Thank You Byron Katie

Seven years ago, I found myself in a maelstrom of emotions. My father had died of pancreatic cancer the year before. A long term relationship was being reshaped. A close friend committed suicide. An EF5 tornado destroyed a third of my town, affecting me, family members and friends, and more than 30 clients. I was fiercely determined to go within and face the fears that had haunted me my entire life. I was equally determined to tear down the strongholds that I had built to protect my heart.

I had never felt so alone, or vulnerable, in my life. And yet, that was exactly where I needed to be. Into that time of upheaval and change came author and speaker, Byron Katie.

Byron Katie, known as Katie, was born in 1942 and grew up in Texas. She later moved to Barstow, California, married at age 19, had three children, and entered a career in real estate. Her life seemed typical, blessed even. But Katie began a downward spiral that took her into severe depression, rage, overeating, and addictions to codeine and alcohol.

In 1986, at age 43, unhappy and desperate for help, she entered a half way house for women with eating disorders, the only place her insurance company would pay for. She was housed alone in the attic because the other residents were afraid of her. After two weeks, lying on the floor because she didn’t feel worthy to sleep on the bed, Katie awoke one morning with an epiphany.

She writes, in her first book Loving What Is, “All my rage, all the thoughts that had been troubling me, my whole world, was gone. At the same time, laughter welled up from the depths and just poured out.”

When Katie returned home, she was a different person. Her family and friends soon realized the old Katie was not returning. She shared with others about the freedom she lived in and how through asking herself four questions, she had realized that all of her old thoughts and beliefs were untrue.

Katie’s epiphany was this: “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered and that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a moment.”

From her freeing experiences, Katie developed questions for self inquiry, a process that has become known as The Work. She shares that our suffering comes from believing our own stressful thoughts. The Work is a way of identifying and questioning those stressful thoughts.

It consists of four questions and a turn around:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?

3. How do you react when you think that thought?

4. Who would you be without that thought?

And…turn it around, then find three genuine examples of how the turn around is true in your life.

Using the thought, My friend should listen to me. Is that true? Can I truthfully say someone has to listen to me? Therefore, can I absolutely know that my friend should listen to me? No, I can’t know that. How do I react when I think, or believe, that thought? I feel lonely, unheard, unappreciated, invisible. Who would I be without that thought? I would be happy, content, unconcerned. Turn it around. My friend doesn’t listen to me, becomes I don’t listen to my friend. My friend does listen to me. I don’t listen to myself. It is typically in the turn arounds that the truth is uncovered.

Greg introduced me to the books of Byron Katie. I saw how her wisdom freed him up in areas of his life. Her words shifted my thinking, caused me to question my beliefs about everything, began to tear down the defenses I had constructed to protect my heart from hurt.

I read all three of her books. Over and over. I watched her YouTube videos. I did her Judge Your Neighbor Worksheets, which helped me to get really petty about people and circumstances and then follow The Work through my thoughts, which always brought me back to myself. I listened repeatedly to her books on Audible as I drove my car, replaying certain sections until the words unknotted so many of my old beliefs.

The journey I took was deep, and inward, and ultimately freeing. Late one night, out walking in my storm battered neighborhood, I paused to stretch out, in the dark, on the front porch of a house that was being rebuilt. For the first time, in a very long time, the whirling emotions and thoughts were quiet. And suddenly, lying there in the dark, on that vacant house’s porch, that laughter that Byron Katie speaks about welled up inside me and burst forth. I sat up and laughed and laughed, and long pent up energy that had been trapped around my heart loosened and left my body on waves of laughter. I’m surprised someone didn’t call the police.

Peace descended on me that night. My troubling thoughts went the way of the fear I had already stared down. I was filled with joy and a freedom I had never experienced before. Open to everything, attached to nothing, was born in me at that moment. My life shifted and has not been the same since.

Thank you Byron Katie, for instigating that shift. Thank you for sharing so openly and deeply about your own journey. Thank you for inviting me to fall madly in love, with myself, and for telling me to create a knee shaking, deep as it can go relationship with myself. I have learned so much about who I am, about releasing stressful thoughts and worry, and about living in freedom and joy. You are one who has had a great impact on my life.

Because of Byron Katie, because of The Work, I am free…to be myself and to live in the present moment. I am able to allow others the same freedom. Loving what is? Yes, I am.

