I have only recently revisited Byron Katie’s: The Work. I was first introduced to it years ago, in the midst of my own meltdown aka transformation, when I read her mind-blowing book Loving What Is.
Since then, I have recommended it to several clients and friends only to turn up mixed emotions and inconsistent reviews. The biggest complaint that I’ve heard is that it is so cut and dry. Nothing is that black and white, they say.
Or is it?
In The Work, Katie (as she’s called) asks four questions and a turn-a-round. It’s almost too simple, I suppose, is the argument. I guess we don’t like our life issues to be summed up in 15 minutes in a fresh new light.
I have to admit that the whole “drop your personal history/story” bit freaked me the hell out at first. Thankfully, the concept had been prefaced in two other books before I got to Katie’s, so by then I wasn’t as easily offended.
To me it was kinda like earning a ton of money through hard work and sweat, but then still being asked to drive a beater.
It sounds totally egoic to write out, but that’s just it. Our story is totally egoic. We cling to it more than we realize, and even though we use it more to our disadvantage than our advantage, we still can’t see giving it up.
Think about it. When do we start creating our story? Isn’t it as kids when we do the “Oh yeah, well _________ happened to me,” with every bit of “beat that” attitude.
Most of us, of course, learn NOT to do that as adults, aloud at least, but aren’t we doing that on the inside all the time? In fact, almost any judgement that we have of someone else is doing just that, no?
Rather than try to sum up her work. I will end with a short clip, if you’re interested.
The reason all this came up this evening for me was because of my dumb [read: insightful] yoga class.
Elisa and I barely worked out all week because our schedules were so screwy, and that right there is enough to make us crazy. Top that with missed meditations for me and I felt all sorts of wacky.
After returning home a day late from Florida, due to our cancelled flight, and taking the afternoon to get settled back in, I was excited about a good long yoga class to get my qi back in flow.
With the crummy weather, it seems candlelit yoga was every single’s date night this eve and class was unusually packed. It took forever for the room to get settled and then the instructor was in one of her moods to talk and talk in an effort to deepen our yoga knowledge.
Between mentally calculating how much class-time was lost, I’d listen in on the teacher’s lesson reminding us to settle in. “Certain postures are known to stir up emotions in you. It is your job to allow your response, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Whether it is to cover it up, or whether you’re ready to move through, it is up to you.”
Finally. [Together.] “Ooooooooooooohmmmm.”
We went straight into cat/cow and then did some hip grounding poses. We did some more grounding with moon salutations and I started to see the theme. Grounding. Restorative.
I felt the fight rise in me. “All I wanted was a good workout!”
Then I got all Byron Katie on myself:
How do you feel when you think the thought “All I wanted was a good workout!”?
I feel frustrated and annoyed, aggravated and resistant.
Perfect attitude for yoga, eh?
I knew this was ridiculous as it was happening. I’m no stranger to this actually–fighting what is. Especially in restorative classes.
I began to think, “What if this is exactly what I need? Perhaps, I just don’t know any better. What if I really do need to restore? Maybe a power yoga class is not what I needed after all, given lack of sleep and weird travel.”
With those thoughts instead, I settled in. I relaxed. I breathed more deeply. I focused more. I let go. I allowed.
Sounds more like yoga, huh?
Black and white is easy with yoga though, sure.
But we do this all the time. We think we know better. We fight what is. We argue with reality.
How does that make us feel again?
Katie teaches acceptance, allowance, forgiveness, compassion, love, both for oneself and others, by questioning ones thoughts and perceptions. That’s it. That simple.
We choose how we respond. No matter what the offense. We choose.
I leave you with this: If you’re new to Byron Katie’s The Work, check her out here. If you’re familiar, revisit by, noticing some judgements you might be holding onto, or come across in the next 48 hours. How can you let them go by choosing to see them differently? How empowering is that?
PS … Our upcoming 6-Week online course Spring Cleaning: Mind, Body, Soul is going after the big three: food, fitness and frame of mind. We will be testing out a little of The Work in one of our weekly challenges. Just a little heads up, we’re diving in. Initial goal-setting sessions start next week. Get on it!