It is a noble truth that all life involves pain and suffering. This includes the universal inability to become lastingly fulfilled. There are countless religions and spiritual followings that have attempted to relieve the practitioner from this worldly experience of dissatisfaction. These teachings seem to fall short of this goal at a very definitive moment: when the user makes it into a personal belief.
Byron Katie teaches a method of self-inquiry known as "The Work" that allows you to access the wisdom that lives within you. It is highly effective in getting behind what you are thinking and believing so that the noble truth of pain and suffering becomes no more than a freeing experience. "The Work" is a simple practice and can be even done by children to create a space of freedom that is surrounded by understanding, compassion, and peace.
Try it for yourself and watch as you are either shown an opening in your awareness, or you are shown what further work must be done.
The first thing to do is to get really clear on the circumstances. This is done by answering the six statements below. The Work is meant to bring the stressful thoughts and beliefs out of your mind and into the world, onto paper. Please use a journal (a device works too) so that you can see the physical representation of your thinking and believing.
THE SITUATION - how you have been affected: "I am (emotion) with (name*) because..."
WANTS - how you want (name*) to change: "I want (name*) to..."
ADVICE - how you believe (name*) should behave: "(name*) should/shouldn't..."
NEEDS - what you need (name*) to think/say/feel/do: "I need (name*) to..."
COMPLAINTS - what you think about (name*), be judgemental: "(name*) is..."
FEARS - what you fear about (name*) or the situation: "I don't ever want..."
Once you have written down the situation, wants, advice, needs, complaints, and fears, take each statement and examine them using the following four questions. This is where the magic happens; it is a meditation so sit with each question and let the answer come to you. There is no wrong or right way to do this practice, however, you will get the most out of it if you do not jump with the first thought or belief that comes to mind. Work through single statements one at a time and sit and listen to let the silence reveal the responses. Closing the eyes can help to achieve deeper inquiry.
Is it true? (yes or no)
Can I absolutely know it is true? (yes or no)
How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought?
Who would I be without the thought?
After the inquiry has been done, the final step is to take the thought or belief and turn it around. This means to find opposites from the original statement. For example "he lied to me" can become "he didn't lie to me" or "he told me the truth" or "I lied to him" or "I lied to me". When you discover a turnaround inquire how it is true or truer than the original thought or belief. This will open the heart to understanding, compassion, and peace. For statement six on fears, the turnaround will start with "I am willing to..." and "I look forward to...". With enough awareness, this final turnaround will reveal what further work if any that there is left to do.
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