The Work is Nothing but a Game of “Warmer/Colder”

sun on water

The closer you move to the sun, the warmer it is. The farther you move away from the sun, the colder it is.

Did You Ever Play “Warmer/Colder”?

It’s a game we used to play as kids, and sometimes even as adults. One person doesn’t know where she is being directed. The other person tries to direct her to an object without giving any clues except “warmer” or “colder.”

It’s a way of feeling your way to the object. If she moves closer, the other person says “warmer!” If she moves away from it, the other person says “colder!” And pretty soon she zooms in on it.

The Work Is Nothing Other than This Simple Children’s Game

That’s why children can do The Work. You don’t have to be a psychologist or spiritually wise person to do it. All you have to do is pay attention to “warmer” and “colder.”

But in The Work, instead of “warmer/colder,” it’s “peaceful/stressful.” If you feel more stress you’re getting colder. If you feel more peace, you’re getting warmer.

It’s that simple.

There’s no need to understand why it’s stressful or why it’s peaceful. Analysis is not needed in The Work. Just simple observation and reporting. “Does the thought bring you peace or stress?” That’s all I really need to know.

Moving out of Stress is as Simple

Again, there’s no need to understand the stressful thought at all. It’s enough to see that it hurts when I believe it. And it doesn’t hurt when I don’t believe it.

All I need to move towards peace is to start moving in the opposite direction. The opposite of colder is warmer. And the opposite of stress is peace.

So by considering the opposite of my stressful thought, and finding examples of how that opposite is true, I am literally starting to move from colder to warmer, from stress to peace.

I Love Byron Katie’s Example of the Hand in the Fire

When you’re unaware that your hand is in the fire, you rail against the pain, blame God, etc. But when you see that your hand is in the fire, it takes no time to remove it.

That’s what The Work of Byron Katie does. It brings awareness. When I’m aware that my thinking is causing me pain, I tend to move away from it. And as soon as I do, I feel the coolness of peace again.

After that, it becomes almost impossible to put myself back into that pain. Why would I do that to myself? I only put myself in pain when I’m not fully aware of what I’m doing.

The Work is a great way to feel your way to peace. It is a great way to wake yourself up.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“If you put your hand into a fire, does anyone have to tell you to move it? Do you have to decide? No: When your hand starts to burn, it moves. You don’t have to direct it; the hand moves itself. In the same way, once you understand, through inquiry, that an untrue thought causes suffering, you move away from it. Before the thought, you weren’t suffering; with the thought, you’re suffering; when you recognize that the thought isn’t true, again there is no suffering. That is how The Work functions. “How do I react when I think that thought?” Hand in the fire. “Who would I be without it?” Out of the flames. We look at the thought, we feel our hand in the fire, and we naturally move back to the original position; we don’t have to be told. And the next time the thought arises, the mind automatically moves from the fire. The Work invites us into the awareness of internal cause and effect. When we recognize this, all our suffering begins to unravel on its own.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Why I Keep Doing The Work After the Charge Is Gone

horse scratching its chin on a fencepost

By the time I took this photo, I already had plenty of good shots. But I continued out of habit and got this surprise.

You Can Stop Doing The Work Any Time

In fact, sometimes I never start.

Sometimes I question only one statement on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. Sometimes I question three, or four, or 10. Sometimes I question every single statement.

What I love about The Work is that there are no have to’s. The Work is just an invitation to explore.

Which Means You Can Keep Going Also

I often do, long after the charge has gone away. Many times, after questioning what I wrote on line 1 of a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, I’m no longer stressed. I could easily just move on and be done with it. After all, there may be other worksheets I could write.

But I tend to keep questioning the statements on my worksheet even though they don’t hold a charge for me. I love to because I find so many unexpected surprises that way.

There Are Two Reasons to Do The Work

The first is to get out of pain. The second is to simply to explore.

When I’m doing The Work to get out of pain, that motive sometimes keeps me a little bit more closed-minded. I miss things because my sole focus is to get out of pain.

