Tag Archive | byron Katie

don’t condemn the means

For a number of years, I had wanted to go to the Ralph Waldo Emerson House. I’d imagined myself walking on the same wooden floors, looking out the same windows, and touching the same walls, as this great man did so many years ago. I fantasied that some of his inspired thought might rub off on me if I could, even for a few minutes, occupy the same space that he once had.

Last week, Jack decided to make my dream a reality and planned a short get-away to Concord for us. Driving into the town, finding a wonderful restaurant for lunch and tea…everything was perfect, and although I was excited to go to the Emerson House, I was enjoying every moment of the build up.

We pulled up in front of his home and goose bumps flooded me. It looked like the pictures. We walked up the wide stone path to the front door and noticed a small sign that read, “RING THE BELL”, which I enthusiastically did.

A few seconds later, the door opened slightly and a woman’s head peaked out as she grumbled, “What do you want?” What do we want? My mind couldn’t make sense of her tone or meaning.

I replied, while pointing to the note on the door, “The sign says to ring the bell.” She looked at the sign as if it were foreign to her and then shot back, “The next tour isn’t until 2:30. It’s 2:00.” As if this should somehow satisfy us.

“Do we need to take a tour?” I asked.

“No, but you can’t come in now” she replied. “There are too many people in here already.”

“Can I just step inside?”

“No. Come back at 2:30, OK?”, she snapped and closed the door.

I was stunned. We walked around the back of the house into the garden area, trying to gather ourselves. As we sat on a bench in the shade, wondering what to do next, I felt something that I didn’t expect to feel at a moment like that…I felt curious.

What were we supposed to do? My mind kept wanting to relive the episode that we’d just experienced with the rude woman. It was saying things like, “You should report her to the board, I can’t believe how she treated us”, but I could feel that if I did that, I would be closing off something good. I was at a fork in the road and was being asked to choose: grumble just like she did, or choose to think, “This must be perfect, even if at this moment I don’t understand it.”

The idea of waiting around in 85-degree weather for a tour with this woman seemed completely unappealing. I turned to Jack and said, ‘What about going to Walden Pond?” Within minutes we were walking hand-in-hand into the cool, clear, refreshing, water of Walden Pond…we were swimming in the same lake as Thoreau had…maybe Emerson too. We spent 2 glorious hours swimming, sitting, and just being…it was heaven.

As we talked about the “closed door” at the Emerson House, it was clear what had happened: spirit had moved in an unusual way through this woman. If she had been even a little bit nicer, we might have waited around for the next tour, and although that would’ve been fine, there was something completely unexpected and magical about our time at Walden Pond.

It was also clear that I needed to keep focused on the wonder and goodness of all that had occurred and not condemn the means by which it happened. Getting angry, indignant, or stewing about the woman would have ruined my day…it might even have closed off the thought about going to Walden Pond.

IMG_5928

Jack in Walden Pond…a very happy man!

 

“Reality unfolds perfectly. Whatever happens is good. I see people and things, and when it comes to me to move toward them or away from them, I move without argument, because I have no believable story about why I shouldn’t; it’s always perfect.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change Your Life, page 8

 

 

decisions, decisions…or maybe not

IMG_5501

Fred on the counter yesterday morning…looking like he belongs there!

Jack and I have wanted to move for a while, but since this isn’t happening as quickly as we’d like, we’ve decided to open a small shop/gallery in the studio space on our property. It will be called Little Wing Shop and Gallery. We’ll have artwork of our own and antiques, including furniture, mirrors, scales and other interesting and old things for sale. Jack’s store will be open as well since he isn’t closing it until the end of October.

Today, it just felt like the right time to set a date to open. We’ve decided that we can get ready in 7 weeks (6 weeks seemed too little and 8 much). On Saturday, June 10th at 10 a.m., we will open our doors and welcome all who feel drawn stop by.

Our address is 148 Dunbar Rd. Cambridge, NY 12816, and it’s about 3 miles from downtown Cambridge. Please feel free to email me at mmuncil@verizon.net or call me at 802-233-4997 if you have any questions. I’ll post more about this before the big day.

