Saturday, July 30, 2005

Byron Katie and relationships

Let’s say a bit of trouble comes your relationship way. Hey, that happens to me, to you, to all of us. What to do? Suffer silently, that’s one way. Complain. Get rid of the terrible problem person. Or, how about this: work on yourself? Well, if that’s your cup of tea, here’s some strong and effective brew: The Work of Byron Katie.

Byron Katie is a gal who in 1986 had a “waking up” experience. Not a meditator, nor a “spiritual” person, she was an alcoholic, chain smoking, obese and unhappy person, deeply depressed for ten years. Then, she “woke” to an peace beyond understanding, where it became clear that her suffering hadn’t been about the world ( her husband not loving her enough, say) but was about her thoughts about the world ( the thought that her husband should love her more than he did). This wasn’t an intellectual understanding. She came to silent and vast and clear space of immense peace, and then discovered that what jolted her from this was the reoccurrence of the same old thoughts.

Not having been trained to “let go” of thoughts, nor to make affirmations, nor to “watch her thoughts without identification,” she came up with her own system, that was this: Judge your neighbor. Write it down. Ask four questions. Turn it around. Some complain it’s “too simple,” but hundreds of thousands say, hey, this is what I needed, a “simple” was to climb out of my suffering. It’s about meeting thought with thought, in a way that isn’t warlike, but a search for truth. It works, but only if we do the work. Which is:

First, to judge your neighbor/ spouse/ child/ boss/ worker/ parent/ sibling. And so on. You get the idea. We do it anyway, sometimes disguised as I really love them except for “this little thing.”

Second, write it down. In short simple sentences. “Dad shouldn’t have criticized me.” “Mom should have loved me more.” “Spouse should appreciate me more.” “ My child shouldn’t…” Whatever is bugging you, instead of going around and around as words in the head, or in the mouth, write it down, which slows the thinking down and gets it there in black and white.

Third, ask four questions. One, Is it true? Two, Can I absolutely know it’s true? Three, How do I react when I attach to that thought? Four, Who would I be without that thought? Take the common thought, “My partner should appreciate me more.”

1) Is it true? Well, it feels true, but what about the reality? What is the reality truth? The partner appreciates me some days, not on others.

2) Can I absolutely know that this is true? Well, if I were God I could, but since I’m not, I can’t absolutely know what’s true for my partner.

3) How do I react, when I attach to the thought that “my partner should appreciate me more?” Troubled. Angry. Victimized. Withdrawing. Complaining on the phone. Giving the partner the cold treatment. ( Notice: these are all consequences of our thinking, not of our partner.)

4) Who (or what) would I be without the thought? This takes a quietness and imagination, but usually brings us back to something very interesting.

And finally, the fourth part: Turn it around. “My partner should appreciate me more,” turns around to: I should appreciate my partner more. And: I should appreciate me more.

There is a website, ( and some at my site, There are two books, Loving What Is and I Need Your Love: Is that True? It’s simple, and it’s work, and it works if we do the work on the only one we can: ourselves.

We’ll explore this more, but for now the basics are four by four. Four processes: judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. And four questions: Is it true? Can I absolutely know it’s true? How do I react when I attach to the thought? Who ( or what) would I be without attachment to the thought?

That’s it. Simple. But, work. Give it a try, or an “little bit,” you are holding in grudge-land about your partner, or an ex-partner, or a parent. You might be very pleasantly surprised at how true is the phrase that, “The Truth will set you free.” And the truth isn’t something big and fancy, but it is deep and profound. It is discovering how we are the source of our own relationship unhappiness.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Paradigm Shift, the Duck Pond vs. swimming pool


In the old paradigm, we see “problems,” we panic and we throw a lot of force “against” the “problem.” If illness comes, we throw a drug against it. If a sore shoulder appears, we give it a shot or a massage or a physical therapy workout. If insects visit the garden or field, zap them with pesticides. If some person is "bugging" us, we get angry at them, or wish they would disappear. At the social level, “liberals” like to throw money at social “problems,” with little success, and “conservatives” like to throw money into war, with even less success.

