"Truth and Love must always go together. It's been said, Truth without Love is brutality, and Love without Truth is hypocrisy. The mind grows by taking in Truth, and the heart grows by giving out Love." ~ Warren Wiersbe
The Work of Byron Katie is a contemplation of four questions, and our own unique answers. It invites us to notice how we live when we believe our thoughts, and how it could be if we question them, and realize they may not be the only truth, or true at all. First we identify a thought that’s causing some kind of stress (anger, sadness, anxiety, hurt, etc). We question one thought at a time. Ask, Listen and Discover:
Is it true? Can you absolutely know it’s true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought? Who would you be without the thought?
Then we turn the thought around. Finding turnaround examples is an opportunity to experience something different than what we believed was the only truth.
For example, let’s look at the thought “They could die”. (It is one of the biggest fears I hear, frequently, and have feared myself too. But the suffering when this belief is left unexplored is very real! So let's see what happens when we question that thought.)
We ask and answer the four questions.
Is it true, "they could die"? Yes Absolutely, can you know that 100% for sure? No
How do I react when I believe the thought, "they could die"? I am in hell, beyond worried, on the verge of a real depression, not functioning to my fullest ability, not interested in being social. I'm busy believing the thought and all the scary images that come with it. There is a payoff that my mind likes: that if I believe this thought, somehow it will prepare me for the possibility. However, the cost is so great, the disconnection to life and to my loved one. I am thoroughly playing God. I am toying with his life and death, as well as my own. I am dying to the moment, to the possibility of and to connecting with love here and now, and probably if or when I speak or see my loved one. This thought, when believed, consumes me, robs me of my present, even my past, and a different future. A nightmare!
Who would I be without the thought, "they could die" Breathing more deeply, calmer, more present, certainly noticing the scary images but realizing they are just that - images of my imagination. I am aware of fact, what is happening right here and right now, and what is happening only in my imagination. It gives me enough of a shift to sit, to allow the emotions, even the tears but as a release, with compassion. I am human, this is hard stuff. I have choices and I choose to do whatever is necessary to reconnect to peace. I notice the fear, I am able to release it because I want to take the moment and opportunity to send my loved one love, even if only in my imagination. I believe it gets to him. Breathing in, I send a virtual hug. And I sit in what feels like a hug, connecting my heart to his heart. I am held in the presence of God, surrendering to that Love, held in that Love. And the grief can be held here too.
Then, we turn the thought around simply exploring possibility, possibilities that could be as true or even truer.
They could not die. Well, this is just as true! Without considering this possibility as just as real and true, I have him dead. Seeing that he might not die inspires me to be proactive in returning to love, to peace, to connection, to doing what it takes to not contribute to more chaos, especially when circumstances get chaotic. They could not die! Not from my heart, never from my heart. Never from the warm memories I have and can choose over the other not so pleasant memories. They could not ever die being held by my God, into the eternal, into a love that goes way beyond what my little mind could possibly understand. Can not die in that immense Love. And the only way to get to that kind of Love, that is beyond this earth, is to die. I'm so very sure I would not like it, but there can be a peace eventually in it. There would be grief, there is grief, and there is Love there too.
They could live. Yes, yes he can! Actually he is alive, even if in the hospital or on the streets. So there lives hope! He is alive in my thoughts (so I really better take care of the thoughts that would put me into fear and out of loving presence and connection!) He could live and I am wasting so much time in fear, wasting my life, and wasting his life through my imagination. I am not God. It is not for me to know, probably not even understand the way of this life and death. He could live, I don't even have a choice about that one, or if he dies. But the biggest question is what and how am I living now and how am I going to contribute to a loving connection and effective communication that inspires healing, a connection that sounds like and demonstrates love, without the conditions of demanding life and fearing death! How am I going to learn to inspire life and recovery?
I could die. Also just as true! I could die just like any other human being on the planet. People die at every age, a variety of circumstances and reasons. I will die someday. I could cause physical disease if my stress is not managed, if I stay lingering in all the thoughts that bring it on! I could die before him! The bigger question is: How am I living? Because the way I'm living when I believe "they could die" is miserable! And they might live! Again, I am not God, and with God, I can live, and so will my loved one, on earth as it is in heaven. Life is now, and the next now, and then the next, and the next now!
They could die, yes it is possible ... and my God is good and bigger than death, so how will that too be used for purpose? What a wake up call to consider how I'm living today, and what I'm doing to my loved one's life (even if in my imagination). What am I doing to build a connection before either one of us dies someday? Because that is what causes such pain in life, this disconnect from loving connection and compassion! Do I want to waste time in fear and reaction, or learn and do what it takes to build a connection while we're both alive. And I notice I don't want to rush his death by contributing to his harm, to his active addiction. It becomes important to me to say no with love and calm, to establish priorities, and self care, to learn, to heal, to inspire loving connection, and empower recovery. Because there is great purpose to contribute to the greater possibility of healing, at the very least my own. What am I fearing in life that I fear about death? Live now!
When doing The Work, it’s helpful to notice our answers with compassion and to seek truth for understanding, not blame or criticism. You know the saying the truth sets you free? It sure can! In the process of doing The Work, confusion can turn to clarity and understanding. Where there is understanding, there can be peace. Love shines there, in each of us!
The Work is not therapy, it’s not to condone harmful actions, and it’s not to deny or change the thought. It's not to pretend emotions aren't warranted or to push them away, ignored. It's about self-realization. It’s a way to embrace reality and address situations in a more effective way. New information arises from our inner wisdom and our heart. New insights into how to approach life and circumstances in a more proactive way are also effects of doing The Work. It’s a way to move into a kinder way, and out of fear, unmet expectations, misplaced assumptions, misunderstandings, depression, anxiety, blame, and more.
Doing The Work reveals the cause and effect of what we’re thinking and believing, as well as what can change, what can heal. The Work provides an opportunity that is profound, complete and powerful because it's such a personal experience. Your answers are your own, and can be felt on various levels: physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I invite you to experience this transformative process. I've become someone far more peaceful, capable, and willing to inquire through the confusion. During inquiry, I feel a shift away from the stress of believing my assumptions and stories, and into truths that bring greater understanding and direction. This inevitably and reliably brings a more relaxed state of body and mind. With inquiry, I come out on the other side … from darkness into light, and lighter, one thought at a time. And, you can too.
Youcan believe your thoughts and stressful stories, or question them.
"So you don't drop your thoughts of chaos and suffering out there in the apparent world. You can't drop them, because you didn't make them in the first place. But when you meet your thoughts with understanding, the world changes. It has to change, because the projector of the entire world is you." ~ Byron Katie