react?

Something about fall. Crisp. Fresh. Orange.

The beginning of the end. Nature is decaying and going dark for the winter. Leaves fall, the sky looks gray, the sun shines far less (where I live).

I love going on retreat at this time of year, and taking the precious time to sink into inquiry.

I’ve experienced very deeply and sincerely that when my relationship to reality actually changes through this work, my movement in the world changes, and the outcomes I experience actually wind up changing, naturally.

  • half-day Living Turnarounds Deep Divers retreat October 14th from 2-6 pm ($50)
  • October 17th evening through October 21st morning, autumn retreat. We have one room left for anyone wanting to stay at a reduced fee onsite at the beautiful retreat house, but commuters also welcome.
  • December 6-9 a winter retreat in the woods of Breitenbush Thursday evening through Sunday morning.

The other day, I was reflecting on one of my first most terrible, dreadful “loneliness” stories.

I was going to share this story with only the Eating Peace mailing list, but I had the thought you might like to reflect on the very same story….even if you have never had a single moment of trouble with food, eating or weight.

The “I Am Lonely” story.

I am not connected, I am abandoned, I am alone, I am not safe.

I AM NOT HOME.

This story is incredibly stressful.

When I believed it was the truth, what did I do?

I isolated, I tried to hold back tears, I slept a lot or lay in my bed…and I ate.

This is a truly powerful story to question. So let’s do it today (and you’re welcome to watch my live youtube on this right here).

I am not home.

Is it true?

No.

When I think about this right now, today, I can still find the voice that wonders where home is….that isn’t so sure it’s here, now. But I really can’t know that voice is accurate.

The thought comes in “where else would home be, if not here?”

I can really see it’s not True.

But how do you react when you think it is?

Doubt enters my heart, and I feel it in my body. I believe I won’t be safe quite soon, and I’m not emotionally safe now. I can’t relax. I want to go home, like a little kid saying “where’s my mommy?”

And if you watch my story I shared on youtube, you’ll know that the way I reacted to this belief “I am not home” is that I ate.

I ate and ate and ate and stuffed and filled myself. I remember I knew how to say in French, “J’ai manger trop”.

“I ate too much!”

I said this many times to my student leader on my foreign exchange program who was probably about 24 and seemed so old and wise and capable. I remember her saying back to me “you’ve said that a lot!”

Ugh.

I’ve sat with many people in this stressful belief. Some people react by hunting for the perfect mate. Some people buy clothes and go shopping and try to enhance their environment with a feeling of “home”. Some people watch TV or movies, or join a ton of groups, or fill their time with way too many tasks.

Just watch, if you’ve held this belief that you are not ultimately at home, how stressful it can be.

I notice that I’ve felt source, reality, universe, God, were very far away somewhere and not listening to me. (I notice it makes no sense at all, really, but the images are of distance, outer space, being cut-off, feeling desperately sad).

Now….who would you be without this belief you aren’t home?

I instantly notice a sense of relief or wonder about this moment. It’s quiet, yet I can hear a lot of sounds–crows and eagles outside, a group passing by on bikes calling to each other, wind chimes on the front porch, a loud motor from the busy street in the distance.

But I suppose it would be fine if suddenly I was deaf.

And what would this moment be like without sight, without the belief you aren’t home?

I find there’s a trust present that I didn’t feel before. Something kind. I’m not assuming darkness or blackness means aloneness or separation.

Turning the thought around: what if you are connected? What if you are home?

I am connected, I am found, I am surrounded, I am safe.

Was that actually true for me at that time so long ago when I shared my story of being so far away in another country?

Yes.

I had a group leader, I had adults who had welcomed me into their home to spend time with their family for the entire summer, I sang all summer with my friends in 3-part harmony during our bike ride adventure through France, I felt joy at the beauty I witnessed of landscapes and castles and camping in barns on hay, I learned that I didn’t need my parents or family around in order to be happy.

I also learned that something in me felt terrified and reached for food for relief, escape and comfort. I lost some of my innocence of childhood and discovered I had something vital to contend with—my inner soul’s desire to connect with other humans honestly (instead of food).

It was not easy.

I am still practicing and learning the living turnaround: I am home.

But what I can see is when I do not believe that I’m not home and there’s no hope in returning home, I do not eat wildly and desperately.

I notice a need to articulate my feelings and speak them. I ask for support and put myself in environments where I will receive it. I connect with other people–including all the clients and people who appear for groups–and we do this work, together.

I feel in this body, and in my consciousness, a sense of now, here, being, open.

Gratitude may appear. Thankful for this chair. Thankful for this tree. Thankful for this mind, these thoughts, these feelings even.

This. Nothing more required.

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
~ Wendell Berry

Much love,
Grace
P.S. A few spots left in autumn retreat and half-day living turnarounds group has room for 4 more.

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.

Sitting with others, we find our freedom. Nothing more powerful than a group to change our world.

What a lovely group forming for the October Retreat 10/17-10/21. Will you join us here in Seattle? Plenty of room still so of course now I think we need more people. It’s only a thought. I have no idea if it’s true or not true. All I know is, I can’t wait to do The Work with those who come. It’s always a most beautiful and profound way to free yourself from fearful or difficult stories, to gather in person with others. Two rooms left onsite for those coming from away.

