Can this be love? (+ summer camp opening day recording link for you)

Summer Camp for The Mind starts on Monday, July 9th. Anyone who joins and decides at the end of the summer to continue on into Year of Inquiry will receive a credit of their Summer Camp contribution towards YOI. Pay what you can for Summer Camp. Nothing is required. CLICK the image to join us.

I’m so touched by the online mini-retreat just shared by many this morning. It was magical and heart-breaking.

To get the link of the recording and listen-in, visit this Summer Camp information page HERE. Scroll down to the Opening Day recording link.

I was so moved by the beautiful, genuine inquiry and sharing people brought–from the people who spoke, but also from those who commented in the chat and shared their thoughts and questions.

Those who listen are also a significant part of this inquiry. The energy is alive and somehow palpable, like when a whole hall of people sit in meditative silence together.

Words are not required.

The inquiries brought to the call today were such beautiful examples of human awareness of change, loss, agony, feeling left or criticized….and working with these hurt feelings, opening up to understanding our pain and suffering.

Oddly, we’re not trying to get to any special place, or find that one missing answer, or figure out exactly what to do about this predicament….we’re bringing clear awareness to the story we’re telling ourselves. We’re not looking for advice.

We’re looking at the pain through the mind, the one that “thinks”, that sees pictures and images of loss or fear or anger or disappointment and never-ending unhappiness.

Strange, but it’s as if the inquiries brought to the Opening Day First Friday mini-retreat were perfectly placed, in just the right order, for opening up the story of separation.

I could relate to each and every story. I’ve done The Work on all three. All so painful. All incredibly powerful moments to question.

First, someone shared about a moment with someone close where the relationship was uncertainly defined. Are we friends or more than friends? Where is this going? I wanted something more. This is disappointing. I feel so hurt.

Next, a longer-term partnership (marriage) potentially moving into divorce. One person is moving out into another place to live. We feel crushed. He’s constantly criticizing me. He focuses on my flaws. I need him to say loving, kind things to me and notice what’s wonderful about me.

Finally, a family member has died tragically from cancer. So many people suffering, missing him. I want him to live. He shouldn’t die.

What is this suffering we’re experiencing in these situations? Does it mean, if I don’t suffer, that I won’t care about this person, or recall them? I won’t be close, or love? I won’t cry?

For me, this never turned out to be true.

In fact, as I’ve done The Work and even do The Work today with all these beautiful inquirers on the call, I find that without my thought that I should be with this person, or they should be alive….

….I stop resisting my thoughts of them. I talk to them, even out loud.

I might even listen to them when I ask “Why are you leaving? Why did you go? Do you know how much I love you?” 

I hear their answers, with inquiry, even in my own head. I feel it all. I’m not holding back anymore.

NOT suffering does not mean my heart isn’t breaking and swelling into a million pieces. NOT suffering doesn’t mean being numb, or disconnected, or never thinking of them. NOT suffering doesn’t mean pretending things are OK when they actually aren’t, or trying to be a different person with a different reaction.

For me, what I find NOT Suffering actually looks like is being more connected with these people I adore than ever. At least that’s what I keep finding with The Work.

Instead of repeating the exact same painful thoughts about what’s happening with that person over and over again, I’m sitting with the difficult thought and looking at it from every possible angle.

I’m realizing, by doing this Q and A with my story, that I actually can’t confirm or deny that love is not present in this relationship, in this situation.

Most recently, in fact, when my former husband died, I felt the most strong, big, wide love for him I’ve felt in a long time.

I’ve reflected (and still am reflecting) on some of the unfinished wonderings not taken to the deepest inquiry yet about our parting, and separation, and divorce, and continued connection and friendship and co-parenting and deep support for one another through all these 31 years since we met.

These moments of having the heart pierced with grief and love (they are both there) can only happen with people who are significant and important to us.

“Your story is your identity, and you’d do almost anything to prove that it’s true. Inquiry into self is the only thing that has the power to penetrate such ancient concepts….When I learned to meet my thinking as a friend, I noticed that I could meet every human as a friend. The end of the war with myself and my thinking is the end of the war with you.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is pg. 294

Someone asked today on the call how long registration is open for Summer Camp and I responded…Oh wow, I don’t know. LOL.

You can really join any time, and my thought is, you’ll probably enjoy more time, attention, practice and care for yourself and your thinking if you come on board sooner than later. Plus you’ll get to participate in our Pop-Up private summer camp forum for a greater amount of time. I’d suggest joining this weekend sometime.

But does longer mean better? Do you really have to attend all seven weeks to get the best results? Does more minutes in inquiry add up to more clarity in the mind? Is it better to spend more time in a marriage? Is it better to be partnered than not? Is more life better than less life? Is it better to live until age 95 than 35?

I can’t absolutely know that it’s true.

Maybe one profoundly powerful inquiry can open us to unknown worlds we never thought possible. Maybe asking ourselves “is that really true?” just once about a thought that something shouldn’t happen….can end our suffering and angst about life.

What I notice is that life is passionately, profoundly on the move in the form of people coming, and then going. When there is this experience called loss, or disappointment, or sadness, or rage about people coming or going, perhaps it is not as terrible as I am thinking and believing is it.

I notice I am filled with a startling sense of feeling when these incidents happen. I’m brought to my knees in the present moment. Tears flow. Heart breaks open. Is it not the ordinary. It brings me to The Work.

Could this be true love?

Much love,

Grace

When you get nervous on your way to an event with (gasp) people

I met this friend yesterday on my adventure in Yosemite. I didn’t have the thought this tree could judge me. I love imagining having the very same thought about all people.

Have you ever felt nervous when you’re going to a social gathering because you don’t know many of the people who will be there?

A dinner, a big party, a birthday, a memorial service, a shared meal of any kind, a book club discussion, a dance, a workshop or retreat, a training program.

