Doing The Work, part 3

“The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world.”

A large claim?  Yes, indeed.

Today we introduce Byron Katie’s fourth question.  This question offers us an opportunity to create new, more peaceful realities in our minds:

“Who would you be without the thought?”

Who Would You Be?

Using the thoughts we chose to examine in part 1, now ask – who would I be without the thought “my voice will never heal”?

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Doing The Work, part 2

Now, we introduce Byron Katie’s 3rd question:

“How do you react, what happens, when you think the thought?”

Simple enough, right?  (Not so fast.  Let’s take a moment to sit with this one.)

The original thought chosen for “part 1” was,

“my voice will never heal, or get better than it is right now.  My singing days are over.” 

After examining those thoughts using the first two questions, and hopefully realizing they might not actually be true, we have the opportunity to check in with our bodies and feel what happens when we think these thoughts.

The body and mind will produce automatic and often unconscious feelings in reaction to our thoughts.  This step offers us a chance to observe the physical and emotional reactions to those feelings.

Tune In

First, close your eyes.  Next, focus on your body by either noticing your breathing, feeling your stomach area, or feeling your heart area.  (However “tuning in” feels, looks, or sounds for you, do that.)

Then, ask yourself: “how do I react when I think this thought?”

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Doing The Work, part 1

“The Work is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all your suffering.”

Today begins a four part series on Byron Katie’s “The Work.”

If you’ve never heard of Ms. Katie or The Work, hold on to your wig.  This work will transform you forever if you are willing to change.

She has developed a concise list of 4 questions that unravel habituated, negative thought patterns.  After all, our thoughts fuel our feelings and actions – good or bad.

Until we look at our thoughts, though, we cannot make permanent changes in our feelings or actions.

Once a thought is examined using The Work, or other forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), wisdom and healing can arise.  The thoughts that cause emotional damage can feel anxious, heavy, or highly charged.  By sitting with our thoughts, we can start to see beyond them and experience internal freedom.

The first real jail is the one we create in our minds.

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On Feeling Like You’ve Lost Your Voice

In the heat of the political events last weekend (marches, inaugurations, things like that), I heard a woman say,

“I’ve lost my voice. I feel like I’ve got no voice.”

She said these words over and over and over.  It felt like a punch in the gut, because those words mean something to me as a voice teacher and fellow human being.

I wanted to help. But she wasn’t asking for help.  She was entrenched in this feeling, this idea.  She was holding onto the statement “I’ve lost my voice” for dear life.

“Wow,” I thought. “Her voice works just fine, but she doesn’t FEEL like she has a voice.  Is there even a difference?  Maybe not!  Maybe it’s the same thing in a way.”

This beautiful woman with a perfectly healthy speaking voice feels . . . unheard, lost, and helpless in the political tumult of our current zeitgeist.  Her voice was physically intact, but she didn’t feel like she could speak up, or that maybe anyone cared what she had to say.

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Why “I Don’t Know” is Legit

I’ve learned many lessons from author Eckhart Tolle over the years.  Last night, during my Intro to Jazz Singing class, one of the students reminded me of such a lesson.

“I don’t know” is a legit answer.

Many people think “I don’t know” is state of confusion. Let’s get this cleared up – confusion is when you think you should know and you don’t.

“I don’t know” is honest and simple.  The very toxic “I don’t know, but I should know” thought adds extra layers of stress to an otherwise neutral fact.  Why muck up such a simple thing as “I don’t know” with heaps of misery?

As a teacher, being able to say “I don’t know,” when you truly don’t know, is powerful.  It can feel scary in the moment, but students appreciate it more than being lied to.

The honesty route forges stronger relationships, and promotes curiosity.

Yes, more of that, please.

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