Pain Is Optional, Is That True?

prickly plant

If I have to pick up a cactus, and I don’t know about gloves, pain may not be optional for me.

It’s Always About My Own Experience

In the last newsletter I sent out entitled, “The Work Is Preventive Medicine,” I mentioned that I am more and more aware that pain is a choice.

This caused confusion for someone who wrote me saying, “I often don’t experience that I am able to ‘just let go’ of my stressful thoughts, so if I am not able, how can it be an ‘active’ choice?”

I’m so glad that she wrote this because it brings up something very important.

There Is No Shortcut to Doing The Work

My experience upon my friend’s death was that I didn’t grieve. I saw that the pain was optional, and I sidestepped it spontaneously. Yay for me! But just because I saw it that way in this situation doesn’t mean that it’s always my experience that pain is optional.

Just ask me if I think pain is optional when I’m straining to do a good job with something! I haven’t worked that issue thoroughly enough yet.

Theoretical understanding means nothing to me. I’ve heard a million enlightened theories. I’ve had my own. But ultimately, I can only go with my experience. If I see that pain is optional in a particular situation, great, lucky me. But if I don’t see that the pain is optional, then it’s my job to experience the pain, to notice the thoughts behind it, and to do The Work on them.

Why Was It So Easy for Me This Time?

I attribute my lack of grief at last week’s funeral to the deep work that I did after my mom died in 2010. I spent two months working through so many nuances of my stressful thoughts about her death. It was during that work that I noticed a choice to go into the pain, or not. And that insight was a big part of ending my grief at that time.

In other words, it was through the process of doing my work—the slow, old-fashioned way—that I found this option and became stronger at exercising it. So when this new death occurred, I was ready. The muscle was there. And it was strong enough to hold me.

That’s what I mean by The Work is preventive medicine. The work I did in the past supports me today.

But there’s a big difference between discovering an insight through inquiry and reading about someone else’s experience, or trying to borrow an insight, even if it’s my own.

In my Experience, Borrowing Insights Doesn’t Work that Well

Other people’s insights are nice references. So are my own past insights. But they are not a substitute for my present experience.

Either I’m triggered now, or I’m not.

If I am, I need to do The Work, and no insight can help me. If I’m not triggered, then I don’t need to do The Work.

It’s that simple.

The Work Is Not Just Turnarounds

The work is not positive thinking. It is not even insights. The Work is self-exploration.

And it starts with deep listening to what are the stressful thoughts coming up in me. I need to be listened to before I can even consider a turnaround.

As Byron Katie sometimes puts it, stressful thoughts are like crying babies. They need to be held and listened to.

That’s What The Work Does

There is no substitute for that. I can’t just say to my self, “Let go of that thought!” or “Turn that around!” It won’t work. Just like it won’t help to tell a baby to stop crying.

The way The Work works is to take it slowly. It starts by really listening to what the crying thoughts are saying. And gently inviting the mind to explore the truth, or non-truth, of the thought in question.

This passes the power back to the mind. It says to the mind, “I trust you. You be the judge about what’s really true here. You be the judge about whether this thought brings peace or stress.” This can be so empowering when the mind is crying.

When the mind is crying, the four questions of The Work are there to hold it. Only after going through the four questions, does The Work invite the mind to explore the turnarounds and to look for examples of the turnarounds.

This Process Is Feels Like Kindness

This process is listening. It is empowering. It is gentle. It is objective. It is the opposite of “just letting go” which, of course, is not usually possible.

And, if I cannot let go of my stressful thoughts in a particular situation, then my pain is definitely NOT a choice for me. In this case, my pain is there for a reason. It is my faithful alarm clock, letting me know that I need to do some work.

Have a great weekend,

“That’s the purpose of stress. It’s a friend. It’s an alarm clock, built in to let you know that it’s time to do The Work.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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The Work Is Preventive Medicine


The onset of darkness doesn’t bring sadness or fear when I shift to indoor lighting.

Last Week I Attended a Funeral

The funeral of my dear friend, teacher, and ayurvedic doctor, Vaidya Ram Kant Mishra. I miss him and love him, but I do not feel grief.