But if I keep doing The Work even after the charge is gone, I often see things with an even more open point of view. I am least biased in my work when I’m doing The Work this way.

This Is Meditation

True meditation has no goal. Just as walking in the park has no goal. The joy lies in the doing of it. When I do The Work with this attitude, I see all kinds of things that I would not see if I were rushing towards a goal (for example to get out of pain).

It Is Also Prevention

Just because the charge goes away after questioning one statement on my worksheet doesn’t necessarily mean that my work is done. The other beliefs that I wrote are still sitting there unquestioned. It’s just that they are no longer active for me at the moment so I don’t feel the charge.

When I question them anyway, just because they’re on my Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, those pieces of my story start to fall away as well. And the chances of reactivating the whole stressful story are much less.

I Love Byron Katie’s Simple Turnaround

“If you’re in a big hurry, slow it down.”

For me, slow is fast in this upside down world of self-inquiry.

If you want to practice slowing down in your work, join us for The Work 101.

Have a great week,
Todd

“If you can do The Work in slow motion, meditating on a situation when you were upset or angry, taking five, ten minutes or more with every question, it becomes a pattern of mind, a natural state of listening.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Saying Yes to The Work Means Saying No to Other Things

early morning sun in the apple orchard

When I was a nature photographer, getting up early was a priority.

But Just Because I Wanted to Do It Didn’t Mean I Did It

Saying yes to early morning photography was one thing, but saying no to all the other things that competed for that time slot was another.

Getting up early in the morning to go out and photograph meant not doing other things. I had to be really clear about this before it became a habit.

First of all, getting outdoors before sunrise meant saying no to sleeping later. I value my sleep, so that was a big consideration. It also meant saying no to staying up later in the evening. But these were things I was willing to do because my yes to photography was strong.

Getting up early even meant doing less meditation, or sometimes none. Meditation has always been a big priority for me. So saying no to it was huge for me. But it was honest. My desire to photograph was bigger, and I didn’t photograph every day so I could compromise.

As You Can See, a True Yes Comes with Lots of No’s

Even a little yes, comes with lots of no’s. So even if you’re just a little interested in doing The Work of Byron Katie as an ongoing practice, the question is, “What lower priority items am I willing to stop doing?

It’s all about priorities. Maybe The Work is not a priority at all for you. Then The Work gets the no. No problem. But if you have a yes to The Work without a no to the other things that compete for your time, The Work will not happen as an ongoing practice.

Sure, you may do it from time to time when the pain gets strong enough that doing The Work becomes a high priority again. But an ongoing practice requires some solid no’s.

No’s Are Not Negative

No’s to all the lesser priorities does not mean I don’t want to do them. It just means that I want to do The Work more than I want to do them. By saying no to my lesser priorities, I am creating focus on what I want to do.

A telephoto lens is powerful because it says no to almost all of the 360 degrees.

No is a very powerful, positive force. A yes without a no is just a wish. A yes with a no is the beginning of taking action.

So Take Some Time to Consider

Do you want to make The Work a steady practice? How high on your priority list is it? How often do you want to do it? When could you do it? And most importantly, what would you need to stop doing in order to do The Work regularly at that time?

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“And if The Work becomes your daily practice, you’ll find that there’s no longer any war in your life. When the war ends in you, it ends in your family. You’re the one who can end it.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Why Do We Fight? And How to Stop

why do we fight? airplane dog fight

Why do we fight? Whether it’s a dog fight in the sky, or a covert fight with a colleague, the basic fuel is the same.

Fighting Is About Covering up Weakness

It’s about trying to win, or gain, or look good. Or it is about trying not to lose, or look bad. Either way, it is an attempt to cover up weakness.

What do I mean by that?

What I mean is that true strength does not feel threatened, nor is it greedy. It does not need to conquer, nor is it afraid of being conquered. It doesn’t care if it looks good or bad. It doesn’t care who wins.

