Four questions that could change your life – Could it be that simple?
One day in 1986 Byron Katie woke up out of a debilitating depression that she had had for ten years. As she lay on the floor in a halfway house, somewhere in America, a cockroach crawled over her foot; she looked up and asked herself: “Are my thoughts true”? “Who would I be without these thoughts”. The Work was born.
On Sunday the 22nd of January 2012, Femke Wijdekop, the driving force behind ABC’s Spiritual Book Club organized a workshop facilitated by Sagar Simon, a certified counselor for The Work. Sagar, a gentle, soft-spoken American, helped the curious audience go down their personal rabbit holes of self-discovery and find freedom, peace and joy. He compassionately peeled off layers of endless mind chatter and rampaging thoughts with inquiry; he held the painful past up to the light of 4 questions and a turn-around.
Out of your mind – Onto paper
The first step is to write down all the judgments about any stressful situation past, present, or future. You can find the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on www.thework.com to download and print. Answer the questions as honestly, as childishly as you can – no holding back. Invite the uncensored stories, thoughts, feelings, to rise up to the surface of your consciousness. The pure physicality of getting it out of your mind and onto paper stabilizes those cyclic thoughts – they are there, in print, in front of you. This is where The Work starts.
Is it true?
You have let the monkeys, the gorillas out of the zoo, out of your head, off your shoulder – now it’s time to ask yourself: ‘Is it true”?
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
and, Turn it around.
Find three genuine examples of how the turn-around is true in your life.
The Universality of Suffering
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of being guided through the questions and turn-around by Sagar. I had already filled the form in at home; asked myself: Is it true?, Can I be absolutely sure? and did many turn-arounds. I was amazed at what came up and what it did for me. But working with Sagar was the cherry on the “iceberg”. With understanding, with experience and knowledge, he invited me to dig even deeper – I was so ready for it – I am so ready not to be a victim of my past anymore – I am so ready to be able to see those old images, hear the voices, and be able to greet them with a gentle smile and pure love. The Work takes the lid off the pressure cooker of contracted, constricted, old, accumulated life stuff.
You realize, they truly are just thoughts. Yet we give them so much power! Each time I looked into the audience I was met with a sea of encouraging eyes, nods of “That’s my story too!”, smiles of recognizing the universality of suffering.
Loving what is, what was, what if
How could I possibly love the fact that my mother’s brain is slowly disintegrating due to that horrible disease Alzheimer? With The Work, I have been able to turn things around. I was frantic, scared – “a chicken without a head,” as the Dutch say. My fear of her death, losing her, blinded me to the beauty of the moment. My turn-around was: “I was dying, not my mum”. My mother lives in blissful ignorance, alive and kicking, loving every moment. Now, I can dance with dementia, I defy my demons. Each moment is a gift, each fit of laughter, each cuddle, each kiss. I give her unconditionally what she deserves: Infinite Love – Infinite Patience. I Love What Is – I Turn It Around, I give myself Infinite Love and Infinite Patience.