I'm not sure what the copyright laws are for pasting text from an online forum with attribution, so moderators, please remove/edit this post if I have violated the user agreement. I read the user agreement in full and did not find copying and pasting addressed. The following are two blog articles posted in May, 2012 regarding an in-person attendance at a The Work seminar facilitated by Byron Katie written by the author mollycules. The author's description of the seminar experience and her own use of The Work in personal life seems to me a validation of the milder concerns outlined in this thread, almost as if this thread were a textbook describing how vulnerable people are drawn in by The Work and the blog author is a case study.
If it is not too cumbersome, I'll insert a few notes into the article [emphasis mine].
]The Work & The Work: Part 2
As I sit here on this park bench, I noticed a group of men
on a lunch break who I immediately judged to be a threat. I identified being unsafe because I’m attractive, by myself, and accidentally made eye contact. I start to question whether or not I should even be sitting within their proximity.
Immediately after this sequence of uncomfortable thoughts, I asked myself, “Is it true?” A slow “ummmm” arises from within.
“Can you know that thought to be absolutely true?” I ask myself. ”No, I can’t know this to be absolutely true.” I reply to myself.
“How does this thought make you feel?” I ask myself. “Paranoid. I want to leave. I don’t feel safe.”
“Who would you be without this thought?” I ask myself. “I would be present, relaxed, and open to whatever came my way. I would enjoy the beauty of this park more fully.”
The anxiety lifted. The park seemed more open, more vibrant…more beautiful [Less than a year ago I was the subject of a sexual assault in public after following a very similar line of "reasoning." Did I not turn my thoughts around properly?]
Those of you who are familiar with the work of Byron Katie can already spot exactly what I am doing. This self-inquiry is called “the Work,” a process that alleviates the suffering caused by believing our thoughts. It is referred to as the “four questions.”
This past Saturday, I attended a Byron Katie workshop in Santa Barbara. Each attendee filled out a “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet. The worksheet guided us through a process where we choose to answer questions about a recurring stressful situation involving another person and how we would like to see them to change. I knew exactly what I was going to bring to the table before I even arrived.I suffer from what I call a “sleep trigger”.
If I have already fallen asleep and my boyfriend, who often works later hours than I do, wakes me up, I am prone to an automatic nervous system response that results in what feels like uncontrollable anger, fear, and a whole lot of nasty projections on an innocent man.
being sexually abused by my biological father from the time of early childhood into my teens as the root cause of this disorienting and over-the-top response. As I scribbled down my answers to the “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet while occasionally taking breaks to look at Byron Katie in awe, I had a feeling I was going to find what I was looking for.
The room was jam packed, well over what a fire marshall would allow, and I sat there nervously debating whether or not to raise my hand to share my responses. When Katie first inquired if anyone from the audience wanted to share their responses, I remained frozen.
Each volunteer had the opportunity to enter Katie’s “parlor” on stage to do the work. By witnessing someone else going through the process of inquiry, I felt like I was going through it as them. Their “AHA!” moments became mine. Their tears streamed down my cheeks. Katie’s laughter was my laughter.
The second time she asked for a volunteer, I half-heartedly raised my hand and wasn’t chosen. Again, I moved through the process of inquiry with great empathy. When the person on stage woke up to reality, I woke up! Their confidence became mine!
With only twenty minutes left of the workshop, I was surprised to hear Katie ask for a third volunteer. Without hesitation, my arm shot up and suddenly I found myself in a dream-like state, signing release forms on a stage [definitely not the time or frame of mind to be evaluating and committing to a legal document]
across from a reflection of pure joy.
To be continued…
The work of Byron Katie, including the free worksheet and four questions, can be found at www.thework.com
There I was, face to face with Byron Katie*.
*The dialogue of Katie and I is told first hand from memory.
“It’s an honor to meet you,” I said.
“And you as well because I’m really meeting myself. I’m just not as cute, but that’s my mind,” Katie said. The audience roared with laughter.
I shifted in my seat, aware of every thought. My fear diminished significantly as I met her glowing and clear eyes, beaming with presence and compassion, but that’s my projection. Really – she is a reflection of the goodness that is equally alive in each and everyone of us.
“Read your first answer sweetheart.” Katie was referring to the “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet.