In the new paradigm, we use our intelligence instead of our anxiety, and look for the systemic ways that the “problem,” now seen as an indicator of the malfunctioning of the whole, can lead us to upgrade the entire system. For dis-ease, we look for food, mental health, fresh air, happiness, and breathing to create well-being. In Feldenkrais, a sore shoulder is not a “bad” shoulder, but evidence of a stuck brain, unable to see the connections that a healthy shoulder needs to have with the ribs, spines, neck, pelvis, even the feet. Insects call for rich and healthy soil. The "annoying" person is an opportunity for us to get clear on how to be happy with ourselves and another when we aren't controlling the world. And social/political problems in these times when oil is going to run out and climate warming is happening (Katrina, 20% of North Pole ice cap gone) call for a bigger understanding.

While small potatoes (or peaches) compared to these issues, here’s a set of problems at the local level in Sonoma, California, and one possible non-paradigm set of solutions. At least it illustrates bringing a larger set of variables into the proposed change. The problems: 1) no pool for kids, 2) duck pond overflows poop into creek in winter (via storm drains), 3) Garden Park back orchard languishing, 4) airplane travel creates a huge CO2 debt ( a couple flying to Europe and back over 8 trees to the Earth).

The old paradigm solution for the duck poop problem is to throw money at it, a lot, almost $700,000. Wow. This route might even eliminate the once a year cleaning of the duck pond and taking of nutrients to the Garden Park, where it hasn’t made it to the back orchard the last two years.

The new set of possibilities: clean out the pond at least 4 times a year, so when the winter rains come it won’t be at its dirtiest. Take this tree food to the back orchard and copy one of the core principles of Nature: one organism’s waste is always food for others. Put the duck pond swimming pool money to use for a pool for kids and assisting the garden be a place where people can learn to grow their own food in the times ahead when everyone will need to know this. Have a voluntary self-tax of lucky far traveling locals to buy trees for their CO2 debt and contribute these trees to the garden and to local schools, so kids can begin to taste food grown close at hand. Charge people twice as much to use the pool if they drove there instead of walking or riding a bike. The big picture is big, and full of possibilities and is always more economical, since one part is helping another.

Chris Elms

Labels: , ,

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Three layers of awareness: gravity, breath, and light/sound

Three layers of awareness: gravity, breath, and light/sound

Unless you are reading this on a spaceship, gravity is king. It’s one of the big discoveries coming out of the womb. This is new, but it becomes a signature part of our human/ animal existence. We learn to get our head upright, to sit upright, to walk and then to stand. Even crawling, a grand accomplishment, is coupled with an upright head, looking ahead, eyes excited about what kinds of trouble we can get into and explore.

Ah, life. Anyway: what holds us up, is our skeleton, and to be aware of toes and ankles and legs and knees and hips, pelvis and spine, shoulders and arms and head, this is a grand undertaking, gives us a lot to pay attention to and can be a great alternative to the usual places we put attention. Think of this in simple terms as five lines, the two legs, the two arms and the spine to the head. How are we now, held up in gravity. Toes up through the spine? Sit bones up through spine? Lying on the back to read, one of life’s simple pleasure?

Keeping us alive, air comes in and out several times a minute. We can hold our breath for short periods, but it’s a vital and pleasant part of being alive, this breathing thing. We are alive. We breath. That much is taken care of in our animal existence. And to be human, is to be able to be aware of our breathing, as we do it. Even right now.

YEAH, EVEN THIS NOW, RIGHT NOW, we can be aware of breathing and our lungs and our ribs, held up by the spine, ribs and diaphragm expanding and contracting. Breathing and the toes, and all the rest of the skeleton, this we can be aware of right now.

