When our work is the suffering of death....especially by someone beloved's suicide
When someone we care about dies, there is perhaps nothing so intense.
(I know this isn't always true).
And yet, as I work with people and within myself, I see the deepest grief, dread of life without them, panic, abandonment, fear and longing all come to the surface when someone close dies.
When the death is by what we call suicide, a choice to move into that death experience deliberately....
....it can bring some unique thoughts.
We believe they should have stayed, should have chosen otherwise, shouldn't be gone--not this way.
We even imagine other options for death (at least I did) that might have been "easier" somehow.
Strange the mind is.
"It would have been easier if he had died in a car accident".
I had this thought about a friend I loved dying by suicide.
That way would have been better for his children, wife, extended family, community, himself.
Can we absolutely, solidly, positively without any doubt know that our thoughts are true?
One thing I can know is true is the courage and grace I witness when someone does The Work of Byron Katie on the death of a loved one.
When the death is by suicide, it is profound.
To be with the voices that scream "shouldn't, shouldn't, shouldn't, no, no, no, not this way, no" takes such immense courage and listening as we sit with the four questions.
The story of death seems bleak, terrifying, unknown, filled with loss, disappointing, maybe even horrifying.
I've had the thought "I can't go on".
I've had the thought "THEY can't go on" about or for other people who have experienced death of loved ones by suicide (and other death).
In the work, we ask this amazing question four:
Who would we be without our beliefs about death; death by suicide, death by other means....death?
Right now, who would we be without our ideas, dreams, imaginings, anticipation, expectations of death?
Who would we be without the story of loss as we remember holding that person in our arms who has since died?
Join me to sit in the beautiful inquiry of a woman new to The Work who had someone she cared about deeply die by suicide.
May this inquiry serve you and all those suffering from unexpected death.
For those who would appreciate the healing of group inquiry over six weeks starting this coming Monday July 20th....this is the one "six week retreat" we do online together.
We call it summer camp, and it's all virtual using zoom.
You can share, listen-only, soak it in, participate by speaking and doing The Work, or share in writing in our private forum.
You come and go as you need to, and choose the days you'll attend (you can mark your calendar).
We gather for daily inquiry of 60-75 mins for the whole time (except weekends). Mondays we meet at 9am PT, Tuesdays 5pm PT, Wednesdays at Noon PT, Thursdays 3pm PT, and Fridays at 8am PT.
Read more about camp and sign up here. Pay from the heart contribution of sliding scale or based on what you'll attend or listen to. (Everything's recorded).
It shouldn't go away (plus summer camp for the mind 2020 news)
I don't know how many years Summer Camp has been going now. Maybe five?
I love that there are regular inquirers I get to be with only in the summer--they join every year.
It's like hugs, high-fives, hellos happen....like at a summer event you might attend only in the summer, only once a year....and plenty of new folks too.
Actually joining Summer Camp, however, as in the technical process of signing up, has been not so easy as hugs, high-fives and a simple hello.
Because last week I "accidentally" deleted my entire website.
(Did you hear a huge gong sound, followed by deadly silence)?
It's not as bad as that sounds. If that even sounds bad to those of you who have websites. I mean...LOL.
I had actually transferred slowly over six months everything on my website (workwithgrace.com) to a brand new site, new layout. Someone in my neighborhood took "professional" photos.
You can see the new site here as a little preview. Some of you have already visited there, and it will have the name of my usual site workwithgrace.com very soon. Same name, new site.
But about that deleting part.
It was a bit abrupt and unexpected and I didn't realize I'd have no website for a whole week (so far). When you have a business and the main place people find you is your website, this can be a thing.
In other words, there are a few stressful thoughts about it.
There are lots of tech problems in life.
You know what a tech problem is like I am sure.
The thing doesn't start. The pages didn't save. You lost your entire essay. You lost all the photos. The computer turned out to have a "corrupted" something-or-other and it's now dead. There is no sound even though there's video. Your emails no longer work.
(Oh that's right, my emails were also deleted--something I also did not know when I pushed that button. Working again now).
So I noticed when "workwithgrace" became non-existent on the web the first day, I just sighed.
Here we go calling the tech support people and listening to that same music over and over on hold.
And also the images, thoughts, imaginings of the mind flashing possibilities of options for where this is going, what I'll have to do, what would happen if I just didn't have a website anymore?
The mind thinks of so many options.
It shouted "But no one can find you! No one can sign up for summer camp! This is too hard! This really is a problem! This is your livelihood--get cracking! Fix it! I can't take it! You need to worry about this!"
Later on that day my husband called from his office "someone's trying to reach you and says your emails keep bouncing back!"
I know, I know, I'm thinking. JEEZ!
This is one way to get your Inbox down to zero.
Will I remember who or what I was supposed to be responding to that I was saving in the Very Important Inbox?
What about people trying to schedule appointments?
Oy veys. (Here's my scheduling link for that, by the way).
So....the thing is deleted.
Let's do The Work.
You can even follow along on this as if it was a relationship where something just happened and BAM.
Were they angry? Upset? What does this mean for the future? Did I cause this deletion of a conversation? Or was it a tech thing?
Same commentary, I notice, whether a person appears to vanish from communication, or a website:
This is wrong. It shouldn't be happening. I need this to be up and running--and I know what "up and running" looks like. It's a conversation. All systems go. THIS does not look like that or feel like that.
I need a response!
They're gone! It's gone!
I've been abandoned!
Goodness. Such a fear of separation. A terror of lack of connection and all I think it means.
The basic underlying thoughts careening in to the mind about this situation, where something or someone has disappeared can be terrifying.
I need it another way. I need it to be connected. I need the site to be running--to work.