That Kind of Strength is Rare

It is a strength of the spirit.

But it can be cultured slowly over time. What prevents this kind of strength is small mindedness. Which is another way of saying that small, stressful thoughts are what cover up this natural strength in all of us.

When I believe that I don’t have enough money, I’m more likely to do aggressive, dishonest things to get it. When I’m trying to pretend that I’m more experienced than I am, I’m more likely to fight with someone to prove my expertise. When I believe that I’m a victim, I’m more likely to attack when it’s not necessary.

Intuitively, I Know That I Am Strong

But my stressful beliefs rob me from fully experiencing that strength—until I question them. When I question my stressful thoughts, I often find that my weaknesses are not weaknesses. They are either completely illusory, or what I thought was a weakness is actually a strength.

This realization comes through inquiry. You can’t just flip a switch. You have to start where you are (angry, victimized, unhappy). And you have to let that side be heard. And then you can gently question the story that the mind is believing.

My favorite way to do this is The Work of Byron Katie, a systematic way to question stressful thoughts. It cuts through illusion so quickly for me. And it leaves me feeling strong, even without any change to my essential character or circumstances.

Here Are a Couple of Examples of The Work in Action

1. A client was asking herself, “Why do we fight?” regarding a team member, but after doing The Work on her thoughts about him, she realized that she was really just trying to cover up her weak point: her negotiation skills. As soon as she saw this, she realized that she didn’t have to hide it. By admitting her weak point, she could be free. In fact, he could even become a mentor for her.

2. I was defensive with a participant in The Work 101 until I did The Work on my stressful thoughts about her. Then I realized that I was trying to cover up the fact that I was manipulating the whole group to do something the way I wanted it done. She was calling out what I wanted to hide. That’s why I was fighting. As soon as I saw that, I apologized, and changed my policy.

Freedom comes when I see my part (without beating myself up about it), admitting it to myself and others. As soon as I take ownership, there’s no more fight. There’s no more cover up, so there’s no more need to fight.

Ironically, this kind of “defeat” feels like victory to me.

So Why Do We Fight?

We fight to protect ourselves.

But the more I own the parts I’m trying to hide, the less there is inside of me that I need to protect. That feels like strength, humility, honesty, freedom, generosity, and the beginning of teamwork.

I encourage you to keep asking yourself, “Why do we fight?” in each situation. Then write your stressful thoughts on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet worksheet and question what you wrote using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

If you want dive into questioning any stressful thoughts with me, or to listen as others do The Work, or to ask questions about The Work, join us for Open Sessions every week.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Humility is the opposite of subservience and the beginning of you stepping into your power…” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

How to do The Work on Jealousy

cobra convertible

Jealousy arises when I believe thoughts like, “He has a better car than mine.”

Can You Do The Work on Jealousy?

Of course.

You can do The Work on any stressful thought. But jealousy does have a few twists and turns that make it seem a little more challenging at first.

The obvious place to start is to question the jealous thought itself. For example, “He has a better car than mine.” Questioning just this one thought can take you the distance from stress to peace.

But There Are a few Potholes to Look out For

The first one is the turnaround, “I have a better car than his.” This is a valid turnaround, but you have to hold it with the original statement to find the balance. If you discard the original statement, “He has a better car than mine,” in favor of the turnaround, “I have a better car than his,” then it still feels stressful.

This is because I’m still putting one above the other. I’m still judging. Now it’s in the opposite directions, but it is just as stressful.

But I can find peace when I hold both together: “He has a better car than mine” and “I have a better car than his.” His is better in some ways, and mine is better in some ways. From this perspective there is a kind of equality I start to see.

In fact, you could formalize this into an unusual turnaround to say, “Our cars are equal,” and find examples of how this is true.

Here’s Another Pothole

Trying to fit jealousy into a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet doesn’t always work. The comparison of “his” vs. “mine” inherent in jealousy statements can complicate things. I often find that my wants, shoulds, and needs are not as clear when I write a worksheet involving comparison. But I have done it, and I’d say it works 80% well for me.

