Finally read the last word on the last page of Byron Katie's book, Loving What Is. It is not that big of a deal for me to take what feels like forever to read a book. I can say with certainty that when I find myself toting a book around for longer than two weeks it is because the book is more of a technical manual than a book. My experience with this book was the same experience I have with technical manuals. Is that a bad thing? No, not at all because technical reads are journeys into learning the mechanics of something so that we can understand "how to" best accomplish what the manual is giving instruction in.
I picked up this book filled with excitement. Loving What Is held position number 1 on my list of must read books ... must read books I wrote about awhile back ... must read books that I own but never read. Anyone who lives with me or who knows me well knows I love reading and knows I have an extensive library. I nestled down with Loving What Is and without thinking I projected onto the author Ms Katie my enthusiastic hopes of discovering delicious words to pull me forward from cover to cover. I did not find delicious words. I was not pulled forward from cover to cover much less from page to page ... BUT ... that does not mean this book should be avoided. In the end, when I turned the last page and read the last word I admit that I benefited immensely from putting effort into consuming Byron's words. I "got it". I did The Work which is a phrase used by Byron Katie to define what she does and what the book is about. I am now doing The Work and The Work is working in my life.
The Work is not new in its concept of self discovery. The Work is not new in facing reality and our responsibility for how we experience our lives. The Work is not new in pointing out that we create our sorrow by holding onto thoughts that cause us grief ... and we can let those thoughts go at any time. No, The Work is not new, but with this "technical manual" in hand one can master some very simple tools needed to face our thoughts and to gain control over our addiction to catering to and being too devoted to the story teller within us ... that can fib just a bit at times!
Here is what I did not like about this book: Byron Katie's use of endearments really turned me off. Seriously turned me off. I knew a person once in my life that used endearments all the time. This person's use of the words: sweetheart, sugar, honey, darling, baby cakes etc. always seemed so insincere and condescending to me. Each time I would hear this person refer to me as darling and so forth my skin would crawl and my teeth would ache from the sugar. This skin crawling reaction started happening while I attempted to read Loving What Is. In fact, for over a hundred pages I had my red pen in hand ready to cross out each endearment I came upon. I would scribble out the word,
sweetheart in red then re-read the sentence without the sugary syrupy word. That is how I managed to get through the non-technical aspects of this book, a.k.a. the dialog. Ugh! My red pen was my only defense, my only weapon and red strike-outs worked well for me. It was not until Page 117 that I realized I was projecting an old story of mine into the words of Byron Katie. With this big epiphany I started applying the tools presented in the book to Byron Katie's use of endearments. Although I had been doing The Work because it is required as one reads from chapter to chapter, I had not thought of using The Work on the book about The Work! Doing The Work allowed me to finally put my pen down and I no longer needed to scratch out in red all the sugar in the dialog. Proof to me that Byron's method of confronting our thoughts, and doing what she calls inquiry can be beneficial if we are willing. I let go and accepted that Byron uses endearments, that is "what is" and her way of talking is not my business and making her manner of speech my business was only causing me to suffer. So, I started out not liking Byron Katie's speech and my adverse reaction to her words created a rift between me and the pages of the book but now, I can read the book without rolling my eyes, without my skin crawling and without my teeth hurting from the word sweetheart. I am not letting rouge thoughts of mine create grief for me. When a thought arises that wants to whine about a person saying, "honey" or "sweetheart" I ask myself a question or two or three or four and shoo the thought or the entire story away and then life is just what it is.
There were also some concepts that did not sit well with me but then that is true for a lot of books I read so that is no big tragedy. I am still mulling over these words of Byron Katie's: "I have never experienced a stressful feeling that was not caused by attaching to an untrue thought". I am still undecided about her assertion that if I was hit or a victim when I was a child that I am responsible in some way either by complacency or active participation ..... hmmm, yeah, I am still digesting that one. Also she recommends we go to an enemy to ask them questions about ourselves because our enemy won’t try to not hurt our feelings and that enemy will be brutally honest with us, more honest than our friends who will say only good things. I am not sure if I can feel comfortable with this concept yet because in my experience I have a story inside that tells me that my enemy will take advantage and deliberately try to find ways to hurt me with their words and then I will have a compounded mess.
Here is just a small sample of what I did like : Ms Katie asserts that "every time we are hurt or bothered by what someone says or does we should look deep inside for the truth and why it hurts", now that is an idea that is worth exploring and putting into practice. I also believe as Ms. Byron discusses in her book that we need to be in the moment of now and not carry our past into the present nor be distracted by the future. Byron makes a point about myths and superstitions we tell ourselves and believe in by stating that "young or old, we believe concepts that through inquiry are seen to be nothing more than superstitions" ... can you argue with that? Well, okay, you can argue all you want but if you do The Work you will soon discover that a lot of our underlying beliefs are what make us feel so miserable when life does not go according to the fairytale we have scripted out for ourselves. As I mentioned in the beginning of my blog there really is nothing new to self discovery within the pages of Byron Katie's book but what is new is that Ms Katie teaches the use of simple tools, four very basic questions and what she calls a "turn around" that facilitate our healing and acceptance of reality in the moment and of course Loving What Is.
I would recommend this book for anyone who could use some lessons on how to give up or release or set free the thoughts that keep us pinned to suffering. I am giving this book to all my children but, BUT I am setting the stage for them and letting them know this book is not an adventure of juicy words that will keep them up late into the night reading. I will let them know from the moment I put this book into their hands that I am gifting them with a technical manual on how to love "what is" in life and how to be content within the present moment.