Living Turnarounds Deep Divers Meetup Group starts next month: Sunday October 14th 2-6pm at Goldilocks Cottage. There are six dates (scroll down for all the dates at bottom of the page). One is at East West Books on November 3rd which is a Saturday instead of a Sunday. For the East West one only register here.

Winter Retreat at Breitenbush! Wow! This one I will be facilitating with my husband Jon on Dec 6-9 for a post-and-pre holiday transformative 3-day retreat. We begin Thursday night. Join us is the peaceful forest. We made a little short video invite about it for you:

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So what’s the big deal about leaving house and home, and work and daily life and family, kids, dog, spouse, routine….

….and spending several days in a completely different location, asking and answering four questions and doing The Work?

I remember once asking an enlightened meditation teacher “Where should I go to find peace–which monastery? What do you recommend? Please just tell me!”

I was surprised (and yet maybe not so much) to hear him reply: the key is to be on a meditation retreat in your everyday life. How about relaxing and getting quiet right now?

Oh. Right.

But.

Don’t I have to be where everything is very, very quiet and there are no distractions, needs, or tasks to handle or address?

Not really.

It’s not necessary, and this is what we’re learning in the end. The center of peace is here, now, in whatever’s going on around us.

But it can be an incredible, beautiful, supportive gift to give ourselves to go someplace and move away from all busyness and chaos. It’s amazing to put your physical body in another place, and step away.

We’re clearing our schedules, having room, board, comfort, supportive natural surroundings taken care of by others, so we can be together and do almost nothing but The Work.

There’s nothing like sitting in the four questions to really “get” some kind of light on a subject or situation.

I’ll never forget the woman who came all the way from Florida. Her marriage was rocky. She had been divorced once before and felt determined not to go through that again. She noticed her mind full of critical and annoyed thoughts about her husband.

So she flew from the farthest point in the country to the opposite corner of the country.

Her first worksheet was on him, of course.

That was the story that was most up, that drew her into this important investigation. She didn’t hold back from writing down her thoughts about him: childish, mean, furious, petty, unforgiving. He was too close to his ex-wife. He didn’t work hard enough. She felt discontent.

All of it came out on her worksheet. Other people also in the group wrote that very first night….the liberation of writing exactly what you’re thinking, without editing. The people in question aren’t there–we’re looking at our stories about them.

One thing I adore about The Work is that in this first step, there’s no holding back, you can throw up on the page if you want (that sounds a little gross, but you know what I mean, right?). You can let every ugly, nasty, festering thing you’ve ever thought about that person out, on paper.

Then, this woman got to start her inquiry. She was not going to leave without getting what she came for: sorting her current thoughts about her marriage out. She raised her hand to be the first one to “go” in the circle.

I asked the questions, and she answered them honestly, with passion, with closed eyes.

She also spoke with passion, expressed herself intensely, felt the feelings involved with having the thought, showed us the way it looks to really sink into acting out this belief.

I love how we all get to do our own work, and we’re inspired by others at the same time.

“He doesn’t listen to me”, “he doesn’t cherish me”, “he’s too distracted”, “he’s the wrong partner”.

Have you ever had thoughts like these? They don’t have to be about partners, they can be about other family members, co-workers, bosses, neighbors, friends.

That person is the wrong person. He/She should be someone else, acting another different way.

Is it true?

The woman who had come to retreat across the country said “yes” immediately. But then a pause; could she absolutely know this was true, that he was the wrong partner for her?

No.

Right now, she found her statement he should be different was not true, and impossible, and an unreal dream.

How do you react when you think the person in question is the wrong one? Wrong boyfriend? Wrong girlfriend? Wrong wife, companion, friend, husband, co-worker, neighbor?

The inquirer answering the questions replied: I want a divorce. I hate him. That’s how I react. I’m angry!

Who would you be without this thought, in that same situation, I asked?

Everyone was listening in the circle. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone was wondering how to answer this remarkable question, using imagination to try on the internal feeling of NOT believing a thought, and still being in the presence of someone who hadn’t changed.

This can only be done by sitting and wondering. You have to give it time.

It’s rare that suddenly, the moment the fourth question is asked, that we find an answer (although it can happen).

In fact, the ego, or the personal inner identity, will want to forget that question sometimes, or skip ahead to turnarounds, or just drop it altogether and go do something else. Watch TV, eat something, drink, smoke, internet, work (my personal favorite).

But on retreat, we don’t auto-pilot over to those other alternatives. We’re staying. We’re there, after all. We came to look at our minds. We came to question them. So we do.

Even if we’re squirming, or confused.

Finally, this lovely inquirer from Florida said “Without the thought that he’s the wrong husband, I’d find what he was doing endearing–kind of like when we first got together. We do like to laugh.”

By Day 3 she called her estranged husband who she had left behind in a huff. She reported to us all having one of the closest conversations with him in a long time. A truth telling, sharing conversation.

And then the turnarounds, one at a time, finding examples of the opposites: I’m not a good partner to myself, or to him. He IS a good partner for me.

We find examples, and notice how they feels. Other people help if we can’t find them, when we’re in an inquiry circle like a retreat.

We’re taking the time to give to ourselves the gift of awareness, presence.

Ahhhhhh.

“Our parents, our children, our spouses, and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to our freedom every time.” ~ Byron Katie

I’d love you to join me on retreat. My favorite thing is connecting with others–honest, open, silent, sharing, learning, asking, answering, wondering.