We have eyes to see, ears to hear, again, this is part of our animal heritage. And what if we were aware of seeing while we were seeing and aware of hearing while we were hearing? This we could do, RIGHT NOW, the words of this page, the sounds around you and me, the light and colors in the room or outdoor space in which you read, in which I write. Sometimes smells come to us, sometimes tastes. Touch is a constant, we are always touching the world through our skeleton and gravity which always has us in contact somewhere on our body. Eyes and ears, though, if we are lucky enough to have sight and hearing, these can be the top level of our ongoing meditation: toes and five lines, breathing in the middle, and the eyes and ears on top, helping us to see where we are, RIGHT NOW, in the world.

We are always here, and the details, ah, this is our life. Now.

Might as well know, sense, be aware of our life now, as it is being lived. This seems a good, a grand step toward being happy, this coming to the present of our real reality, the gravity and breath and light and sound reality. That’s a lot, isn’t it?

Such a miracle to be alive.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Feldenkrais introduction 3, a new way of thinking

Life can be a burden, or a routine, or an adventure. With the proper wallet and disposition, we can find adventure in foreign lands or jumping out of airplanes or going the next step beyond coveting the neighbor’s spouse.

And yet…luckily for the human lot, we all have at hand, right now, this very instant, without any requirement of cash, status, proper dress, adequate body shape, or an other of the normal hoops we jump though in the burdened and routine life, without any of that, we can be present to this moment.

(See the article called Three Layers of Awareness: Skeleton, Breath and Light/Sound for a practical hands and mind on version of being present, now, this now and any now.)

I recently gave a presentation to a group of businessmen about the Feldenkrais Method®. One of the concepts I used most was of the work as the practical application of the title, The Elusive Obvious. One example they really enjoyed was the elusive obvious of what was involved in going from sitting to standing, the transferring of weight from the rear end to the feet. This was wonderfully obvious once their awareness was brought to the actual movement of their centers of gravity and its usefulness became obvious as they experienced as easier transition. While talking about sitting to standing could have gotten us nowhere for a long time, to actually move, and move in a new way, brought a concrete awareness of this shifting of weight, and Walla: another book title, awareness through movement came about.

Another aspect of the work I emphasized was the shifting out of habitual modes of movement. Again, with the sitting to standing movement, they could feel and experience their habitual way, and then notice the ease of an new way of going about this. As practical people they were well aware of the often crippling effects of routine behaviors and procedures, and as people in bodies, they appreciated feeling an easier way of doing something they had taken for granted as knowing “how to do.”

Having an option, they liked, as we all do, especially when the option creates a feeling of ease and potency. ( Another book title lurking here.). This option comes from various layers of awareness. An awareness of the elusive obvious that we are in the field of gravity; the elusive obvious that to move we must realize, consciously or unconsciously, that we have arms, legs, pelvis, feet ( a body as it were); the elusive obvious that sitting it sitting and standing is standing; the elusive obvious that this moving can take place in different ways.

This is an amazing batch of awarenesses when you think about it: we live in a field of gravity, we have a body that moves, we have habitual ways of moving, there are other possible ways of moving. As people ( we, or our students) go about exploring new ways of moving, whole new worlds of learning open up. People can discover that they are in a rush to “get it right,” that they hold their breath and clench up when an open ended situation appears, that they get into something like a panic when they don’t now “how to do it,” that fear of disapproval and hunger for approval can get in the way of learning something in small and digestible doses. We’ve all experienced this, and it is our great privilege to set up conditions wherein our students can begin to “learn to learn” the difference between learning and performance, a lesson that is worth learning over and over again.

This is a shift that we are offering, an amazing offer, the shift from the putting of attention of “getting it right,” to putting awareness on the many facets of curiosity: “What is my habit?,” “What are alternative ways of doing this?,” “What happens when I try this differently?,” “What is it like to do it even ‘worse’ than I usually do?,” “What is happening to my breathing while all this is going on?”

