Life is hard. Is it true? Let’s do The Work on this together, for a year.

Life can be hard. Tough things happen, to all of us.

Surprises, confusion, shock, upset, pain, loss. Sometimes we can see how the difficulties we’ve gone through have created greater strength and awareness and lots of learning….and sometimes….

….not so much.

Yikes!

When we feel confused or troubled about how things are, we often wind up suffering after something’s happened, maybe for years, every time we recall it. We don’t know how to deal with our thoughts and feelings about it, or find resolve.

Maybe we get a defensive posture towards life, or certain people, or we feel nervous or anxious about the future. Maybe we’re dreadfully unhappy about some relationships, and carry an inner sense of resentment or loneliness. Maybe we feel deep disappointment about the way things have gone so we lose our enthusiasm for trying something different, or making a change.

When I felt upset about various experiences or relationships in my life, I often found others would try to pick me up and suggest I have a more positive attitude. Or be encouraging, or be good cheerleaders for me.

Positive thinking! Change your mindset! Focus on happiness!

It didn’t really work, despite good intentions.

Then, after many years of doing various therapies, self-help, trainings, retreats (all useful) I learned The Work of Byron Katie or Inquiry Based Stress Reduction (IBSR).

If you’ve tried The Work you probably already know it’s a powerful way to address a troubling mindset, and find clarity about anything that’s ever happened that hurt or disturbed you.

We all know what it’s like to have an Ah-Ha moment where a lightbulb goes on, and you see something new about a stressful experience or perspective you thought you’d ALWAYS find troubling.

Wow! I didn’t see that before! Holy Smokes!

The Work, which is four questions and finding turnarounds, is one of the greatest ways to achieve this kind of insight…and the fastest.

But you do have to DO it (LOL) and practice it regularly, like meditation.

Which is where Year of Inquiry comes in: it was first and foremost invented for people like me. People who knew it was good, like vitamins, but forgot to take them.

I found insights every time I sat down and actually completed the process from start to finish. But I got busy, put the Work second to chores and tasks, and let things build up without turning to my inner life to give it peaceful attention.

Year of Inquiry was created to have a regular group who would journey together for an entire year, looking at new shared topics every single month (including: money, relationships, family, body, turnarounds, shame, hurt, anger, career).

We laugh, we cry, we answer the questions, we watch our worlds begin to shift and change because we’re responding differently, making small changes without even planning them. We feel happier. We feel lighter.

Things that used to bother us, no longer do.

We begin to catch ourselves and watch our minds as it shouts “Something’s going wrong!” or “I shouldn’t have to experience this!” or “I’m not good enough!”

Practicing The Work unravels stressful thinking. It unravels suffering. It ends addiction, neediness, scarcity, resentment.

Who would we be without our stories? About others, and most importantly about ourselves?

What I have found, is we would be loving, peaceful, and free. We’d be the best version of ourselves possible (and that’s always true, and we’d know it).

If you want to do The Work in a dedicated, committed group of inquirers for an entire year, then join me in this gift of inquiry.

This week there are 3 information sessions (they’ll be recorded) to answer your questions about the format, expectations, curriculum and fees. Please see the facebook events on this page to connect to the correct webinar here.

All About Year of Inquiry:
*Tuesday, Aug 28 8:00 am PT
*Weds, Aug 29 Noon PT
*Thurs, Aug 30 4:00 pm PT

The first week of September is Orientation Week where you’ll watch training presentations to get on board our private secret forum in slack, and get set up for a successful year.

There are two full months to decide if Year Of Inquiry is right for you–no questions asked.

What I know is, YOI is a very inexpensive way to get and stay connected to dedicated time for self-inquiry through every season of an entire year.

Everyone in Year of Inquiry has sixty days to fully participate in the experience before making a final decision. You’ll pay in full, or choose the 12 month payment plan—but if you withdraw there’s only a fee of $100 for the first month, or another $100 for the second month of the program (everything else will be refunded) if you choose to withdraw….even if you didn’t decide to withdraw until Halloween you’d only pay $200. The first two months will also be included a solo session with Grace so we get to know each other right from the start (normal fee $125).

I have this refund policy on purpose because I want only people to continue through the year who deeply know they like the process of inquiry, not just the idea of inquiry.
After two months of seeing what it’s like, most people get the sense of what doing The Work regularly, every week, may do for their inner world and their lives. If it’s not for you now, it’s OK.

What I know is….when I came into The Work all I wanted to do was question thoughts about myself and what I had done wrong (not what I had encountered in life that bothered me).

Then I followed the simple invitation from Byron Katie and the steps of The Work to identify judgments I had about other people, the world, money, bodies, being alive, love, and what I thought of as reality.

Looking at all of these, I myself began to change. And amazingly, so did everything else in my life. Circumstances became more peaceful, less dramatic, less intense, and more vibrant and exciting.

Freedom didn’t happen in an instant. It unfolds daily, with every time I ask “is it true?”

This Work gives the mind something it loves to do: rest.

To not rely so heavily on “figuring” everything out. But instead, to wonder what it’s like without thinking.

How fun is that?

“To have a way to see beyond illusion is the greatest gift.” ~ Byron Katie

To read about Year of Inquiry, which begins in September, head over to here: https://workwithgrace.com/year-of-inquiry/

The end of the war with what happened begins, and ends, with the mind.