Fluttery nerves descend just thinking about it. What if you don’t enjoy yourself? What if HE is there? What if SHE is there? You could make a fool of yourself possibly. They might not be your people. Maybe you shouldn’t go after all?

Several days ago I boarded a plane to fly to Yosemite to attend the memorial service of my cousin’s husband. While I’m a Bell and part of the family, I knew there would be many people I’d never met. Extended family of the beautiful man who passed away, and many friends of the couple.

I was excited and always had an immediate “yes” within from the moment I heard about what was planned. I wanted to honor these kind, generous people and my cousin.

If you’ve ever had anticipatory nervousness about an event though, it can be sweet to sit down and look more closely at the thoughts and beliefs running in the background, and inquire.

What are you really nervous about? What images do you see that would lead you to believe you won’t enjoy it?

  • They’re looking at me and judging me
  • I’ll get stuck talking to someone annoying or scary
  • They won’t like me
  • The conversation or activity will be something I don’t understand
  • I’ll do or say something that will cause them to dislike me; say no, leave, talk too much, talk too little, stay too long, ask stupid questions, ask nothing at all

I notice most of these thoughts have to do with feeling separate from others and most importantly, not being OK with that.

In other words, it’s natural to feel separate from others from time to time–a group wants to stay up late talking, but we’re tired so we go to bed. Without a thought about this being a problem….there isn’t one.

Let’s do The Work.

Is it true that people could judge you, or talk “too much”, or not like you, or do things you don’t really get, or even things that freak you out?

Yes.

Can you absolutely know it’s true?

Well…er…yes. People judge. That’s what we do.

But is it true that it’s stressful and would cause separation?

Oh. Wow. No.

How do you react when you believe your contact with other human beings could result in unpleasant feelings, or separation (at any upcoming event)?

I don’t go! Or I get nervous beforehand. Or if one little thing seems “off” when I arrive, I might say “I knew I shouldn’t have come!”

I don’t have an open mind. I don’t approach the event like it’s a new adventure, with joyful excitement. I’m not so curious. Perhaps I feel protective. My guard is up.

But who would you be without the thought that something unpleasant might happen, or other people could cause you upset, or you might get “stuck” in a conversation, or that people won’t like you and you won’t like people?

I’d have so much fun coming and going, into and out of, the company of others.

I’d feel curious about the adventure of connecting with people, or equally curious about connecting with myself. I’d enjoy crowds, or special occasions, or total silence with only me. It wouldn’t really matter if I was with bunches of people, or alone.

I’d be loving my thoughts, wherever I was–with anyone.

When I need to leave, I do. When I love to stay, I do. When I’m all alone, it’s good. When I’m with others, it’s equally as good.

This is a never-ending development, and thrilling process.

I once was so introverted, my preference was to be entirely alone. Except not really–because I didn’t even like my own company a lot of the time. I suppose my preference was to not be wherever I was. LOL. It was misery.

Then, as I grew more comfortable with others, I grew more comfortable with myself. As I learned to take care of my own needs completely (I’m not saying I’m perfect at this) then my sense of trust for myself grew and I knew I couldn’t get “stuck” talking to anyone. I could come and go as truly needed, without fear of others’ opinions.

The strange thing is, when I feel really free to come and go without caring what anyone thinks or does or says or feels….I love going to gatherings with other people more and more. (And also, now that I think about it, loving silence more).

What do I really love more?

Wow. What I love more are my thoughts about what’s happening in my environment, with or without other people.

I see it could be just as true or truer that:

  • They’re looking at me and loving me
  • I’ll get free talking to someone annoying or scary
  • They will like me
  • The conversation or activity will be something I don’t understand! Yippee! Learning!
  • I won’t do or say anything that could cause them to dislike me

“Who would you be in people’s presence without, for example, the story that anyone should care about you, ever? You would be love itself. When you believe the myth that people should care, you’re too needy to care about people or about yourself. The experience of love can’t come from anyone else: it can come only from inside you.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy pg. 71

If you’d like to question your thoughts about other people of any kind (or ANY stressful thinking at all), join me in Summer Camp for The Mind. Summer Camp is a program of daily inquiry sessions, live, from July 6th – August 17th. We come together online to do this work by identifying and then questioning what’s true.

I used to want to do The Work alone only, or with just one partner….but to gather with others has been one of the greatest gifts.

And even if you don’t do anything formal with others, you could find one partner to facilitate you, or trade with, in looking closely at beliefs about people, about life, about reality.

Read more about Summer Camp right HERE.

Much love,

Grace

There are two ways to live this summer; one is loving what is, the other is to be at war with it.

Speaking of summer camp, I’m off to Breitenbush for the annual retreat there.

Time out for really digging in to The Work. No tasks, chores, laundry, admin, cooking, or doing anything else with the exception of coming to three gatherings each day with sincere people deepening self-inquiry, together.

In some ways…it’s not exactly “retreat” as we tend to call these times away.

It’s a “charge!” 

(As the brilliant Stephen Jenkinson, one of my favorite mentors and authors, likes to say about group gatherings filled with questioning out loud).

I notice both Retreat and Charge seem to come from war references, as many of our communications do.

Funny to consider when we go on “retreat” that it’s our daily regular normal life we’re retreating from. We get away from it like it’s the front line, then regroup, plan, assess, rest, reset…and head back to the life.

If we think of our time away as a “Charge!” (a turnaround) then this fits for me when it comes to The Work.

As Byron Katie says herself: ‘I call it The Work because….it’s work.’

The other day I found myself having some defeated thoughts about the moment. Another “war” term, I notice, in this word “defeated”.

I felt tired, like doing very little, yet the mind was commenting about how if I give up I’ll never cross the finish line.

“Go, Go, Go!” shouts the mind. Never stop! Give it your all! Do the thing!

What finish line? Good grief.

So today, noticing the thoughts or sounds in the mind that suggest there’s something to fight, win, push against, grasp for, beat, crush, give-it-your-all, finish.