Losing a friend cannot be compared to losing a parent, or spouse, or child. It took me a couple of months to work through the grief when my mom died. But there’s another reason why I did not feel sadness when faced with this great loss.

The reason is that I have been doing The Work for a long time. And it is becoming instinctual not to go down that road of creating pain for myself.

The Work shows me again and again how much it hurts when I want things to be different than they are. Noticing this again and again through my work, I am not so tempted to dive into pain. I am more and more aware that it is a choice.

Pain Looks Like This

He shouldn’t have died.
He died too soon.
I need him to be my doctor.
I didn’t learn everything from him.
I want to spend time with him again.

I never formally questioned these thoughts, but I didn’t need to. By doing The Work over the years, my mind has come to recognize that these kind of thoughts bring me pain every time. They remind me of so many other thoughts like them that I have questioned. And so my mind is not interested in holding onto them.

This Is What I Mean by The Work Being Preventive Medicine

Every time I do The Work I see more clearly that I always have options. I see that, no matter how bad anything is, I am the only one who can make me suffer. This is not a general theory. This is a practical experience that I get when dealing with the particulars of any situation that I bring to The Work.

The more work I do, the more clearly I see it. And it’s cumulative.

This cumulative experience is what held me when my friend and teacher died. And that’s why I didn’t go into grief. I simply saw other options besides pain.

Even Guilt Couldn’t Make me Suffer

Because I’ve worked those guilt thoughts before as well. Thoughts like, “If I don’t hurt, it means I don’t love him.” And I know it’s not true. I can feel the love in my heart. I can feel the love from him, same as always. I feel as connected to him now without a body, as I did when he had a body.

There is just no reason to close my heart.

What is left inside of me is an openness. And that openness is what I brought to the funeral. A heart full of gratitude, and a clear mind that I have everything I need. Then I could say goodbye with love. And I could share my love with everyone else who was there.

Vaidya Ram Kant Mishra

Vaidya Ram Kant Mishra

And of Course There Are No Absolutes

I have no grief, is that true?

On coming back home I got a cold and spent the last two days sleeping on the sofa. Who knows, maybe that was grief coming out. We all grieve in different ways. If so, I look forward to working through any grief that shows up.

And So I Pass It On

I share with you the legacy of an amazing healer. If you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe to the newsletter that Vaidya Mishra’s team still sends out at They have so much knowledge about heath there. I call this knowledge of ayurveda, “turnarounds for the body”—yet another way to create balance of body and mind. I hope you enjoy learning from Vaidya Mishra as much I do.

Have a great week,

“I have a friend who, after doing inquiry sincerely for a number of years, came to understand that the world is a reflection of mind. She was married to a man who was the love of her life, and one day, while they were sitting on their couch, he had a heart attack and died in her arms. After the first shock and the tears, she began looking for grief, and there was none. For weeks she kept looking for grief, because her friends told her that grief was a necessary part of the healing process. And all she felt was a completeness: that there was nothing of him that she’d had while he was physically with her that she didn’t have now.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

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The sun rises at pretty much the same time every day. It probably doesn’t involve much thinking.

I’ve Tried Different Ways of Scheduling The Work

For some time, I’ve been using my calendar to schedule an appointment every day to do The Work. This works pretty well, but I’m not completely satisfied with this approach.

The reason is that I tend to move the appointment around when I need to squeeze something else into my day: an extra appointment, or some unexpected task. And because doing The Work is an appointment with only myself, it tends to be the most “flexible” appointment in my calendar. So flexible, in fact, that it can sometimes be squeezed right out.

That Doesn’t Work for Me

I like to have systems in place in my life for things that I really want to do. I have a system for brushing my teeth, a system for doing my yoga every day, a system for doing my meditation every day, a system for cooking good food every day, a system for going to bed at the same time every night. I guess the better word is “routine.”

Anything that I want to do consistently over time has to be in a routine for me. Otherwise, it’s hit or miss.

And routine seems to work best when it’s at the same time each day.