So grateful for The Work, and for you.

Much love,
Grace

You’re always living your dream. What to do if it’s a nightmare.

Autumn Retreat is just over one month away. I’m already excited to share in the joy of inquiry with all those who attend. It’s so powerful, so safe, and so joyful. Read about it here.

Last night I had a dream.

I was waiting for my first husband (who died this past summer from cancer). My car was parked on his street, but not near his house. I was waiting for him to walk past, and since he didn’t expect me, I didn’t want to miss him and was watching closely, gazing out into the street and the tall evergreen trees all around.

Then here he came, up the gently sloping hill. He was striding with lots of energy, a younger version of himself. His steps were big, strong and full, more so than I ever remembered him in real life.

I tapped my horn, as I sat in the driver’s seat of my parked car.

He didn’t notice. He only looked ahead, like he was on a mission.

Then, he was walking right in front of me, passing by. I rolled down my window and called out to him with a friendly tone.

Now, I was seeing the back of his head and his thick full head of hair.

No reaction.

I shouted and silence was coming out of me–he couldn’t hear me, and I couldn’t hear myself. He strode on up the hill towards his home, even though I was fumbling for the door to open it and almost panicking about getting out and calling to him, but there was no sound.

I woke up with a slight heart beat, and feeling pretty sad.

I also knew it was a dream of course, and sort of fascinated with the scene. Aren’t dreams incredible? So vivid!

So my mind was actually playing a made-up movie, and I was having a reaction physically in my feelings within the body.

The fascinating thing about dreams is you already know absolutely they are not true, but the body is nevertheless still reacting. This shows how the body responds, fully present to the story, fully a believer.

What’s funny is the mind doesn’t discriminate. It watches a movie, has a dream, makes up things all day (and all night apparently) and is a brilliant creative.

It doesn’t really care if you like it or not.

The mind doesn’t seem to pull from all the pictures and data and apply ONLY what’s for your own pleasure, apparently.

We all know what it’s like to see visions of dire outcomes, disturbing options, terribly frightening results.

We get scared, anxious, sad, lonely, angry or irritated about things that happened in the past. Even though the incident is over, it’s haunting us. We keep going back to it.

Then mind also goes to work on how to fix it and have alternate options, how to resolve it, how to change so it never happens again. It’s chewing on this predicament, wondering how to approach it and manage it.

In any case, it does seem like the mind is randomly flitting about from thing to thing, working on all the problems you’ve ever encountered, or gnawing on just one.

It doesn’t always seem friendly, kind, supportive or useful.

WHAT TO DO??!

You probably already know what I’m going to say.

But here’s the thing; I can say it, but can we all actually DO it?

What “it” is…..is of course questioning the thoughts we’re believing are true. Pondering them more deeply instead of following the mind to the next creation.

Doing The Work! The most powerful, useful, profound meditation on stories I’ve ever encountered.

Where we begin is pretty easy, really. We begin with the effects of our stories, pictures, dreams, images, memories: our FEELINGS.

In my dream I felt sadness. Distance, loss, inability to communicate, desperation even, grief, disappointment.

When I really sit with that dream snippet, that little movie in my mind, I notice how dreadfully sad I felt to not be able to reach my former husband. This was perhaps true in our marriage, and then when he said he didn’t want to be married anymore, then through the divorce, and sometimes in the relationship we then had as loving co-parents to our children for the past twelve years.

So I sit with the feeling, paused, and feel it without running from it–sometimes even more strongly than if I got up out of bed and went on with my day.

That first part of The Work appears to take some pause and willingness to look at something disturbing. The feelings might grow instead of diminish.

The only reason I’ve become so willing to be with uncomfortable feelings is because I know the place I can go if I look very closely, and the immense relief of wondering what it’s like without my story.

Who would I be without my belief “I can’t reach him”?

But it seems so true. He’s not here anymore physically, he’s gone. (Although, not true–he’s very much alive in my mind).

Without the belief I can’t reach him? Even from before, when he was alive, or from the more distant past when we were in each other’s company much more often….

….who would I be without the concept that I can’t reach him?

Amazing. I notice a small light of relief from that story.

A spark of awareness of not having all the answers about what “reaching” someone looks like. How do I know that reaching him is not happening? Maybe it is.

Most important, though, is that without the belief, suddenly the feelings of disappointment or failure or desperation are way reduced. It’s more like “huh”….interesting.

Turning the thought around: I can’t reach myself in this situation. He can’t reach me. I CAN reach him.

Could all these turnarounds be possible? Can I find examples of each one?

Yes.

I can’t reach myself: In the moment I woke up, I’m in a dream, not here in reality in my cozy bed on planet earth in the quiet morning. I failed to notice the safety, kindness and support of this moment.

He can’t reach me: My vision of him is he’s not even caring or noticing or trying. But can I know that’s true? My own story and barriers of hurt about him prevent him from reaching me. We had wonderful conversations when he knew he was dying, especially one a few months before on the phone, where he expressed his great appreciation for me. Funny how I slide right by that one, to keep the story of abandonment alive.

I CAN reach him: why not? I can live this turnaround. I can do this work today, even if it came out of a dream I already knew wasn’t “true”. I can write him a letter. I can talk to him out loud right now, like I talk to my dad who died so many years ago. It could be just as true that I can reach him as I can’t.