And noticing they are not ever true, not forever, not even now.

There are five birds in my cherry tree right outside my window, eating my cherries.

Those are MY cherries. The birds shouldn’t be eating them! Fight the birds!

Is that true?

LOL.

Who would I be without the thought I “have to” make them go away. I “have to” do the thing. I “have to” keep my nose to the grindstone. I “have to” get it done.

I’d be laughing.

This really is an incredible amusing, joy-filled life with craziness and zaniness and misery and cherry-eating-birds and lists that are never quite done.

And, I notice, time for doing something that shouts, gleefully….CHARGE!!! Then other moments that say RETREAT.

Without attacking anything or needing to go to war about any of This, or seeing any of what happens day to day as a problem. Simply questioning stressful stories. And loving life.

Turning it all around: No one has to do anything, or make anything happen, or accomplish, push, grab, press, finish, or get anything done, or stop birds from eating cherries.

Could that be just as true or truer?

Well it’s certainly entertaining and exciting, for me, to notice the examples I see in the world of this being true.

I notice there are at least five species and sizes of birds out there pecking and hopping and flying and eating away. Plus a squirrel.

What entertainment!

“Who would you be without the thought you want him to get up and do something more constructive? [And you can do this on wanting yourself to be more constructive.] There are two ways to live this out; one is loving what is, and the other is to be at war with it.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

P.S. I made a video on facebook about doing The Work on FEAR and what I’ve found very helpful for starters when wanting to question and understand anxiety-producing, or very traumatic and fearful events. Watch HERE. Leave a comment or question and “like” the page if you haven’t already.

I Need That Person To Connect With Me…..Really?

Here’s the working link for Peace Talk Podcast in Itunes: Episode 143 on the Hurt of Being Left, Ignored, Rejected.

The tech part of this job isn’t always smooth.

And isn’t that the way of it: sometimes smoothness occurs effortlessly….sometimes it’s bumpy….sometimes tornado-like.

And what if we could relax, even in the midst of tech problems, or “thinking”?

The other night, a sense of sadness seemed to enter the room sometime in the wee hours. I’m often deeply asleep, and like all humans, sometimes awake in the dead of night.

As I lay there, images of someone I care about so much came to mind, who I’ve lost touch with.

A few weeks ago, during spring retreat here in Seattle, I contemplated this person I love–who I’ve heard through the grapevine is suffering immensely–and did The Work.

During retreat I always find the inquiry naturally becomes heightened as we hold silence and stay steady for several days in the questions. The power of the group support is palpable.

At least it sure is for me.

So there I was doing The Work with everyone, listening, hearing my own mind say what it’s saying, answering the questions on this person I had in mind.

And I noticed this idea come in, once again, that it would be soooooo great if this relationship was connected and back and peaceful and light-hearted. So at the end of one of the retreat days, as I wondered about a Living Turnaround (a way to live my inquiry) I sent a short text“I’m thinking about you and want you to know I send love and prayers.” Heart emoji.

It felt unattached, honest, kind. In The Work I had been doing memories rose up of how funny, smart and passionate I found this person in my life for so many years.

Yes, this is good! I expect nothing! Just a little text sharing my heart!

And then a few weeks went by.

No reply. No acknowledgment. No nothing.

Again.

So then the mind starts kicking in “Why is there never a reply or response? What’d I do? Can’t this person tell me straight to my face how I hurt them, if I did? What is going ON? Is it me or something else? Really??”

Uh oh. Heh heh. Underlying hope, wish, expectation and grasping revealed.

Rats.

Concept that has appeared: I need that person’s attention, care, consideration.

What this need looks like is a responding text, an invitation, an email, a call, some kind of communication. It doesn’t look like empty space, being ignored, not interacting. It doesn’t look like nothingness.

This kind of thought is a powerfully painful thought. I notice people have it over and over again. We think jobs, people, experiences, money, lovers, family, friends, neighbors should want to stay very close and NEVER give us the silent treatment.

At least for me, it was enough to be present and awake in the night for a little while, apparently.

Let’s do The Work.

You can consider ANY person in your life, or money (one of my favorites) or a condition you believe needs to move towards you, connect with you, share with you.

You need them to connect with you. It would be so much better.

Is it true?

Yes! Isn’t that what life is all about?! Connection, love, interaction, a dance of back-and-forth.

(Wow, I do have my opinions, don’t I).

Can you absolutely know it’s true this person, thing, experience, place needs to connect with you–or is NOT connected with you already despite the fact that you don’t see them visually in your presence?

No.

I notice I don’t see everyone or everything I love all the time. I notice and hold silence frequently, and how would I know it is not supporting me? Do I really need a “thing” like that person, or something coming towards me, or someone communicating, or something arriving…when it isn’t?

It’s sort of funny, in a way, how intense and gripping the idea is that with some kind of connection with that person or thing or condition, I’ll be better off.

Can I really, really know that’s true?

Absolutely not.

How many inquirers have I done The Work with who were upset about break-ups, divorces, endings or changes where the absence of someone produced immense personal suffering?

It’s a deeply persistent and very painful story.

How do you react when you believe you need that person’s love or attention or communication with you?

I notice when I have this thought I start to think poorly of myself, disconnect with me, think of silence as a negative thing rather than something supporting me. I don’t see the joy and safety of this moment.

When I believe the thought in the middle of the night, I have tons of pictures of that person hating me, or busy Not Caring, or them hating themselves. I have images of my future where I’m on my deathbed and we never ever resolved this “problem” and never reconnected. So sad, sad, sad.

But who would you be without this thought?

Wow, I love this question.

It suddenly reminds me there is no emergency, no complete separation. I’m alive and well, lying in bed. Thinking is happening, yes, but so is simply being. I’m safe, quiet, comfortable, here.

Without the thought, I trust the shifting process of What Is. People come, people go. People are in the same room, people have passed on. Thoughts come, thoughts go. I’m awake, then I’m asleep. All parts of this experience are OK, none of it is really “better” than any other.