And so on. And hey, what is happening, in this nowish now place, to our breathing, and to our five lines and to our connection to gravity and light and sound? We’ve gone our whole lives without writing or reading whatever is to come next, a little pause to sink into pure physical awareness, that’s a nice thing, even while writing/reading, especially if our habit is never to pause in these activities.

And there, too, a new way of learning, the way of taking stock, of having rests, of giving pause to integrate and digest. Nice idea. Nice practice in this world of no more siestas, and no more praying and very little meditation in the day, except when we retreat from the day or the world. Taking the pause to hang out with not knowing, with taking in what we’ve gotten so far.

Which is: what we are doing is offering two branches of awareness. An awareness of what is, and an awareness of possibilities. Here’s a schematic I came up with during the rewrite, out on a lawn, in a Sonoma park, the sound of wind in the trees, the dappled light coming down between the sycamore leaves, the cooling feel of the late afternoon air, and still, the good old pen in certain fingers, moving across the page in a certain way.


We have one
It moves and ( almost) breaths
Of movement
And breathing/ not breathing
Of thought:
“Right way” to do something
Getting approval, fitting in, fear of disapproval
Getting it Done, performance

New combinations
Different speeds, usually slower, sometimes faster
Smaller is okay, sometimes large
Scope of movement
How other “parts” can be brought in
What inhibits; what “helps”
Effect on breathing, connection to breathing
New thinking
Rests are okay, good, wonderful
Not knowing is okay, good, wonderful
Discovery and experimentation
Doing it wrong for fun and learning
What is “our” way?
The joy of learning

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Another chapter: Truth in Relationship

A chapter from the book, Touch, Truth and Fun:

Friendship is a good word to remember when we talk about creating and maintaining a wonderful relationship. Touch, yes, we need that. Fun, that, too, is a great reason to hang out with another person. And then, day to day, when the sun rises in the morning, and when the fog comes rolling in, and when the rains begin to pour, or the rainbows begin to glisten, or the blues come over us, or we suddenly come up with a great idea, or we remembered something that makes us laugh, or we want to share something that we’ve learned and has a really excited, or want some clarification on something that is nagging at us, ah, yes, we want a friend.

We want a friend to have someone to talk to. We want a friend to have someone to listen to us. We want a friend as someone we can tell the truth to. And, though we often think at a superficial level that we don’t want this, we want a friend as someone who will tell us the truth.

Telling the truth. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Or maybe it sounds scary. Who knows, maybe the wind blows both ways, doesn’t matter. Look around you, remember in your own life, touch and fun can make a relationship happen for awhile, but without truth at the everyday core, you are going to have a dead relationship or a mechanical relationship, or you are going to have a collapsing one. And there are lots of arguments for encouraging the collapse and/or revitalization of moribund or mechanical relationship. And what is going to be crucial to this revitalization? You guessed it, truth.

So much for the theory and the glory of truth, let’s take one situation and see how a batch of variations in communication can either stray from or point toward truth. Let’s say, I’m having a bad day at my job and I’m worried what my boss might do and I come home and start to complain to my mate. And my mate interrupts me. I can respond in a bunch of ways to the mate’s interrupting me. Here’s some non-true ways:
– Shut up and stop interrupting me.
– You always interrupt me.
– You never let me get in a word edgewise.
– You should listen to me.
– You don’t understand me.
– You don’t support me when I really need it.
– You are such a creep/bitch/bastard.
– You are so insensitive, selfish, whatever, whatever.
– What’s wrong with you?

As anyone who’s been involved with another person can understand, all these statements are going to lead to more trouble and quarrelling. They tell a story about the other person, or imply what the other person is like or up to, but they don’t tell any truth about me, the speaker. These untrue, demeaning and demanding remarks, are just another layer of spears and slings being tossed from one person at another.

Now let’s try some statements with truth in them:
– I’m feeling worried about work and wish you’d listen without interruption.
– I want you to listen without interrupting.
– I feel ( angry, belittled, insecure) when you interrupt me.