What I tend to do instead, if I choose the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet format, is to boil my comparison statement down to its essence. So instead of writing, “I am jealous of him because he has a better car than mine,” I write, “I am jealous of him because he has a beautiful car.”

This is what he is “doing” to me. This is what I’m a victim of. This is the “offense” that started the war inside of me. I find the rest of the worksheet flows out more clearly when I write it this way in Line 1.

But I Don’t Always Write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet

Often, the heart of jealousy for me is the hidden want inside of me—including what I think having that car would do for me. So I sometimes just write a list of wants and question them individually as one-liners using the One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheet:

I want to have his car.
I want a beautiful car.
I want people to admire my car.
I want my mom to admire my car.
I want to feel proud of the car I drive.
I want to be seen as successful.

If I question these wants, I often find that not having the car can be just as good, or even better, than having it. That’s when the freedom starts for me. I can have the car or not have the car. Both are good.

Again, jealousy falls away when I see the equality of the two.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“How do you react when you believe the thought that if you had more money you’d be happier? You get to be unhappy now.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

Diving Deeper Through a Portal

azalea blossom close up

Once I enter the world of the flower, new worlds open up within that world. I’m diving deeper through a portal to find even more portals within it.

How to Find the Deepest Corners

The Work of Byron Katie is way of bringing the light of awareness to the deepest areas of the mind, where the light may still be dim. This process of self-inquiry allows me to make peace with anything, no matter how hidden and persistent it may be.

But how do I work these deep issues?

Surprisingly, the deep issues are not actually so hidden. They may have deep roots, but they also have branches, flowers and fruit above ground that are easily accessible.

How Do I Find These Flowers and Fruit

I find them by simply living my life day to day. As I do, I inevitably trip over something. I was going along fine and suddenly I’m triggered. That stress I feel lets me know that I just touched on a part of my confusion.

I don’t have to dig deep to do deep work.

All I have to do is look at my stressful reaction and look for who or what I am blaming in that moment. I write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on that person, and question what I wrote using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

This is how everyday events become portals into self-inquiry. When you deal with what is coming up now, you also deal with the underworld that supports it. By cutting the branches above ground, you also weaken the roots below.

But You May Find More When You Enter the Portal

Maybe someone triggered you today by dismissing you. So you write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on the person who was dismissive. And you work through it slowly meditating on each question and turnaround.

In addition to getting clearer about how to stay peaceful in this situation, you may also start to see images from old situations. There may be older stressful moments and memories contained within this one.

These Old Situations Can Be Worked Too

You may start by writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet about someone dismissing you today, but you may end up writing other worksheets on a pivotal times in the past where someone dismissed you. Maybe it was an old friend, or a parent, or a teacher that hurt you, and you still hold that hurt today.

Each of these old hurts could be its own separate Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.

The combination of working recent situations, and older related situations means that the confusion has little chance to survive. The branches and the roots are be being cut away from both sides.

Sometimes I spend months working through the related worksheets that come up from one small incident that triggered me. That’s how I’m diving deeper through a portal.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I often use the word story to talk about thoughts, or sequences of thoughts, that we convince ourselves are real. A story may be about the past, the present, or the future; it may be about what things should be, what they could be, or why they are. Stories appear in our minds hundreds of times a day—when someone gets up without a word and walks out of the room, when someone doesn’t smile or doesn’t return a phone call, or when a stranger does smile; before you open an important letter, or after you feel an unfamiliar sensation in your chest; when your boss invites you to come to his office, or when your partner talks to you in a certain tone of voice. Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean. We don’t even realize that they’re just theories.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

How to Identify “Cause” Thoughts vs. “Symptom” Thoughts

Bossy didn’t like me photographing her herd. My stressful thoughts included “I’m a coward (being stood down by a cow).” And “She is bossing me around.” The first is a “symptom” thought (self attack), the second is a “cause” thought (what she did to me).