So, it happened again.

OK, not the worst thing. Fine. Little exaggeration on the disappointment.

But not fun, not favorable, not what was initially wanted (if it went perfectly).

At least, that’s the way the mind’s commentary went.

It may be kind of dumb, when you hear it. It’s so small, in a way.

When I was first doing my webinar online retreat last Tuesday, the whole beginning 3 minutes was bizarre sound, tech failure, robot voice, nothing I was communicating was heard.

People were writing saying “I can’t hear anything” and “you sound like you’re from outer-space” and “I don’t understand anything”.

I’m sure some people turned off their computers immediately.

Funny, but on the internal level of feeling, I was honestly barely bothered. It was like “oh”. I stopped the recording, refreshed my internet connection, and voila, all was “normal”. I’m not even sure what went “wrong”.

And it so happened I remembered to start the recording again, even though we were about five slides into the beginning, so as a complete course recording there’s no intro or welcome.

The most important thing about this story, is simply that it’s a moment of stress. The mind says “this sucks”. (And it also says “again” like this same thing has happened a zillion times, even though that’s not true).

Things like this happen every day.

I want it to go like x, but it goes like y.

The volume on the stress gets turned up, the more and more you believe what you’re thinking is true, and it goes from technology whackiness, to something a little more threatening.

Like perhaps the way my mind might have gone (which it’s done before)….turning it into “I can’t do tech. This never works out. I shouldn’t even try. Who am I to think I can run a business?”

A little seed grows into a gigantic mushroom in 5 seconds, internally. We see images of it getting worse.

Examples:

We think someone said something really bitter or mean or critical to us. We feel cut off, or separated. Life is hard.

We fall down the stairs. Or someone we love does. The world is a dangerous place.

The air and sky is filled with forest fire smoke, and we start thinking about global warming and the end of the world. We are doomed.

The line is too long, the lobby is crowded, the freeway is filled with traffic, the clerk didn’t give us the correct change, we left our bag at school, our water bottle seems to have disappeared, we bang into the edge of the table, the keys are not where they should be.

Huff. Sad. Deflate. Rage.

It’s like there’s a small collapse on the inside (or a big one).

Something that says “NOOOOOOO!”

“This shouldn’t be happening”.

Is it true?

Yes, you can do this work with anything.

You really can ask if it’s absolutely true that what is happening, shouldn’t be. Are you sure?

One of the barriers to self-inquiry I talk about in the online retreat that apparently did mostly happen on Tuesday (and will happen for the final time today at 4 pm PT) is believing about a situation of concern: THIS IS REAL.

In other words, no inquiry or wondering or open-mindedness can occur in THIS situation. It’s REAL. It’s a THREAT. It’s BAD NEWS. It’s SERIOUS.

We’ll think if we even question this thought, then we’ll be passive and fake-ish and pollyanna. How could you not think that having a tech failure where no one can even hear you during an online course is NOT a bad thing?

How can you think getting sick is NOT a bad thing? How can you think forest fires are NOT a bad thing?

Of course they are! Jeez!

With these extremely serious experiences we humans have…how could we not be upset?

For me, inquiry is not about suppressing being upset, or being fake. It is never about flipping into some kind of weird positive or false thinking about things not being bad that really do seem bad.

Self-inquiry is actually the complete opposite.

It’s turning and facing reality as it is with a head-on look. It’s responding, responsive, responsible. I am able to respond, without freaking out and making it bigger than it is. I am able to work with reality as an equal and not thinking it shouldn’t exist the way it’s existing.

I might decide to do something pretty big, pretty bold, pretty loving because I’ve questioned “this shouldn’t be happening”.

Maybe the thing should be happening because I’m being called to wake up, pay attention, take action in a new and different way. Or let go, stop paying so much attention, and stop taking action.

I’ll know where the movement goes, with loving kindness, as I question my thinking.

But I have to actually follow the simple directions, and answer the four questions, and wonder about my answers.

Who would I be without my story that x shouldn’t be happening, whether a weird tech glitch in my online webinar retreat, or the death of someone really close (which I’ve experienced twice this year)?

Turning the thought around: it should be happening.

Could this be just as true? Are there any reasons it should happen that actually work for me? Even if they are tiny?

*I saw how many people so kindly shared with me they couldn’t hear–they truly cared

*I got to remember how I used to freak out on the inside, and noticed how something was completely untriggered, in a good way–progress in reaction

*I didn’t feel bad after the whole thing was over, I felt happy about all the volume of information gathered for the program

*A bunch of people have still signed up for Year of Inquiry anyway, where we continue the adventure pretty soon starting in September

And I can continue the list for other things that have happened, that I initially thought shouldn’t have happened.

Even aging, sickness, separation and death–the big ones.

Turning it around again: my thinking shouldn’t have happened in that situation. It got a riled up, over something unimportant, or something I have zero control over. Life went on.

My thinking about the horrors is what shouldn’t have happened. Even the death of people I love and adore, and miss today, brought many other humans together and made my heart fill with connection and breaking with the love and learning involved.

Who would we be without the belief it shouldn’t have happened?

Alive, connected, sharing, carrying on, rising up, grateful, heart-broken, OK, peaceful.

“The end of war with the mind, is the end of war.”