Visit Byron Katie’s website HERE.

And order Loving What Is below:

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Day 157: Make Friends with the Rain

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Byron Katie, author of the book “Loving What Is”, lived in Barstow, CA, a desert town where apparently the wind blew almost continually. People hated the wind. Some even moved away from Barstow because of the it. After she stopped arguing with reality, and accepted what was, Byron Katie became known as the woman who made friends with the wind. As she said, “How do I know that the wind should blow? It’s blowing!”

I felt like that today. I showed property in the rain, shopped for and bought plants and flowers in the rain, unloaded those plants and flowers in the rain, arrived for Zumba class and left Zumba class in the rain, and fed and cared for my friend’s pets, whiles she’s away on vacation, in the rain. I got wet several times today….soaked. I changed clothes twice. Fixed my hair multiple times.  I could fuss, complain or resist the rain. I could wish it wasn’t raining. The reality is, it rained today. It’s been raining, at least a little bit, every day for the past week or so. And it’s going to rain tomorrow. I decided today, for my first, to make friends with the rain.

Several years ago, I received a framed print that reads, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I’ve come to appreciate that truth more and more. To wait out a situation, helplessly, is to take myself out of the flow of life. It puts me in victim mode. To accept a situation is to accept the reality of what is, and creates peace in my heart and in my world. I may not be able to change the situation, but I can change the way I perceive it and respond to it. I can, indeed, dance.

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The rain today, was just rain. Yes, I had to be out in it. However, I could find reasons to be grateful for the rain: We need the moisture, since my region is behind the average rain fall amount for the year. The newly planted areas of my garden are benefitting greatly from this long drink of water. I have not had to water my garden myself! These are rain showers, for the most part, rather than severe thunderstorms, yesterday’s tempest not included. No real damage from that storm. Unlike a well known character in a place called Oz, I don’t melt when doused with water. The rain cleanses the air. The rain has a beauty and musical sound all its own. I was virtually alone as I shopped for plants and flowers at Lowe’s, as others seemed to choose to stay inside, and I was able to get a great selection at great sale prices.

I sang and laughed in the rain as I unloaded the plants from the truck. And that’s when I realized I had, indeed, made friends with the rain. I welcomed it. Greg drove me to my friend’s house so I could care for her pets, and as we arrived, another downpour began. It was the perfect moment to capture my relationship with the rain with a pic. To quote Byron Katie again, “The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is.” Holding onto the thought that it shouldn’t be raining, would have invited suffering into my life. I didn’t want suffering. It should be raining today. How do I know? Because…it was.

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Day 82: Leave Notes to Future Readers in My Favorite Books

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Inspiration for my new experiences comes from many sources. Today’s first, going to a bookstore and leaving notes for future readers in my favorite books, came to me via a post I saw on Facebook. It was titled “20 Great Date Ideas”. I wasn’t looking for ideas for great dates BUT I am always on the lookout for great ideas for something new to do. I pulled up the article and found six or seven suggestions for firsts that I could do! This was one of them.

I spent the afternoon thinking about some of my favorite books and the impact they have had on my life. It was a long list of books that fit that category, as different books have been perfect for me at different stages of my life. I narrowed the list down to six books that have been crucial in my journey. They are:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

Loving What Is by Byron Katie

I Dare Me by Lu Ann Cahn

Wishes Fulfilled by Dr. Wayne Dyer

I selected heavy weight parchment-like paper and wrote two or three sentences for each book. So that a customer wouldn’t think she was purchasing a used book, I started each note with the words, From one reader to another…. And ended with Enjoy this book!

It was great for me to spend time considering how each book had helped me in my journey. Doing so allowed me to look back along my life path and see how far I’ve come. The notes were brief and encouraging. I wanted the future reader to know that the book he was holding in his hands had the power to change or enhance his life.

I took six notes with me to a local bookstore, hoping to find at least three of my favorites on the shelves. I was amazed to find all six. It was fun to tuck the notes between the pages of each book. Holding the book for a moment longer, I imagined the person flipping through the pages and hoped they would be encouraged, or at least surprised, to discover a handwritten note in an unexpected place. Perhaps finding a mini review will help them to decide to buy the book and read it too. I trust their lives, like mine, will be enriched because they do.

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