I find this kind of work can’t be done unless I write this out, or sit with other people to investigate and feel and wonder.

I am very introverted in my daily life (so I say) but my best and most wonderful work that’s deep, honest, allowing is with other people. Like you.

This work just wouldn’t be the same without others. It’s strange how much connection it creates, how connection with others even appears to be required to experience a depth in this work–even when I’m such a quiet, private person much of the time.

It’s like the inside comes to the outside. We’re looking, noticing, feeling and being with the internal world, and through this vulnerability of exposure, we find strength.

So precious.

Thanks for the journey today, and for all your comments and reading and connection and replies over the years or months or weeks you’ve been a part of Grace Notes.

And if it seems like time to gather in real physical form to do and share The Work, then come join me and amazing others in questioning troubling stories this autumn: October 17-21.

What a beautiful adventure to go on, like the band of unlikely characters in the Lord of The Rings. Off we go into the scary or sad realms of our inner lives, and take them through the four questions, beginning with “is it true?”

If financial resources are the only thing holding you back, please don’t hesitate to write with what you can offer and we’ll see if it’s possible.

Rooms to stay onsite are still available (a glorious king sized bed upstairs, and a queen size cozy room on the lower level). Write to ask. Plenty of room for commuters.

Participants receive 12 credits for those in ITW, or 27 CEUs for mental health practitioners through the Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work.

Learn more about the retreat (and sign up) here.

“Phenomenal. Grace’s style and skill are so gentle yet clearly leading each person and the group through the process. I have a new understanding of an experience in childhood I’ve been bitter about for my entire life. I’m not sure where it’s going, but it’s good.”

“I came to retreat from across the country because I knew I needed a few days instead of 90 minutes in a teleclass to understand this–it just wasn’t clicking and more in my head than in my body. I was right. I get it now. I can’t thank you enough.”

“I’ve never gone through an entire Judge Your Neighbor worksheet before. It was agonizing–haha. But profound. That situation has come up in my life many times, even with different people or players who reminded me of eachother. I feel like a boulder lifted off my shoulders for the first time in 30 years.”

“When I came to retreat I was so scared, you would have thought I was traveling to the moon. I never left my kids before. That person who first came no longer exists. I’m different now, and so grateful. I love The Work.”

Join me in Seattle with the small group (max 16) who gather to share in this extraordinary journey of bringing our stories to understanding, and rest. Read more and sign up here. If you have questions, just hit reply to this email.

Much love,
Grace

It’d be better to be there now. Is that absolutely true?

a whole year of practicing inquiry, learning to facilitate others, get a hand-up, starts now

Anything that’s ever been a huge accomplishment, a major transformation, a profound turnaround in most humans’ lives….has not come along in an instant.

Almost never.

Sure, for me there have been light-bulb awakening moments when I suddenly see something I didn’t before.
Yes, there have been deep life-altering conversations, or wisdom I bumped into from others, stories I heard, something inspirational I witnessed….

….but never some medicine that skyrocketed me out of myself into a whole new existence where what was previously difficult no longer existed in 1 second flat.

Never have I successfully wiped out all suffering around some issue in one fell swoop.

There has not been a finger-snap and VOILA….change.

No super pill, no wild immediate shift, no shocking moment- gasping enlightenment that eliminated all suffering or stress.

I once heard someone ask Byron Katie this question: “I want to be like you! I want to have a huge awakening and no longer have this depression and anxiety! What can I do?!”

Katie paused a moment and said: “you’ve been spared”.

What?

When our relationships are not working well, or falling apart, when we feel depressed and shut down, when we’re angry and tired, when we’re addicted and stuck….

….then sometimes all we want is someone to slap us and wake us up out of the nightmare or tell us what to do or think or just leave ourselves behind and become someone else instead.

But do we really want it that way?

The biggest changes I’ve ever experienced that have been permanent, unwavering, and solid have been made slowly but surely. And I’ve remained here, a part of it all.

One step at a time.

One day at a time.

There’s actually a kindness and wisdom to this way.

A flower unfolds one petal at a time, and it’s not abrupt.

Katie went on to speak about reality unfolding just right for each one of us, and that self-inquiry is a practice of meditation offering us the gift of awareness….right on time.

The Tao Te Ching #15 (translated by Katie’s husband Stephen Mitchell) says this:

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

To practice The Work regularly, steadily, is to naturally become careful, alert, courteous, fluid, shapeable, receptive, and clear. Waiting until right action arises by itself.

Which is why in Year of Inquiry we gather for an entire year….patiently (or not) working with our thinking, feeling and being human with what we’ve encountered.

Who knows what can happen as we ask and answer the four questions for an entire year, in the company of our small group of friends all going on this amazing adventure together?

Painful beliefs dissolve, our stories become lighter, our humor returns, our capacity to be our true selves becomes easier and easier. Relationships in our lives change, sometimes massively.

One moment at a time.

We look back and say “Wow”.

This brilliant journey started with the first time I asked “is it true?”

And now look.

If you’re wanting to address stress, worry, fear, a difficult relationship, some kind of change you feel nervous about, feeling like a failure, scarcity, compulsive behavior, an unexpected disappointment, the angst of a busy mind….