I don’t know whether this shop/gallery is a “divine” idea or not. Many times, when things are right, I’ve had a feeling of uncertainty. Often my guidance seems clearer when what I’m considering is a no…but the yesses are things that I have to begin and then trust that the way will unfold and the next step will be given. No matter what happens though, I will not worry about it.

Below is a photograph that I just took of the studio space. I’m finishing up painting the walls.

IMG_5503

 

“The direct path might seem long, because the mind tells you of a distance and mesmerizes you with its proof. When you believe that thought, you feel the exhaustion that accompanies it, the heaviness, the stress. But the direct path isn’t long. In fact, there’s no distance to it at all. Where are you going, other than where you are right now? How can you go anywhere else? The direct path means realizing that the beginning and end of every journey is where you always are. You can’t make a decision. You can only experience a story about how you made it. Decisions make themselves; they’re happenings; they come when the time is right. I like to ask, “Are you breathing yourself?’ No? Well, maybe you’re not thinking yourself or making decisions either. Maybe reality doesn’t move until it moves, like a breath, like the wind. And when you tell the story of how you’re doing it, you keep yourself from the awareness that you are nature, flowing perfectly.” Pg. 122 A Thousand Names For Joy, Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, by Byron Katie

an inclusive life

Luke trying to get Eleanor to play...she isn't amused.

Luke trying to get Eleanor to play…she isn’t amused.

When I notice that I’m not feeling good emotionally, it takes little introspection to realize that I’ve excluded someone from my life…maybe not overtly, like telling them to leave me alone, but in my mind I’ve made them into an enemy. Then my mind begins to look for evidence to support this belief…and it always finds plenty.

While excluding people, whom we feel have hurt us, initially can feel good, even powerful, eventually it shrinks our worlds just a little. Several days ago, I realized that I had done just that, and I watched this petty part of my mind try to justify its thoughts about someone. It was arguing for my limitations, telling me not to open my heart, warning me that I wasn’t safe.

I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I knew better, and that I would not accept living a small life based on exclusion…which is always fear in disguise.

I began to softly repeat, “I love every being. Everyone is included in my life.”

I thought about one person in particular, but I didn’t try to figure out how to change my thoughts about her, I just knew that they would…and I was right. I also didn’t take any action like calling or emailing her. Working with my mind was enough to bring me inner peace and freedom from fear of being hurt or of hurting her anymore with unkind thoughts…Love always leads me home to my heart where everyone (including me) is safe and loved unconditionally.

”Do I love you?” is the important question. It’s the only thing I need care about. ‘Do you love me?’ is a prison. It’s a torture chamber.” Byron Katie

 

 

minding my own mind

Fred napping on the stairs

           Fred napping on the stairs

I attended a family function recently. Those are always the best situations for bringing out any unresolved issues that I’ve been hiding away, hoping not to deal with ever again. Several days after this particular event, I was imagining someone in my family criticizing me for something that I did, and I began to defend myself, actually building a case in my mind for why I wasn’t wrong and in fact why he was the one who was off base.

I worked myself into quite a frenzy until I realized what I was doing. I knew that if I continued on with this mindset, I’d end up in a conflict with either this person or someone else, but I noticed this time that I was quite pleased with the defense that I had constructed, and a part of me didn’t want to drop it.

I wanted to be right and I wanted to prove him wrong by my clever and deeply insightful reasoning. I wanted to shut him up, even though I was the one who had created the conflict and his hurtful words, in my mind. I could just as easily have imagined him saying kind and loving words to me…. or could I? Because it really wasn’t him saying anything, it was my own critical voice.

I’m the one who didn’t approve of me. I’m the one who was internally fighting, but didn’t want to look at it. So could I really have imagined those kind and loving words being said about me? Apparently not.

When I finally became aware of what I was doing, I went from feeling “justified anger” to feeling free as I let him off the hook and myself too. I also saw that critical self-talk was still going on within me. There was no one to fight on the outside, it was (and always is) happening within. When I am thinking kind and loving thoughts about myself there is no conflict with anyone. I notice that when I think someone is displeased with me, I need look no further than my own mind. All answers are within.