Without the thought that I need someone’s love, attention, communication….

….I’m very peaceful and happy I’ve known them at all. I’m resting in bed in a dark room, hearing the beautiful silent hum of night.

Turning the thought around: I do NOT need them to connect with me. I need to connect with myself (especially when I think of this person or thing). I need to connect with them.

How are these turnarounds just as true, or truer? Can I find examples?

Well, first of all, it’s the middle of the night. I actually don’t want a phone call, and I’m not on any devices to receive emails or texts. I’m very comfortable, resting, secure, breathing. All is very well indeed. Silent night, Holy night.

I’m also not disturbed by the circumstances of that person’s life–apparently I’m not required to help at the moment, or support in any way other than being here, open.

I need to connect with myself especially by NOT thinking I did something wrong, making it personal, attacking or berating myself for being someone who can’t be connected with. I need to not see myself as “needing” in this relationship, but instead to notice the brilliance of silence, feeling, and how OK I am right now.

In the midnight inquiry, I need to connect with them without demanding or assuming it’s better if they DO something and reach out. I need to connect with my images of them, and inquire. I need to notice how grateful I am for them whether they’re here or not. I feel this with my dad, who hasn’t had a body in almost 30 years.

I notice communication in a form I request (insist on–LOL) is not required.

“You get what you need, in whatever way you need it.” ~ Byron Katie

If you’d like to join in the power of shared inquiry with others, then come to Breitenbush on June 13th (Weds evening through Sunday lunch and almost full) or the next Seattle Autumn Retreat October 17-21, 2018.

Beautiful spring inquirers in Seattle, finding freedom and rest in inquiry. For more information about Autumn Retreat in Seattle Oct 17-21, 2018, click this photo.

Much love,

Grace

This meeting is such a waste of time (+ many “meetings” for spring inquiry–LOL)

Tomorrow it’s that time again: First Friday open inquiry for everyone online (or on your phone). This time we’re meeting 7:00 am-8:30 am Pacific Time/10 am Eastern/4 pm Europe. (Next month June 1st we’ll be meeting at noon PT). By request I’m switching the times around so people from different time zones can come. Get the link and instructions for joining for free right here.

I haven’t always loved audio teleclass connections for learning or sharing time with people live. So many possibilities of something not working. Or being bored by the content. Or getting distracted by something else happening on my computer.

Remember when teleconferences first started getting offered? Dropped calls, bells and whistles, background noise, internet failure, horrible audio with weird alien spaceship sounds and peoples voices getting distorted, scratchy static. And then there’s video conferences, too.

Sometimes it seemed like a comedy of errors. (For a 3 min laugh watch this). Hilarious.

Somehow, despite the bumpy ride, I’ve grown to love it. Coming online whether audio or video is the primary way I wind up connecting with the majority of people in The Work.

But you might notice thoughts like these, and I’ve had each and every one when it comes to meetings, of many different kinds:

  • this is soooooo slow
  • I can’t relate to that person who’s talking
  • I don’t have this thought, ever
  • I’d rather be ________
  • this is too painful or vulnerable to share (or hear)
  • I hate that person’s voice
  • I’m bored

Even on a shared call in The Work itself, I found it powerful to sit with my very thoughts about what I believed was working or not working in that moment. This inquiry can be applied to any group setting. Any meeting (even in person). Any process where communicating appears to be happening.

It’s fascinating what shows up in these kinds of inquiries where we’re not really that upset, but we still have irritable thinking.

So if you’ve ever been in a meeting or sharing group of some kind and found it annoying, picture that moment and let’s do The Work!

Long ago, I was on a Board and I loved the cause. But I didn’t have a good attitude towards the meetings.

Meetings are dull. This moment is boring, a waste of time, I can’t relate, I gotta get outta here….

Is it true?

Yes! And it’s just getting worse!

Can you absolutely know it’s true?

Pretty much. Yeah. LOL.

How do you react when you think listening and being where you are is a waste of time?

I figure out how to escape. I’m outta here. My mind is a million miles away. I might start thinking about options for what to do next, the minute I hang up or leave. Everything else becomes more important than this moment. I could be doing laundry, writing, reading, outside, eating, drinking, watching TV. Come to think of it I am really thirsty and I have to go to the bathroom.

Who would you be without this thought?

Kind of weird.

That Board meeting comes to mind from long ago. Or a school classroom as a child.

Who would I be in that situation, without my thoughts of irritation, escape and boredom?

I’d speak up. I might even interrupt or share. It wouldn’t have to mean I’d jump in and attack someone for going on too long or disagreeing with them. But I wouldn’t wait, somehow. I’d feel a thousand times more solid and loving and connected to the people in the room.

I might notice during the meeting the cadence of voices, the people’s attention and their faces, the air in the room, the quietness of the space between sound. I’d see the empty white board on the wall. Or in my home while on a telecall, I’d look through the skylights at the tall gorgeous pine tree overhead where eagles land. I’d really listen to the voices I’m hearing.

I’d feel the connection we have.

Noticing the subtlety of being in this insignificant, non-memorable moment and feeling it come more to life, like in full color instead of black-and-white.

Hello world. How did we all get here?

As I questioned my thinking about being a part of teleconferences or meetings: I’d fall into more of a meditation of rest, and calm, sound and wondering. I’d know how to be with this moment for my benefit, and how important each and every participant is who is there–a unique moment on planet earth.

“Only in this moment are we in reality. You and everyone can learn to live in the moment, as the moment, to love whatever is in front of you, to love it as you….The miracle of love comes to you in the presence of the uninterpreted moment.” ~ Byron Katie

Turning the thought around: This meeting is interesting, meaningful, a great use of time.

Why not?

And it doesn’t mean I have to stay rooted to my chair, or force myself to be excited when I’m not. I can get up and say with clarity and honesty that I’m not able to stay any longer (I did this about a month ago).