….then join us in a Year of Inquiry where you’ll do The Work of Byron Katie steadily, regularly, in a group online every week, with the same supportive people, and even in retreats (optional for those who can travel). This is our 8th group.

Three spaces left.

The Work does not promise instant transformation. It’s better than that. You’re at the top of the mountain because you climbed the mountain.

The journey IS the way.

Read about it here, and sign up soon so you don’t miss a thing. We’ll be underway and into it by the end of this month, and doors will close.

Let’s bring The Work on home in our lives as a regular practice. It’s where the rubber meets the road, and what we’re seeking becomes possible.

“Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Much love,
Grace

Be your own Gandhi–the change you wish to see–by doing The Work!

Gandhi said “be the change you wish to see in the world”. The best way I know how? Self-inquiry, followed by living our turnarounds and taking action. Join YOI to receive the support to do this.

The Year of Inquiry (YOI) circle begins next week in earnest with live telecalls. No one has to commit completely until November 1st.

This week, everyone’s going through Orientation, scheduling their first solo session with me, and joining our private forum watching the tech intro video. We’re writing our first Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.

We’re gathering. We don’t know each other yet. We’re about to begin our journey.

We’re taking the plunge into sharing inquiry in a committed way with other people. Scheduling it.

Not just doing it in the car in our heads.

Plus, our in-person live group (optional) retreat in Seattle is only six weeks away (Oct 17-21…it will be amazing, the highlight of my fall).

If you are seriously considering joining this fabulous one-year small group of inquirers, email me soon for a conversation: grace@workwithgrace.com or read about it here. Only a few spots left.

A participant in a past year shared this with the YOI group as we got underway, and I feel the same: “I’d like to say how much I’m enjoying being a part of this group. I thank you all very much for coming together and making it possible. I thank me, too, for this gift to myself.” ~ YOI Participant

Being connected to others in groups and at a deeply intimate level has offered me shifts in my life that have changed…..everything.

But being in a group can be uncomfortable! It can be really freaky scary!

It might be boring, stupid, full of annoying people, or depressing!

The first time I went to a twelve step meeting, over thirty years ago, I was so shocked that people spoke the way they were. I was quite literally stunned.

I had no idea you could say out loud what was going on inside your mind and heart.

I had no idea you could actually tell the truth.

But I caught the bug of awareness about my own mind by hearing others talk about theirs.

A few years later, I joined a therapy group.

That scared me half to death. I was silent for six months before the therapist actually said “your silence is actually very controlling”.

OMG! Really? But I don’t want anyone, ever, to see anything wrong with ME!

Oh. Right. I’m controlling the potential opinions of others.

This very resistance to people seeing what’s wrong with me, and the story I have about it, may be a terrible misunderstanding. And also, the primary way the story remains intact.

When I first encountered The Work of Byron Katie, I felt a memory stir of how I felt when I started that group therapy in my twenties.

I wanted to clam up.

Thanks! Got it! I’ll just go away and handle this BY MYSELF! See ya! I’m good! Yep, yessirree I’ve done a LOT of personal work so I’ll take it from here!

I wanted to burn my Judge Your Neighbor worksheets. I might even look over my shoulder while I wrote them just to make sure no one was coming.

Once, I was reading a worksheet out loud to a facilitator (who I could hardly believe I had hired), and I watched myself skip right over one of my sentences, one of my stressful concepts.

I couldn’t read that one. Then the facilitator would really hate me. Maybe some judgments are acceptable, but not that one.

I’ll just work on that one later, by myself in my closet with a flashlight.

The truth is, when you work with a group of people, and get to know them and show up regularly, you have no way to manipulate, direct, appease, lighten, or control what anyone does, says, thinks or feels when you tell the absolute truth.

We may see parts of you that you normally keep hidden.

You may not be able to keep that ugly stuff to yourself anymore.

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.” ~ Pema Chodron

The thing is, you can only maneuver your life into being closed and careful for so long.

At some point, for everyone, their interest in the truth and revealing themselves becomes more important than holding things together.

I find every time I join a collection of people with the intention to learn, grow, incorporate and understand….it’s thrilling.

Our joining makes something wonderful happen.

But I’ve got a lot of practice now at self-disclosure. I know from experience that it works WAY better than puttin’ a lid on it.

I speak from careful testing.

I would have LOVED to maintain a perfect image and never have to say the yucky stuff, the fears, the anger, the sadness.

But it was killing me not to.

Even if you’re super crazy shy, you know how great it feels to have one of those wonderful, close, connected, honest conversations.

Being with others in a deeply honest way may not only be good, it may change your entire life.

Twelve step groups, support groups, one-on-one counseling, group therapy, retreats, prayer circles, study groups, people who do The Work of Byron Katie together.

We the people are somewhere you can reach us…whether on the phone, in your neighborhood, in your city.

You mean….I am going to reveal my stressful, weird, unpleasant, nasty, immature beliefs?

You mean I’m going to tell about my inadequacies, fears, and anger?

You mean I’m going to write what is inside my head? On paper (not in invisible ink)? And read what I write OUT LOUD?

Yes. You are. (You know you want to)!

You may feel sick for a little bit, but it’s awesome.

The more I’ve done The Work….the easier its gotten to reveal my innermost crushing thoughts to other humans.

In fact, the cave is no longer dark and musty and smelly–the one filled with all those resistant beliefs.

