Friday, January 05, 2007

Happiness and The Work

The importance of happiness.

This seems obvious, doesn’t it? That it’s important to be happy?

And then, when we aren’t happy, we have all our reasons that we cling to like a magnetic poison: it is so and so’s fault. If only this had happened. If only they hadn’t done that. If only….

Which is to say, we are so sure that our happiness (and unhappiness) is the fault to something, someone, somehow outside of ourselves.

Then along comes the woman who goes by the name of Byron Katie , holding out this possibility: our suffering has one cause and one cause only: our relationship to our thoughts. And she doesn’t expect us to believe or accept her interpretation. There is no prescription in what she calls, the Work, to “let go” of your thoughts, to “let go” of your beliefs.

(Katie is coming to Sonoma on February 6 c/o our own wonderful...Readers' Books...)

She opens up options, and that leads to freedom. (Interestingly enough, this is what Feldenkrais work does, too.).

Her first gift, is the gift of setting us back into honesty. We don’t have to pretend to be “above” all the petty nonsense with which we drive ourselves crazy. Her first injunction is : Judge Your Neighbors.

Her second is: Write it down.

So, off we go, writing down the stuff we dislike and hate and are annoyed with in others: Dad shouldn’t have judged me. Mom should be nicer. Son should be more….. Daughter shouldn’t….. This person should have …..

And actually, you work through one person at a time, so you make a whole laundry list of all the things Dad or Mom or daughter or son or ex-mate should and shouldn’t do or have done. You judge. You write it down, writing being a way of slowing down the chatter and the obsessive swirl of thoughts. ( Interestingly enough, Feldenkrais works with slowing down, there of moving; again: go slower if you want more awareness.)

So Judge Your Neighbor, Write it Down, and then what? Ask Four Questions and Turn it Around.

Aha. The famous four questions. Which are: (see as well:

1) Is it true?

2) Can I absolutely know it’s true?

3) How do I react when I believe that thought?

4) Who would I be without that thought?

Seems simple enough, and yet, these are questions to bring us to and even amused and sometimes horrified self awareness. Let’s take an example, someone has a ex-spouse and the spouse is saying nasty things about them.

So the thought could be X should stop saying nasty things.

Question One asks: 1. Is it true that X should stop saying nasty things? Now, social convention and good manners and positive psychology and Oprah would all say Yes indeed, but we are talking reality here, as in: who is in charge of X? If we are in charge of X (i.e., are the God we imagine/wish to be), then fine, we can turn of X’s bad mouth. But that mighty force Reality says, X is X and at this point in time X is into the nasty thing saying.

Oh, well. The reality is X is saying nasty things. So that’s it. The reality truth, not the be good truth, not the world as we want it truth, is that X should do what X is doing.

Second question, if we can’t get behind that way of seeing things, we can ask: 2. Is it absolutely true that X should stop saying nasty things? Absolutely, as in: we understand the higher meaning of the Universe, and we know that it is in the Higher interest of the Universe and our life, and we absolutely know this, that X should be behaving better.

This is pretty hard to say yes, to.

Okay, enough of that.

Now the consequence question: the third question: 3.How do I react when I attach to the thought that X should stop saying nasty things?

Well, we react with anger and sadness and distraction and worry and ….You know the list. And also: we glare at X, or say bad things about X, or refuse to speak to X, or yell at X. These, too, are part of the consequences of my attachment to the thought.

So, here’s were the self realization comes in: this trouble is coming from our attachment to our thoughts about X’s behavior. Not from X's behavior. Our thoughts are cauasing all that pain, and this isn't theory: bad feeling by bad feeling, judgment written down by judgment written down we ask number 3 and come up with the consequences FOR OURSELVES OF OUR ATTACHMENT TO THE THOUGHT.


And then question four: Who would I be without the thought that X should stop saying nasty things?

And this is not saying: drop it. This is not saying: let it go. This is not saying: thought is bad and we must rise above it, or stiffle it, or go to silence/ peace and Realization.


This is saying: imagine for a second or two, or more, what and how we would feel and be if we just looked at or visualized X, but without any thoughts in my head that X should stop saying nasty thing? Just saw them as a blank slate as it were. This is a way of trying out the world without my thought, without my attachment to our thought.

(This is about giving our brains options, which, interestingly enough, is core to how the Feldenkrais Way gets such dramatically better results than all the systems telling you the "right way" to do things.)

So, we see how and who we are with the thought, which is question three. And we can see and test out who and what we’d be without the thought, this is question four.

So, that’s three fourths of the four part deal:
Judge your neighbor.
Write it down.
Ask four questions.
Turn it around.

The turn around is just to take the sentence: X should stop saying nasty things about me and "turn it around" in two ways:

One: I should stop saying nasty things about X.
(This is saying to me: can I practice my own medicine?)

Two: I should stop saying nasty things about me.
(This is why I feel bad when X says nasty things about me. When I believe these things since I'm saying the same thing to myself, it's going to "hurt" when X says them.)

So, that’s the Work: Judge. Write. Ask. Turn around.

Sounds simple, or too easy, and it’s not. It’s work, and it requires time and paper and intelligence and going inside to our real heart intelligence, to real honesty.

And the pay off is this: we can be free from our suffering, one thought at a time.

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:
WakeUp Feldenkrais®
Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
for the last two essays.)

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