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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.
"In my experience, it can't be your husband's breath that's driving you crazy; it has to be your thoughts about his breath that are driving you crazy."
Loving What Is, Part 5
Katie: So, "His breath drives you crazy" -- is that true?
Katie: Can you absolutely know that that's true? [The second question: Can you absolutely know that it's true?]
Katie: We can all relate to that. I hear that it really is true for you. In my experience, it can't be your husband's breath that's driving you crazy; it has to be your thoughts about his breath that are driving you crazy. So let's take a closer look and see if that's true. What are your thoughts about his breath on the phone?
Mary: That he should be more aware that he's breathing loudly during a conference call.
Katie: How do you react when you think that thought? [The third question: How do you react when you think that thought?]
Mary: I feel like I want to kill him.
Katie: So what's more painful -- the thought you attach to about his breathing or his breathing?
Mary: The breathing is more painful. I'm comfortable with the thought that I want to kill him. [Mary laughs, and so does the audience.]
Katie: You can keep that thought. That's the beautiful thing about The Work. You can keep all your thoughts.
Mary: I've never done The Work before, so I don't know any of the "right" answers.
Katie: Your answers are perfect, sweetheart. Don't rehearse. So he's breathing on the phone and you have the thought that he should be more aware, and he's not. What's the next thought?
Mary: It brings up every terrible thought I have about him.
Katie: Okay, and he's still breathing. "He should stop breathing into the phone on the conference call" -- what's the reality of it? Does he?
Mary: No. I've told him to stop.
Katie: And he still does it. That's reality. What's true is always what's happening, not the story about what should be happening. "He should stop breathing on the phone" -- is it true?
Mary [after a pause]: No. It's not true. He's doing it. That's what's true. That's reality.
Katie: So how do you react when you think the thought that he should stop breathing on the phone, and he doesn't?
Mary: How do I react? I want out. It feels uncomfortable because I know I want out and I know I'm not going anywhere.
Katie: Let's move back to inquiry, honey, rather than moving further into your story, your interpretation of what's happening. Do you really want to know the truth?
Katie: Okay. It helps if we stick to one written statement at a time. Can you see a reason to drop the thought that he should stop breathing on the phone? [This is an additional question that Katie sometimes asks.] For those of you new to The Work, if you hear that I'm asking Mary to drop her story, let me make it very clear: I'm not. This is not about getting rid of thoughts or about overcoming, improving, or surrendering them. None of that. This is about realizing for yourself internal cause and effect. The question is simply "Can you see a reason to drop this thought?"
Mary: Yes, I can. It would be a lot more enjoyable to do conference calls without this thought.
Katie: That's a good reason. Can you find a stress-free reason to keep this thought, this lie, that he should stop breathing on the phone? [A second additional question]
Katie: Who would you be without that thought? [The fourth question: Who would you be without the thought?] Who would you be, while you're on a conference call with your husband, if you didn't have the ability to think that thought?
Mary: I'd be much happier. I'd be more powerful. I wouldn't be distracted.
Katie: Yes, sweetheart. That's it. It's not his breathing that is causing your problem. It's your thoughts about his breathing, because you haven't investigated them to see that they oppose reality in the moment. Let's look at your next statement.
Mary: I don't love him anymore.
Katie: Is that true?
Katie: Okay. Good. I hear that, and do you really want to know the truth?
Katie: Okay. Be still. There's no right or wrong answer. "You don't love him" -- is that true? [Mary is silent.] If you had to answer honestly either yes or no, right now, and you had to live forever with your answer -- your truth or your lie -- what would your answer be? "You don't love him" -- is that true? [There is a long pause. Then Mary begins to cry.]
Mary: No. It's not true.