It’s rather light and treasure-filled now.

I see now that this comes from being totally and completely honest, noticing exactly where and what I wanted to hide, and uncovering it…all the way.

“Most people don’t get out of childhood, or adolescence, without being wounded for telling the truth. Someone says ‘you can’t say that’ or ‘you shouldn’t say that’ or ‘that wasn’t appropriate’ so most of us human beings have a very deep underlying conditioning that says that just to be who we are is not OK….Most human beings have an imprinting that if they’re real, if they’re honest, somebody’s not gonna like it. And they won’t be able to control their environment if they tell the truth.” ~ Adyashanti

Letting go of control, you become very honest.

That moment of speaking the truth without trying to get anything or expect anything or look a particular way–that moment of just being you–what an amazing shift.

You may notice a freedom beyond belief.

“If you aren’t afraid of dying, there is nothing you can’t achieve.” ~ Tao Te Ching #74

If you’re ready to be with a group, supporting you through inquiry with honesty and integrity, then come on down to the One Year Program and join our telesessions, starting next week.

We meet Tuesdays OR Wednesdays OR Thursdays. Come to one a week, or come to all three. You’ll be partnering with others privately, sharing on our private slack forum, learning about and diving into a different topic every month.

You will be welcome here…the real you.

If you head to this page, there will be a recorded presentation at the top about every detail of the program you can watch (60 minutes) and fast forward through any piece of it. There are slides to make it easy (it’s a webinar). If you’re ready to join, scroll down until you see the registration links.

When you sign up, I’ll get a personal email and write you back within 24 hours to welcome you and get our first solo session scheduled.

And even if you never join Year of Inquiry, find others to connect with. Have them facilitate you. You facilitate them.

Begin. Then, you’ll truly be the change you wish to see in the world.

You’ll be your own Gandhi.

Much love,
Grace
P.S. If you want to come to ONLY the retreat October 17-21, you can sign up here.

Changing the way we sit in a room with marshmallows–WOW

The Work of Byron Katie cleans the window–your interpretation of everything. Learn about doing The Work together for a year and making clean screens a part of your life, by clicking the photo.

Have you ever heard of the Marshmallow Experiment?

I’ve heard it referred to it so many times, but just in case you haven’t, it’s the one where researchers interested in human behavior and personality worked with children to study self-control and how we’re interpreting situations as humans.

An adult (the researcher) would give a child a marshmallow or cookie on a plate, and tell the child they could eat it now, or, if they waited a little while, they’d get two. Then the adult would leave the room and the cameras would role.

Most kids would try to distract themselves, look away, stare at the door, appear anxious or worked up about the treat on the plate…then gobble up the marshmallow. The research would measure how long kids waited, and analyze the internal struggle that appeared to be happening.

The primary scientist so interested in this work was Walter Mischel. He first conducted the Marshmallow Experiment in 1960.

I always thought the outcome showed that humans from the very early years have clear personalities or tendencies to consider before they act….or not so much. They follow their impulses, or do what the one in authority says and resist.

But the other day, I found out it was NOT that simple. In fact, the conclusion suggesting we have clear personality traits is totally FALSE.

We’ve all heard of the terms “nature vs nurture”. They describe the two biggest influences on human life very simplified:

Nature is how we’re hooked up from birth, our DNA, the influences genetically from the people who lived before us, biochemistry, brain chemistry, our inherent personality.

If there’s such a thing as personality. More on that in a second.

Nurture is how we’re cared for, attended to, loved, neglected, seen, encouraged, supported (or not) but probably far more than all these, what we observe and experience as we grow and live.

I suppose we could have the most easy-going open and humorous “personality” in the world, but if huge traumatic events occurred in our lives….we’d be affected big time.

We might start closing down and be less inclined to be excited or happy about life.

Or, we could have a quiet, shy, even anxious personality from the start, and experience a huge challenge of some kind that we wind up surviving….

….and somehow this might bring us awareness of adversity, hardship, death and destruction in a way that makes us fearless, and very strong.

There are a lot of really amazing stories about people living life one way, then making dramatic changes and coming out different than anyone ever expected.

So back to this Marshmallow Experiment and the thing I found out that made it completely different than what I had thought for all these years since I first learned about it in grad school over 20 years ago.

During the experiment, with some kids, Mischel would speak differently about the marshmallow. He’d give them a tiny tip, a small idea or suggestion, or some little encouragement about waiting instead of struggling or immediately eating the marshmallow.

“Just pretend the marshmallow is a picture, and it’s not a REAL marshmallow. It’s not really there!”

The child would then wait far, far longer before eating it.

In fact, the vast majority of children in Mischel’s studies delayed gratification when they had this little suggestion offering of using their imagination given to them. They had a totally different approach and interpretation.

Holy Moly.

I always thought that experiment was about showing how much self-control and/or fear a child had, how willing or able they were to follow orders and overcome their cravings.

But it was really about how a small reframe of a situation could have dramatic results.

The research by Mischel kept proving over time, apparently, that people are very, very flexible and highly influenced by their environment and interactions.

In fact, they might not even have this thing called a “personality” always intact. In some situations, people are honest, kind and generous or have self-control, and in others they aren’t.

The slightest comment, look, interruption or suggestion can make a huge difference on the way we see a situation, and the way we behave.