“Everything that you saw as a handicap, turns out to be the extreme opposite.”

~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

Register for Ten Barriers Retreat today right here.

Giving Up, Giving In: Questioning Depressive Surrender (Barrier Seven)

This week is the one time per year I offer a thorough, very content-rich, two-hour online retreat called Ten Barriers to Deepening The Work of Byron Katie. There is no fee to join.

If you’re a part of the investigation of Eating Peace at any level, you’ll already know this work is a fundamental base for dissolving our compulsive thinking. This is for you, too.

If you’d love to refine, consider, or perhaps discover why The Work isn’t “working” for you, this is an annual immersion to take a deep look. At the very end I talk about the upcoming new Year of Inquiry program–an entire year of gathering and sharing The Work together. No one needs to be interested in YOI to take the webinar.

This online retreat will really help you if you’re stuck when it comes to The Work.

We’ll meet live tomorrow, Tuesday August 21 at 8:00 am PT or on Thursday August 23 at 4:00 pm PT. Sign up HERE so you get last-minute notified and the link to join automatically in your Inbox. (I won’t announce either event here again).

Today I want to talk about one of the barriers.

Barrier Seven, to be specific.

I call it “GIVING IN, GIVING UP”.

Failure.

Yikes. It’s unfortunately one of my mind’s favorite Go-To barriers to inquiry. I actually got a whiff of it this past weekend.

But first, what does this even really mean….”barrier” to inquiry?

For me, it means all the ways the genius brilliant mind can get tricky, get side-tracked, get serious, get certain that the way it is seeing and perceiving reality….is true.

There is no inquiry present. There is no beginner’s mind when a barrier is alive and running. There is no wonder.

Inquiry, for me, means having an open, flexible mind.

There’s a part of us that wonders, or is curious, or interested in contemplating, debating, looking, examining, investigating, feeling or sensing something new, something added, something different around What Is or anything we perceive.

We all recognize that we don’t know everything. We all basically know we have a limited perspective, and a unique one that comes only from what we’ve individually experienced during our lives.

Which leaves us also knowing we’ve got more to learn, and our minds are ready to take it all in like a sponge.

So in a barrier to inquiry, we feel like the innocence of wonderment and curiosity and humor have vanished into the background….almost as if this way of opening to the world in some stressful moment is not possible.

We’re closed, worried, angry, terrified, or suppressed.

If you’re like me, when inquiry fades into the distance, I’m either hyper-analytic and everything in the mind gets blown out of proportion into the Most Important Thing (Thinking) OR everything in mind gets whacked aside and there’s NO thinking and I’m All Feelings.

Which is where Barrier Seven comes in.

Barrier Seven: Giving Up, Giving In.

In short….Quitting. (Or, threatening to quit, because I notice, I can’t actually completely QUIT–more on that in a minute).

So this past weekend, I had this rebellious, pissy feeling after 3 days of errands, surprise schedule changes, medical concerns of family members, and a growing list of to-do tasks that weren’t getting done.

I felt like Doing Nothing.

In what felt like a “bad” way, not a fun, open-minded light way.

What does the voice within say when I begin to feel this stubborn sense of doing NADA, zilch, nothing?

Let’s quit.

Let’s give up. You win (whomever “you” is–the greater reality, life, the moment). I lost. I give in. Fine.

But it’s not that surrendered, on-my-knees sense of heart-breaking openness that comes from truly and completely being knocked down into a different reality….

….it’s more like a waiting in-between zone. Digging my heals in, like the donkey refusing to get up and walk.

So I knew I was in this barrier when my mind actually said “I’m not doing Year of Inquiry after all” and “this is my last year” and “I’m too old for this” and “I can’t even keep my own calendar straight”.

Yep.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror in the bathroom that added to my proof that this thing is going down. The hair is rapidly turning grey with all hair coloring having been ditched 3 months ago.

Like a balloon being deflated.

It’s funny that this belief “GIVING UP, GIVING IN” is sad, discouraging, even depressing. But at least you don’t have to work anymore, or “try”.

This is when people with compulsion issues might pause awhile, then say “let’s eat!” or “let’s drink!” or “let’s smoke!” or “let’s buy something!” (As you probably know, my favorite was always eating).

Instead, I lay silently flat on my bed in my quiet, empty house (all activity and people and family miraculously gone).

After awhile I felt the joy of silence.

And deep self-compassion.

Who would you be if you honored the Giving Up Giving In feeling, but didn’t believe it was entirely True?

A very dear friend texted me “it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, check in with how you feel.”

LOL.

Who would you be without the GIVE UP GIVE IN strategy for managing life, in whatever situation you notice you enlist this barrier?

Who would you be without that story?

I’d rest, and wait. I’d remember I feel tired and discouraged only for now, and only because I’m thinking it’s unbearable or impossible or too hard, at the moment.

I’d notice all is well.

Turning the thought around: There is no Giving Up, Giving In. “I” does not quit. I quit my thinking. My thinking quits.

Heart beating, lungs breathing, bed holding me, mind running, earth spinning, deep inhale, quietly nothing required. Life going on. Something continuing, persisting. Nothing required.

“Own all the beautiful parts of you. So many of us we just deny it. Reality is; ‘you’re good, and there’s nothing you can do about it’. And every thought opposing that feels like stress….Those of you who like to get high? Try this.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

I don’t have time to do The Work (+ info sessions about Year of Inquiry)

Let’s do The Work! Year of Inquiry starts Sept.

