Who You Are Without Your Stressful Thought About Who You Are

What are you, without your stressful thoughts?

Yesterday the 3-day Year of Inquiry retreat came to a close.

I loved having everyone in my cottage, making a comfortable circle in the cozy living room where I live.

It’s sooooo sweet to have the people on retreat look like they’re truly feeling my home is their home, leaving their things in piles on the floor, bringing their food for the fridge, making tea when they need it, saying “where’s the extra toilet paper”, curling up in a blanket on the front porch couch for a lunch time nap.

Pictures of each person in our gathering traipse across my mind right now with so much love in my heart.

The sweetness of their sincerity, their desire to look closely at this mind which thinks as it does, and has all its objections to various forms of reality.

Everyone is so dear, so beautiful. I love them, and their stories, too.

Someone asked at the end….

….”What do I do when that horrible self-doubt arises again? When that guilt or disappointment enters my thinking?”

What do I do when I don’t feel good next time, when I have a hard time again, or when something really bad happens?

The most simple answer is…well, you guessed it…

…Do The Work.

But here’s what happens when you’re open to doing The Work regularly.

It starts working you.

You may have heard Byron Katie say this phrase. It comes from her describing her own experience.

What does it mean?

That you don’t actually have to try so hard.

Like a stalled car in a ditch that’s getting pushed back up to the road….

….at the beginning, a group of people grunt and heave-ho to get the thing moving.


Everyone leans in with all their might, grabbing the door handles, shoving from the trunk, pushing against partially opened doors.

Maybe one person has to sit in the driver’s seat holding the steering wheel in the right direction so things don’t go too off course.

The wheels turn and the car moves ever so slightly forward one inch, then rolls back to its original position.

Everyone rests a moment.

Then again….ONE – TWO – THREE – PUSH!!!

This time the wheels slowly crank forward two inches, then three.

Everyone is juiced up because there’s some action, no matter how small and how tiny. Movement is happening.

Someone shouts….AGAIN!!!!! ONE – TWO – THREE!!!

Everyone heaves again.

Then you can feel it. The momentum grabs hold, the wheels turning, the car coming up the ditch and back onto the road.

Everyone shouts HURRAY!!! And jumps for joy!!

The Work moves the same way.

You question your beliefs about the world. You watch your mind spinning off in despair, depression, disappointment or anger.

But you keep questioning.

You do it with other people. You get people to facilitate you.

Is this true? What is going on? Who would I be, how would I feel, without this belief? Without this defense? Without this terror?

I shared with the group this past weekend something I experienced while doing The Work over time.

One day, something really difficult happened.

Very soon (within minutes, or maybe seconds) I had the sick feeling of being wrong, of being a disgusting awful person who made a terrible mistake and hurt someone else and was clueless and stupid.

But then right in the middle of these terrible shouting thoughts, and the feeling of heaviness, I had the thought “what if this is not true?”

What if I am not bad, wrong, a mistake, unworthy, guilty….right now?

What if this feeling is not based on reality?

Because I already knew, deep down, it wasn’t.

And suddenly, the feeling vanished of being a worthless piece of dung….

….and the thoughts themselves dissolved.

I actually can’t remember what the specific incident was, but the dark feeling that I made a mistake was gone.

If you keep practicing something….

….how can it not become part of your nature?

I figure, I had already been practicing the unquestioned I-Am-Shit thoughts many days of my life….

….I may as well practice questioning them instead.

As I practiced, I began to see the present moment and how amazing it often was.

The goodness, the quiet, the simplicity, the silence.

I began to see the innocence of all the people I ever met, and of reality, and how out of my hands this whole thing actually is….

….and I could see the innocence of whomever this Grace Bell is too.

“Can you see how the mind has a plan? Can you know you’ll be afraid in the future? The flowers are still sitting here. They didn’t move because they were afraid [pointing to a vase of flowers]….Like a little child, you believe things that frighten you.You live in a world that isn’t happening, and you trade grace, for that.” ~ Byron Katie

Who would you be without your devastating, guilty or stressful thought?

Ask yourself over and over, and you begin to truly find out.

Without even trying. Because it’s bigger than your thinking, and it was there all along, before you ever had a thought about it.

Who would you be without your painful thoughts?

You would be love. That’s who you’d be.

Much love, Grace

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