Autumn 2011 – Most of us are familiar with niggling thoughts that scratch away at our consciousness, robbing our peace of mind and getting in the way of our enjoyment of life. Such thoughts trigger anxiety and stress and we can sink into a state of agitation, which is deeply unpleasant. There are many ways of alleviating stress, some healthy, some not so healthy but tackling the problem at source must be one of the most sensible approaches.
American woman Byron Katie suffered dreadfully from this kind of stress until she hit on a technique, which dismantled the thought, turned it around and deprived it of its power to distress her.
In 1986, at the bottom of a ten-year fall into depression, anger, and addiction, Byron Katie (both are first names but she is known as Katie) woke up one morning and realized that all suffering comes from believing our thoughts. She realized that when she believed her stressful thoughts, she suffered, but that when she questioned them, she didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Now she takes the thought out and examines it using the following four questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it absolutely true?
3. How are you reacting to it?
4. Who would you be if it wasn’t so?
Then she turns it around and makes it the opposite of what she first believed. Using this system, she overcame much of the unease she used to feel and developed it into a daily practice that she now calls The Work of Byron Katie, often abbreviated by those who use it simply to ‘The Work’.
Noel Linehan is a psychotherapist who began doing The Work of Byron Katie about three years ago personally and now offers it in therapy to clients who are open to it. On 1 October he will offer an introductory workshop at the South West Counselling Centre in Killarney entitled ‘Managing Stress in Your Life’ using this technique.
“The workshop is an opportunity for people to experiment with the process and see if it is something they are interested in incorporating into their lives,” says Noel. “The only requirement is curiosity and an open mind. Since I started doing The Work of Byron Katie three years ago, I haven’t looked back.
Facilitator in Dingle
Mary Collins Osborne, a psychotherapist based in Dingle, is a certified facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie.
“One day twelve years ago, I met Byron Katie for the first time,” says Mary. “She did The Work with me. A shift happened in a part of my mind that had until that moment been stuck like a car’s wheels in mud. The same repetitive stressful thoughts going round and round in my head for years and never before met with anything like the simplicity and power of these four questions.”
Details of how to do the work are available on the website www.thework.com.
“Sometimes when people are new to The Work they find that they benefit from doing it initially with a experienced facilitator,” says Mary. “I have a special interest in using The Work in support of clear communication in interpersonal relationships, both personal and in business situations. I also facilitate individual sessions of The Work to anyone with access to Skype.”
If you are interested in The Work of Byron Katie you can check it out on line at www.thework.com which will allow you to do a lot of preliminary work on your own. Noel Linehan’s workshop takes place at the South West Counselling Centre in Killarney on 1 October 2011. Contact the South West Counselling Centre by phone at 064-663 6416, on the web at www.southwestcounselling.ie or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more informatioin.