Yesterday, as I have many times before in my life, I had a moment of Whelm.

The word whelm comes from middle English and means to submerge completely.

It’s a wonderfully watery oceanic word, certainly from people who lived on and near the sea.

I was washed with a wave of overwhelm for a moment, when someone who is already registered wrote to ask about lodging for the fall retreat. I suddenly realized it’s only two months away. October 17-21.

Gulp.

I should stop doing what I’m doing today, and focus on details for the retreat. Right?

I’ve shared often on having many things to do. Getting things done. Happiness being sure to happen when x happens or y is complete.

I really should cancel everything I’ve got going today and focus on a, b, c. No vacations. No rest. No free-time.

Stay on track. 

And by the way….no time for The Work itself.

I had two hours scheduled with a good friend who’s a facilitator. There’s no time for The Work, just sitting and mulling over thoughts and seeing if they’re true or not!?!

Who has the time?

What was I thinking??!

Not only is there fall retreat, but there’s Year of Inquiry which starts in (yikes) a month! Orientation Sessions are Sept 4 and Sept 6th.

I really, really, really can’t do The Work right now!

“BOIINNNGGGG!”

(Did you hear the coiled boing spring noise go off? Kinda like Homer Simpson’s “DOH!” or The Gong Show “GONNNNGGG!”)

Because. Is it true The Work is a luxurious exercise? Is it really more important to “work” on my business or putting together schedules and announcements and web page updates?

Am I sure I don’t have the time to pause today, now, and question my thinking about what’s required for a happy day?

Like sleep, I have found quiet contemplation to be necessary for inner peace.

Isn’t this exactly why I created Year of Inquiry in the first place—for people gather together to question their thinking and reflect upon life and inquiry, including me? For doing The Work, and being with others telling the truth, no matter what my objections?

Isn’t the resistance, the thought that there isn’t enough time, one of the concepts I talk about in the Ten Barriers To Deepening The Work webinar (which is next week)?

So yesterday, in the middle of what I could call a huge list of Things To Do….I stopped for two hours and did The Work with another human being. I meditated. 

As I was in that inquiry session, I suddenly remembered a wonderful old priest at the church I grew up in, when I met with him one-to-one as a very young adult filled with questions and some agony about God, religion, spirituality, love, life.

He said he himself always remembered something a kind priest had told him: When you have very little time, pray longer.

In other words, if you pray or meditate five or thirty minutes every morning, and it’s extra special busy this day and you feel stressed….double it. Meditate for an ten minutes, or an hour, instead.

Right in the middle of having a bazillion things to do, I went to my garage and sat quietly, talking to a companion in The Work, questioning just one thought each and sharing in the journey.

Now, I’m so much less concerned after questioning my beliefs about time, accomplishment, quitting, finishing everything, doing “stuff”.

I’m above water.

I’m still noticing the list, and yet trust that what gets finished will, and what doesn’t won’t.

What I see is when I’m believing thoughts about what needs to be accomplished, finished, or ready….when it is not “ready” yet….then I suffer.

When I don’t believe these thoughts, it’s way more fun.

Who would you be without the belief that anything NEEDS to get done today? Who would you be without the belief you’ll be better off if it’s marked “done”? Who would you be without the thought that resting is not an option, or relaxing, in whatever you’re doing today?

Who would I be without the thought I need to offer, format, create, plan anything at all, if it’s not a joy?

Wow.

Turning the thought around: I DO have time for The Work. I have time for contemplation of my own life and my mind, and connecting with others. I have time for realization.

I don’t have time for my thinking a bazillion things “need” to get done. I don’t have time to argue with unfinished plans, or to argue with having a temporary or limited amount of time in a day, or a life.

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
~Tao Te Ching #9

As a way of considering our barriers to doing The Work, like “I don’t have enough time” and deepening our practice, which is really what Year of Inquiry is all about, I’m offering my online retreat for free: Ten Barriers to The Work and How To Dissolve Them. It’s two whole hours. At the end, I answer questions about Year of Inquiry. To save your seat, sign up HERE.

And as far as I’m concerned…no one needs to do anything. Not even one single one of these programs or offerings. It’s only if you’re drawn, and you love the idea of making and sharing time together to sit quietly and reflect on peace.

All I know is, if today was my last day on planet earth, I’d want most of to be peaceful within, not anxious and racing around worried about the things that aren’t done.

If I had a stressful thought, I’d want to pause and ask “is it really true?”

Much love,

Grace

P.S. All About Year of Inquiry, a short info webinar, will be offered three times. Save this email and click on the date to be taken directly to the session at the time it begins. I’ll give a quick overview of YOI for those interested in signing up, and anyone can ask anything!

This isn’t it. The Work of Byron Katie challenges a very stressful thought.

  • First Friday 8/3 was quite profound. Both the sweetness of the newcomers and people’s questions about doing The Work, plus the inquiry that followed. We’ll return to regular 7:45 am PT next month (and be sticking with that time for awhile). Join First Friday call.
  • Live webinar! Ten Barriers to The Work and How to Dissolve Them. This in-depth online workshop is open to anyone feeling stuck or curious or interested in common bumps in the inquiry road I’ve seen rise up in myself and others that can be questioned. I’ll be offering it twice: Tues, August 21 8:00 am PT and Thurs, August 23 4:00 pm PT. To save your seat, sign up HERE. It’s completely free and I’ll share about Year of Inquiry at the end.