Our interpretation of what’s happening creates our response to it.

This might seem like an obvious “well, duh!”

But I was sooooo very intrigued.

Because this may point to how and why The Work works so well when we sit with our answers to the four questions, when it comes to reviewing situations we’ve experienced.

Something happens.

We’re immediately thinking “Hmmm, I don’t like that” or “I need to worry about this” or “I love this” or “I don’t ever want this to happen again” or “I need to make this happen again because without it happening life is worse, or not as good”.

I’ve felt it a gazillion times: I like that. I don’t like this.

The mind is assessing and logging what it likes or doesn’t like all day long, it seems.

So with The Work, we turn to the situations on our lists from any time we felt threatened, disturbed, irritated, sad, or any time we were hurt or tricked or betrayed. Any time we lost something….we’ve made a note of it internally.

With The Work, we get to revisit these scenes as they occur to us, or as things happen where we have reactions, and we question our interpretations.

It’s like with our inquiry and our situations and memories, we’re the adult researcher saying to our little internal child “what if it isn’t real?”

Because here’s the thing: Right now in this moment, it isn’t.

It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or wrong, it only means our interpretation may not be complete, or healthy, or loving. It doesn’t necessarily serve us.

The past happened, and now it’s over….but even more importantly, we’ve got a limited interpretation of the situation. We aren’t ever able to see the whole entire picture, only our quick snapshot of that experience in time. We tend to feel like victims of that experience.

With The Work, one concept at a time, we get to contemplate other possibilities. Did we miss something?

Now that we’re all grown up, we get to hold that inner child and offer it some understanding, humor, awareness.

I get to ask “Are you sure that situation was totally intolerable? Are you safe now? Are you sure you lost what you think you lost?” or “Do you really need that marshmallow in order to be happy? Are you positive it’s real?”

LOL.

And when something like this is seen and grasped, then without any instructions or even trying to be positive or to NOT let something bother you….things begin to change in the way we react and respond in our daily lives.

Change just happens. All on its own. We wait much longer before immediately reacting. We feel kinder, less triggered.

Mischel wrote extensively about human behavior. He said that based on his lifetime of research about personality and how we experience life, the beliefs, expectations, and assumptions we’ve taken in from our culture, family, and friends is gigantic.

These become our filters for how we see reality.

This mind, making its interpretations so speedy quick, actually becomes a filter for everything we encounter. This mind tells us how we feel about everything.

Which really does mean, our minds are the screening device for how we see the world, how we encounter life….

….so naturally this also means when our minds or interpretations change, then how we feel changes, and how we act changes.

Our personality changes. We become different people than who we’ve been before.

Our paths unfold in new, different ways.

I see this all the time when I work with people in regular practice in The Work. They used to be tortured by the past, and now, they’re grateful.

It’s astonishing and inspiring.

Mostly, I’ve seen this kind of change long-term in myself as I’ve watched the years go by, especially once I became so interested in self-inquiry and opening up to new interpretations, ideas or thoughts about life.

I used to have tendencies to react with suspicion, nervousness, overly-nice, cautious, uncomfortable with strong emotion, forgetting to care for myself in the presence of other people (even my own children who I adored), indecision, seeing dramatic and scary futures, remembering difficulties in the past.

Now, it seems the tendencies have deeply and dramatically changed, and I’m still working on what’s left and still learning so much.

But I am a completely different person.

That woman (with The Work you can even question the interpretation of being a “woman” if you want) who was anxious, addicted, and trying to act like a good person all the time….is mostly gone. Or what was once deep dark red is now pale pink.

I’m not trying to get rid of her or make sure she doesn’t come back. She’s just not here anymore.

Sure, I have some of the same coloring or “personality” of that one who lived before. I tend to be overly-flexible sometimes or like I’m going to miss something if I say “no” or when I hear a very difficult traumatic story, my heart opens with the suffering and I might cry.

I also see both the worst and the best that could happen, and crack myself up at the drama of how quick the mind goes to the “worst”.

But the question arises almost immediately “is it true?”

I see that I simply don’t have the full and complete answer and probably never will, and that life is lighter without set and solid answers.

The most wonderful thing about doing The Work, or this deep form of self-inquiry, is that I’m not hunting for someone else’s answers, I’m finding my own flexible ones.

When I do The Work, new options naturally enter my world in the form of experts, practitioners, influencers, connections, advice and fun.

I’m not doing this all alone in a bubble based on old influences from the past….but opening up to new possibilities today, in the present moment.

Who knows what amazing change can happen, starting NOW, by questioning the stressful idea that might be present for me?

Who would I be without my story, my interpretation, my mental filter?

On a wide open road in a brilliant spacious moment.

Testing new ideas, living some of my turnarounds, changing my behaviors, trying new things.

The way movement and change has occurred for me clearly in my life is to challenge my interpretations. This doesn’t appear to come easily.

I had to get help from others, my thinking was so murky and unclear. Like a fogged up mirror in the bathroom–I couldn’t even see myself at all!

Questioning my thoughts with other people has made all the difference. I can sit down and do The Work, but there’s nothing like sharing it and connecting with other humans to see if I’ve missed something.

The result has been one of small, tiny, sometimes bigger, significant, steady change.

