What is The Work of Byron Katie?
The Work is a process of internal inquiry leading to personal insights and self-realisation.
It is a bridge to our inner world, a method of contemplation of our thoughts, a reflection on the effect that believing them has on our life and on our relationships with ourselves and others. It is a way to resolve past trauma, hurt and fear as it dispels the frightening images and impressions of our past and the mirage of our future.
It is a way of experiencing ourselves beyond our belief system and thereby ending our own suffering. It is a path to inner wisdom, joy, peace and deep connection. It is an invitation to discover the Truth of who we are.
It is so simple, anyone can do it. All it requires is on open mind and the desire to know the truth.
How to do The Work
For thousands of years we’ve been told not to judge, but we still do it all the time—how our friends should act, who our children should care about, what our parents should feel, do, or say. In The Work, rather than suppress these judgments, we use them as starting points for self-realization. By letting the judging mind have its life on paper, we discover through the mirror of those around us what we haven’t yet realized about ourselves. BK
We start by identifying a thought about others, the world or our own life that is causing stress and we write it down. Then we investigate it, using the four questions and the turnarounds of The Work given below, finding a minimum of three examples for each turnaround.
Examples of thoughts that could be brought to inquiry: “My mother doesn’t approve of me.”, “People are selfish.” or “My health is declining.”
The four Questions and turnarounds of The Work of Byron Katie.
2. Can you absolutely know that it is true? Again, the answer can only be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
3. How do you react when you believe this thought? Look inside of yourself and report how you feel, how you treat yourself and the other people involved, and how you live your life when you believe that thought.
4. Who would you be without that thought? Imagine yourself in the same situation, without believing that thought.
The Turnarounds and examples
a. Turnaround to the self: Look at how you do to yourself what you accuse the other person of doing to you.
b. Turnaround to the other: Look at how you do to that person what you accuse them of doing to you.
c. Turnaround to the opposite: Look for genuine and specific examples of the opposite of your belief.
Give a minimum of three genuine and specific examples that demonstrate how each turnaround is as true or truer than the original statement.
Stressful belief: He is rejecting me (situation: He is telling me he’d rather go to an event on his own).
1. Is it true? Yes.
2. Can I absolutely know that it is true? Yes.
3. How do I react when I believe that thought? I feel sad and hurt. My chest feels heavy. I avoid looking at him. I withdraw. I blame myself for not being good enough. I try to smile casually. I say something hurtful to him. I pretend that I don’t care.
4. Who would I be without the thought? Much more at ease in his presence. Listening carefully to what he is saying. Grateful that he is spending some time with me now. A friend.
Turnarounds to the self: I am rejecting me. Example: I see myself as unworthy. I am in denial of my true feelings. I tell myself that I deserve to be rejected.
Turnaround to the other: I am rejecting him. Example: I don’t respect his choice. I find a lot of things wrong in him. I disconnect from him.
Turnaround to the opposite: He is not rejecting me. Example: He is talking to me kindly. He is just explaining how he feels. He is expressing his opinion and wishes.
See Byron Katie’s books for detailed information on how to do The Work and apply it in your life.
The Work as a written meditation
Doing The Work in writing keeps the mind focused on the inquiry. For that purpose, a worksheet is available for download here. It is used to investigate one single belief at a time.
Written Inquiry Worksheet
Benefiting from the insights of others
You may find it helpful to watch other people do The Work with Katie (especially at the beginning), to discover that thoughts are not personal and that the cause of our suffering is universal. Often, listening to someone else’s inquiry leads to profound personal insights.
There are dozens of videos available on Katie’s YouTube site. Here is a video of her doing The Work with a man who investigates his childhood memories of his parents and money.
The Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheet
Once you have experienced doing The Work with some of your individual beliefs, you may want to go deeper and explore all that is going on in your mind when you find yourself in a stressful situation so that in turn, you will be able to undo even the most entrenched of your beliefs, the ones that are fuelling your suffering in your current life.
The Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheet is a way to harvest such thoughts on paper. Then each single thought on the worksheet can be questioned with either a facilitator or in writing using a One-Belief-At-A-Time worksheet.
Click on the button below to download a Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheet for printing.
Capture your thoughts on paper
In this video, Katie explains in detail how to fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheet.
In the following video, Katie gives details about the advantages of doing The Work from a Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheet.
The Work with a facilitator
Doing The Work on your own or with the support of a facilitator is a matter of personal preference.
Anyone could hold you in inquiry by asking you the four questions and inviting you to the turnarounds and examples. However, you may want to enroll the services of someone who has walked this path and benefit from their experience. There is a free helpline where volunteers will take you through the process.
Should you wish to experience The Work with a Certified Facilitator, I invite you to contact me for a session. The first session is offered for a donation left to your discretion. You can also join one of my workshops, no prior experience of The Work is necessary.
In this short video, Katie explains why doing The Work with a Faciliator is often more powerful than working on your own.
This post is also available in: French