Even though I left the meeting, I can still find very interesting things about that moment, and what was being shared. I can see if there’s anything I’m against, anything I heard that triggered me unconsciously (the answer was “yes” in that moment I left that meeting last month).

Turning it around again: My thoughts are boring and dull, meaningless, a waste of time….especially when it comes to this meeting, this way of thinking.

Haha! So true. I worked myself up into a tizzy and proclaimed with guilty excuses “I have to quit!” without contemplating one single way I might help make this meeting be awesome.

Long ago on the Board, I quit contributing to an amazing cause I really care about, just because I didn’t like the meetings. I didn’t talk to one single person about it on the Board. I never tried to switch it up. I thought of myself as very tiny and insignificant–it never occurred to me to share what I was thinking.

What if I had known how to do The Work and show up (or not) with loving kindness, clarity, action, a sense of responsibility in a good way, movement, life?

Hmmm. Maybe it’s time to see how that non-profit is doing I care so much about, and consider participating again.

Who would you be without your thoughts about meetings, gatherings, conferences?

Much love,

Grace

P.S. A few upcoming options if you’re drawn to share time in The Work with others. Questions? Reply back and I’ll answer.

  • Spring Retreat Seattle May 16-20 (we opened up 3 spots as the room available is expanded–yay)
  • Online Happy Parent TeleCourse: Tuesdays 4-5:30 pm PT May 8-June 26. Read more here.
  • Mother’s Day Living Turnarounds Half Day In Person Retreat 2-6 pm my house. May 13. Sign up here.
  • Breitenbush Retreat still has a few spots for June 13-17 with me and Todd Smith in the Oregon Cascades.

She was so rude

Last weekend at the monthly Living Turnarounds Group (people to show up in person in Seattle and do The Work for 4 hours) a lovely inquirer shared a moment from childhood.

She had done something so many of us have done when we’re kids.

Jump out from behind a door to surprise someone, full of joyful, playful intentions.

I remember doing it with my sisters. Accompanied by growls or roars. A wild fluttering feeling of adrenaline might happen for both the one surprising, and of course the one being surprised.

But something about the story was perfect for me, to make obvious how blind spots can live right in front of us.

Her work was marvelous. The inquirer considered thoughtfully every question. The group listened closely, following along, captured by the inquiry process.

Even though I was the one asking the four questions, I was right there too, seeing the scene, doing my own internal inquiry about what it’s like when someone reacts to our “surprise” unexpectedly.

What if they take it the wrong way? What if our efforts aren’t acceptable in someone else’s experience? What if we’re too much?

What if we offer something….and a person says “NO!”?

I remember an incident with a similar quality with my daughter many years ago. I had gathered several movies, popcorn to make on the stove, and envisioned my daughter and I spending Friday night together at home.

When she came in the door late afternoon on Friday, I beamed and clapped telling of my great plans for us.

“Mom.” She looked at me like I had lost my mind. “Those are the dumbest movies ever.” Then off she went to her own bedroom, leaving me in silence a moment, staring after her.

About twenty minutes later, I had a little chuckle. Who would I be without the thought that she was rude to me?

Noticing my own lovely, quiet Friday full of projects, writing, and meditation. Noticing the possibilities. Having a few passing exchanges with my daughter when she emerged from homework and listening to music in her room. Letting the evening unfold however it did. Sharing with her later that her response was a bit harsh-feeling for me. Hearing her immediate apology.

Other times, we had long talks. It just wasn’t THAT night. Mom.

So there we were in this kind of inquiry in our half-day retreat, arriving at the last step: finding the turnarounds.

The original thought for the inquirer’s situation: he exploded at me.

Turned around: he didn’t explode at me. True, found the inquirer. Only with sound and words did something happen. No bombs actually went off. No physical objects went flying. It wasn’t ALL at her specifically–the sound dispersed throughout the entire room, walls, ceiling, floor, furniture all evenly.

In my situation, I can find how my daughter wasn’t rude to me. She simply shared what was true for her in the moment, without any special regard for me (in a good way). She was free to say no. Uninhibited. Clear. No wishy-washy happening. Not sitting through a movie she disliked to make her mom happy, or anything weird like that.

Turned around again: I exploded at me. The inquirer found how when she reminded herself of the incident, she was forever cautious. She maintained pictures of other similar encounters. She told herself passionately to never let it happen again. She called herself bad for triggering the incident. These were inner explosive thoughts towards herself, experienced within.

I could find how in my situation I was harsh or rude with myself. I called myself dumb to have built up expectations for a Friday evening, without asking. I used the “no” against myself, taking it personally and telling a story of a daughter who doesn’t want to do anything with me. Which is so untrue. I suffered because of her response.

Turned around again: I exploded at him. The inquirer went a little blank. What? This is so common for us all who love to inquire. Which is one of the things I love about groupinquiry, and what I got so inspired and sort of amazed by a second later.

Because someone spoke up. “Well, you jumped out and set up the ‘surprise’ in the first place, right? Wasn’t that an explosion?”

LOL.

I don’t know what was so wonderful about it for me…it just had such a sweetly OBVIOUS example right out in the forefront. The first explosion began….with her.

It doesn’t really matter if the explosions had different tones or shapes or sizes….it’s noticing everyone is in the game.

And in my situation I am the one who was a bit rude, made assumptions, planned my kid’s evening without asking, picked out movies without more input.

It’s so precious to know we play a part in the whole theatrical movement of any situation.

It doesn’t mean we’re at fault, they’re not at fault, or there won’t be consequences. It becomes fault-less, curious, sometimes hilarious, fascinating.

It becomes lighter.

I notice life moved on, explosions and rude tones became silence again, new possibilities emerged.

Everything changing.

Even our perceptions of the past.

“I already please everyone, and I already have everyone’s approval, though I don’t expect them to realize it yet.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Introduction to The Work on Parenting 2 hour online mini-retreat Tuesday May 1st from 4:00-6:00 pm Pacific Time. $25. Sign up here. There will be slides to watch on your computer or device, and we’ll also do The Work!

