I was first introduced to Byron Katie’s work in 2009, when I read Martha Beck’s Steering By Starlight. In that book, Martha shared background on Katie, who in 1986 woke up from utter depression to complete enlightenment. Katie has since written books sharing about The Work and helped (quite literally) millions of people find peace from suffering. Reading Loving What Is changed my life.
The foundation of The Work is quite simple, yet has a depth so inconceivable that even Katie finds it impossible to find language that would do it justice. I’m not exaggerating. For months after her awakening, language was completely lost to her. She had to re-learn how to speak and even now, 30 years later, her husband Steven Mitchell translates “Katie speak” through her books that they co-author together and at her live speaking events.
As a Life Coach, we use The Work of Byron Katie to help our clients dissolve their painful thoughts. I hope to attend her 9-Day School for The Work at some point in the future. For now, I use self-inquiry about my own thoughts on a daily basis. When I saw that she was on a book tour for A Mind at Home with Itself and speaking in LA, I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket and experience her energy live.
You may recognize that I share fairly frequently about synchronicity. If you’re not familiar with the term, Carl Jung introduced it as a perceived meaningful coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe there is a meaning behind everything and that all interactions between people and events is part of a greater, higher purpose. And where intention meets attention, synchronicity happens. As I personally become more awakened spiritually, I see more and more synchronicity happening in my life.
Given Southern California traffic, I decided to leave Huntington Beach at about 1:30 p.m. to be in LA by 3 p.m. and then explore the area around the Writers’ Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills until the event start at 7 p.m. I walked to Rodeo Drive and observed the tourists taking photos of the upscale, luxury brand retail stores that line the sparkling street that is Rodeo and Wilshire. I was fascinated by all the languages and expressions of awe and amazement at these grandiose buildings and window displays.
When my tummy started to gurgle, I stopped at a cafe where I was seated on the patio to eat an early dinner. No sooner did my spicy ahi tuna over crispy risotto arrive than two elder men sat down at the table next to me. The engaged in a very passionate conversation about organized religion and the pyramid of power struggle happening not only currently across the world, but how that has been the way throughout history. I almost dropped my fork. I have been showing people the following Martha Beck video about the Pool and the Pyramid for weeks…and here these gentlemen were expressing (almost word for word) how Martha has been describing the Pyramid.
Every cell in my body felt electric and I jumped into the conversation without even thinking. We then began a philosophical and spiritual discussion that lasted more than an hour. It was so energizing…and here were these two strangers who were completely open to engaging on that level, which probably doesn’t happen very frequently in LA-LA-Land. (That is a judgment on my part that I will do The Work on when this is done.)
Still buzzing from this conversation, I walked back to the Writers’ Guild Theatre lighter and floating. I reached the entry doors to the theatre at 5:30 and they wouldn’t let guests in to the sold-out event until 6 p.m. So I sat myself down on the steps in front of the doors and watched the bustle of people walking by. I noticed three women who were also early and looking for where to get into the theatre, so I chimed in with letting them know what I had learned from one of the staff members. They decided to join me on the steps and the line formed around us.
“So how were you introduced to Byron Katie?” I asked them.
“From a friend,” one woman (I’m forgetting her name, please forgive me)said.
“I was introduced through Martha Beck,” said the second woman (Leigha).
I gave her a high five and said, “Me too!”
“Oh really?” Leigha asked. “How so?”
“I’m in her Life Coach Training course,” I said.
“Me too!” she responded. (If you want to check her out: Leigha May Coaching )
We then began excitedly sharing our own stories on how we’d come to pursue Life Coaching, which co-horts we were in, etc. I was so pumped to be experiencing this with another tribe member!
With my three newfound friends, we sat together and continued sharing about other books and authors…various forms of meditation…and then the first woman shared how she loves doing new things. How she describes herself as an explorer and always wants to go and do something new. She added that it doesn’t have to be big and profound, that even the small things are impactful and exciting and a way to continue to grow as a person.
Once again, I’m fairly sure my jaw dropped before I shared:
“Me too! I have challenged myself to do one new thing per day that I have never done before. I started on August 21 and I am thankfully still going.”
“You should blog about it,” Leigha said.
“I do! Elation Explorer dot com,” I said.
Then we all shared about the new experiences we’ve had lately due to this philosophy of saying yes and being willing to put ourselves out there.
I cannot make this kind of stuff up. I promise you, this was too surreal. And we hadn’t even experienced Katie speak yet!
Katie is as advertised. You can feel even as an audience member that she is warm, compassionate, loving and completely out of her mind (in the best way possible). She absolutely is challenged in finding words and is so completely in the present moment that what was shared even a second ago has left her. So much so that her husband is “herding a cat” (his own words) when they do these events. She begin one task and then goes somewhere else and he’ll redirect it back to the agenda.
“This is our second night of the book tour,” Mitchell began. “We had planned for her to read the whole chapter 12, and she only got through half. Tonight we got about one third of the way through. By the end, we may be down to a few words.”
Mitchell opened the event with sharing background on why and how this latest book was created. He, and other students of Buddhism, have been challenged in translating the Diamond Sutra because all other languages don’t have the words to express the meaning behind it. It is so abstract and heavy that most give up after a few chapters. Mitchell took on the challenge by getting Katie’s unique perspective on it in her own translation of it from her enlightened mind. From these “Katie-isms” of nuggets, Mitchell would then translate them and the end result is A Mind at Home with Itself.
Most of the two-hour long event was Katie answering questions from the audience, of which many were associated with the hosting organization Insight LA. Some brilliant questions were asked and Katie opened my mind up even more to the meaning behind asking “Is it true?”
When she explains how even when we are replaying moments from a millisecond ago, we are separate from ourselves and the present, you “get it.” How her husband is the person in front of her now, not the man he was this morning or yesterday or even 10 years ago. She is so present and you can see from observing her that whoever is speaking, she is completely focused on that person and present. There is nothing happening in her mind, no distraction. Complete centeredness and presence.
She is extraordinary and there is no faking how real her enlightenment is and how purely she loves and feels she is everyone and everyone is her. I’m even more determined to go to the 9-Day School for The Work and continue this awakening and existence in the present.
**NOTE: The Byron Katie speaker event was on Thursday, September 21, 2017. Due to a late evening event combined with a long drive home, the blog post for that day was delayed to the following morning of September 22.