And now we come to the crux of the matter: my detox report for January. Over three months have passed since my last update, and if memory serves (which admittedly it often doesn’t) my negativity demon has rarely been this . . . possessive. I mean, she’s there. But she’s sort of chilled out. She’s hanging around, but not really part of the conversation. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I’m attributing the change to the Work. Even though I do have other choices.
I could consider the role of maturity, of time, or of working less. I could say, Hey, I must be experiencing a natural lull in the course of things. But that doesn’t feel true for me.
Time and maturity? The change wouldn’t be this abrupt, would it? And work? I’ve been going easy on (small-w) work since the baby was born, so that doesn’t seem like a likely candidate. Moreover, since my last entry, an unexpected change: I stopped meditating entirely. After a few weeks of practice with excellent results, the whole thing just dropped off a cliff.
So this increased inner peace definitely isn’t due to more spiritual practice.
The only other explanation I can think of is that aforementioned natural lull. Only time will tell if that’s a major factor.
The kids are still little handfuls and earfuls, and yet, their most difficult behaviors seem to bother me less. And anytime there’s a conflict (real or imagined) with a grown-up person, the Work short-circuits the drama. Lately, my biggest problem is that I’m a bit . . . bored. Things are too easy. Too simple. In November, I did the Work on the thought “Motherhood is difficult,” as I said I would, and what do you know? It helped. Ever since then–for almost three months straight–being a mom has felt pretty easy. After all, most of the day it really is. In doing the Work on the subject I realized that while the mornings are a bit challenging, afternoons are quiet and in the evenings my husband is home to help. And so, the ego switched it up a bit, so that now my pestering thought is that “motherhood is boring.” Typical.
Two more hard truths: I haven’t been in the state of meditation at all—not in the way I described in my last update. Plus, I’ve had my usual share of depression this winter. None of the thoughts that I pull out of my head regarding sadness seem to hit close enough to the bone. Depression is the only negative emotion I’ve experienced so far that doesn’t seem to respond to the Work.
And yet, I’ve been calm. Not overeating. Not overreacting. Patient with my kids and appreciative of my husband. I spend a lot of time looking at my kids—just looking. No mantra. No prescription. And . . . only a minimal amount of Work.
Yes, that’s what I said: a minimal amount of Work. Most days I’ve been skimping on even this basic, important practice. In the month of November, I wrote down forty-one stressful thoughts and in January, thirty-nine, though I didn’t do the full process on them all. In December, however, I wrote down zero–yup, zero. Whatever Work I did last month was brief, and not on paper. Instead, when a stressful thought came, I looked at it for a moment–just recognized it. Then I told myself to write it down later. Interestingly, though the whole month I failed to do so even once, some of the thoughts I’d noticed still evaporated. Not all of them, but some. And I think that’s pretty cool.
They couldn’t even stand a single true glance.
So, a bit of a break from my goal. But not really a break. The Work is becoming part of me, as Katie said it would. Recently, when I have written down my stressful thoughts, I’ve often abbreviated the process. I’ve been skipping the middle questions, focusing more on the first question and the turnarounds, then adding some CBT-type workups at the end.
I admit, somewhat guiltily, that I really, really prefer this shorter process.
Here are a few examples of my Work for November and January.
Thought: I am bored with my life as a mom.
Byron Katie- and CBT-type turnarounds: I don’t feel bored as a mom. Not as bored, nearly, as I would at a regular writing or proofreading job. I have so many choices of things to do during my day. I get to take my kids out wherever I want to go. And at night I can read or do some writing. Being a mom challenges me in a way I’ve never been challenged before. And I have fun, too; I get to spend a lot of time with the people I like best, including my mom friends. Overall, it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
Thought: Writing is hard. Editing is even harder.
Byron Katie- and CBT-type turnarounds: Writing flows well, once I choose a topic and a message to go with it, and get that tricky first sentence on the page. Editing is hard on the computer, but when I do it by hand, it is a challenge, but it’s fun.
Thought: I can’t think of work I can do right now with kids that I love and that matters.
Byron Katie- and CBT-type turnarounds: I can write books. I can focus only on my kids. I can meditate. I can volunteer.
And here, my worksheet concerning my spiritual belief that God is reality. This was an interesting one for me.
A Byron Katie Worksheet
Month Completed: January
The Statement: God is reality.
Is it true? No.
Can I absolutely know it is true? No.
How do I feel when I think the thought? Great. I feel more able to accept any situation that arises than I would otherwise when I remind myself that what is–reality–is always good because it is part of God and God is always good. That’s the crux of the belief, the aspect of it that keeps me coming back. It has great practical value in my life.
How would I feel if I were unable to think the thought? I don’t know how I would feel. It might feel good to have no definition for God at all, but if I believed that God is a force separate from myself and my life, possibly one that I had to worship or to please, it might limit my growth or even cause despair.
The Turnarounds: God is not reality. God is not definable. Reality isn’t even real. Even Byron Katie doesn’t belief her own statement on the subject. She knows that everything we see is an illusion.
So again, is it true? No. God isn’t reality. Certainly not our reality–nothing we experience on this tiny, insignificant planet. Maybe God is the ultimate reality, something beyond what we can see or experience, but if that’s the case, there would be no concept of God, with it’s spiritual implications, at all. Spirituality is only useful here on earth, where it feels like something other, something to do or to define. While in a spiritual state in which we could understand this truth, there would be no need to name the All; it’d just be what it is. No spiritualization required. No need to identify it using that term.
All this said, however, I’m keeping my belief that God is reality. After all, I’m a limited being, a human. The so-called “reality” of my senses is the only reality I’m able to perceive at this time, and it does me good to think of it as a positive force irather than as a neutral or negative one. It helps me remember that everything in my life–absolutely everything–is a gift, created for me specifically by some great, loving power. Besides, even if the illusion is just an illusion, it’s still part of reality, too.
Maybe God isn’t reality, but our illusion-reality is a small taste of God. I don’t need the whole pie, anyway.
I just need one piece.
Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.
After Rachel and Matthew had their first child, they had a couple of fights. Well, okay, more than a couple—they fought for over three years. They fought about schedules. They fought about bad habits. They even fought about the lawn mower. And besides actually having their child, it was the best thing that could've happened. Get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Story on Amazon now.