The Work, also known as inquiry, is a simple & profound process of identifying and questioning stressful thoughts. It’s a way to clear the mind and fall in love with reality, just as it is. Anyone with an open mind can do it, free of charge, anytime, anywhere.
The Work consists of 4 questions and turnarounds. The questions are:
- Is it True?
- Can you absolutely know it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
The turnarounds are a way to look at the original stressful thought from different perspectives. Click here to learn more.
I have been a student of The Work since 2009 and am now a Certified Facilitator. Over the years, I’ve tested The Work out on a variety of frustrations in my own life: issues in my relationships, health, self-judgments, work/career, sex, food, judgments about corporations, god, even small things like traffic, lawnmowers, & ATM machines. What I realize is that it’s not the person, situation, or illness that brings me stress ~ it’s what I’m believing about it that creates my suffering. This is good news!
Right now, The Work is my go-to peace tool for dealing with stress around my breast cancer diagnosis; here are some of the many stressful thoughts that have come up for me:
- Painful thoughts about cancer: “I have cancer. Cancer will make my life more difficult. Cancer will prevent me from living a full life. I want the cancer to stop spreading. Cancer is bad. It’s not fair. I’m too young to have cancer. I’m not strong enough to handle this. I don’t want to deal with this. The cancer will come back.”
- Stress about treatments: “I won’t know which treatment plan to choose. Chemo will poison my body. The treatments won’t cure me. People who are evolved don’t choose chemo.”
- Worry about side effects & physical pain: “I will be in pain. The pain will get worse. I am nauseous. I can’t handle it. i will be dealing with side effects the rest of my life.”
- Self-blame: “I created my cancer. I’m a failure/not evolved. I should have lived a healthier lifestyle. I should know how to heal myself on my own. I shouldn’t be so upset.”
- Body image: “I don’t want to be bald. My body betrayed me. My body is too skinny, sick, and unattractive. I will no longer be feminine.”
- Judgments about doctors/medical system: “Traditional Medicine doesn’t look at the whole person. I want my doctors to cure my cancer. Doctors aren’t compassionate. I want my doctors to be equally educated on alternative medicine too. I want the medical system/insurance/labs to be easier and more organized.”
- Fear of death: “This cancer will kill me. I will die young. This is how my story ends.”
- Fear about money: “Cancer is expensive. We will lose all of our money. It will put too much financial stress on our marriage. I can not afford these medical bills.”
- God: “God should cure my cancer. I need God explain to me why I have cancer. God is an asshole. God is punishing me.”
- Relationships: “My husband doesn’t agree with my treatment plan. My husband will not be attracted to me. My mom should stop worrying about me so much. They should have more fun with me. People should see I am ok. People shouldn’t look at me as a sad story. People will not want to do yoga with me.”
By bringing these stressful concepts to inquiry ~ sitting in the 4 Questions and Turnarounds as meditation ~ I am finding my freedom. When I believe these thoughts, I suffer. I panic, freak out, get frustrated, sad, or depressed. My breath shortens, my body tightens up, my heart races. I treat myself and others poorly. The future looks like a very scary, scary place. Without the thoughts, I am more present, open, relaxed, and feel capable of facing what’s in front with me with grace and ease. I’m kinder to others and myself and trust the universe. With turnarounds, my mind is blown wide open to find that the opposite of what I thought is just as true or even truer. Everything is a projection. The suffering is in my mind, my imagination. It is not reality!
Inquiry has taught me a completely different perspective on illness; it’s here to improve my life and enlighten me. I am actually happy that I have cancer; something that I once thought was my worst nightmare is actually a HUGE gift. I will continue to share a lot of my own personal inquiries through the blog so you can see how I got to this space of clarity. I will also be inviting others to share the gifts they’ve received from cancer ~ through their own personal experience of it and/or watching a close family/friend go through cancer. It will help me and hopefully others gather more proof for the mind that cancer happens For me, NOT to me.
Here are some easy ways to start your own practice of The Work:
- Visit Byron Katie’s Web Site, www.thework.com. Click here for “Tools to do The Work” for everything you need to know start your own practice – including worksheets, instructional videos, I-Phone & i-Pad Apps, books, and so much more.
- Schedule a private session with me or another Certified Facilitator. Sessions may be available over phone, Skype, or in-person.
- Call the Do The Work Helpline, a free service offered by volunteers who are very experienced with The Work.
- Attend an event with Byron Katie or with Certified Facilitators. Events are offered in-person and online ~ some are free and most have a tuition. I also offer workshops and retreats ~ join my mailing list to stay up-to-date.
- Join an inquiry circle in your city. You can often find one on meetup.com or Facebook.