That person needs to come closer, stay, commit, be with you….really?

A lovely young woman was on skype with me, looking so deeply forlorn and disappointed.

The man she called her boyfriend (although she confessed she wasn’t sure he would call her girlfriend) had left that morning, headed for the airport. Again.

He traveled to her city only for business. It was unknown when he would next be in town. They’d known each other as childhood friends and maybe first crushes, but never lived in the same place after leaving their childhood homes.

She already had her fingers crossed she’d see him again.

He had left saying “if you’re going to get so clingy….like I told you before….this is over.”

Yikes.

How is this going to go? I wondered.

Sometimes the person looks so devastated, and they’ve been doing what they’re doing for so long, it’s a curiosity to see how their inner work will go, as they question their thinking.

This young woman had been in this long-distance volatile on-off-on-off relationship for almost 6 years.

I helped her write a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on the very moment he left her apartment, when he told her he didn’t want “clingy” and she felt shaky, terrified, and then obsessed for days about when to text, if to snapchat, checking facebook, looking through instagram.

Waiting.

He should be different than he is. He should commit to me. He should stay with me. He should make me a priority. He should want to marry me. He should move in with me.

But he doesn’t.

“Is it true?” I asked her.

I must admit I had visions of how tortured she was and how much easier it would be to stop. Even wondering how someone could be so needy, or demanding, and not be able (apparently) to move to any other relationship that was up close in the same town.

I wondered at humanity in that moment, creating so much suffering by arguing with reality.

And then I remembered how her voice was mine. To stop thinking I know how she’d be better without her thought.

Didn’t I once also have this belief, that someone I thought I loved should stay, commit, be different than they were?

Yikes again. I remember. Ugh. (Picture of the guy in my head who I thought should be doing it my way, when he wasn’t).

This lovely woman answered “yes” it’s true. “YES” it’s absolutely true. True, true, true, true.

He should stay with me.

How do you react when you believe he should stay, commit, move in, want to marry…..when he doesn’t?

She began to cry.

She felt desperate, abandoned.

I remembered myself how dreadful that feeling was, and how false it turned out to be. And also how I fought it and thought I shouldn’t feel it.

So many “should nots”.

I listened to her describe her feeling of seeing the absent space where his shoes had been, his coat had hung.

“Who would you be without this thought?” I asked. “In that same moment, if you couldn’t have the thought he should stay, when you’re noticing this empty apartment and the sound of traffic outside, and the hook where his coat hung?”

I love that The Work simply offers this question. It doesn’t answer the question. It doesn’t suggest you shouldn’t be thinking the thought you’re thinking.

It’s beautiful because then, I myself don’t give any answers. My job is to facilitate, to ask, and to listen.

Who would we be without our disturbance, our insisting that it be other than it is? Who would we be without our advice for other people?

Who would we be without our stories of “me”?

It’s such an incredible question, really. No right or wrong answer. Simply a question, waiting for us to use our imagination for something more expansive than what we currently envision. Checking to see if we’ve really got all our information straight.

The young woman took a deep breath, head hung down with her eyes closed. I could see on my skype screen behind her in the background the very door I imagined her companion had left through, with the pretty hooks lined up for coats.

Without the thought, she said…..”I’d be free.”

She described easy days when she worked, studied, hung out with friends. Days when she didn’t have the thought that he should be different, even if he was far way in another country.

But the key is wondering who you’d be without the belief in that very moment of remembering the stressful situation.

How about then? Who would you be right there without your belief?

“Yes…..so free. Letting him go. Happy to have spent some time with him. Moving to what’s next.”

Turning the story around: I should be different with myself. I should commit to me. I should stay with me. I should make me a priority. I should want to marry me. I should move in with me. I shouldn’t leave myself. 

Wow.

I remember discovering these turnarounds myself in the midst of a heavy, powerful sense of wanting it from the other.

I was treating myself at the time like I was a loser, as if coupleness was better than singleness, as if I couldn’t manage to take care of myself, as if my own company and silence itself was haunting.

(I was single, is it true? :)

Where was it written that love must come from only one person? Or from anything pre-defined at all?

Turned around again: He should NOT be different. He should NOT commit to me. He should NOT stay with me. He should NOT make me a priority. He should NOT want to marry me. He should NOT move in with me. He should leave me. 

Could these be just as true? Could there be benefits? Are you sure you’ve got the whole picture?

I know for myself, if I had gotten what I wanted, I would not have wanted it. I already had evidence. It was perfect the way it was. The distance was beyond important. It saved my life turning in a difficult direction.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~ Rumi

Blessings on all those who believe someone should care more about them, come closer, commit, not leave.

May we all see that the attention and love we want is not within that other person. It is in the divine, in ourselves, in the very breath we breathe.

“If we get really honest, do we get married for love, or convenience? Life is designed for mates….is it true?” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Last minute shuffle–one spot open again now for this weekend Sunday afternoon mini-retreat Living Turnarounds Group from 2-6 pm.

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.

Without the story that it’s better when your partner has money….who are you?

The other night I had a seizure. A thinking-feeling seizure.

For about an hour. Seriously.

You might think….wow, that’s a long time for an actual seizure.

Shouldn’t a seizure be only a few minutes? Or ten at the most? I mean, medically and all….

No. It was at least an hour. And OK, it was a thinking seizure, not a full-blown physical medical episode, and I see now how these kinds of seizures can go on for years, and years, without question.

But honestly….it was a thousand times shorter than the seizures I used to have.

Here’s what happened.

I listened to a dear friend who I adore (he really is wonderful, creative, and passionate) tell me about a predicament with his beloved partner.

I could see the scenes in my head.

Partner; overworked, crushed, losing job saying “Screw you Boss!” yet again, lying on couch in physical pain after being on feet for twelve hours.