There’s a lot going on this time of year in the Work With Grace cottage.

The days are long and bright, there’s an excitement and energy about gatherings both for The Work, and for connection and celebration in general.

Last night, I had a conversation with someone I met at a big dinner party full of friends and family.

This man had years and years (he told me he was eighty years old with a fabulous chuckle) of experience working with people as a therapist.

We were sharing our joy of understanding the human condition, and what healing feels like or looks like, and he made an interesting comment: Even the most brilliant, genuis thinkers just want connection.

He was commenting about really, really smart people, after he had shared with me some of his experiences with professors and scientists and researchers he had worked with as a therapist.

The thing is, this yearning for connection might come from any one of us (even those of us who are just average in the smart department). People often want to feel like they belong somewhere and are somehow related or connected to their surroundings and others.

Like the feeling of “this is home”.

It feels elusive sometimes. At least is has for me.

The mind is just so good at saying the following kinds of phrases about our condition or place in the world, or wherever we happen to be in the prevailing moment:

  • This is not it
  • I don’t fit in
  • I can’t be comfortable here
  • Love, success, contact, connection is somewhere else, not here
  • I’m not happy in this situation, location, building, life
  • It must be more exciting somewhere else
  • It must be more successful somewhere else
  • It must be more accepting or loving somewhere else
  • This is close, but not hitting the mark
  • Maybe the feeling of “home” for me is in (insert name of town, country, province, region, planet)

Oh my.

How many times did I start thinking; I know. I’ll move. If I just changed up my environment, I’d calm down, feel safe, be OK, have more fun, be successful, be entertained. 

In the Twelve Step programs they sometimes refer to the concept “Geographical Cure”.

I moved something like 28 times before I was 30, and then even after I purchased a home (so privileged to be able to) with my first husband, I couldn’t stop imagining Other Places to move to.

Which we did. After 8 years, we moved. Then after 5, we moved. Then 3, we moved.

Now, I’ve lived in one cute little cottage for 12 years. This is a world record in my life.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with moving, striving to find “home”, trying on different places, hunting, looking, searching and re-searching.

I still sometimes imagine creating an adventure, taking trips, getting into motion, ‘going on an explore’ as Winnie The Pooh says.

But. The low-level sense of being restlessly on the move and hunting for home (not here), however, seems to have fallen away. What a relief.

It’s because of questioning my thinking. Seriously.

So let’s do The Work. Because the other day, I had the thought “this place is too small and crowded”. Followed by laughter, then me filling two bags with clothing and other stuff and taking it all to Goodwill donation center.

Someplace else is home. This isn’t “it”.

Is that true?

Yes. Will you look at this place? When anyone comes over, we’re squeezed. It’s not right because of (fill in the blanks, you can make your list).

Can you absolutely know it’s true that where you are is not home? That it’s not possible to settle in, and rest in this moment?

No.

How do you react when you believe “this isn’t it”?

OMG.

I am engrossed in gathering information about Other Places like a crazy person. If only I had x passport, if only my husband had different work, if only I had x money, if only I was younger/older, if only my kids were x, if only the neighbors were y, if only my roommates were z, if only I could go live in the monastery….

In the past, I’d set to work on Project Go.

So who would you be without the thought “this isn’t it?”

“Enjoy the changing scenery around you. Reality improves when you’re rooted in the timeless within. It improves because you no longer place demands on it that it cannot meet, the demand being ‘you should satisfy me. Things should be the way I want them to be.’ When you don’t place demands anymore on what a place or person or circumstance should give you, you can enjoy them much more. The little birds chirping outside don’t have a problem.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Without the thought “this isn’t it” I pause, I wait. I wonder. I move more slowly. I don’t have the feeling “RUNNNNNN!!!!” (LOL).

I don’t feel compulsively like an addict imagining the future constantly, with pictures of how it will be. Later.

I look around more closely, with curiosity, at what’s presenting itself in this environment I seem to be surrounded by. These people. These circumstances. This place.

Turning the thought around: This IS it. 

How could that be just as true, or truer?

Look around. Can you find what you appreciate about your situation–whether it’s the environment, the people, the place?

Being here in this moment now, I always notice is rather exciting. There’s no future. There’s no past. Or if there is, they are both flashes of memory or images in the mind, and here is vibrant and alive.

It’s safer, kinder, more colorful than I expected.

I notice what I thought was crowded and small (and loud) is now entirely silent except for the tap tap of my fingers on a keyboard. No one is here, but me. There’s all kinds of space in this living room. All the stuff that was piled here before is gone.

It’s just so fun to notice what’s actually true. And that at one moment, my judgment of a situation passing through changes completely.

How is this situation wonderful for you? How are you supported? What’s working for you, in this situation you thought wasn’t “it”?

Turning it around again: My thinking isn’t it. 

Haha. Enough said.

