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Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006
The Work: four questions for a peaceful mind
By ANGELA JEFFS
Nina Lynch and her musician husband, Ashik Peter Lynch, facilitate the work of Byron Katie, an American woman now in her mid-60s who, after many years of depression and suffering, woke up one morning to find that her life had changed completely.
As Nina explains: "She was able to see that her suffering continued as long as she believed her stressful thoughts, and when she questioned them she discovered that reality, truth, or 'that which is,' was much kinder and more benign than she'd been experiencing." In that realization, Byron Katie found a simple technique based on four questions that can be used by anyone to question their thoughts and radically change their lives. She calls it The Work.
Nina found The Work while staying in Kyoto some years ago. "A friend gave me Byron Katie's book 'Loving What Is.' Having read it, I did The Work, then attended workshops, and the nine-day intensive school with Katie in Los Angeles."
Since then Nina has staffed Katie's schools and weekend workshops and takes every opportunity to participate in her events as well as working as a volunteer on the hotline, which is available to anyone through Katie's Web site. "I f you have stress in your life, if you worry about money, if you have relationship issues, are depressed, unhappy, are an unsatisfied seeker of truth, or are in any way discontented with your life, The Work is for you.
"It's changed my life," she continues. "I'm a happier, more productive person and I know that life is kind and good to me. My deepest wish is to share The Work with anyone who wants to experience truth and be free from suffering."
Nina does sessions and worldwide tele-classes of The Work from her home. After introducing The Work informally to small groups in Tokyo in July, she and Ashik will be presenting The Work at Circle of Light in Tokyo's Ogikubo on Sept. 17, and then will facilitate a weekend workshop in Omote-sando on the 23rd and 24th, "The Way to a Peaceful Mind." The workshop will be primarily in English, though there will be Japanese translators available, and Nina and Ashik can be helpful in Japanese, German, French and Spanish if necessary.
"We're available in Tokyo from Sept. 15th to the 30th for in-person sessions, for individuals, groups and couples, and we do phone sessions, both classes and individually, with people from all over the world. For the tele-classes we use Skype Internet telephony."
Nina has always been a seeker. Her first memory of looking for answers was when at age 11 she went to every church in her hometown of Oxford, England, asking how to find God.
From then until now, Nina has not stopped searching "for myself, for peace of mind, enlightenment, whatever you call it." She began the study of meditation in India 30 years ago, and it's been a part of her daily life ever since. Since India she has traveled all over Europe and North America, where she now makes her home, and lived in Japan for four years.
"When I met Byron Katie and started to do The Work daily, my internal and external life totally changed. It is the key that I needed to unlock my meditation. Now my mind is clearer, stress is disappearing, joy is abundant."
Nina continues to do The Work on an everyday basis. Personally I learned how after commenting on a statement she made in an e-mail, "This house is a wonderful sanctuary up here in the mountains and it helps to make my life much easier," and asked her, "Why did you feel your life was hard?" Her reply gave me an idea of how The Work works, just four questions followed by a turning around of the original thought to its opposite :
"My life is hard. Is that true?
"Yes, sometimes I feel it is.
Can I absolutely know that it is true?
"No, I can't know that it's true beyond any doubt at all.
"How do I react when I think that thought?
"I think of the things that I think are difficult, like: get- ting enough money, my feet hurt sometimes because I have stiff joints in my toes and sometimes it is harder to walk than other times, then that means I put on more weight and am not so healthy. Sometimes I think that living with Ashik is hard because, like me, he's not always easy. Or I think that life in America is hard because of all the negatives I can so easily get into . . . and so on, so I can end up feeling more unhappy."
Nina now turns her stressful thought around to its opposite: "Who would I be without that thought?
"I'd see my comfortable bed that I sleep on, that I slept on really well last night. I would see a fridge full of food, vegetables growing in the garden, friends close by who I trust, and we're supportive and helpful to each other. My blood family, though they live far away, don't give up on me, and one of my sisters is coming to visit soon. I'd see how many things are actually fine and perfect as they are and I'd feel full of gratitude."
Nina then looks for at least three examples of this opposite, which turn out to be actual examples of how reality is different, and more peaceful, than the stories her mind had decided to attach itself to:
"One, my life is easy, because I have a wonderful man in my life who is currently fixing the lights in our living room, something that I can't do, and it would take me a lot of time and energy to learn, so it's very convenient that he does it.
"Two, I have always been taken care of; it was only my thinking that said life was hard. For example, though I grew up being poor in England, we never starved, we always had enough.
"Three, when I first went to live in Japan, and arrived with no language and no money, people offered help, gave me a place to stay, took care of me."
Nina believes The Work can be just as much a powerful tool toward healing in Japan as in the English-speaking world. She is producing a Japanese edition of extracts from Katie's book, which is already available as a download from Katie's Web site. Nina quotes Katie as saying that there are only three things we actually do in life: sit, stand or lie horizontal. All the rest is a story. "The Work always leaves you with less of a story. Who would you be without your story? You never know until you inquire. There is no story that is you or that leads to you. Every story leads away from you. Turn it around, undo it. You are what exists before all stories. You are what remains when the story is understood."
Telephone 1-303-449-9237, Skype ninalynch, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, Web site www.withoutyourstory.com/Tokyo_Workshops_September.php
Byron Katie: Web site www.thework.com and hotline www.thework.com/network/hotline.cfm