That Way I Don’t Have to Think About It

If I had to decide when I was going to brush my teeth each day, I’d probably only do it a few times a week. If I had to decide if I was going to cook or not, I’d end up scrounging for food more often than not. And if I left yoga and meditation as flexible things I could schedule in “if there’s enough time” then they wouldn’t happen with much consistency.

It’s doing these things on a regular routine that makes them happen day in and day out for decades.

The same time of day is important for my routines. Because using the same timing every day helps it to become automatic. A habit. Not something I have to plan out, or schedule in. I just go with the routine. It’s easy.

My Mind Has Two Modes of Functioning

One is for planning. And the other is for doing.

If I try to do both the planning and the doing at the same time my brain goes nuts. And I get stressed. And when I get stressed, I start dropping all the extra things to do. My mind needs simplicity to function. So when it gets overwhelmed, it gets rid of everything except the essentials. It basically pares my day down to what it knows: to the routine items and to putting out any fires.

If doing The Work is not a part of my routine items, guess what? The Work gets cut. Unless on rare occasion I’m using The Work to put out a fire.

The Work was getting cut a lot for me the last few months. Because my schedule was over-full, and because doing The Work was not set up for the same time every day.

But Recently I Found a Fixed Time

Fixed time for me doesn’t mean mornings every other day and afternoons every other day. I tried that. It didn’t work. I needed a time that could be consistent every day.

I also like it to be the first thing I do in a block of time. So either first thing in morning, or first thing in my afternoon. I tried the end of the afternoon, but my mind was tired. And even end of the morning was always a scramble getting odds and ends done.

So I tried first thing after coming back from lunch. I was able to make a recurring appointment in my calendar for 1 – 1:30 PM every week day. This has been working great. It’s a routine (same time every day). It’s consistent. It’s at the beginning of my afternoon, before I get too busy. And I’m finding myself being very consistent with it.

I Don’t Have to Think

I don’t have to plan when I will do my work. It’s clearly in my mind. I don’t even need a calendar to remind me. It’s on automatic pilot. It’s becoming a routine.

And that’s when I really settle into it. I know the time is there every day. I can count on it. And I start diving deeper in my work.

So it’s working for me, just like my yoga, my meditation, my cooking, my teeth brushing. I don’t have to think about any of these things. I just show up and dive into doing them.

Have a great weekend,

“As you do The Work, you return to the place you never actually moved from, the heart, the sweet center of the universe. Heart is just another name for the open mind. There is nothing sweeter.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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I don’t like the heat. And I’m not willing to sit all day at the beach in the hot sun.

Sometimes I’m Just Not Willing

So, when it comes to turning around some statements on Line 6 of a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, my inquiry sometimes comes to a grinding halt.

Or does it?

Just because I’m not willing does that mean I’m not doing my inquiry?

What Exactly Is Inquiry?

Inquiry means to inquire, to ask. And self-inquiry means to ask myself.

The Work of Byron Katie is a kind of self-inquiry, a way of asking myself what my truth is, and exploring all sides of my truth.

So when I come to a statement on Line 6 and try the turnarounds “I’m willing to…” and “I look forward to…” all I’m doing is asking myself what my truth is.

Just Because It’s a Turnaround, Doesn’t Mean That It’s True for Me

I’m just looking.

If I use this objective approach while doing my inquiry, then I will be open to discover my truth through inquiry. Maybe I’m just not willing to sit on a hot beach, and maybe I really don’t look forward to it.

Just because I find this truth about myself, doesn’t mean that I’m not doing inquiry. I am doing inquiry. And my answer is “I’m not willing.” That’s my truth. My integrity.

Integrity is Everything When Doing The Work

If I don’t see a genuine reason why, “I am willing to…” or “I look forward to…” then I stop there. I’ve found my truth. I’ve done my inquiry. The Work is not about going into denial.

But The Work is about exploring every side of my truth.

Sometimes, I see things from only one narrow perspective. When I do The Work, I look at lots of different angles. That’s what the turnarounds are for me: ways of looking at angles I might never consider otherwise. In the turnarounds, I consider whether the very opposite of what I believe might be true.

This Is What’s So Amazing About The Work

Unless I’m doing The Work, I might never seriously consider the possibility that I might be willing to sit on a hot beach in August. It would always be a closed door for me. But The Work invites me to consider the very opposite of what I think. Just to keep an open mind.