The other day I heard Byron Katie speak on a recording that “we can shoot for the moon” when we have inquiry as a companion. We’re not frightened of accomplishment, we’re not scared of facing something new, or telling the truth.

A lovely group is forming to share self-inquiry as a practice this upcoming year, in steady continued investigation of our stories, together.

It’s called Year of Inquiry.

A time to stick with this process of dissolving the filters and stories, instead of trying to find a different shiny new way somewhere else.

We do The Work, and un-do our previously built stories or interpretations and change the filter. Or, the filter naturally winds up changing.

Who knows what happens when we have a kind adult voice saying “Are you sure that’s real? Are you sure you’re looking at it in a way that serves you? Could you see it differently?”

This upcoming week is Orientation Week and we’ll begin our inquiry calls the following week.

People have been writing with a ton of questions about how the program calls are set up, the schedule, the expectations.

You can read about it here, but what I’ll say in a nutshell is we gather almost-weekly all year for 90 minute inquiry calls together as a group, you’ll have partners all year twice a week to connect with other human beings, we’ll look closely at a different topic every single month that typically produces lots of stress for people, and we’ll grow.

We change.

We don’t have to argue with What Is anymore. We know when something is stressful for us, we suffer. We move away from, or naturally expand, our interpretation of events to something bigger, wider, and usually more joyful.

“There has been so much happen this year that I wouldn’t had dealt with anywhere near as well. I am amazed at the peace that abides with me. Oh Grace, I am so grateful for your work in this world. Had you not been so clear, peaceful, real, and provided the safe space you did, I could not have dared do all this work. It is now part of my life.” ~ YOI participant 2017-2018

The first two months, you can test it out after you join, so you don’t have to fully commit until November 1st.

I couldn’t do this work alone–some can and that’s absolutely awesome.

But if you need the structure and guidance, I’d love to have you be in the tribe of us who’ll be living with this inquiry and watching our filters get cleaner and brighter over time.

Enroll here. If you head to this page, there will be a recorded presentation at the top about every detail of the program you can watch (60 minutes) and fast forward through any piece of it. There are slides to make it easy (it’s a webinar). If you’re ready to join, scroll down until you see the registration links.

When you sign up, I’ll get a personal email and write you back within 24 hours to welcome you and get our first solo session scheduled.

Can’t wait to begin.

Much love,
Grace

Do The Work, wake up to reality, amaze yourself (Year of Inquiry starts Orientation next week)

The worker-bees are buzzing and working behind the scenes to get Year of Inquiry participants on board. (And, those buzzing bees would all be me–haha)!

It’s quite the undertaking to join a whole year program primarily online. Holy smokes, what a commitment.

Fortunately, the effort it takes mostly is marking your calendar and dialing a phone or clicking a link to join live calls, and also connect with partners in The Work.

But the other day, when an acquaintance learned I’m about to start another Year of Inquiry again, he asked me why on earth I’ve done The Work for so many years, week in and week out, and with a whole group of people?

He said it sounded a bit boring (he actually made the ‘yawn’ motion with his hand over his mouth).

Hmmm. I might have to do The Work on him.

But meanwhile, I also thought about what a good question he asked me:

Why ask, and then answer, the very same four questions over and over, and find our turnarounds….about events, people, situations that have disturbed us?

What I’ve noticed as someone who has returned over and over to The Work as a regular practice, is how interesting my answers are. How educational.

How enlightening.

And how sometimes, doing The Work is really the only thing that ever helped calm me down.

Byron Katie calls the inner life we experience “The School of You”.

But it’s not ever about only ourselves–it’s about our relationship to reality, to life, to the world, to how we see and feel this astonishing experience of being alive.

There’s so much I’ve called “boring” in my life (as if I need all those boring things to be entertaining or large), but The Work is certainly not one of them.

Every time I sit with someone else or the four questions, a contemplation and inquiry moves in a liberating way.

This work is about working with feelings, and the thoughts that tend to produce them.

One of my favorite things about The Work is that instead of my old go-to of attacking my feelings and myself for being the one who feels upset or troubled, I look at what I’m thinking and believing, and question it. I used to berate myself horribly for feeling (and acting) angry or afraid, or even depressed.

When we do The Work, there’s no judgment or attack in it….or even if there is, we pause and simply answer the questions.

We get to use our imagination wondering what it would be like without our current perspective (often a viewpoint that was set in place long ago).

When I used to feel anxious or upset or furious, I’d eat, smoke, screen time, plan, obsess, daydream, and try to think about how to fix myself or the situation ASAP.

Now, it seems I more often get to look at myself with great compassion, ask for help, share with others, connect and inquire. Usually inquiring needs to happen first.

The, transformation happens all on it’s own, gently unfolding naturally. Hooray for The Work.

Hooray for the simplicity of coming back to four questions.

What a relief.

If you’d like to read more about Year of Inquiry, and even watch an information session about what’s specifically included for the entire year, please visit this link : HERE.

We start with Orientation next week (!). We’ll get to know one another, and step into a life of self-inquiry, wondering who we’d be without our thoughts, using our own brilliance for insight, not condemnation and criticism.

Would you like to join us?

Head here to read more. Write me if you need to talk first, or you have questions.

Much love,
Grace

P.S. check out my little video I made with this same post on facebook right HERE. (Scroll down a wee bit and you’ll see the post that reads “Why do The Work?”)