Or to get to some radical truth telling:
– I’m feeling sorry for myself and want you to pity and take care of me.
– I’m feeling unappreciated at work and would like you to say a bunch of nice things about me.
– I’m angry at my bosses and afraid to pick a fight with them, so I’m temped to pick a fight with you. Ignore me if I say something stupid and help me out by suggesting something fun for us to do. In this grumpy state of mine, I can’t think of anything fun to do.
– I’m worried about work. Could you let me ramble on about it for awhile and not interrupt or give me any “help” later.
– I’m worried about work. Could you listen to me for awhile and then tell me what you think I should do.
– I’m feeling really insecure because of how work is going. How are you doing?
– I’m feeling like a big baby. Can you give me some love and attention, please?

All these statements tell my partner about me, and give them some room to respond from their own truth. You can see the difference. One set of statements is concerned with labeling and putting down the partner. All these statements take me out of my own business and put me in the partner’s business. They are all conjecture about the partner or demands of the partner.

The other set of remarks is about what I want or how I feel. My feelings might not be accurate. My boss might be crazy about me, but my feelings are true, as feelings. And when I am using truth to communicate what I want, there is no threat attached. So the partner gets to say Yes or No, and both are okay. Or that’s the theory.

This is so simple, and it took me a long time to figure it out. If my partner can’t say, “No,” to something I’m asking, if I’m going to have a big tantrum when they say, “No,” then I’m not really asking, I’m demanding. And on the other side, if they can say, “No,” and I’m okay with that, I don’t have to bottle up my requests for fear of the ,”No,” and I can be honest with what I want and they can know what I want, and we don’t have to get into the struggle where I’m trying to force them to give me what I want.

Life is like this. We want things. Sometimes we get them, sometimes we don’t. To be happy either way is one of the keys to true happiness, and the Work of Byron Katie, in my experience, is a royal route to this freedom from attachment. Either we are in our truth: I want you to laugh at my jokes. Or we are in the story/thought about how the other person should be: you are a jerk because you don’t laugh at my jokes.

One tells how we are ( wanting laughter at our jokes.)

The other tries to fight reality ( how dare you not laugh at my joke).

As Byron Katie says, when we fight Reality, we lose, but only always. And still, always, we can say what we want. We can listen to what our friend wants. We can find some time to have some good times together. This is what other people are for, isn’t it? For us to learn from and help and have a good time with? Seems like that to me.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Introduction to the Feldenkrais Method, 4

Moshe Feldenkrais lived from 1904 to 1984. He was born into a Hasidic Jewish family in what is now Poland and died in Israel. When he was fourteen, in 1024, he walked, on his own, from his hometown in Poland to Palestine and began his life as a laborer. By the time he died he had achieved a doctor of science in physics from the Sorbonne, had worked as both an engineer and a physicist in France and Israel, had become fluent in four or five languages, had been trained as the Western person to bring judo from Japan to Europe by the top Japanese judo master, and had invented a system of mental/physical improvement that has helped thousands around the world.

This system, the Feldenkrais method, has been useful in enabling children with cerebral palsy to walk for the first time without crutches, for enabling people who have had a stroke to regain use of both sides, for radically increasing the rate of improvement of people recovering from accidents. It also has helped highly skilled musicians like Yo Yo Ma and Yehudi Menuhin, and star athletes like Dr. J, formerly of the Philadelphia 76ers. In between it has been of great use to those feeling the various aches and pains of growing older, or those with sore backs, shoulders, hips and knees, and then also people wishing to add more ease to walking, skiing, dancing, golfing and so on.

So what is the core of this system that can be useful to people at so many levels of physical ability? The core is our innate human ability to learn, and the vast reservoir of forgotten and untapped connections in our brain that have to do with efficient and clear movement in our whole organism. This method is about re-learning and deepening our learning of such relationships as right hip to left shoulder, relationship of toes to spine, relationship of breathing to bending forward and arching back, and the hundreds of other relationships that go into walking or skiing and pushing a wheelbarrow.

