Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is it True?

What's the worst that can happen?

Can you deal with it?

Is it the end of the world?

These are my three questions I ask myself when confronted with a situation that I fear. For several years the answers to these questions have taken me down a path of thinking that eventually freed me to let go and trust that things would be alright. This wisdom teaches me that, first, I am not in charge of the universe, and second, there is true peace in doing the best you can and then letting go--calmed inside with a belief that things will be alright, or at least thought of in a different light. Might be different. Might not like it. Might not wish it were true: but still something that I can and will survive.

So today, as I read the words of Byron Katie (as told by Caitlin Flannigan) simply put: my world was rocked. The student was ready and the teacher appeared.

Byron Katie stated that "all the suffering that goes on inside our minds, is not reality. It's just a story we torture ourselves with." Isn't this the truth? How many times have I zeroed in on the worst possible scenario, anguished over the most broken-hearted sentiment or gave my physical and mental body over to an unbearable (or unbelievable) thought? To find out that I am the author of such thoughts was both enlightening and empowering!

Just for the record--I am truly an optimist. Terry often remarks that I make Pollyanna look like a depressed person! But once in a while there are those thoughts and worries that creep into my head. Having a husband, five children, in-laws, and grandchildren only up the odds of having a few crises (and we've certainly had more than a few). So, when I do have those times where I wish I could control the universe, and make everyone happy or do what I perceive is the right thing to do, I now have some better questions to replace my own with--thanks to Byron Katie.

Katie declares, "All war belongs on paper . . .and this is how you go to battle: you write down each and every stressful thought, and then ask yourself four questions about it:

  • Is it true?
  • Can I absolutely know it's true?
  • How do I react when I believe this thought?
  • Who would I be without the thought?"

After you ask yourself these questions she advises: "when you have wrestled the thought to the ground, you replace it with a 'turnaround'--an opposite thought, one that is 'as true or truer' and that doesn't cause you suffering."  

Katie, herself, has been through her own "awakening" (after a stint in a halfway house in LA) and woke up one day simply being aware that she had changed. She understood the world differently--there was no story, she said, just "it".

In trying to teach about the reality that you create, she goes on to say "there is reality and then there is the movie your mind projects about that reality. There is the dress and there is the movie that tells you how you look in the dress. Your mind projects the movie that tells you that you're about to be fired or that you've ruined a friendship or that you have no sense of style." She began to realize that she had full permission to "walk over to the movie projector and yank the plug from the wall."

She challenges everyone who chooses to do what she calls "The Work" and to be truthful in asking themselves these questions: "Who would you be without your thought or how do you react when you believe this thought?"

You soon realize that some of the most scary internal thoughts and fears dissolve when you ask yourself the question in all honesty: is it true?  

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