You are what remains when the story is understood."
Byron Katie, founder of The Work, as she puts it on her website, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. She calls her powerful process of inquiry 'The Work'. In this process, people find that their stressful beliefs—about life, other people, or themselves— radically shift and their lives are changed forever.
The Work is based on Byron Katie's direct experience of how suffering is created and ended: she became severely depressed in her early thirties when she was a businesswoman and mother who lived in a small town in the high desert of southern California. As she says, for almost a decade she spiraled down into depression, rage, self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide; for the last two years she was often unable to leave her bedroom.
Then one morning in February 1986, she experienced a life-changing realization. There are various names for an experience like this. Katie calls it "waking up to reality."
In that instant of no-time, she says,
"I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always."
The Work is an astonishingly simple process, accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and requires nothing more than a pen and paper and an open mind.
Through this process, anyone can learn to trace unhappiness to its source and eliminate it there. Katie (as everyone calls her) not only shows us that all the problems in the world originate in our thinking: she gives us the tool to open our minds and set ourselves free.
To whatever is upsetting a person—"My husband doesn't understand me," for example—Katie poses four questions: Is your problem true? Can you really know it's true? Can you find a peaceful reason to believe it? Who would you be without it? Then, through a technique she calls the turnaround, Katie coaxes the person to look inside rather than outside for the solution. "He should understand me," for example, may become, "I should understand him and myself."
Katie's process of self-inquiry, didn't develop from this experience; she says that it woke up with her, as her, that February morning in 1986. She began holding informal sessions at her Mojave Desert home, and word spread of her teachingsdue to the transformations people felt they were experiencing through The Work. Supported by donations and sales of audiotapes and videos from her base in Manhattan Beach, California, Katie travels the globe to bring her message everywhere and to everyone from managers to prison inmates or people in hospitals, churches, corporations, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, universities and schools.
A PERSONAL NOTE
When you see The Work in action on Katie´s DVD´s or the videos on her website, you can really see how her razor-sharp method cuts through the often self made mind-crap everyone naturally seems to live with, to get to the point that really matters. It is absolutely impressive. Through her site you can download free worksheets and more. I find them very helpful.