Not to force myself to step out of my integrity in any way. Only to explore all sides. And to see if any new perspective I find through inquiry might also be true for me. It’s about being open to seeing things differently, but not about overriding my integrity in order to give a “right” answer.

Here’s What It Would Look Like for Me

“I am willing to sit on a hot beach” could be true in that I know that I will survive. I have survived before. And if the right people were there, I might be willing to put up with the discomfort to be with them. I would be more willing to sit on a hot beach if I were able to stay under an umbrella, and if I had good sunscreen, and if the water was cool.

So as I explore this, I see that it’s not an absolute for me. Yes, my preference is not to sit on a hot beach ever again (it’s actually one of my definitions of hell). But as I start exploring with this turnaround, I’m starting to see some wiggle room. And the longer I sit with this turnaround, looking for examples, the more ways I start to see that it would be okay with me.

For example, I can put up with almost anything if I’m having a good conversation. I do like to play with kids, and would have fun in the water and building sand castles. I could take a break every hour and go inside and read a book or play a board game with other shade lovers. Yeah, who says I have to stay out all day, even though others do?!

So as I sit with it, more willingness comes. This is exploration. This is The Work. I’m still in my integrity, but my mind and heart are opening to the very thing I was certain I never wanted to do again.

This Openness Is the Point

Just because I do this work, doesn’t mean I’m going to start renting a beach house every year in August. No, my preference is still to spend time in a cabin in the woods by a lake. But by exploring this, I’m no longer so strongly avoiding the beach in my mind. I am less restricted. And the less restricted I am, the freer I feel inside. I’m more open to everything. And that feels like an open heart.

That’s the only reason why I do The Work. Because exploring these opposites opens something in me. But not always. Sometimes I explore and find that I’m still not willing. That’s okay too. All I am doing is looking when I do The Work.

If I ever think, “I should be willing…” or “I should be looking forward to…” when I do my work, then I question that. There is no should for me in The Work.

Have a great week,

“Q: ‘What do you mean by “Don’t be spiritual—be honest instead?’
A: ‘What I mean is that it’s very painful to pretend yourself beyond your own evolution, to live a lie, any lie. When you act like a teacher, it’s usually because you’re afraid to be the student. I don’t pretend to be fearless. I either am or I’m not. It’s no secret to me.’” Byron Katie, Loving What Is.

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What Started the War?

war cannons

Unless you ask what started the war, you may be focused on secondary issues.

What Was the Original Offense?

When you’re doing The Work of Byron Katie, it can be helpful to identify exactly what started the war. If I can find forgiveness for that original offense, chances are I can forgive the rest as well.

So I commonly ask myself, when preparing to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, “What started the war?” This question often leads me to the heart of the matter very quickly.

Here’s How it Worked with a Client Recently

She described a situation where a conversation with her daughter upset her. She had been feeling really great. Her attention had been on spiritual matters and she was feeling a lot of peace. But as soon as her daughter told her that she was inviting one particular friend to dinner, her peace was lost and irritation filled its place.

But she had trouble writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on this situation. Was it a worksheet on her daughter for ruining her peace? No, not really. Was it a worksheet on her daughter’s friend for ruining her peace? Kind of. But not exactly.

By the time she called me, she had decided to go with a worksheet on her ego for taking things so personally. But none of these angles really hit the nail on the head for her.

So I Asked Her, “What Started the War?”

And she described a situation from some time ago where she had overheard her daughter’s friend making fun of her behind her back. Since that time, she has been irritated by her daughter’s friend, which is why she lost her peace the moment her daughter mentioned that she had invited her to dinner.

This was the original offense. So she wrote a worksheet on that original stressful moment when she overheard her talking behind her back. She wrote things like, “She should not insult me, judge me, mock me.”

And we did The Work.

The Result Was Understanding

She started to understand her daughter’s friend. And what may have been going on for her. She noticed how her mind made it out to be worse than it was. And she started to see options of what she could have done in that moment. Options like joining the conversation instead of cutting her off.

