How does The Work of Byron Katie work?
Here is some of what I am noticing:
Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet (JYN): Identifying our stressful beliefs is helpful in itself, as is admitting to ourselves that we are judgmental about others and what these judgments are about. It’s the first step in a process that allows us to shift from identifying with the thought to seeing it as an object and examining it.
Question 1: Is it true? This question opens our mind to the possibility that our stressful thought about something or someone isn’t true. It puts the question in there. It allows us to notice the part of our mind that already knows we cannot really know if the thought is true.
Question 2: Can you know for certain it’s true? Again, helps open our mind to the possibility that we cannot know for certain if the stressful thought is true. It reminds us that we cannot know for certain, even if we tell ourselves the thought is true and it feels true at the moment.
Question 3: What happens, how do you react, when you have that thought? This helps us explore and notice the real consequences of holding the stressful thought as true. Often, we are only partially aware of these consequences, and we may blame them on the situation the thoughts are about rather than the belief itself. Here, we get to explore it more thoroughly and systematically.
We get to see some of the many unpleasant consequences of the belief, and that they are consequences of holding the thought as true. This makes it easier for the mind to answer the following questions more sincerely, and it opens the possibility for further seeing the thought as a thought, and for not actively fueling the belief since it’s more clear to us that it doesn’t really help.
Question 4: Who would you be without the thought, in the same situation? Again, it opens the mind to another possibility. How would it be if the belief didn’t exist in me, in the same situation that previously triggered the belief? Would I be more at peace? Does it open for more clarity? Kindness? Would I still be able to take care of myself? How would I respond in that same situation?
Turnarounds: The previous questions may open our minds sufficiently so we can sit more honestly and sincerely with the turnarounds. In what way is each reversal of the initial stressful thought equally or more true? Can I find specific and concrete examples, even if they seem small? Can I find in myself what I see in the other? This helps us see that each of these thoughts – the initial stressful one and its reversals – has some validity, none of them has any final or absolute truth, and one or more of the reversals may even resonate more with us than the original one.
When we use The Work, it helps to be facilitated by an experienced facilitator. This person can help us stay grounded, close to the experience and what’s true for us, and they can help us look at it from angles we would otherwise miss.
Having an open-minded, kind, and insightful witness is healing in itself. This person shows us it’s possible to be open-minded, kind, curious, and gentle with our thoughts and experiences, including the stressful ones and the ones we may initially feel shame about.
As always, there is a lot more to say about this. This is just what comes to me now.