“The Work wakes us up to reality. When we take it on as a practice, it leaves us as flawless, innocent, a figment of pure imagination. Practicing inquiry takes a Buddha-mind, where everything, without exception, is realized as good. It leads to total freedom.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself

Much love,

Grace

P.S. If you’d like regular practice with like-minded friends all interested in questioning our thinking as a way of life, you might love enrolling in Year of Inquiry. Join one of the upcoming webinars (see above) or visit the page here to learn more. People have already started signing up. I can already tell, it will be a very good year.

If I answer that question honestly, they’ll hate me–and I hate them for asking!

Has anyone ever asked you something or made a request, and you feel so uncomfortable about answering….

….you freeze like a statue?

Gulp. Did that person just ask me that? Shocking!

The other day, a very dear friend was telling me about a small inheritance she received from an aunt who died. “I was so surprised!” she exclaimed “I mean, it’s not that much, but I can do a few things now.”

Then she shared that she’s remodeling her entire kitchen and landscaping her back yard.

wanted to ask…”how much was it, anyway?” because in my mind, remodeling your kitchen and landscaping your back yard is big bucks, the way she described it. But I didn’t.

Because. It’s none of my business. That would be nosey. That’s private. It’s rude to ask a specific question like that about money–kind of like asking “how old are you?” or “how much is your salary?” We don’t talk about such details.

The annual group of money inquirers right now are looking at what we think and believe about asking for money in any kind of context, whether someone else is doing it, or we ourselves are (or we’re even just thinking about asking).

I wasn’t thinking of asking FOR money, but the unwritten rules about asking ABOUT money were firmly in place, despite my curiosity.

Asking questions about their money is rude.

But let’s dig into a little deeper to find out why it’s rude? What’s the fear? Why would it be so rude to ask about money, or for money?

I imagined someone asking me how much money I have in my bank account, or if I’ve ever been given money, or how much I made last year, or how much I spend every month, or even how much I paid for my coat.

As I sat with it, I realized the answer to the question is the scary part. It’s personal because the answer could result in so many things….but especially separation, criticism, judgment.

  • They’ll think I’m lucky (and be jealous)
  • They’ll think I’m unlucky (and avoid me)
  • They’ll think I’ve been squandering what I had
  • They’ll think I’ve been a chicken sh*t
  • They’ll think I should never ever complain about money and I’m a whiner
  • They’ll think I should be more scared about money and I’m a pollyanna everything’s-going-to-be-fine faker
  • They’ll think I’m self-centered and greedy
  • They’ll think I’m dishonest and sneaky
  • They’ll think I’m disorganized, stupid and uncaring

All of it is about the judgement of character, personality and activities with money.

Gosh. No wonder we have this unwritten rule about money questions. Sometimes, people don’t even want to go to get their taxes done by someone else, or visit financial planners, because they’ll have to share ALL their personal information about money….and surely be criticized. (Um. Not that this would be me. Clearing throat).

So while asking may be considered rude, let’s look today at the answer to any money question, and why it’s frightening (and therefore, no one should ask).

The biggest fear? Someone will get criticized, when it comes to money and asking for it. I’ll be thought of in a bad way. 

Let’s do The Work!

Is it true, that if the answer to the money question is revealed, someone’s going to get criticized?

Yes!

I was already judging my friend as “lucky” and thinking her brief words “it’s not that much” were falsely downplaying the amount. I mean, how could you completely remodel a kitchen and build a deck plus all that landscaping on “not that much”? My mind was whirring. I wish I could inherit something, which has never happened and is unlikely to ever happen. Waah.

But can I absolutely know it’s true someone gets criticized when money amounts are revealed?

No.

Can I know it’s true that stressful or separating thoughts come alive, when an answer is revealed about money from one human to another?

No. I really can’t.

So what happens when you DO think dangerous things happen when money is talked about openly, and people ask things about it, or for it?

Ugh.

I make absolutely sure to quit talking about it, or never mention it. If someone starts to speak about it, I turn the conversation in a different direction or go mute or freeze up. I don’t reveal the whole answer.

Yes, I have even done this with my partner to whom I am legally married, and we submit taxes now together. I had a reaction of fear a couple of weeks ago when he asked me if I owned stock in volatile tech companies (I do), and was totally afraid he’s going to criticize me. Which hasn’t happened, ever.

So who would you be without the belief that it’s dangerous to reveal information about money? Whether it’s you or them doing the revealing?

At first, you might feel worried about who you’ll be without the thought. Like maybe you’ll ask 1000 questions without being considerate. Or you’ll tell someone everything about your spending, saving and giving without hesitation.

Are you sure this is even true?

What if it was totally OK to ask questions?

It doesn’t mean anyone should answer. There’s a balance here. Information coming in, going out. Gentle timing.

I notice amounts come and go, change and morph and go up and go down. So do questions about amounts of money.

I notice I can question any assumptions I make about money.

My friend is lucky (and I am not)…is that even true? I know how much kitchen and landscaping costs, is that true? (No).

Turning the thought around: If money is revealed, they’ll think well of me (or vice versa). We’ll be connected. We’ll be sharing something, closer, and more alike.

Could this be just as true?

Wow. Yes.

Everyone I know has had money coming and going always. Never the exact amounts of money forever the same. Money is like air, or water, or the tides. Money is moving. Money is like the weather. I don’t have to freak out because it’s cold and barren at the moment. There’s beauty in the way it is.

The amount of money doesn’t mean you (or someone else) is “bad” or “good” or “right” or “wrong”.

