The best information on how to do The Work of Byron Katie is at the official site for The Work: www.thework.com
However, this is a tutorial I wrote for a friend, who was already slightly familiar with The Work. The Work consists of four questions and a turnaround that you can apply to any stressful thought, in order to find out the truth about it.
Question 1: Is it true?
Close your eyes, get very quiet and still, and test each answer internally. Spend the same amount of time with each answer. Pick the answer that feels the best to you. For me, the answer I pick feels good in my chest and relaxes my muscles (I notice it most in my arms and legs). If neither answer feels particularly good, pick ‘I don’t know’. There is no right answer. Just choose the most honest answer for you.
Question 2: Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
Close your eyes again and test the answers internally. If you’re stumped, ask yourself if you could know more than God, or if you can really know what’s best for you. There is no right answer for this one, either. Just pick the most honest answer.
Question 2a: What’s the evidence?
This is an unofficial question that Katie sometimes uses. If you’re working on an old or particularly chunky thought, asking this question can reveal thoughts that underpin the original thought (be sure to answer q 1 and 2 first). For example:
Boyfriend doesn’t care about me.
What’s the evidence?
– He plays video games while I’m talking
– He talks over me
– He is never on time to our dates
If we take the first piece of evidence as an example, you could start with ‘He plays video games while I’m talking, is it true?’ which may turn out to not be true (maybe he pauses the game to listen). If it is true, you might try ‘That he plays video games while I’m talking means he doesn’t care about me – is it true?’ and go from there.
Once you’ve finished working on the evidence, go back to ‘Boyfriend doesn’t care about me – is it true?’ and answer the remaining questions.
Question 3: How do I react when I believe the thought that …?
Be as thorough as you possibly can. How do you feel emotionally, how do you feel in your body, what do you say to yourself, what do you say to other people (how do you treat them), what do you do. Consider all possible consequences, even if you don’t write them all down.
Question 4: Who am I without the thought that..?
This is a very important question, so you need to give it time. Close your eyes. Imagine your life exactly as it is now — nothing has changed, except that you aren’t able to think the thought. Don’t use your brain for this, be passive and receptive and wait for the person you are without the thought to arise within you. Embody that person and feel what it’s like to be him. Once you’ve sat being that person for as long as you like, write down your answer. Answer in the present tense, e.g. ‘I feel very blessed and very loved. I am relaxed and free. I am so grateful for Boyfriend. I look at him with love and bless every cell of his body. I feel so grateful when he shows up for our dates. When I look at him or think about him I burst with joy and love. When he plays games I just stare at the back of his head, lost in his beauty. I feel amazing and so happy.’
After you’ve answered these questions, read over your answers and notice the difference between the two. Realise that the only difference between these scenarios is THE THOUGHT. Your pain has nothing to do with the situation, and everything to do with the thought.
Question 5: Is there a peaceful or stress-free reason to keep the thought that …?
This is another unofficial question that I find particularly useful when I’m feeling unsure or weird about the process thus far. If I can think of a stress-free answer I write it down, then immediately do The Work on it. Once I finish, I look for more stress-free reasons to keep the original thought. If I can’t think of any, I put ‘No’ and move on to the turnarounds.
Turn it around.
For each turnaround, come up with at least 3 reasons why the turnaround is as true or truer than the original thought. It doesn’t matter what these reasons are as long as they’re real, concrete and honest, and don’t contain any ‘positive thinking’ e.g.:
– Boyfriend cares about me
1. He does my chores when I’m sick, tired or feeling lazy.
2. He holds me when I’m scared and says very logical and reassuring things.
3. He lifts heavy things and opens stuck jars for me.
An example of a positive thinking reason might be: ‘Because I am awesome and worth caring about’, i.e. not a real reason based on fact.
If you have a thought that starts with ‘I need’, I find it can be useful to list 3 reasons why it would be better for the feared thing to happen. e.g. if the original thought was ‘I need to be published’:
– I don’t need to be published
Reasons it could be better not to be published:
1. I wouldn’t have to go to stressful book signings
2. I wouldn’t have the stress of writing to deadlines, I could just write whenever I want
3. I wouln’t have to do any travel.
Sometimes rephrasing the original thought does wonders. I get great results from rephrasing the original into something beginning with ‘I need’. For example, ‘I need Boyfriend to care about me’. Often things I thought I wanted or needed aren’t actually important to me.
Remember that you’re not being asked to give up the thought, or stop thinking the thought. You can keep it if you like, so don’t feel threatened. This is just an experiment. Remember that the thought may come up again, and that’s ok. If it comes up again and you feel stressed, there’s more Work to do. If there’s no stress, you’ve given up believing the thought, which is where the stress comes from. Be happy!