Every Stressful Moment Has a Mixture of Thoughts

The first job when doing The Work of Byron Katie is to sort through all of those stressful thoughts to find the main ones to question.

One of the main distinctions I use when sorting my thoughts is the idea of “symptom” thoughts and “cause” thoughts. “Symptom” thoughts are secondary thoughts. They arise as a result of the “cause” thoughts.

Though I’ll question any thought (and I mean that), I generally find it more helpful when I question the “cause” thoughts rather than the “symptom” thoughts.

Here’s How I Tell the Difference

I find “cause” thoughts by asking myself questions like this, “What started the war? Who or what triggered me in the first place? Why am I bothered? Who is bothering me? What am I a victim of here?”

These questions help me identify who or what is offending me. I’m reacting to some perceived injustice. Who did it? That’s how I find the “cause” thoughts.

On the other hand, I recognize “symptom” thoughts by the fact that they are reactions. They look like my typical answers to question 3, “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?”

Thoughts like these primarily include self-judgments (shifting blame to myself instead of staying with who I was originally blaming) or secondary attacks (attacking the person for unrelated reasons).

Symptom Thoughts Are Distracting

Symptoms are usually louder than causes. That’s where the pain is strongest. The mind gets distracted by this and goes into emergency mode dealing with all of the symptoms. But if often misses the cause as a result.

And on top of that, the mind often wants it that way. The mind doesn’t often want to look at the real causes because it might have to give up things if the truth came out. So it keeps the show going about what a bad person I am, or how I’m no good at this or that. It’s a smoke screen.

Or it keeps the focus on some separate issue blaming the other person for something where it knows they were wrong, instead of looking at the issue at hand which might not stand up so well to inquiry.

Which Ones Shall I Question?

I literally will question anything. And sometimes I will question the “symptom” thoughts just to pacify things a bit. After all, “I’m a coward” turns around nicely to “I’m not a coward.”

But the fact may be that I am a coward in that situation. The real work lies in identifying what makes me react in a cowardly way. I’m looking for causes. I this case, I react this way because “The cow is bigger than me.” That could be the new “cause” thought I could question.

It Takes Courage to Admit what the Cause Thought Is

It’s usually something very trivial, embarrassing to admit even, where I was weakly blaming someone else for my misfortune. If I can come to terms with this, and write it on paper, my work is more than half done.

This is why writing simple Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets lies at the foundation of doing. The Work of Byron Katie. The worksheet almost forces me to look for the thing outside of me that I’m feeling victimized by. And that almost always points to the “cause” thought that started my stress reaction.

Usually everything else, especially the self-judgments, fall away once the cause thought has been questioned.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“If you start by judging yourself, your answers come with a motive and with solutions that haven’t worked. Judging someone else, then inquiring and turning it around, is the direct path to understanding.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

How to do The Work with the Heart

the lotus is like the heart

Like a lotus flower, the heart is a sensitive gauge. It opens and closes depending on how much truth it senses. This is a clue for how to do The Work with the heart.

How to Drop into The Work?

It is easy to say that The Work is meditation, and that it is done with the heart more than the intellect. But what if your heart is not engaging when you’re doing The Work? What can you do to use more of the heart when doing The Work?

The Heart Loves Tangible Things

Anything real is what the heart loves. That’s why the heart loves the senses. You can touch it, you can taste it, you can see it. The heart gets these kind of things. There’s no need for inference or understanding, just plain, simple, direct experience.

That’s how to do The Work with the heart: keep things real when doing The Work. That’s how to do The Work with the heart, keeping the heart interested. Unless you’re a super intellectual person, the heart loses interest when things get more abstract, logic based, and general. The intellect loves theories, but the heart loves direct experience.

Here’s How to Engage the Heart more when Doing The Work

1. Start with something real. Use a real situation, something you can touch and see and remember. Something that actually happened. The more real and specific and concrete it is, the more the heart can relate to it.

