“The Work has striking similarities with the Zen koan and the Socratic dialogue. But it doesn’t stem from any tradition, Eastern or Western. It is American, homegrown, and mainstream, having originated in the mind of an ordinary woman who had no intention of originating anything.” – from the book
In 1986, Byron Kathleen Reid woke up on the floor of a halfway house. For ten years she spiraled downward into rage, paranoia, and despair. Other residents were frightened of her wrathful outbursts, and she had to be put alone in an attic room. Even her children were terrified of Katie’s fury.
One morning, Katie woke up with no concept of who she was. Everything was unrecognizable. Her troubling thoughts had disappeared—as did her rage and suffering—and intoxicating joy took their place.
She was free.
Those who knew Katie wondered just what in the world happened to her. Did she experience a miracle? It was a long time before she could describe, intelligibly, what had happened to her.
Through an inner questioning, she realized that all her thoughts were untrue. Love and contentment filled every fiber of Katie’s being, and others took notice. In fact, people had begun to come to her home seeking relief from their own suffering. She taught these people specific questions—now known as The Work—that could be applied to any painful situation at any time. In 1992, she was invited to northern California where The Work spread like wildfire.
Neuroscientists have identified a part of the brain called “the interpreter”, which fabricates narratives for every situation and experience. These personal stories create a sense of self, as well was a sense of control. The left part of the brain works like a spin doctor—weaving elaborate “press releases” that form the foundation of life-long assumptions and beliefs. The Work, which uses a different part of the brain, dismantles these painful thoughts. Anxiety, guilt, separation and blame are replaced with contentment, harmony, joy, and love.
The Work has transformed thousands of lives around the world, and consists of four questions and a turnaround. Deceptively simple and gentle, inquiry leads the mind out of its self-made trap and into a place of clarity:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
In her groundbreaking book Loving What Is, Katie dialogues with individuals, bringing inquiry to a variety of situations including:
• Couples and Family Life
• Work and Money
• Underlying Beliefs
• The Body and Addictions
Some of the specific situations addressed with The Work are:
• My Husband’s Affair
• The Baby Shouldn’t Scream
• I Want My Son to Talk to Me
• He’s So Incompetent!
• Mom Didn’t Stop the Incest
• Anger at Corporate America
• She Was Supposed to Make Me Happy
• Fear of Death
Katie then shows the reader how to use The Work on any thought or situation, including making friends with the worst that can happen. The dialogues presented in Loving What Is are powerful, and often moved me to tears. For example, a dialogue from one of Katie’s European Schools for The Work was with a 67 year old Dutch man who was 6 years old when Soviet troops bombed and occupied Berlin in 1945. The soldiers gave the children live grenades to play with, and he witnessed a little boy pull the pin; the grenade exploded, and the boy’s arm was blown off. Many of the children were maimed, and he was haunted by the screams. He also remembered a 6 year old girl who slept near him being raped by a soldier. In the same workshop was a Jewish woman whose parents survived Dachau—and their nightmares became her nightmares.
As they wrote out their judgments on the enemy soldiers in WW II, from opposite sides, they gain some amazing insights into the thoughts that imprisoned them for decades.
The same Worksheets used in Katie’s schools and workshops are reprinted in Loving What Is. You can also visit her website at http://thework.org to download copies of the worksheets. Truly, this book can replace all self-help books because of the transformational nature of inquiry. This book holds a special place in my heart because it changed my life in so many ways. For example, in 2002 I I was having anxiety attacks and an irrational fear of death and dying. Loving What Is helped snap me out of it almost immediately. I’ve used The Work ever since on a variety of painful, stressful thoughts.
This book is not authored by a counselor or some New Age guru; it was written by an ordinary woman who experienced an extraordinary transformation when she asked herself a series of four simple questions. The Work is an ongoing and deepening process of self-realization, not a quick fix. As Katie says “It’s more than a technique. It brings to life, from deep within us, an innate aspect of our being.”
If you are looking for answers to "why", are and tired of feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, anxious, alone, cheated, sad, or confused, I highly recommend Loving What Is.
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