As she did her work on this original situation, she watched forgiveness start to dawn. And soon the idea of her coming over for dinner was something she was willing for and even looking forward to.

She Could Have Worked the Worksheet on Her Ego

But the ego’s reaction was secondary. What her daughter’s friend did was primary. When she questioned her thoughts on that, the ego’s reaction fell away.

On the other hand, if she had questioned her stressful thoughts about her ego instead, chances are she would have found understanding for her ego, but not necessarily forgiveness for her daughter’s friend, who was the one who had made her ego upset in the first place.

Primary causes are almost always external. Something outside of me started the war inside of me. Something triggered me. If I can identify that, my inquiry will be dealing with the primary cause of my suffering.

Have a great weekend,

“The Work invites us into the awareness of internal cause and effect.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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bee on a flower

A stressful thought for a bee might be, “I have to get the whole orchard done.”

How to Make Anything Stressful

When I first read Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is, I found The Work to be fascinating. I could hardly put the book down. I wanted to do it. And after ten years of doing The Work consistently, I still find it fascinating. I’m still not bored of it. I really love it.

But here’s how to make it suck.

Tell yourself that you need to get rid of all your stressful thoughts. That you need to keep doing The Work until your mind is completely peaceful, and stays that way permanently. Tell yourself that you need to work through ALL of your issues. And that The Work is the only way to be happy.

Suddenly The Work Becomes Bondage

Under the influence of these binding ideas, you toil like a slave doing your work. You whip yourself and push yourself to get your work done. The Work itself becomes an added stress in your life. And you resent it. You resent that you are still so far from peace.

It’s so ironic.

Doing The Work in this way gives the exact opposite experience. Instead of peace, you get more misery. And soon you may be tempted to give up. But if you’re die-hard you don’t, you slave on in service to your hope.

Who Would You Be Without These Long-Term Hopes?

Who would you be doing The Work without the story of some final redemption? Who would you be doing The Work without the idea of permanent peace? Without the “I have to”? Without the “I need to”?

For me, it becomes pure exploration. Fun. I love catching myself. Busting my own myths. Looking at things from new angles. Who cares if I see every angle, or not! The ones I do see are enough.

It’s enough that my life is more peaceful than it was. It’s enough that little bits of peace keep coming as I continue to do my work.

Without a Goal, I am Free

I don’t have to do The Work. There is no time pressure to get it all done before I die. There is no slavery. No desperation.

Suddenly, the sun comes out again. The birds start singing. And I’m just buzzing along happily from flower to flower enjoying every bit of nectar that I find.

This leaves me grateful, even with all my imperfection. For me, this is more peaceful than yearning for the impossible.

Have a great week,

“The belief ‘I have to work’ has never been true; it’s the lie you hold on to so that you can keep yourself from the joy of the gift that you give. No one has to work. No one has ever had to.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

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model sailboat

Building a model sailboat may be fun, but chasing down a duck with it is funner!

I’m a Creative Person

I love to think of new ways of doing old things. I love to dream. And I love to find ways to bring my dreams into reality.

In other words, I’ve got a busy mind. And a busy life. Always creating.

I Like the Way my Mind Works

There’s always something interesting going on.

But the same creative process which I love, can also be a source of stress for me. Because I tend to focus more on the creative process than on actually using what I create.

For example, I created Inquiry Circle five years ago as a place for doing The Work online every day. But recently, I’ve gotten so involved in renovating it and improving it that I’ve been too tired to participate much.

Same with The Work 101. I’ve enjoyed creating and improving this little course over the past year, but at times it has been all consuming.

But Times Have Changed

Now I see that both Inquiry Circle and The Work 101 are in great shape. They are both seaworthy vessels, and I can pull them out of dry dock and start sailing.

At first, this feels like sacrilege to me. To my mind, a ship is never finished. There’s always room for improvement. And so my mind stays focused on building even when it’s not so necessary anymore. Or worse yet, I try to do both: sail and build simultaneously.

It may feel a bit like sacrilege to stop building, but it also feels like pure joy, vacation, easy sailing. I realize that I’m the one who gets to say when I’ve arrived. And so I’m saying it.

