I was introduced to The Work of Byron Katie in 2009 when my spouse began studying it. We began attending The New Year’s Mental Cleanse annually. I saw how my partner was more calm and centered and happy after inquiry. I was, meanwhile, studying the embodied spirituality of Non-Violent Communication with Robert Gonzales. My NVC study brought me to an abiding self-compassion, an understanding of empathy as a connection the heart’s longing, and an ability to hold a steady presence with another. But I still found myself suffering. I did not yet really have an understanding of how I created my own suffering.
In 2013 I started studying The Work of Byron Katie in earnest when I attended The School for The Work and then joined the Institute for The Work to help sustain my practice. Since then I have written Judge Your Neighbor worksheets on my mother, my brother, my son, my friends, sexual assault, my job, ITW, Byron Katie, my mind, my leg, my fears, and God. I have not found anything yet that I cannot bring to inquiry.
By far the main subject for my inquiry has been my son and my judgements of his video gaming, sleep challenges, school refusal, withdrawal, entitlement, and defiance. I see now how my mind works really clearly:
- My mind catastrophizes his future and mine and in the moment I may not even see that I do that. It is only by getting still and slowing everything down that I even see that these images appear to me and effect my reaction.
- I see myself as a failed parent. When his behavior didn’t match my image of what should happen I believed I had failed. I think I should have done things differently. I found myself unworthy and incompetent.
- I move into panic and the belief that I have to do something, now! A sense of urgency and anxiety arises in me. I feel responsible for his behavior and choices.
Over this same period, I have had many epiphanies including:
- I know that neither he—nor anyone else—is the cause of my suffering. That can only come from me, from my thinking about him, the situation, or an imagined future. I have heard this for years from various teachers, but I never understood what to do about it. How do you stop believing what you believe? The answer I have come to is you don’t. You question what you believe and the attachment stops by itself: sometimes instantly and sometimes little by little.
- I see that I have always done my best – given the resources available to me and what I believed at the time. How can I ask myself for anything more?
- I see that he – and everyone in my life – is here to guide me back to peace and joy.
I maintain an ongoing inquiry practice. I still have reactions, but they are less frequent and less intense. When I am upset, my first inclination is to bring the thoughts to inquiry. I have a proven method to bring myself back from panic to peace.
I am a retired IT professional, but still do some consulting work with IBM. As I embark on offering The Work, I see myself continuing to volunteer on the Helpline, offering one-to-one sessions over Skype, telephone, or in person (for those in the California Bay area) using the gift economy model, and developing and offering courses locally. I know that every person can access their own wisdom if they can be still, ask the questions, and listen for their truth. If you would like support in your inquiry, I would be honored to support you.