The answer to a question about or for money, in any moment, is fascinating.

Sometimes it’s “yes” and sometimes it’s “no”. Sometimes you might answer, sometimes you might say “why do you ask?”

In whatever appears with curiosity, pondering, and wondering about money….

….it’s a brilliant catalyst for awareness of our own fearful thoughts and beliefs, that’s for sure.

In the end, I see that “reveals” about money and what I fear turn all around to my own thinking, my own perceptions:

  • in this situation with money, my thinking is unlucky (or lucky) and they’ll connect with me and be close with me
  • I think I’ve been squandering, they haven’t been squandering
  • I’ve been a chicken sh*t with my thoughts, with my sharing and love and honesty, with my answers or questions
  • I should never ever complain about their money, they should complain if they do, and I AM a whiner! Woohoo! (It teaches me a lot about my thinking)
  • I should be more scared about money and yes, I can find where I’ve been a pollyanna faker
  • I think I’m self-centered and greedy, dishonest and sneaky, disorganized, stupid and uncaring–I’ve had all these thoughts about myself, and about other people, too. Maybe I think these things about money, too. Which I could question.

I see whatever I’m worried about other people thinking, every time, I’m actually worried is true about myself.

I could question it.

“These people that we’re close to will give us everything we need, so that we can realize ourselves and be free of the lie….But you say “Go away, I don’t want to hear it.” And you say it mostly in your mind….What I say is, find an enemy. They won’t give you that sympathy. You go to your friends for refuge, because you can count on them to agree with your stories. But when you go to your enemies, they’ll tell you, straight up, anything you want to know, even though you may think you don’t want to know it.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is pg. 134

If you’ve felt uncomfortable about what people have implied, or said, or asked, or done around you or to you….no matter WHAT the topic (and I mean ANY topic, not just money)….

….The Work.

If you feel curious about digging into this work, come to 4 day immersion retreat in May. Or come to half-day retreat (offered once a month in Seattle for only $50 and I’ll do it online this spring for those of you too far away). Sign up for March Seattle half day right here (3/18 Sunday 2-6 pm).

Much love,

Grace

P.S. If they ask a question, it never means you have to answer. Just saying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s an interested paradox here, however.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strange. But true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d rather question them.

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

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

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

Much love,

Grace

The most powerful two words anyone said to me when I was suicidal

Many years ago as a very young woman, I sat in a 12 step meeting crying.

I was speaking about how horrible I was, how disgusting I felt, how I didn’t think I could go on, how it was all me and my rotten-to-the-core attitude. My eating was out of control. I smoked in between eating.

Ugh.

I had been depressed for what felt like a very long time (several years) and full of anxiety.

Then someone passed me a note.

Inside there were two words, and they were kind of intense….

….but shockingly true.

“Negative Grandiosity”.

It was a little bit of hard tough love, but one of the most wonderful, profound and helpful notes I ever received in my life, and it was from a complete stranger.

Join me on my facebook live where I share a short unedited video about the stressful belief “I’m the worst person in the world” or the equally painful “this is all my fault”….

….and I mention this powerful story from my past that helped me stop the track I was following.

If it’s stressful, it’s worth questioning.

Click HERE to follow along with this inquiry on yourself, and how harsh the thought can be. (Scroll down until you see the video with me in my kitchen).

Much love,

Grace

Is it going well? Or going badly? Whatever you think….can you absolutely know it’s true?

The empty Goldilocks Cottage after all the beautiful people have gone to their next chapter, their next adventure after retreat. The circle is here, still full of the love, kindness, intimacy. Beautiful voices, and now equally beautifully silence. Thank you world.

What a remarkable time in retreat for the past 3 days. A beautiful group of inquirers, coming from far and wide, several of whom joined literally the night before.

Funny how things work out. We wound up being full….Or, we could have added one more, but close enough.

Five days before the retreat, I thought we needed to double the number, and one person canceled. The attendance was going in the WRONG direction.

Oh no! This is bad!

It’s fascinating the way things unfold. We’ll think we want it to go like X, but it goes like Y. We want that person to say A but they say B. We despair because we received Q and we thought we needed R. We wait for C but only D appears.

And this is only when it comes to uncomfortable outcomes.

We can also have preconceived ideas, plans, or expectations and get pleasantly surprised. We then feel excited, or good, or delighted, or thrilled.

I thought it would be E but it was F. WOW!! Good news! I am so lucky! Fantastic!

The thing is, with either one of these perspectives and how it happens to unfold (“good” or “bad”)….

….I use a certain outcome to make me happy, or make me sad.

In both situations, I’m hanging on the Way It’s Gone to mean I feel good, or I feel bad.

Holy Smokes.

That’s putting myself in a pretty dependent place. It matters very deeply the way it goes. I’m a victim to the way Reality moves. Good or Bad.

No wonder I’ve gotten so nervous, worried, hand-wringing anxious, upset, troubled or less-than-relaxed in the past when it comes to something like a retreat happening.

I’ll be happy if it’s full (or almost full). I’ll be disappointed if it isn’t.

We can do The Work on this very powerful awareness, that the outcome can be “good” or “bad” to any situation, anywhere, ever.

Find one you can relate to. You’ll be really happy if it goes like Y. You’ll be unhappy if it goes like X.

