I first found out about The Work in 2004. My partner and I were visiting Portland, OR and looking for something to do when we came upon a lecture and book signing with Byron Katie (simply known as Katie). At the time, I didn’t know much about Katie. I vaguely recalled that she wrote some kind of self-help book. I wasn’t that interested in learning a new self-help strategy At that point in my life, I thought I had seen it all. I have been meditating for decades, traveled extensively in India, had a guru, lived on an ashram, done many retreats and workshops and read many, many books. I didn’t think this Katie person would have much to offer me. But I went. Mostly because John, my partner wanted to go and he rarely ever wants to go to something like this.
Katie came out on stage and gave a short introduction on her process called The Work and had us fill out a “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet, which helped us identify our stressful thoughts. Once that was done, she started to invite people up on stage to do The work. This is when I started to get really excited. What I saw on stage was something new and very different. At the time, I remember saying to myself that something truly amazing was happening up on stage and I am completely confused by it. Long held beliefs I had about how life should be were being challenged and questioned. My inner world was being shaken, but in a really good way. It was very exciting. By the end of the evening I was elated.
I bought her book “Loving What Is” on my way out of the lecture hall and decided not to get it signed because the line was very long and John wanted to leave. John was going to drop me off at Powell’s Books, a famous Portland bookstore/landmark and he was going to see other sites of the town. As I was going into Powell’s, I realized I didn’t want to go in but wanted to go back to the lecture hall to get my book signed and meet Katie personally. Now this is an odd thing for me to realize for two reasons. One is that I love a good bookstore and Powell’s is one the the best in the country. The second reason is that I am not a celebrity hound. I am not into meeting authors or famous people to get their signature on something. In fact, I am predisposed to avoid doing just that. Despite these reasons, as I was watching John drive off in the car, I decided to walk the mile or so back to the lecture hall to meet Katie.
When I got there I was one of the last people in line. In her introduction to the evening talk, Katie mentioned that she had an awakening experience. . . More will come later. . .