The reality is I’ve done the hard work. My direction now is to sail the ships that I’ve been building. It’s a very different role. And it takes some getting used to. But I’m already starting to love it.

First of All I’m Taking a Week off Next Month

Just a simple stay-cation. But I haven’t done that in a few years.

And secondly, I’ve updated my calendar. Did you realized that a good 1/3 of my time has been spent building ships? Not doing that now opens up a lot of time for me.

So after April 18, there’s a lot more space in my calendar for doing what I love to do: facilitating The Work in private sessions, and in The Work 101, and in Inquiry Circle.

Funny, it almost feels like cheating to not be focused on improvement, but rather to be focused on using what I’ve already created. It’s a great turnaround for me.

Have a great weekend,

“Stay in the flow that’s effortless and unending.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Sinking into the Experience of The Work


Learning the ropes is fine, but it is the experience of sailing that satisfies.

The Work Is Meditation

And yes, there are a few ropes to learn: four questions, turnarounds, examples.

But once you get a handle on the ropes, it’s time to allow the experience of inquiry to carry you home. Home to your own truth. Home to your own peace. That’s the only purpose of The Work.

Here Is One Person’s Experience

She is participating in The Work 101 course and is starting to experience The Work as meditation. She was working the statement, “I want him to be gentle (toward me.)” She writes…

“The most powerful thing was experiencing question 4. My partner had to ask me twice what it would be like if it were impossible to think the thought ‘I want him to be gentle’. I was very grateful to be looking at this line with a partner because he was able to question my answer and I realized that I was still looking from the point of view that ‘he was being rough’.

“Finally I just let go into ‘don’t know’ mind and got the message that without the thought I would be Acceptance. As this realization dawned in my mind, I then just sat with it longer, eyes closed. I felt a tingling sensation on a cellular level and experienced something that was hard to put into words but when I tried what came was Receptivity.

“It was as though without the thought I was in a space of pure receptivity and there was no obstacle to receiving ‘that which was being offered.’ Upon further reflection, I see it as having a wide open heart, open to receive. I see that there is an original thought ‘I need to protect myself’ and that believing this means shutting the door to the heart.

“When I experience that moment without the thought ‘I need him to be gentle (toward me)’ there is actually nothing that needs protecting from anything but there IS something that can be open to receive in gratitude. This was a very powerful insight and I continue to reflect upon it”

This Is the Experience of Opening

She took the question into her heart and sat with it. At first there was resistance to answering the question and her partner had to ask it twice. But as she sat, and allowed the question to settle inside of her, a whole new experience opened up for her.

The question was an invitation for her heart to open and be felt.

This Work is powerful. It is not just an intellectual exercise. It is an invitation for the peace of inner being to melt the hard knots of thinking.

I love that this participant experienced The Work as meditation. And I invite you to approach The Work with the same willingness and patience. If you are sincere in asking, and willing to give yourself time to answer each question—even if you have to ask the question more than once—it is nearly impossible for the heart to resist answering the call.

Have a great week,

“It’s like diving. Keep asking the question and wait. Let the answer find you. I call it the heart meeting the mind: the gentler polarity of mind (which I call the heart) meeting the polarity that is confused because it hasn’t been investigated. When the mind asks sincerely, the heart will respond. Many of you will begin to experience revelations about yourself and your world, revelations that can transform your whole life, forever.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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It’s Easy to Idealize Passion

fall foliage

Passion looks really good. It’s full of vibrant colors.

It’s Easy to Think, “I Need to Be More Passionate”

But is it true?

Someone recently wrote me saying, “I admire your overflowing energy. Please someday talk about passion since I am having difficulty jump-starting after a loss.”

For Me Passion Is a Double Edged Sword

On the one hand, it is wonderful. When I am passionate, I am focused, I believe in what I’m doing, and I have energy.

But on the other hand, when I am passionate, I may also be lacking in peace, driven, and imbalanced.

Passion is idealized in this world because action is idealized. Doing and accomplishing are held in the highest esteem by society. And passion is the drive to meet this end.

So Passion Has a Good Name

But passion may not actually be what I need right now.