My Friend; frustrated with partner for losing job, guilty for feeling angry (because–physical pain from working on feet for so many hours), terrified for need of money, ready to sell house.

On my way home in my car with my own husband and partner after the evening was over….

….Me; OMG I NEVER want this to happen to me! To us! You should earn more money and get a different job!

Marriages are liabilities! People get too dependent on each other!! Partners should happily love working hard and support their spouses! Committed couples should take care of each other financially! 

Yes, it was flailing all over the place yelling completely opposing ideas.

And don’t pick “duds” for your primary relationship, by the way. As in, the ones who don’t work hard or don’t have good luck or aren’t supportive or who are screwed up.

People shouldn’t ever be burdened by their partner, financially or otherwise! EVER!

NEVER! EVER! GASP!!

(Seizure)!

The story I was remembering and telling and picturing in my head was an ancient one. That it’s best if the person with whom you are in relationship, live with, share time with or do things with as companions should have money, be a good worker or earner, pay their fair share and never lose their job. Right? They’re motivated, ambitious, and they want to get more money. And give it to you sometimes.

It’s pretty embarrassing.

Later, my very kind husband who is incredibly non-reactive and patient, said after I apologized for basically telling him he should quit his teaching job with kids and earn more….

“Yes, it was like you heard there were dangerous purple cows loose, and you freaked out about purple cows breaking down our door.”

He’s so awesome.

So let’s take a look at this old and stressful fairy tale about obligation in relationship.

Is it true that you have some kind of advantage if you’re in a relationship with someone who has money? Or a disadvantage if you’re in relationship with someone who doesn’t?

Yes. Duh.

But can you be sure? Are you positive that money in a primary relationship/partnership will bring you happiness, security, relaxation, peace? Are you sure lack of money from the partner will bring you unhappiness?

No.

I once dated a man with loads of cash, tons of assets and investments. We did many things where the bills were wildly beyond my limits for contributing. I visited luxury, in his presence. It was fun, sort of. For about ten minutes.

I saw it wasn’t true that it’s better if your spouse or companion has a lot of money. He was stressed, anxious, and unhappy. Even if he had been a deeply happy person, though (and sometimes, he WAS)….

….Money didn’t buy peace or trust or guarantees or support for us (for me). No way.

How do you react when you believe you need extra, or a buffer, a contribution, or someone to earn as much or more as a partner? And never lose their job?

Ugh.

I treat myself like what I do isn’t enough. I orient myself in the world of I-need-more or I-need-different. I secretly resent. I don’t trust that person’s own path. I envy other people in partnership with someone wealthy. I hyper-focus on money and financial assets. I think money means safety, or support, or love.

So who would I be without this very stressful fairy tale?

Without the belief that partners should make more, have more or give more money?

Without this thought, I feel so very excited. Relieved, and then beyond relief into joy. Aware of what is here supporting me. A chair, a floor. Air, water, creativity, life.

Without this entrenched and ancient story of money, and someone else’s money, supplying happiness or safety, I’m so free. I notice how happy and how safe I am right now. I notice how truly happy and kind my partner is, being himself, doing what he does.

I notice how everything necessary is here already, and nothing more is needed including luxuries. Those are fine, and entertaining, but certainly not required.

Turning the thought around: Being in a relationship is not a burden or a benefit (especially when it comes to money). I bring in what I do. So do they. We enjoy each other’s company. There is no advantage or disadvantage, if I am honest and clear every step of the way.

Wow. How could this be just as true, or truer?

Well, the other person has their own body, their own work and career, their own history, their own preferences. How can two people ever be….the same?

I love freedom. I love supporting the freedom of those I love, to have their own preferences and experiences and opinions.

It feels good, I notice, to participate in this thing called “work” in the world. To offer service. To give, to help out, to be creative in exchange for money or other benefits.

In fact, as I’ve done my own self-inquiry on “work” and “money” in life, I’ve gotten more and more excited and free when it comes to needing either one. It just feels natural to move into service. I never wanted to sit on the couch all day, anyway. I like working, learning, giving to others. Most of us do!

Turning it around again: Being in my own head, with all my stories about money and support and work and relationships, is a burden or a benefit.

Oh my. That’s truer.

When I think burdensome thoughts about partnership, when I have conditions or expectations, when I “need” money or support (and think I also need to give both)….

….then it never goes well.

It’s all about making deals. Tit for tat. Being fair. Giving and getting. Conditions. Wanting. Needing.

Yuck. It’s a lot of “work” to track all that.

What I notice about this inquiry, is I am free to be myself, to say “yes” and to say “no” with money, requests, needs, wants, hopes, expectations.

I just remembered when I was a young mother. I didn’t want to work, and I quit. I stayed home with my kids every day, happy not to be somewhere else I didn’t want to be. I felt a little upset about others wanting me to work, and earn more. (Oh boy, I remember how that felt–not so good).

And then I started wanting some adult time. I wanted to do something other than all-kids-all-the-time (I even homeschooled for awhile). I wanted balance. I wanted to use other skills.

Without having guilt, or rules, or terrors about who would suffer and what was “right” or “wrong” when it came to earning, or rebellious thoughts full of refusal to work….I got a part time job. It was fabulous. I worked with people in hospice. I was so grateful.

What freedom would you have, without your stories about what’s required or important in partnership, for you to be happy?

I’d be laughing about Purple Cow seizures with my loving, kind, brilliant partner. Unconditionally experiencing how supported we are, and how free.

Whether we have money, or not.

Much love,

Grace

Peace doesn’t require two people. But sharing with others helps us see how to live it.

I’m sitting as the sun sets on the weekend, watching the yellow-then-rose colored sky over the fence and tall laurel hedge across the street at the neighbor’s house.

I am touched so deeply by the sincerity and willingness of the people who recently filled this little cottage living room to question their thoughts.

Some were brand new to The Work. They had never written out a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet before.

