Author, speaker and spiritual innovator Byron Katie is the developer of a method of self-inquiry known as The Work of Byron Katie, or simply The Work. This method was born from an epiphany she experienced in 1986, two weeks after checking herself into a women’s counseling center to treat the depression and addiction she suffered from.
The Work is described in her newest book, A Mind at Home with Itself: How Asking Four Questions Can Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Turn Your World Around. Recently, Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery counties had the opportunity to present Katie with questions from a local practice group of The Work in suburban Philadelphia.
In your book, A Mind at Home with Itself, you describe your awakening, where you were able to come out of the desert and never look back. Why is it that I practice The Work and have so many aha moments, yet I still suffer?
Here’s how I talk about it in A Mind at Home with Itself:
It does take patience to continue doing The Work as a daily practice, or at least as a regular practice. People who truly want to end their suffering are able to find that patience. Questioning your stressful thoughts can be difficult, but it’s a lot more difficult not to question them. When people are interested in The Work, they notice that sometimes they do it and sometimes they don’t—at first. But if you make a commitment to doing The Work for breakfast every day, it starts waking up in you. You no longer do it; it does you. It becomes natural, automatic, like breathing.
What do I do when I’m triggered and I’m not in a situation when I can stop and do The Work? Any advice?
If you can’t stop and question the thought that is triggering you, stop a little later, when you’re able to. Take a few deep breaths, get still, and begin to identify what you were thinking and believing during the episode.
How do you deal with the changing turbulence in the world?
I am only able to witness it in others and do what I can to invite them to identify what they’re believing about the turbulence in their world. All turbulence belongs on a Worksheet, where it can be questioned and seen for what it is—nothing more than an unquestioned mental state.
Your Worksheet, Judge Your Neighbor, focuses on others. What advice can you give for those that are dealing with self-judgment resulting from past actions?
Here’s what I said about it in Loving What Is:
If you are new to inquiry, I strongly suggest that you not write about yourself at first. When 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. You can judge yourself later, when you have been doing inquiry long enough to trust the power of truth.
How does The Work help facilitate day-to-day happiness?
The more clarity, the more happiness. The more deeply we understand that no one can cause us a problem—that it’s our thoughts about other people, the world and ourselves that cause all our problems—the freer we are. I often say that every time you fill in a Worksheet and question the thoughts on it, you become a kinder human being.
For more information and free Worksheet downloads, visit TheWork.com.
Lisa Naples practices and shares The Work of Byron Katie in Bucks County and beyond. She runs a free monthly meeting for Inquiry from her barn in Doylestown.
Naples also organizes an annual, weekend retreat with Tania Fierro, Chair Emeritus of The Institute for The Work. The next retreat takes place from April 6 to 8, 2018. All are welcome.
For more information, call 215-340-0964 or email LisaNaplesCeramics@gmail.com.