2. Pick subjects that are really up for you. This takes courage. It means stepping past denial and looking at what’s really bothering you. Are you doing The Work on a distraction issue, or is this the one that’s really bothering you? The heart only cares about what’s really up for it. If there’s a burr in your trousers, you may need to take off your trousers to look at it.

3. Don’t try to force your mind to change. If you do The Work with the motive of manipulating yourself or making yourself wrong, you will quickly lose heart. Do The Work for the sole purpose of exploring the truth, looking at all the angles and options. The heart loves the truth when it sees it. It loves the truth even more than being right.

4. Don’t belabor The Work. Ask the four questions, give as clear answers as you can, find turnarounds, and as many examples as you can, and then keep moving. If nothing comes, that’s okay to. The Work is just exploration.

5. Give yourself time to listen to the answers coming from your heart. The heart loves being asked what it thinks. Asking the heart is the essence of doing The Work.

6. Do The Work with other people. The heart often loves connecting with others when doing The Work. In fact, that’s why I created Inquiry Circle. It’s my favorite way how to do The Work with the heart.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I used to call it the voice of the heart. I didn’t have a teacher to tell me, “This is spiritual and this isn’t,” so I just kept following the voice…” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Why Am I Always Negative?

tracks in the snow

The mind starts by complaining about one thing (maybe the cold and snow), and then it moves on to complaining about itself, asking, “Why am I always negative?”

Why Am I Always Negative — Judging Is What the Mind Does

And it’s probably never going to stop.

It requires judgment even to tell the difference between hot and cold. This is just natural role of the mind to observe and evaluate.

But there’s a difference between judgment and negativity. Negativity starts when the judgment becomes personal, “I hate cold. This shouldn’t be happening to me.”

It’s the “happening to me” that makes it personal. Seen from this point of view, I quickly become a victim of what is happening. And that’s when the suffering begins. That’s when it feels negative.

Being Negative Is a Reaction

For me, it’s often my attempt to compensate for something I didn’t do. When I don’t take responsibility for my actions, then all I can manage to do is to complain, to be negative.

If someone invites me to do something and I don’t want to do it, and I say yes when I really mean no, I have not been true to myself. But instead of owning my mistake and asking myself what I can do about it, I end up complaining and nit picking instead.

In other words, being negative can end up being a feeble attempt at saying no—in a passive, complaining way. And at no point am I actually taking responsibility for myself or looking at options to change my situation. I’m still just a victim being kicked along.

How Can I Turn this Around?

Noticing the thought, “Why am I always negative?” is a good starting point. It is the wake up call letting me know something is off. It’s time to take a closer look.

My favorite way of taking a closer look is The Work of Byron Katie. This simple process of self-inquiry helps me notice what I’m doing.

To do The Work when I’m feeling negative, all I need to do is pick one of the negative, complaining thoughts in my mind and write it down. What exactly am I complaining about? Or, if there are several things, I can write them all down.

Then Pick One Stressful Thought to Question

Maybe the thought is, “It’s too cold.” Or maybe you feel like a victim of your partner, “He didn’t listen to my no (about moving here).” Identifying the stressful thoughts that lead to being negative is a big part of doing The Work. Once you have them on paper, pick one to start questioning.

By taking your time and meditating as you consider the questions of The Work, you may start to find some surprising answers. You may find that you actually do like the cold, but were using it as a weapon against your partner for not listening. You may even find that he was listening to you, but you never made your point clearly, or emphatically enough.

The more you drop into the questions and turnarounds of The Work, and find examples of the opposite of what you believe, the more freeing it becomes, and the more empowered you start to feel.

For me, The Work Is How I Take Back Control

When I’m a victim, I give my power over to someone or something else. That leaves me with no options other than being negative. But when I do The Work, I start to naturally find that I am the one who makes me suffer or not. It’s all up to me.

And when I step back into my own power, the whole situations shifts.