Job interviews, relationship commitments, divorce, marriage, illness, a diagnosis, moving to a new place, making money, traveling somewhere, a court sentence, a major decision, buying something, trading for something, a law passing, a voting outcome, selling something, enrolling in something, hosting an event.

There’s an outcome that’s good. There’s another outcome that’s bad.

Let’s do The Work.

Whatever happens, there’s a good way for this to go, and a bad way. In my case, the retreat should be full. It shouldn’t be sparsely attended.

Ten days before this retreat, I had the image of working with only two people for the entire 2.5 days. It wouldn’t be worth it. I’d lose money. It wouldn’t be fun. It wouldn’t be rewarding like so many retreats are. I should have…..Breitenbush should have….This is too hard and impossible.

Images of all this in my head.

Disappointment. Frustration.

Is it true it will go that disappointing way?

Am I sure it would be “bad” if there were only two people and the images came true?

Am I sure it’s terrible if I hear a difficult diagnosis, learn about a change of plans, receive surprising information, all those things on my “bad” list….can I be absolutely sure they would be bad, if they happened?

Woah. NO.

Many tough things have happened, and with self inquiry–even prior to knowing The Work–those events shaped me in some deeply powerful ways. They were useful. For all I know, they were required.

I really can’t know if it’s bad when something happens, even when I’m believing it is.

I can’t know at all if working with two people would be wrong, awkward, difficult, a loss. And beyond that, I don’t even know if I will in fact only have two people.

Turns out I didn’t.

How do you react when you believe it needs to go like X in order for you to be happy?

OMG.

If the stakes are high, the anxiety is through the roof. I’m doing everything I can to push, force, cajole, make the thing go the way I want.

I pray, I wish, I hope. I want “Reality” to go MY WAY. If it does, it means I’m favored. If it doesn’t, it means I’m unlucky or did something wrong, or thought something wrong.

I see images of all the bad ways it could go. I see images of all the good ways it could go. I vote for the good ways, only. 

Maybe I feel desperate.

But who would you be without this dreadful story that something must go the way you see it needs to go in order to be happy?

BOINGGGG.

It’s almost like a cartoon frying pan hitting the mind. Something stops. Like….what??!

You mean….? if I didn’t think Y was better than X or B was better than A?

Who would I be without the belief I should have a certain number of people in this upcoming retreat weekend? Who would I be without the belief it will be bad if there’s only two?

What if I just really didn’t know what was best for myself, for the world, for the other people, for reality, for the universe?

(I notice, I couldn’t possibly know).

Without the thought there’s a good way for this to go….I find my sense of humor. I am filled with wonder and what this will be like. I’m excited to see what happens. I’m aware I’m not in charge of reality (LOL). I do what excites me in the moment, with a feeling of joy.

Without the belief, I write about the upcoming weekend. I share my thrill of The Work. I write to a few people I know who might be interested, or know others who are. I feel like this is a fabulous game, a fun challenge, an adventurous wager. And I rest and attend to other things as well. I relax.

The feeling in the body, without knowing how anything will unfold and yet trusting I’ll roll with it, however it goes, is sooooo brilliant and restful, awake and buzzingly alive all at once. Oooh, hands clapping. The future is a discovery.

Turning the thought around: If it goes that “bad” way…it will be fantastic! (In my case, two people for 2.5 days).

AMAZING. This could be so true! I’d get close, intimate, deep connection with two very sincere inquirers. What a gift. We’d go far, wide, and thorough. I’d have fewer supplies and papers and notebooks to organize, and snacks, and tea. We’d get to do things impossible for a larger group.

I see examples of life going “badly” and how each one of these events or experiences has brought such awe-inspiring insights to my life: cancer, divorce, losing all my money, losing my house, getting betrayed or cut off. All of it. From ALL OF IT I received gifts.

Turning the thought around again: Only in my thinking does it mean something “bad”. Only in my mind is there bad and good.

“Whatever it takes for you to find your freedom, that’s what you’ve lived. Not one ingredient more or less….You go with inquiry into darkness, and find only light. And now you can see, even when you’ve been to the depths of hell, that’s all that was ever there, ever.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Turns out, in this situation, what was necessary for me, for others, for this past weekend in the little Goldilocks cottage in Lake Forest Park, Washington was a full last-minute group of incredible people coming from remarkably long distances to sit together, dance together, inquire together, laugh together, cry together, listen to poetry together and discover abundance and love together while questioning our thinking.

At least, this is my story.

But I know, it isn’t really True.

And it’s Absolutely True.

The greatest gift is loving the way it goes.

(Which doesn’t mean I have to like it).

Except for my mental pictures, my thoughts, my imaginings, my anticipations, my regrets, my ideas about right and wrong, the way I say “my” here for this list….

….I love exactly what happened.

I care for the way it went, and for every person, the furniture in the room, the weather (which was pure sunshine, strangely enough, for the past three days), the questions I received, the thoughts I experienced, the gorgeous eyes, smiles, the curiosity I saw, the feelings appearing and fading away, the intensity, the fear, the joy I witnessed, the dear faces of every single person I encountered in the past three days (and EVER).

Every person showing up for me. They are me. I can relate to everything they shared. And a deep profound care for them, and all things.

A little glimpse into truly “loving what is”.

Much love,

Grace