You can do nothing more valuable than realise who you are. – Byron Katie
How would you react if you learnt one of your senses was to be lost? When inspirational teacher Byron Katie thinks about her impending vision loss, she smiles contemplatively and says ‘good’. While this may initially seem like a strange response, her practice is one which has transformed my life, along with many others. Are you ready for the ‘good’ challenge?
I love that the world is waking up to waking up. More and more people are seeing clearly that the old ways need to be updated or completely replaced. The new paradigm of how we live here on Planet Earth is emerging. I’m excited by the diverse options to help us recognise our innate state of enlightenment. Everywhere I turn there are invitations to workshops, seminars, retreats, where we can: fast, meditate, practise yoga, be in silence, experience catharsis, purge, take ayahuasca or Kambo frog medicine. We can visit sweat lodges for ritual, ceremony and insights. We can find all sorts of dynamic meditation to emotionally clear; arrive at forgiveness, heal trauma and the list goes on and on and on …
Of course, for many of these noble pursuits we need to invest time, money and energy. Sometimes it’s great to leave it all behind and go on a self-nurturing sabbatical where we give ourselves full permission to explore and express who we truly are. There’s a great sense of rest and nourishment for our nervous systems. There’s a feeling of coming home to true essence. But when we return to our ‘real’ lives we can quickly slip back into old habits and old patterns of behaviour we know will lead us once more to the ‘need’ for another break from our ‘exhausting reality’ in six to twelve months. It becomes an endless cycle of rupture and repair.
Many teachers and gurus tell their students that they are not so much interested in the one hour a day that they spend meditating but more interested in the other twenty-three hours. This has always resonated with me. Surely, it’s about the dedication and the vigilance of waking up 24/7? But who has the time, right?
I wanted a practice that could really help me stay present, every day. A practice that would cost me nothing but commitment. I wanted something that I could weave into my every waking moment and would also help rewire my neural pathways when I slept.
The ‘Good’ Approach
I love The Work of Byron Katie. It’s simple in its approach without diluting the need for doing the work, actually delving deep into self-enquiry for your own true authentic answers. Byron Katie speaks of the vigilance and practise needed until it becomes a natural habit. One of the most effective ways to cultivate a new way of directly experiencing life, a fresh way that turns old thinking on its head, is to challenge our sequential thinking.
In her book, A Thousand Names for Joy, Byron Katie enters into a call and response with life that is so seemingly understated that I barely thought about the powerful impact it might have. She simply started to say “Good” to every single thing that happened in her daily experience. This included the big dramatic things (Byron Katie faced losing her sight) to the mundane and seemingly insignificant moments, like stubbing your toe, or missing the bus or being irritated by a dog barking or the rain starting just when you finished hanging out the washing. It was a simple noticing of what is happening and then the response, “Good.”
And right there and then it hit me … this is the challenge I’ve been waiting for. And I could start it right now. I was eager to start. And with just that thought I said, “Good”. If in the face of going blind Byron Katie could say “Good” then I could certainly give it a go.
I was blown away at how fast things changed for me. It was like my old habits were caught in their tracks, old responses were left dazed and confused. I could almost hear the cogs in my brain clunkily slowing down and re-evaluating my reaction and habitual responses. In just that pause, when I said “Good”, I had a whole new reality. This is the key to the basis of Byron Katie’s work … to stop arguing with reality.
Old Way: My car won’t start!
“Damn, I’m going to be late. I don’t need this stress. Bloody mechanics just ripping me off. I bet they caused this problem. I haven’t got time for this. My whole day is ruined. Life sucks … why is this happening to me?”
New Way: My car won’t start!
“Good. I get to call for help. I get to have a little rest. I get to take this time to breathe and reflect on how ‘busy’ I think I am. I get to see the ‘good’ in this situation. I get to challenge myself to see the reality that life keeps giving to me and not the reality that my mind keeps inventing. I get to stay with the facts and away from interpretation. This feels GOOD.”
It had a profound effect on me. In short, I was in a better mood from the moment I took up the challenge. I instantly saw how much unreal and unnecessary drama that my mind keeps creating. This drama keeps me down and steals my energy. I also began to laugh out loud. It was as though I was suddenly planted on the set of a really funny sit-com. I began to see how grown adults all around me were behaving in learned or habitual ways that were actually hysterical. There was so much complaint all around me. There was so much complaint about me not complaining. People would say, ‘You don’t seem bothered? That would really piss me off.” And in that I just kept smiling and fully appreciating the simplicity in disidentifying with suffering.
The clearer your mind gets, the more it projects a friendly universe, until one day it occurs to you that you haven’t had a problem in a very long time. – Byron Katie
So … here’s the challenge. Say “Good” to all your experiences. Especially the ‘bad’ ones. And remember to say, “Good” to the good ones too. Just see what happens to your perspective on your life, your aliveness, your engagement, your participation etc.
Please let us know how you get on. It might give you that excuse you’ve been looking for to start your journal. Document how this challenge infiltrates your thoughts and behaviours. Give it at least a week … Write your experiences or feelings in the comments below.
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