But this is a meditation. You have to actually do The Work, not just understand it in principle. You have to allow yourself to complain in an uncensored way on paper. And then you have to go through the four questions and turnarounds slowly and gently so that your whole heart moves with your inquiry.

Otherwise, it’s just philosophy, which is not so helpful when it comes to shifting awareness in every day life.

Negativity is a Temple Bell

The next time you think, “Why am I always negative?” notice what’s going on. And try doing The Work on the complaints that are freshest in your mind.

It could be the beginning of a homecoming.

If you want to see The Work in action, join us for the free Open Sessions every week.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“When something hurts in your relationship and it’s not obvious why, you can do the same thing. Sit down and put your thoughts on paper. Concentrate on your complaints about your partner. Don’t be kind. If anything, exaggerate the faults you find. Using the Worksheet here as your guide, write down how you’ve been wronged, what they should and shouldn’t do, what you want and need from them, what you refuse to put up with any longer. And when you have it down on paper, question what you believe. Ask the four questions and turn it around.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

Wiggle Room in Two Dimensions

upside down reflection of city street

When you’re working with more than one dimension, the possibility for freedom is multiplied.

For me, Questions 1-4 Are About Looking for Wiggle Room

When I first start questioning a statement with The Work of Byron Katie, I start with the four questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?

These questions serve a very vital purpose. When answered slowly and meditatively, they can start to loosen the attachment I have to the thought that I am questioning.

There Are Two Ways to Wiggle the Thought

Questions 1 and 2 provide one way: I ask myself if the statement I’m questioning is actually true, or not. This is one dimension of wiggle room.

The other is provided by questions 3 and 4. Regardless of whether the statement is true or not, I notice whether the thought brings me peace or stress. This is the second dimension of wiggle room.

The Dimension of Truth

If I genuinely look, and find that the the statement I’m questioning is not true, my attachment to it usually starts to loosen. My grip on it naturally relaxes as I consider the untruth of what I’m holding.

And there are two chances to do this. Question 1 is the first. Question 2 is a more subtle version: if I can find even a shadow of a doubt about the truth of my statement, it is often enough to start the opening.

Even the tiniest bit of wiggle room is a crack, an opening, and that’s enough for the light to start coming in.

The Dimension of Pain

Questions 3 and 4 are about noticing the effect of believing the statement. How do I react when I believe it? I feel stress. Who would I be in the same situation without that thought? More peaceful.

This compare/contract exercise, when done meditatively, creates another crack, another opening, in a completely different dimension. And this too allows the light come in.

Without any prying, very spontaneously, my grip loosens on the thought. After all, why would I hold onto something that is causing me pain?

Taken Together the Four Questions Are Powerful

It means that, even if I don’t find any opening in one dimension, I may still find an opening in the other dimension. Even if the thought I’m questioning is actually true, I may still find that holding onto it is painful.

Just noticing how painful it is to hold onto the thought is often enough to ease my attachment to it. And this opens me enough to try some turnarounds.

Turnarounds Are Where New Thinking Emerges

Questions 1-4 begin the process of letting go.
The turnarounds bring new understandings.

If I skip the four questions and go straight to the turnarounds, however, I’m often not open enough to really consider them. In that case, I may do the turnarounds intellectually, but the part of me that is still holding onto the original belief is still closed. So no significant shift happens inside of me.

But when I consider the four questions first, something inside starts to open before I even get to the turnarounds. And when it does, the turnarounds often find fertile ground to sprout and grow.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I suggest that you always use the four questions before applying the turnaround. You may be tempted to take a shortcut and get right to the turnaround without putting your statement up against inquiry first. This is not an effective way of using the turnaround. The feeling of judgment turned back onto yourself can be brutal if it occurs prior to thorough self-education, and the four questions do give you this education. They end the ignorance of what you believe to be true, and the turnaround in the last position feels gentle and makes sense. Without the questions first, the turnarounds can feel harsh and shameful.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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