Why I Love The Work of Byron Katie
Byron Katie is a beautiful gray-haired woman with a twinkle in her eye and a tremendous amount of love in her heart. If you ever get a chance to see her in person, you can feel the love radiating out from her as strongly as the bright light from the sun.
She delivers her message through a simple process called "The Work," which consists primarily of writing down your negative thoughts and questioning them. It's simple, elegant, and requires no particular spiritual belief or religious dogma.
The beauty of The Work is that when you do it consciously, you'll find that it sets you free. Free from expectation, worry, judgment, and desire.
The Work not a cult, or a hyped up self-help seminar that makes you feel really good while you're there but doesn't really deliver once the high has worn off.
You'll find a lot of quotes from Byron Katie on this website. This is because her philosophy has impacted me greatly. In our culture, we are hounded constantly by "shoulds" and "ought tos." We are brainwashed into believing that a particular type of American dream is what will make us happy and OK.
This might look like: I need to have a good marriage, a big house, a nice car, and happy children in order to know that I have "arrived."
Yet, what happens when your marriage fails, your house gets hit in a hurricane, your car breaks down, or one of your kids has some problems?
Now, if you are a follower of The Secret, you'll blame yourself for "attracting" your divorce, for causing your car problems, and for bringing down an entire hurricane upon yourself. (Fancy that - you are so powerful that you manifested an entire hurricane. Whoops...your neighbors got hit too. Well, you'll have to apologize to them later for your negative thoughts.)
If you buy into the belief that you are 100% in control of everything does that truly give you more peace? Or does it just stress you out more in the long run? Does the thought that you have to manipulate yourself and the world around you to "attract" a "perfect" life actually make you happy?
With The Work, you realize that you don't need the perfect Stepford Wife existence to be happy. You're OK because you know, once you've stripped off the externals, that what exists underneath is simply pure love. By giving up that illusion of control - no, you did not create that hurricane all by yourself - you gain the wisdom of acceptance. And that brings true peace.
Katie recently posted about The Difference Between The Work and The Secret in her blog. She writes:
“There is a secret”—can I absolutely know that it's true that there is a secret which, if known, would give me the key to having everything that I want and need that I don’t have now in life? One that will give me later what I don’t have now (examples: a BMW, the necklace that I really want, weight loss, a bike)? No, I can’t know. How do I react when I think the thought that there is a secret and others know it and I don’t? I must live in a past and future that don’t exist as anything other than unfulfilled imagination, yearning for what I don’t have and believing that material wealth and better health are the key to my happiness, left out, isolated, unhappy, trying my best to get the things that I want and often failing and feeling like a failure. I begin to believe that I cannot harness this “secret” and end up with the same life that I started with in the first place, with or without material success. Who would I be without believing that there is “the secret?” Loving life, being “the obvious,” rather than being the secretive.
Now, I know what I find more peaceful to me - The Work. If you want to focus on manifesting material wealth as a means to your happiness, go for it. Personally, I find that's putting the cart before the horse. My happiness comes to me for free. I don't need to work for it or manifest it. It just is, once I let go of all my pre-conceived notions of how my life "should" be better or I "should" have this or that in order to have "arrived."
If you are unfamiliar with The Work, check out their website, where there is a host of material to get you started:
(Scroll down to the left where you can download worksheets and a facilitator's guide for free.)