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Excerpted from Loving What Is by Byron Katie. Copyright © 2002 by Byron Katie. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Often when we think we're being rational, we're being spun by our own thinking."

  Byron Katie, Loving What Is, Part 3

Once people understood that the old Katie wasn't coming back, they began to speculate about what had happened to her. Had some miracle occurred? She wasn't much help to them: It was a long time before she could describe her experience intelligibly. She would talk about a freedom that had woken up inside her. She also said that, through an inner questioning, she had realized that all her old thoughts were untrue.

Shortly after Katie got back from the halfway house, her home began to fill with people who had heard about her and had come to learn. She was able to communicate her inner inquiry in the form of specific questions that anyone who wanted freedom could apply on his own, without her. Soon she began to be invited to meet with small gatherings in people's living rooms. Her hosts often asked her if she was "enlightened." She would answer, "I'm just someone who knows the difference between what hurts and what doesn't."

In 1992 she was invited to northern California, and The Work spread very fast from there. Katie accepted every invitation. She has been on the road almost constantly since 1993, demonstrating The Work in church basements, community centers, and hotel meeting rooms, in front of small and large audiences (admission is always free). And The Work has found its way into all kinds of organizations, from corporations, law firms, and therapists' offices to hospitals, prisons, churches, and schools. It is now popular in other parts of the world where Katie has traveled. All across America and Europe, there are groups of people who meet regularly to do The Work.

Katie often says that the only way to understand The Work is to experience it. But it's worth noting that inquiry fits precisely with current research into the biology of mind. Contemporary neuroscience identifies a particular part of the brain, sometimes called "the interpreter," as the source of the familiar internal narrative that gives us our sense of self. Two prominent neuroscientists have recently characterized the quirky, undependable quality of the tale told by the interpreter. Antonio Damasio describes it this way: "Perhaps the most important revelation is precisely this: that the left cerebral hemisphere of humans is prone to fabricating verbal narratives that do not necessarily accord with the truth." And Michael Gazzaniga writes: "The left brain weaves its story in order to convince itself and you that it is in full control. . . . What is so adaptive about having what amounts to a spin doctor in the left brain? The interpreter is really trying to keep our personal story together. To do that, we have to learn to lie to ourselves." 

These insights, based on solid experimental work, show that we tend to believe our own press releases. Often when we think we're being rational, we're being spun by our own thinking. That trait explains how we get ourselves into the painful positions that Katie recognized in her own suffering. The self-questioning she discovered uses a different, less-known capacity of the mind to find a way out of its self-made trap.

After doing The Work, many people report an immediate sense of release and freedom from thoughts that were making them miserable. But if The Work depended on a momentary experience, it would be far less useful than it is. The Work is an ongoing and deepening process of self-realization, not a quick fix. "It's more than a technique," Katie says. "It brings to life, from deep within us, an innate aspect of our being."

The deeper you go into The Work, the more powerful you realize it is.

People who have been practicing inquiry for a while often say, "The Work is no longer something I do. It is doing me." They describe how, without any conscious intention, the mind notices each stressful thought and undoes it before it can cause any suffering. Their internal argument with reality has disappeared, and they find that what remains is love -- love for themselves, for other people, and for whatever life brings. The title of this book describes their experience: Loving what is becomes as easy and natural as breathing.

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