Monday, March 06, 2006

Monday, March 6: Reality Kinder than our Story

I met a new person yesterday and she had a great example of something we come up with again and again when we do the work of Byron Katie. We find out that our story about reality is so much often less kind than reality itself. In her case, she had sent a demo tape of her singing to someone and hadn’t heard back and had decided, if that’s the right word, which it is, actually, that the guy who had received her tape hated it. Finally she called and he said he’d been too busy to listen to it.

Even in the worst cast, supposedly, the guy actually listening to and hating the tape, the story is usually something like this: this is the end of my life; this is a tragedy; this proves that something is wrong with me. That’s the story. The reality in that scenario would still have been kinder than these stories, the reality that he didn’t like it.

When people don’t like us or our music or our blogsites or our clothes or whatever they want to busy themselves not liking, it’s their business. If we tell a story about how their approval or lack thereof is important to us, then we make it our business and go about hurting ourselves.

But this is a choice we need not make.

Recall the work of Byron Katie: Judge your neighbor (friend, mate, parent, child, etc.). Write it down. Ask four questions. Turn it around. All of therapy and most of Buddhism in four steps, with the four sub-steps of asking four questions.

Judge, though, the first step. So and so should treat me better. That kind of thing. Or the self-judgments: I’m no good.

Second step: write it down. Face the reality of how short and brutal are the set of words behind our misery. “Dad should have been nicer.” “The ex shouldn’t have left me.” “I should have more money.”

Third step: Ask four questions. Is it true? Can I really know it’s true? How do I feel and react when I attach to this thought (i.e. believe that it’s the truth)? And who would I be without the thought, or without attaching to the thought?

Fourth step, turn it around. “I should have been nicer to Dad.” “I should have been nicer to myself.” “I shouldn’t have left myself when the ex left me.” “I shouldn’t have more money until I have more money.” The turnarounds work superbly in relationship. You are selfish. I am selfish. You don’t listen. I don’t listen. You don’t love me enough. I don’t love you enough. The upside down is always true, at least a little bit, which is enough to come to humor and humility.

And the third question: how do we react when we hold the story that so and so has listened to our demo tape and hates it. We feel frightened, or miserable, or depressed, or furious, or defeated, or whatever. These are all our job, what we are doing to ourselves with our story.

And without the story: So and so either likes or doesn’t like my writing, my demo, my Feldenkrais class. Our job, like what’s good in it, make what can be made better better, have fun going about this game. Once we start to examine our stories and how we make ourselves miserable with them, life can get pretty interesting. A dance of awareness and falling back to sleep and waking up again.

Endless learning, as we can find in the Feldenkrais work, when we begin to discover deeper and deeper subtleties to how we move. (Coming April 21-23, a workshop that combines the work of Byron Katie and Feldenkrais. See the listing below on various offerings)



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