“Defense is the first act of war.” Byron Katie

Tis the season to say YES to Love

my latest painting, "HOME" (details on MY ARTWORK page)

my latest painting, “HOME” (details on MY ARTWORK page)

Many years ago a friend’s husband died. In the months that followed his death, she told me that she could no longer trust me because I wasn’t there for her during his illness and after he had died. When we were on “active friendship” status, I’d always felt that I had gone above and beyond what I could have, to be a good friend and to be there for her, but as the years passed, I realized that this had just been my ego. There were so many times that I didn’t want to do something (attend one of her many functions or events) but I was always worried that if I didn’t go, she’d be mad at me so I went (and considered myself to be a very good friend and human being for going out of my way and sacrificing my time to do something that I really didn’t want to do…I could go on but the absurdity of my thinking just makes me laugh).

Eventually this kind of relationship must come to an end, but I’m not talking about the relationship that I had with her, I’m talking about the relationship with myself. Eventually I need to become honest with myself (and my motives for doing anything) or I will live in a state of fear, anger or guilt (or all of these) that I am not enough and not trust-worthy because in truth, I am not being honest and I am not to be trusted if I do not dare follow my own guidance.

Back to my friend.

I really wasn’t there for her when her husband died. But if I had been honest and said no to her during the years that preceded his death, maybe the relationship would have ended earlier. I met with this woman many years after her husband’s passing and was struck by how guarded she seemed as she talked about several men she’d dated and how she’d been hurt and betrayed. She told me that she had always taken the morally higher road and was so disappointed in people who didn’t. At one point she said, “Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me” and I thought, “Wow. That is a limiting way to live”. Because in my experience, people who I am close to are going hurt me and am going to hurt them too…. and not just once or twice. Do people who I love lie to me? Yes. Do I lie to people I love? Yes. Am I inconsiderate, short-tempered, or mean at times? Yes. Are they inconsiderate, short-tempered and mean to me at times? Yes. Do I stay in intimate contact with everyone from my past? No. Do they stay in contact with me? No. Why? In my experience, the answer to this is that there just isn’t a yes in it anymore. Could this change? Yes.

I’ve come to see that people who consider themselves to be “morally superior” are usually the least honest (with themselves) people, and this includes me. When I am engaged in moral finger-pointing I am, in that moment, a dishonest hypocrite. So, where to go with this? Well, it is the holiday season. A time for getting together (or thinking about past get-togethers) with the people whom we have had the toughest time with. I can drag all of my past hurts, slights, insults, and horror shows to mind, or I can laugh, look at myself as a major player in all of this past drama and go forward as a lighter human being. I can come home to my own heart which never calls me bad, and never calls another bad. I can celebrate being alive as a multi-faceted being, no better than any other. I can say yes to invitations that feel life-affirming and I can extend these invitations too. I can say no to invitations that don’t feel like a yes, but I can do it in a spirit of Love (love of self, love of other). I can become free now.

“Reality is always the story of a past and what I love about the past is that it’s over.” Byron Katie (from the book, A Friendly Universe)

feeling clear

Fred

Fred

It took me many years to finally understand the difference between a gut feeling (intuitive guidance) and my feelings. I can remember hearing spiritual teachers talk about this and it sounded like semantics to me; feeling, feelings? Then one day it became clear. I was dating a man who wasn’t the best choice for me. He was hot and cold, charming and distant, and I really wanted him to want me. I was obsessed with getting him to pay attention to me….to fall in love with me.

I would point out to him (on a regular basis) how he needed to be more loving and caring. I felt like I could bring out the love in him, by explaining to him that his unhappy childhood (he grew up in a home with very little love) was the cause of his lack of intimacy and caring. I saw him as damaged, but knew that my love could make him whole.

All the while, a little “knowing” inside was saying, “This isn’t right for you. You need to look at yourself, not try to change him.” I did not want to listen to that voice so I tried to ignore it. It grew louder. I kept ignoring it. Then it started to show up in my body as illness and pain.

I didn’t know that my own intense feelings of “love” for him (well, that is what I called it) were really the inner cries for me to come home to myself and heal those places in my own heart. I was not aware of the degree of self-hated I possessed or how inadequate I felt, so I projected the “whole mess” (which is what I really felt like) onto him and then went to work…on him. Hopeless. Futile. Impossible.