If I want to be passionate when I’m not feeling passionate, I only amplify my suffering. The more passionately I want to be different than what I am, the more passionately I fall into depression.

In fact, maybe depression is nothing more than passion without a means to fulfill that passion. After all, passion is another name for, “I want…” And “I want…” hurts more than anything I know.

Passion May Be the Poison, Not the Cure

I may think that I’m not passionate enough. But the real problem may be that my passion is focused on something I cannot get. Or I may be trying to passionately hold onto something that I can no longer have.

It’s not that I have no passion. It’s that my passion is caught on something I can’t have. And so there’s no room for new passions to emerge for things that I actually can have.

Passion Is Wonderful if I Can Keep Adjusting my Passion to Match Reality

When I was a nature photographer, I was passionate about my work. But I couldn’t make a living at it. That depressed me. I was passionate about something that wasn’t working for me.

It wasn’t until I let go of nature photography that my new passion of facilitating The Work of Byron Katie took hold.

Letting Go Is Easier with Inquiry

What allowed me to let go of nature photography, after investing three years of my time, was doing The Work with Byron Katie. In 2009, I sat with Katie and questioned my thinking about my situation. Just go to YouTube and search for “I’m not living up to my full potential.”

Once I got clear, I dropped nature photography the next week. It was done. My passion was freed up again, and I could move on to being passionate about my next job, and now this job.

Same with when my Mom Died

I did The Work every day on my loss. I questioned every thought that grieved me. And little by little, I found myself letting go of my passionate desire to have her still be alive. It took time to grieve my loss.

But inquiry sped up the process. I had to get really close to my passion and question it. I asked myself, “I want her to be alive, is it true?” And I listened with compassion to my crying mind and heart. And I compared this with who I would be without that thought.

I explored every turnaround, and slowly even found the good in her death. I became a traitor to my suffering, disloyal to a passion that I could never fulfill. It took time to see that this was peace, and that moving on didn’t mean I didn’t love her.

Ironically, it was dispassion, not passion, that opened up the door for my passion to flow again.

Have a great weekend,

“The bottom line is that when the mind is closed, the heart is closed; when the mind is open, the heart is open. So if you want to open your heart, question your thinking.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy


Rest itself Is a Turnaround for Me

horse resting

Everyone needs rest.

I’m a Bit Like a Horse – I Like to Run

And I don’t mean running physically, but rather running, doing, and accomplishing. I take satisfaction in doing things. And I’ve got pretty good stamina to go and go.

But there is a limit.

Especially when I am working on several projects at once, all of which require deep, abstract thinking and planning. These kind of projects are like lifting heavy weights with my mind. Working on curriculum development is a good example of this.

Some Projects Just Take More Mind Power

And that’s great. I love to exercise my mind. I love to develop courses. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But I hit my limit last week.

I was simultaneously developing The Work 101 curriculum and working with my friend, Aileen Cheatham, redesigning the Basics curriculum for ITW. I have basically been in this mode of curriculum development since the end of October.

And Here’s What Happened

I started burning out. It was like I was using this mental muscle over and over and over without rest for weeks and months. And eventually it was too much.

I felt growing tension in my neck, back, head, eyes, and jaw. I didn’t want to go to work in the morning. I felt emotionally cranky and pessimistic.

Simply because I was overusing that muscle.

I Didn’t Do The Work on This

Not formally, anyway.

But, I noticed it wasn’t working for me, and I turned it around.

I simply started doing the opposite. I gave myself a break. I slept. And I stepped away from the jobs mentally a bit. Conveniently, one job ended. And I re-thought how to manage the other job.

I sat with my calendar and improved my schedule. I put more breaks in. And I opened up some time. Just doing that helped me relax, knowing that I can continue to have an added element of rest in my ongoing routine.

I still have some more resting to do to fully catch up, but the tension is way less now. And I’m not feeling grumpy anymore. I love this simple turnaround for me to rest when I’ve been running like a horse for too long.

Have a great week,

“There’s a natural balance in things. If you go too far to one extreme, life kindly brings you back toward the center. What goes up must come down, and what comes down must go up. Up and down are different aspects of the same thing.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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