One way to understand this is to examine the stimulus for Dr. Feldenkrais’ invention of this system. Knees. It was his knees, deep in trouble for repeated soccer injuries. For all his intellectual skills, he couldn’t stay away from judo, soccer and other activities. He once said that exercise was for lazy people, because if you lived a full and vital life, your zest for living would take you dancing or gardening or all the many fun things we can do, and that would keep you as in shape.

Anyway, his knees were a wreck and this was back before fancy surgery, at the end of the forties, I think, and the doctors told him an operation would yield a 50/50 chance of improving or crippling him. He thought this was the same as flipping a coin and opted to figure it out himself. Immersed in anatomy, physiology, movement systems existing, learning theory of the time, he put full attention of his own knees and what small movements there could reveal. What he discovered not only cured himself, but began to be useful to his acquaintances, and then, as it developed, to wider and wider groups of people.

What did he discover? The title of one of his few books is The Elusive Obvious. All his discoveries where of this nature. Movement in the knee must involve the ankle and the hip. Movement in the ankle must involve the foot and the toes. Movement in the hip must involve the pelvis, and that the spine and that the ribs and that the neck and that the eyes. And all of it, the brain, with its patterns and habits of neck and ribs and spine and pelvis, all having limiting effects on the knees moving in a free and natural way.

Also elusively obvious: as creatures out of the womb, our connection to gravity and to breathing shapes everything we do. Also elusively obvious, especially to anyone who has studied marital arts, the pelvis as near the center of our movement, and central to our balance, and the eyes as the key to our orientation as we go about moving. From his pediatrician wife, he may have tuned in on the amazing journey an infant takes from being able to suck and turn the head, to being able to walk as a toddler. Each of those stages was full of movement that had to be efficient because the baby didn’t have a lot of extra muscle to fling around the body in off kilter ways.

Basically, this is the Feldenkrais method, the use of our attention to discover more of ourselves, how we relate from one part of our marvelous organism to another, what are our habits and what can be possible if we begin to break free of those habits. Learning who we are, and more important, how we are, and how we could be if we had more options in our movement repertoire.

Enough theory. Feldenkrais work is nothing if not concrete. Let’s start with knees. The right knee to be specific. Move the right knee to the right. No wait. Close your eyes, and sense your legs and arms and spine. If you can do this lying on the floor with your right foot on the ground so your right knee is raised, even better. But start by scanning your whole body, and noticing what the right leg feels like, and the left, what the right arm, and the left. How your spine is resting on the floor or holding you up as you sit. How your breathing is going.

Now, begin to move your right knee to the right and back to center. Slowly. Enjoying it and noticing what else is involved. Now rest. Lots of rests in this work, to give the brain and nervous system time to learn whatever is available to be learned. Now resume the movement of right knee to the right and back to center. Pay attention to what is happening in the foot as you do this. See if you notice the shift in weight from the big toe side of the foot to the little toe side. Now notice the effects in the hip. Now rest. Now resume the movement but add on moving the toes to the right, while leaving the heel on the floor as it is. So, knee to right and toes to right and then back to center. Notice if this has a bigger impact on the hip. Now rest.

Now, turn the head to the left. Easily, gently, with awareness and no attempt to push. Awareness is key. A tiny movement with awareness is worth hundreds of times more than a big stretching movement without awareness. Keep turning the head and noticing what else is involved. Now rest.

Now combine the two movements. Move the head to the left and the knee to the right. And then move the head to the left and both the knee and the toes to the right, as before keeping the heel stable. Notice how these two movements can become one. Try this. For three times breathe out as the knee and toes and head open out and see how that feels. Now, for three times breathe in as the knee and toes and head open out. See if one way feels easier and then adopt that breathing with your movement. Now rest.
Now with eyes closed, imagine a spot in front of you that you will keep the eyes on as you move the head to the left. Then, keeping the eyes fixed forward, move the head to the left and back to center, so eyes stay “looking” straight ahead while the head turns to the left and then returns to center.. Do it enough so you can do it and breathe smoothly while you do it. Now rest. Now, with eyes closed again, imagine a median line going straight out from you and make little movements so the head turns left from that median line and the eyes shift to the right. At the same time, not one after another. Eyes right, head/nose left, little movements with breathing, comfort and awareness. Now rest.

