"An unquestioned mind is the world of suffering." Byron Katie
Last Saturday, I went down to London with my friend and NLP Mentor Stephen Woolston. I hadn't realised it, but he is a big fan of Byron Katie, and when he saw I was interested, he suggested we travel together. It meant there were two 5 o'clocks in my day, something I'm not altogether very keen on, but needs must. It was either that or pay an exorbitant amount for a hotel in Central London.
While we were queuing to get in three people approached us and parted us to go straight through. It was Byron Katie herself! She paused and greeted another attendee and off she went. She was not even quite my height, but when she was on stage...my goodness, she seemed six feet tall. She really does exude the aura of calmness and determination that you sense in the YouTube clips and in her books.
We met up with some of Stephen's NLP friends, they were all trainers and very experienced in their fields, and frankly, they were just brilliant fun. Open minded, great sense of humour and they welcomed me into their midst without a second thought. By some lateral thinking we managed to bag some brilliant front row seats on the balcony, so for once I was not trying to peer over the back of some tall person's head. We were given copies of the Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheet in some very nice folders.
Byron Katie came up on stage, talked a bit about herself and how The Work came to be and then we were all invited to fill out a work-sheet. The rest of the day was spent with Byron Katie inviting people to come up on stage and do the Work. There is nothing complicated or mystical about Katie's approach, though, I would make the argument that there are very, very strong parallels between The Work and Buddhism. The cause of suffering is attachment. She says that thoughts are like rain, they fall unbidden; our problems start with believing our thoughts. We see The World through our filters, therefore we create our realities and act as though they are true. If we take a step back and using inquiry, we see that it is our thoughts and reactions to situations and people that cause our pain and suffering. By doing The Work, we free ourselves from these attachments.
I cherish the abundance of her concept of Love. It is truly generous. The Work is all about Love, it is knowing that we are Love and her job is to awaken our minds and hearts to the reality of this. She did The Work with quite a few people, through inquiry they questioned their thinking and actions and came to see there was another way of living. She was relentless. It was amazing to see. The people she invited to come up on stage were suffering, by the time they hugged and thanked her and returned to their seats, they were lifted. They stood straighter, held themselves more firmly, the tenseness left their shoulders. And it was great to see how open they were with the other attendees afterwards.
The thing that amazes me is how simple and effective The Work is. And how similar to NLP. The Work has absolutely nothing to do with the content of a person's suffering. It addresses how suffering is manifested, challenges the thinking behind it and invites an end to it. The Work places responsibility squarely in the head of the person suffering; everything is a learning opportunity and it is through our relationships we have with other people that we learn about ourselves. She also teaches that we should thank the people who have taught us.
I have found The Work incredibly powerful and moving. It has certainly enriched my thinking considerably. I am very tempted to do the facilitators' training. It would certainly add to what I can offer my clients. However, at the moment, I am content to sit with my learning and take things slowly. What I would say, is if you have the opportunity, the means and the inclination, visit her website, do The Work and if you can, see her live. It will be worth it.