“I am angry with my boyfriend because he woke me up from my sleep and isn’t considering the trigger that I have around being woken up,” I said. Each word suddenly sounded foreign to my ears.
“Is that true?” Katie asked.
“Uhhhhh…no,” I replied with a confused tone
“Can you absolutely know that your boyfriend woke you up?” Katie asked.
“No, I can’t. Something else could have woke me up…like a neighbor or an animal,” I said, still feeling a little confused
“How does that thought make you feel?”
“I feel like I don’t have control, I’m angry, and I can’t relax or to back to sleep,” I answered.
“Who would you be without that thought?”
“I would be able to be woken up and easily go back to sleep. I would be more loving to my boyfriend.”
“Now turn it around.”
“I am angry with myself for waking me up,” I replied.
“That’s right honey, you are waking yourself up today,” Katie said.
“Well I feel it’s complicated because of the automatic nervous system response that I have because of past child abuse
,” I said while looking down at the stage. It wasn’t so simple as just being woken up from my sleep – it was all the shit that comes up for me afterwards. Sometimes I turn into a disoriented raging hell storm and can’t calm down for a couple hours [Are these symptoms of a diagnosable psychiatric disorder?]
.Katie turned towards the audience and interjected stories about hurting oneself and projecting the pain of old stories of rape, incest, and violence onto others. [Wait a second, isn't The Work just supposed to be about the Four Questions and The Turn-arounds? Aren't participants and facilitators supposed to be giving up stories, etc.?]
While this wasn’t new news to me, the way Katie eloquently articulated metaphors helped shed light on my process of self inquiry in a public space. Even after ten years of therapy, old survival mechanisms were lurking below the surface of my being. They could no longer hide as I brought my monster on stage in front of at least 200 people.
“You have unfinished business sweetheart. The Nine-Day School for the Work would really help you resolve that unfinished business, and I would like to help you make that happen
,” [Nice brazen upsell to someone in an extremely vulnerable, self-described trance-like state!]
Katie said. I didn’t immediately register that Katie was offering me a scholarship.
As we continued with limited time, Katie mindfully held a present space as we went through each of the questions on my worksheet. Stage managers motioned “10 minutes” and then “5 minutes,” but Katie didn’t rush.
“Read your answer to question number two,” Katie said.
“I want my boyfriend to go to bed at the same time as me.” I laughed and the audience let out another roar of laughter
. It seemed so ridiculous that by thinking if I control my beloved’s behavior, somehow I would be better off.
“I bet there are plenty of times he has woken you up and it hasn’t bothered you,” Katie said.
When we got to answering question six, my monster was laughing too, “I don’t ever want to be triggered in my sleep again.”
“Turn it around,” Katie said.
“I am willing to be triggered in my sleep again.” I looked up at her with giddy delight.
“That’s right sweetheart, because that’s how your going to wake up. Now read the next turnaround.”
I am looking forward to being woken up in my sleep again.” As I looked back up to her, I knew deeply that this was my truth.
As we embraced on stage, I felt like I had a new friend looking out for me – and that friend was really me.As of yesterday, I have confirmed that I am officially a recipient of a scholarship for the Nine-Day School for the Work this fall
. [Is it a true scholarship? What are the chances that it is a bait and switch financial aid program as noted here: [forums.craigslist.org]. The chances seem good if 2012 is anything like 2006, where Rick Ross poster The Anticult estimated that The Work Foundation dispersed 7 full scholarships for The School For The Work for the entire year:[forum.culteducation.com] But then, given that mollycules is Molly Hahn, published children's author and illustrator [www.amazon.com], perhaps there is a collaboration in store for these two ladies] I am simultaneously enthralled and apprehensive
, but my gut is telling me to keep leaning into the self inquiry as each fearful thought rises
. [This is so similar to the path I took with Byron Katie and her materials/facilitators, except that I saved myself from any in person/over the phone facilitation and I started researching criticism of The Work to find out if there was anyone else who felt "apprehension" or "fearful thoughts" as they experienced and/or considered deeply the process of The Work.]
I love you Byron Katie.
For more info on the Work and the Nine-Day School for the Work, go to [www.thework.com
][And of course, it ends with an ad to Move The Work, because that is what scholarship recipients legally agree to do: [www.thework.com].]