The most loving thing that I could have done, both for him and for myself, would have been to end the relationship (which I eventually did but not without a lot of drama and blame) and let him live the life of his choice…but I thought I knew better.

When I have an intense longing (feelings) for something/someone, that my intuition (feeling) is guiding me to turn away from, I now see it as a call to come Home, not a call to jump in and try to fix it or them or make a situation (by sheer effort) happen. When I am confused, frightened, struggling, or “trying to be loving”, I am not clear.

I have finally realized that my attempt to fix someone/something is really just spiritual pride. I (secretly) think that I am better, more advanced, more aware, and more loving than they are. I have assigned myself the role of saviour…and I am the one who needs “saving”….not by then turning on myself with blame, analysis, criticism or condemnation, but by love; loving myself, accepting myself, honoring myself and my intuition, and allowing that deep, knowing, part of me to guide and direct my life….and bring me Home.

When I make decisions from this place, they always flow, always bring more harmony, clarity and love. Everyone is free, everyone feels more themselves, and I have the feeling that I’m being taken along for a wonderful ride instead of being the one who has to drag the situation along, exhausting myself, while simultaneously patting myself on the back for being the saviour.

The world is perfect. As you question your mind, this becomes more and more obvious. Mind changes, and as a result, the world changes. A clear mind heals everything that needs to be healed. It can never be fooled into believing that there is one speck out of order“. Byron Katie

Spring cleaning

Years ago, I was getting a massage (I was in my early 30’s and deep massage was very painful) and the massage therapist basically said to me, “Your body responds to touch as if you’ve been in a car accident.” I agreed with her. I couldn’t even sit for more than 30 minutes without getting very stiff, and even though I continued to run, my body was in a state of continual hyper-alert and pain.

I started to investigate possible reasons for my pain, and began periods of fasting, cut sugar, caffeine, and flour, out of my diet, drank extra water, and took “detox” herbs. And while all of these things did seem to make me feel better physically, I became even more rigid and afraid. I scanned food labels looking for any trace of an additive or preservative that might throw my system into chaos.

Food, for me, was no longer a way to enjoy and celebrate being alive in this body. It became more or less a regimented thing; an undertaking done for the purpose of “health”, and as a consequence it lost the element of joy. I didn’t realize, at that time in my life, that I was so much more than a body. I considered myself to be more like a “chemical system” (a lot the way that Western medicine views the body) than an energetic one. I didn’t see my body, my physical self, as being energy, and I didn’t realize that while diet did play some part in health, the much larger component of health; physical, mental, and emotional, was not determined by the chemical reactions in my body, or what food I put into it, but by my thoughts.

I was seeking to purify my “outer self” (my body) with the correct food, water, and exercise, but my mind was a mess. I was full of resentments, bitterness, judgements, and criticism, (and so much of this was about myself) so these began to show up in my body as stiffness, stomach aches, headaches, and hyper-sensitivity to pain. Of course I was feeling pain! I was thinking painful thoughts…but I didn’t see this connection at the time.

How wonderful these bodies of ours are. They shows us, with such precision, the predominant tone of our thought life. When my mind is in a joyful state, my body responds to that state. When I am worried and on alert (about anything, including food) my body responds to that state.

People will sometimes ask, “Are you saying that you can just eat junk-food all day and be healthy?”…well, I don’t know. If that was your only option for food, then who knows? But this isn’t our only option, and when I am living in a higher state mentally, I don’t want to eat a continual diet of low energy food. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t have to discipline myself not to eat it, I don’t want it. When I find myself feeling like I really need to resist eating something (that I have determined is bad for me) then I just need to look at my thoughts and I will always find that I’m not in a very good place (mentally).

When we elevate our thought life, healthy choices (selections that are right for us) are clear to us. We could pray, meditate, and eat 100% organic food, day and night, and still be unhappy and unhealthy if we do not clean up our thought life. When we clean up our minds, our bodies follow.

Our relationship with food, I find, is a microcosm of how we view life, how fearful, how suspicious, how sad we may feel about getting it right, or how we believe we don’t have enough of something, or that there is too much of something else, or whether we can really trust the flow of in and out like the tides, whether we can live with the unknown mystery of All That Is”. Byron Katie