Questioning What You Think Is True And Terrible, And Discovering Peace Instead

I first encountered Byron Katie by reading her book Loving What Is in 2003. I was a young mom, with two children barely entering school. The toddler years were over, and I thought, It’s time to get a job, upgrade my life, re-spark my marriage.

I was a little bored, I must admit. Time for the next chapter.

Little did I know, reading Loving What Is would bring me to registering for a weekend with Katie in my hometown of Seattle when she visited us a few months later.

And shortly after that weekend, I flew to California for her full nine-day School for The Work to dive in really deep. I completed the school in 2005 and it is still, hands down, the most powerful and important program I ever enrolled in. It changed my life.

Up until then, I had done a lot of programs, let me tell you. I even had a master’s degree in applied behavioral science, in my quest to understand the human condition and to understand myself and all the suffering I had experienced in my life.

What were we all here for? Why? What can we do to make things better? How can I be useful here on planet earth, and contribute to life as it unfolds? What’s going on, anyway? Why do people get hurt, or hurt others? How do we heal?

Fast forward to a decade after my first School for The Work with Byron Katie. It’s New Year 2016.

I have recovered completely from the torture of an eating disorder and obsessing about food and my body, I have been cracked open by divorce and found my former husband to be one of my best friends. I have had cancer, felt the fear and then found peace. I have entered my fifties building a new thriving business and writing a book, and I’m doing what I always wanted to be doing: trusting reality, and trusting life rather than feeling suspicious and afraid of it.

How did this all happen?

I learned to question my stressful beliefs, through Katie’s guidance.

So here I was at Katie’s annual event called The Mental Cleanse to watch and listen as she facilitated people through her method of truth-seeking.

Sitting at an event, listening, drinking in what’s going on is so incredibly sweet.

Day 2 of the Mental Cleanse in Los Angeles.

The day is mapped out and scheduled, there’s a huge conference room with many chairs all lined up for the audience, and on stage two big comfy chairs for Byron Katie and whomever is sitting with her investigating something troubling about the human condition.

Yesterday, five different people shared, and some were the kind of situations I thought, when I first encountered The Work: You can’t really question that situation and find peace, can you?

A teenager hearing horrible voices, a drunk husband who peed in the hallway, a young woman who had been sexually molested by a stepfather, terror of the huge earthquake coming to the West Coast of the US, and the impending death of aging parents.

These are some of what we think of as the greatest difficulties of life.

At least I’ve thought it.

Relationships are maybe one thing, or being annoyed at your job, or not having enough money, or running out of gas in your car, or missing a flight, or a family feud. But death? Earthquakes? Abuse?

Is it possible to come to peace with even very frightening events?

Yes.

That’s what I know and remember as I sit listening, hearing these brave people do their work.

Every time someone goes up into the chair to work on stage, it’s really an investigation for all of us. We’re all sharing the questioning of these stories that appear tragic in the human condition.

We’re doing it together.

Katie said to the audience, “You can undo 1,000 years of suffering this morning.” By getting very still and inquiring. By asking, Is it true, that thought you’re thinking? That image you’re seeing?

Isn’t it just a memory? Is a memory reality?

Are you sure those things are as insurmountable, impossible, sick, violent, horrible, and debilitating as you’ve believed?

Are you OK in this moment? Did you make it through?

I keep noticing. Yes.

At The Cleanse, Byron Katie said, “Every time we do this work, we’re answering the question: who am I?”

Who am I? I’m not really sure. But I know it’s good.

This is a complete turnaround. With this underlying belief that what I am is good and loving, my life keeps getting better and better, more and more calm, more and more exciting without being frightening.

And if it is frightening, I do The Work.

About the Author | Grace Bell

Grace Bell loves working with people from all over the world to help them find relief and support from suffering by facilitating them in self-inquiry and the brilliant and simple method called The Work of Byron Katie. She especially loves helping those who suffer from addiction, with particular interest in regaining eating peace and ending any struggle with food. She teaches her retreats, courses and telesessions from Seattle, Washington and travels the world to share The Work.

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8 comments to "Questioning What You Think Is True And Terrible, And Discovering Peace Instead"

  • Grace is a calm, steady guide in the process of unpacking stressful thought. I have taken two session of her virtual (call in to be part of the conversation) class for small business owners. We worked on all those debilitating thoughts of failure and worthlessness and inadequacy that are part of the emotional background of being in business for yourself. The reality, it turns out, is my business is exactly where it should be with the right number of clients and the right amount of income for my life at this time. Thank you Grace for your peaceful approach to extremely stressful thoughts. I have learned much from you and I hope many others will, too.

  • alice morgan simmonds

    Love it Grace! You are an inspiration and a wonderful teacher. I am so happy to have found you and take your classes online. A life saver. And, I hope to meet you in the flesh one of these days.

  • Sherie Wright

    Oh my! I am so happy to learn that Grace is writing a book. I will be first in line to buy it. Grace’s way of putting things ALWAYS makes me stop and think about things.

  • Annette

    If you’re reading these replies, the best thing you can do is to head to Grace’s website and sign up for Gracenotes. She doesn’t hold anything out from her experience and shares insights and inspiration – For Free. So grateful for her presence.  www.workwithgrace.com

  • Michelle K

    The Work has helped me to realize that I am completely lovable too. Not in theory, but with concrete and genuine example’s from my own experience, especially from those places where I felt the most unlovable. The Work is by far the most effective tool I have found to end my suffering. It shows me how to live a kinder life. Thank you Grace for doing your Work and sharing it with others.

  • Lisa

    I LOVE your interpretation of ‘The Work”.

  • Having camaraderie and companionship in life is marvellous. Having Grace and Katie for comrades, roaming and rooming together through life’s daily jouneys and sojourns, and for companions, sharing life’s daily bread, is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your issues, inquiries and insights with others, and showing that life is satisfying and serene when we simply inquire into our own truth in any seeming storm of suffering, and so find our own peace and calm and joy in life.

  • Thank you Grace. You are a great teacher, gentle quiet watcher, compassionate witness and the sweet delighted laughter when The Work reveals “what is.” No Mistake.