• The Work of Byron Katie:
    An Extraordinary Tool for Wellbeing

    Ihave recently become fascinated by the work of Byron Katie and I am excited to share it here because I think it is the most powerful tool I have discovered to date. I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on it below:

    “Byron Katie has rocked my world and shaken loose my mind more thoroughly than any other spiritual teacher I’ve ever encountered, living or dead.” —Elizabeth Gilbert

    I created this pattern as an experiment in Procreate (iPad app). I found the recolouring options frustrating so I then took it to Illustrator. I’ve not given up on Procreate though – more practice necessary!

    Byron Katie (or Katie as many call her) has an intriguing story. Following almost a decade of severe depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts, she suddenly woke up one day and saw things differently – or in her words, “woke up to reality.’ She realised that what had been causing her depression was not the world around her, but the beliefs she’d had about the world. It was an epiphany that was to change her life forever and has seen her go on to helps millions of people.

    I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that.

    Byron Katie

    The following excerpts from Katie’s audio book ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life’ explain how Katie’s process of inquiry she calls ‘The Work’ can help radically shift your perspective, setting you free from suffering:

    Suffering is optional. Whenever we experience a stressful feeling, anything from mild discomfort to intense sorrow, rage or despair, we can be certain that there is a specific thought causing our reaction, whether or not we are conscious of it. The way to end our stress is to investigate the thinking that lies behind it, and anyone can do this by himself with a piece of paper and a pen. Through ‘The Work’ – Katie also calls it ‘Inquiry’ – we discover that all the concepts and judgments we believe, or take for granted, are distortions of things as they really are. When we believe our thoughts, instead of what is really true for us, we experience the kinds of emotional distress we call suffering. Suffering is a natural alarm warning us that we are attaching to a thought. When we don’t listen, we come to accept this suffering as an inevitable part of life. It’s not.

    Fill out the Judge Your Neighbour Worksheet (which you can download on thework.com)
    Write down your thoughts about someone who upsets you – a situation past or present that feels unresolved in your life. (Katie suggests that if you new to inquiry don’t start with yourself. It is easier to do our judgements of others.)

    Ask:
    1. Is it true?
    2. Can you absolutely know that it is true? (Invites people to inquire more deeply.)
    3. How do react when you think that thought?
    4. Who would you be without this thought?
    5. The Turnaround: This is a chance to experience alternatives to the original statement that may be as true or truer.

    Notice when your thoughts argue with reality. The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with ‘what is’. When the mind is perfectly clear ‘what is’ is what we want. If you want reality to be different to what it is you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try and in the end the cat will look up at you and say meow. You can spend the rest of your life trying to make a cat bark, and yet if you pay attention you’ll notice that you think thoughts like that dozens of times a day: – people should be kinder – the queue at the supermarket should be shorter – my husband should agree with me – I should be fatter, thinner, more successful. When you argue with reality you lose 100% of the time.
    The work reveals that what you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did. No thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance or the confusion of your inner struggle.


    Judge your neighbour.
    Write it down.
    Ask four questions.
    Turn it around.


    The power in this process cannot be denied if you hear it in action on ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life’ (available on Audible). I think that to really make this process work for you it is necessary to dedicate a significant amount of time to listen to (or read) Katie’s material. I have found that the more books of hers I read the easier it is to understand Katie’s way of looking at the world and how it can be applied to my own. It is time very well spent in my opinion.

    If you want reality to be different to what it is you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try and in the end the cat will look up at you and say meow. When you argue with reality you lose 100% of the time.

    You can learn more about Byron Katie and ‘The Work’ at her website thework.com. There are free resources and videos on her site, and there is a large selection of books available on Audible. I think audio is a great way to be introduced to this process, as much of the content in Katie’s books is dialogue. I suggest starting with ‘Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life‘ and ‘Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life‘ The latter really does offer a lot of insight by letting us hear the process as it is applied to people’s real-life situations. Some of the stories are heartbreaking and yet she is able to help them see through the pain to another perspective. I found it truly compelling and inspirational.
    I hope you find ‘The Work’ as exciting and as helpful as I do. Have a great week,
    Bren X

    Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life
    Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

  • Tim Ferriss’s Jar of Awesome:
    Celebrating the Small Wins

    Ijust adore Tim Ferriss’s Jar of Awesome concept! I have adopted it for my kids.
    The idea is simple: every day celebrate ‘the small wins’ by writing down the awesome things that happened on small pieces of paper. Fold them up and put them in a jar. When you are feeling down, or lacking inspiration, they are there to uplift you.

    If you don’t celebrate the small things, you’re not actually going to be very good at celebrating the big things either.

    Tim Ferriss


    We use strips of origami paper to write our awesome things on to make it more appealing. The kids love it and it is fascinating what they come out with – it’s not always what I’d expect!


    For my art hit this week I have recoloured a pattern I created some time ago, this time experimenting with the recolour artwork tool in Illustrator CC. I hope you like the results.
    These patterns are available for licensing – please contact me for details.



    Have a great, gratitude-filled week!
    Bren

  • A Mindfulness Tool for Unwanted Thoughts

    Today I would like to share a tool I learned years ago when I was struggling with anxiety. It can be an extremely effective tool with practice, even though on the surface it seems very simplistic. I think I originally learned it from the spiritual teacher Jack Kornfield.

    My creation this week uses a mix of media. I created the bird by lino-cutting. I then took it into Photoshop and completed the composition using a combination of drawing and photography. Copyright Bren Michelle 2017.

    When you first become aware of a thought that is unwanted or unhelpful, imagine you are on a bus. Ask yourself if you are happy with the direction the thought is going in. The bus is a metaphor for the thought. Is this a bus you want to be on? Is it taking you somewhere you would like to go? The final destination may be somewhere very unpleasant and difficult to get back from.

    Is this a bus you want to be on? Is it taking you somewhere you would like to go? The final destination may be somewhere very unpleasant and difficult to get back from.

    If the thought is unhealthy, make the decision to get off the bus. When I do this I visualise pressing the button, hearing the buzzer it triggers and feeling the bus slow to a halt. I step off the bus and into the warmth of the sun.
    It helps to have a place to go immediately; I like to think of three things that I’m grateful for (new things each time) so that my brain does not default back to the unhelpful thought. If gratitude practice doesn’t appeal to you, choose something that you like to think about. A healthy problem for the brain to work on is an ideal distraction – what your next art piece will be, what to have for dinner, what to do on the weekend etc – anything that can engage the brain long enough to change course.
    It takes quite a lot of practice but can be powerful – especially when adapted to suit yourself. Allow yourself to be curious because some thoughts need to be investigated or explored (and some very important thoughts make us uncomfortable), but become an expert at recognising when it is a good time to get off the bus. With time, just pressing the buzzer may be enough to switch the thought off.
    This tool can be a good one to teach kids too. I hope that is helpful. Good luck!