Some were School for The Work graduates who have been questioning their thoughts for years.

It doesn’t matter really.

There is always a curiosity when a group gathers for a retreat–whether a 4-hour retreat like today, or a 4-day retreat–a joyful excitement (and perhaps surge of nerves).

As people came in, it was very quiet. A few simple greetings, several people unfamiliar with this place needing to ask where the bathroom is, where the tea mugs are. Others have been here before.

What will happen this afternoon?

What will be discovered?

What is possible here, as I wonder about my thinking, my ideas, my concepts, my beliefs, my suffering?

What could shift, as I consider just one troubling relationship, and clarify some of my thoughts about it?

The very first step, where we actually write down our stressful beliefs, can sometimes be so awkward….

….but also the biggest relief in the world.

We can cuss, rage, vent, wail….on paper. We give words to our feelings of loss, abandonment, fear, grief.

After everyone was here and settled in, I asked the Judge-Your-Neighbor questions slowly (with some description of exploring how to sit with and answer these questions). Everyone got a clip board and a pen—which are all the supplies you need besides your mind, to do The Work.

I’m always so amazed, although I shouldn’t be–because I did it myself despite my secrecy and huge urge to protect myself–at how willing people are to write their honest answers down to the JYN questions.

Who angers, confuses or disappoints you, and WHY?

A child can answer the question “who bugs you, and WHY?” probably more easily than an adult.

Sometimes when people start The Work, they’ll say they anger, confuse or disappoint themselves…but yesterday I already said at the very beginning of our mini-retreat not to write about themselves.

Who were you with, when you felt bad about yourself?

Turn your attention outward. See what those other people are doing, saying, feeling, thinking….that you find disturbing.

I love the quiet of the room when people are writing and their pens are tap-tapping on paper. They’re focused. They’re exposing ideas they think they should not have in the first place.

They’re so beautiful, writing away with passion and gusto.

And then, to hear someone jump in and volunteer to be the first to “go”–the first person ready to “do” The Work who has never been to this group before. I am so inspired.

Wow, how brave she is.

At least, this is my thought as a fairly extreme introvert.

How courageous to speak immediately, to read one’s entire worksheet, to put these thoughts into the room for all the ears to hear.

The thoughts that hurt so much were shared during our afternoon together: she left me, he lacks insight, they are bored with me, he raised his voice at me, she should work with me on a compromise, I want them to stop, his outbursts are getting worse, I want hope that something will change.

The Work, as you know so well, is four questions and finding turnarounds to these concepts that incite riots of feeling within.

I hear Katie’s voice saying “trust the work”.

This is about each one of us answering all the questions to the best of our abilities, in this present moment, with no expectations of the outcome.

In our mini-retreat, after sitting with two different participant’s worksheets, everyone got to pull one thought from their Judge Your Neighbor worksheet from #4: the prompt which says “In order to be happy, I need x to ______.”

We heard each person’s #4. I need him to say _____, I need her to act _____, I need them to be ______.

Everyone got to sit in this very active meditation of answering the four questions, out loud, about this need they had written down.

You can do it right now.

What is one thing you are sure would make you happy, if you got it–and you don’t have it now? Picture it coming from the outside world. A person saying “x”, a person giving you “y”, a person being like “z”. Something else coming to you, like money, or that item.

Is it true you need that in order to be happy?

Give your honest answer.

Can you be absolutely sure? Is it absolutely positively true you need that in order to be happy? Are you sure happiness is NOT possible unless it happens, in the difficult situation you’re aware of (even if it was a long time ago)?

How do you react when you think you need it, and it’s not showing up?

Oh lord. Disappointed. Waiting. Wishing. Worrying.

Who would you be without this troubling thought that you need “x” in order to be happy (seeing the mental video of what you think you need)?

I’d see what was happening right here, more honestly.

I’d notice I’m sitting in a family of people, some of whom I don’t know their life details, and yet they feel like fellow travelers on an exquisite journey.

I somehow wound up here, in a half-day retreat with other people wondering about the validity of their thinking, and willing to question it. People willing and interested in exploring.

I’d see how happiness is possible, or even here right now, whether I get “x” or not.

I love turning my thoughts around.

It never means I have to quit believing my original thought….I might notice I still worry it’s true, but I’m giving some substance and energy to this other opposite thought.

Everyone got to turn around their need in our group yesterday: I need ME to do that thing, say that thing, be that way WITH MYSELF. Especially in the presence of that other person.

Wow.

That’s true.

It’s the only thing I can really do anything about: myself.

And we looked at these needs closely. Everyone had the opportunity to contemplate and discover and find genuine ways they might live their turnarounds with themselves. 

For the one who believed she needed hope for change, she saw how she could give herself “hope” or a spark of encouragement. For the one who believed someone lacks insight, she could see how she lacked insight, and then notice how very insightful she is, and feel the power of trust.

For the one who thought they were bored with her, she found how she was bored with herself, so she could find  how she might feel the entertainment of what’s inside, and relax in other peoples’ presence.

If we lived a true turnaround to what we find when we do The Work….what might it look like?

Most importantly, what would it FEEL like?

You don’t even have to know what you’d do.

These words are all what people came up with as their anchor words for living their turnarounds this month, their awareness of something simple, condensed into one word, something unforgettable: Trust, Self-Compassion, Generosity, Allow, Relax, Worthiness, Creativity, Love. 

What I noticed was each one of these inquirers was the most adorable, perfect example of their turnaround.

“Peace doesn’t require two people; it requires only one. It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there.” ~ Byron Katie

You can be an example of a quality you thought you needed from outside yourself, too. You could imagine noticing how you have this quality already, or the capacity to feel it.

Living our turnarounds is so much fun.

And who knows….it may change the world.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Spring Cleaning Retreat has 3 spots open May 16-20 in Seattle. Come find your turnarounds with us.

P.P.S. Next Living Turnarounds Half-Day is April 22nd.