Letter: Meeting The Work in Malawi

Dearest Katie,
This is the story of how The Work came into my life.

I was sitting alone at a table waiting for my meal in a guesthouse in Lilongwe, Malawi. I had recently arrived and had six weeks of research alone in this hot country ahead of me. I didn’t want to be there, although I didn’t want to admit this even to myself. I felt afraid, anxious and lonely.

A woman walked in to the restaurant. I noticed her as she kneeled down to greet the black cat that nobody paid attention to. Then she came over to my table and asked if she can join me. I said yes, and we started talking. When I asked what she was doing in Malawi she said “Have you heard about Byron Katie and The Work?” I told her I had read the book Loving What Is but questioning my mind like that wasn’t really my
thing.

Well, all that changed and during these weeks in Malawi I started
to get a hang of it! When I got stuck, she helped me through e-mail. I was sitting under my bed net at night, writing down every stressful thought I could find. At one point I could clearly see my thoughts as they passed by, (“my body needs to recover” “home is better than Malawi”) but they were no longer MY thoughts, only thoughts passing through this mind, and oh so innocent, just wanting a little bit of understanding, loving care and attention…
I called my mom and said I had met an angel!

This is how The Work came into my life. It’s one year ago now. It’s difficult to describe what it has meant because it has really changed everything and nothing at the same time. It’s so liberating not to identify with thoughts. Life becomes simple, beautiful and friendly. Of course stressful thoughts still pay me a visit but they are like rain drops on the surface of water, and from the peaceful place under the water I can question them: Is it true that men make women suffer? It looks like that sometimes. Can I absolutely know that it’s true? No. Now that I think about it, maybe women are not suffering… How do I react when I think that thought? I feel so much anger and resentment that I want to scream and break things. Who would I be without that thought?
I’d love everyone and everyone would love me. Turn it around: Women make men suffer… well, when they try to change them everyone is suffering 🙂 I make me suffer. Yes, when I believe my thoughts about a cold, violent, unfriendly world then I suffer. Without them there’s peace in my heart.

With love and gratitude,
Alessandra


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