Now, put it all together. Right knee and right toes go to the right. Head goes to the left. Eyes go to the right Breathing in the way you discovered earlier was most comfortable to you while you do this movement. Now rest. Now do this again, head to left and knees and toes to right, and with eyes closed, but as if the eyes are following the knee. Do this until it’s comfortable. Then rest.

Now, let everything go to the right together, head, eyes, knees and toes. See how that feels. Then rest.

Now, imagine moving the right knee and toes to the left. Then imagine moving the head to the right and the eyes to the left. Then imagine moving the right knee and toes to the left, head to the right and eyes following the knee to the left. Breathe along with this as you imagine it. Then rest. Then do the various movements with the right knee going left, head going right and eyes going left Then rest. Then do with right knee, right toes, head and eyes, everything to the left. Then rest. Then scan yourself and notice the difference between the right and left leg. Notice any other difference from when you started.

Now get up and walk around and notice differences.

If you wish to imagine or do this series with the left knee, so slow and enjoy each movement.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Me, me, me vs. Reality

This is where we get in trouble in relating to others. We want this, and we want that. They should appreciate us or love us more, they should pay attention to us, or leave us alone. They should be in a better mood, or be calmer. The me, me, me wants the partner to make my life sweeter and easier and more agreeable.

And yet, they have other ideas. They don’t like us today. They have a toothache. They have problems at work. Things are going on in their life and minds that aren’t revolving around us.

Or, even worse, sometimes, they are revolving around us, but in their own me, me, me way. So each partner is busy demanding: you should love me more, you should appreciate me more, you should listen to me more, you should admit you are wrong. Those four could cover the underlying territory of most arguments, with this being the basis of them all: you should treat me better. With, of course, the me, me, me defining what “better” is.

So, how to get out of this mess? Do the Work, write down the shoulds and shouldn’ts and ask four questions and turn them around. Each and every time we do this we can come to understand that just because the me, me, me has a program for the other person, that doesn’t mean that the other person is going to go along with it.

This is a back door to understanding what love is, since love wants the other person to be who they are, not who they “should” be according to our wishes and wants. We can move back to love, if we see the other person without the story, which is what question four ( Who or what would I be without attachment to the thought?) brings us to. So why not just say: love everyone for what they are?

Because most of us can’t do that yet. Byron Katie’s work, in its honesty that judging is what we do most often, lets us off the hook of being any better than we really are. And then the four questions begin to set us free from the bondage of going around demanding that our me, me, me program be enforced. And the turn around gives us all the work we might ever need to do on ourselves. No need to pay anyone to discover where we need to work: just take our judgments ( you should be more kind to me) and turn them around ( I should be more kind to you. I should be more kind to myself.)

This is a source of humor, the realization that so much of our sorrow comes from the me, me, me point of view. No need to berate ourselves for being selfish. It’s just the way the world has run itself into the ground for centuries. We don’t need to be pure. We don’t need to be pure love. We don’t need to automatically forgive. Something deeper than forgiveness comes out of the work. What comes is a realization that these others, about whom we were so agitated, were just being like us, lost in their own me, me, me land.

So we have the way into misery in our relating: see everything in term of me, me, me. And we have the way out: be honest about our demands, write them down, ask four questions and turn them around. The great relief is that the world is full of people we can treat we affection and enjoyment and kindness and all the other things we are busy demanding. This gives us practice in what we are preaching and shows us a way to act that surmounts the loneliness to which the me, me, me state of existence always condemns us. Want to be free? Look within, find the truth, smile at what our demanding is doing to us, and imagine and then practice, who would we be if we just say others for what they were?

Labels: , , ,