I need it to appear as I saw it before, to be familiar. I need that person to show up, stay present, talk, listen. I need a sign of positive affirmation.
I need them to be here. I need, I need, I need. I won't survive without them. I won't survive without my website or my business running.
Lordy! It's always boiling down to the same complaint.
But is it true?
I need it to be other than it is right now. I need pictures, sound, movement, contact, conversation, a smile, friendliness, back-and-forth, blog posts, internet pages with written detail, someone on the other end.
Is that true? Really?
Because apparently, it's not happening.
So apparently, I don't need that.
I'm still alive, breathing, conscious, relaxed, sheltered, here, awake, noticing.
Except for a few thoughts, all is simply "underway". Life unfolding as it does. Going this way and that.
How do you react when you need something to be "working" (whatever that might be for you in a moment, whether the computer, or that relationship, or even your trust in God or your journey to enlightenment)?
How the mind reacts is it creates assumptions about what's going on, what this means.
Assumptions that show I'm potentially not safe, I've been abandoned, the world isn't safe, life isn't safe, technology isn't safe, people aren't safe, people aren't reliable. There's someplace else safer.
Wow, so little faith in the self....whatever that is....just being here, observing, being alive.
Whoever or whatever I am is Not OK. This isn't good enough. This is dangerous.
How do you treat reality the moment when you believe it should be different, and have the deleted website or person in it?
How do you treat God, Life, This Moment when what is, is frustrating, or dreadful?
I notice I treat it badly. Clenched fists. Tightness. Fear.
I also notice, it never minds how I treat it. (Notice it never "minds"....)
So who would you be without this story of abandonment, danger, frustration and fighting the deletion of something in your day (or week....or OK, your year or your decade)?
One thing I love noticing in answering this question is the silence that is always here like a comfy blanket, so precious and supportive....waiting.
Noise happening in the mind, then this pause of wondering "Who would you be without the belief I need the website back, I need that person back, I need my old life back, I need a text back, I need need need...."?
Without the story of danger and lack, I notice I look up the numbers for live support and see when they open on Monday.
I take one step, then another. I get email running with the help of three different calls and a few support chats.
I even giggle about not having a website at all--I imagine it as a possibility.
I think "Wow, who said a website is necessary to keep a business running? I bet it isn't!"
I have such fun imagining changing everything up instead of hesitating.
In any moment, anything could happen. So exciting.
Nothing is forever in these relationships in life. People come and go. Computers come and go. Websites come and go. Days come and go. Eating and food comes and goes (had to throw that one in there, most of you know of my history with eating issues).
Every day, there is this moment, then something happens.
Mind assesses the situation and labels it. Often it labels things "good" or "bad".
And how fun to have the turnarounds so we can try on the labels or examples that are the opposite of what we originally jumped to.
Turning it around: It's awesome the way it is, it's advantageous, it's safe, it's connected. I do not need it to be different.
Guess what just happened 10 minutes ago?
My battery ran out of charge and this whole Grace Note shut down along with everything on my computer, so a charger was found and plugged in and rebooting happened.
Not everything was saved but I notice it doesn't matter, I simply picked up the conversation here where we left off.
Hilarious! Making friends with SHUT DOWN.
Making friends with left turns, full stops, unexpected-ness, waiting....silence.
I notice that turning a thought around doesn't necessarily mean I throw the computer in the garbage. It doesn't mean I throw the person who is no longer speaking to me in the dumpster. It doesn't mean I throw out the memories or the communication with the person who died.
Turning it all around: This is wonderful the way it is. There are advantages. It shows me what is not necessary that I imagined was.
I do NOT need it another way. Only my mind needs it another way (loves to compare). Only mind needs it to be different and to argue with the way it is.
This doesn't mean to be resigned and unhappily "accept" it as it is. I notice that's not acceptance.
I notice something moves me to make a shift, walk somewhere else, get up and fetch a glass of water if I'm thirsty, stop texting the person who isn't texting back, call the tech support people.
Movement happens. I hit the ball back when playing a game. I find someone else or somewhere else to play.
Things expand and change right before my eyes.
There is support, freedom, peace, loving kindness, joy, love, communication, sharing, silence, connection always available.
People and websites shut down. This is the way of it.
Could it be good news, not bad?
Now this moment, good.
Things shut down. Good.
Things open up. Good.
Noticing nothing is permanent, static or forever.
A fun ride, a heart-breaking ride, a fascinating ride, a joyful ride.
If you'd like to get on the inquiry train for Summer Camp, read about it here. Love to have you in the wonderful group of exploration and sharing.
Year of Inquiry people join us for the camp after their months of small-group inquiry, so there are lots of people who practice The Work who are eager to feel, learn, notice, pause, reflect, watch, act.
In any case....it's life.
Wondering who we are without our assumptions, interpretations and conclusions about it. Feeling the joy and safety of life doing what it does, without our objections.
Or OK, if there are objections....The Work.
Read about camp here.
But I don't wanna do The Work! It's sooooo boring!
A new Peace Talk podcast episode 161 is released, where I do The Work with another awesome person willing to show up and question their thoughts.
The story she questioned?
The belief that she lost everything. Wow. Brave.
Listen on apple podcasts HERE.
Or watch us on video below:
I lost everything (eyesight, health, joie de vivre....
I never stop being inspired by everyone's work. I mean everyone.
A few weeks ago a participant in Year of Inquiry shared that she had been kinda tired of it all and taking a break.
From The Work.
I'm laughing with her, not at her.
Because this is NOT an unfamiliar thought that's entered my mind. And many others' minds as well.
I've heard it a ton, in my own head and from others' sharing it with me. Just because we're doing The Work doesn't mean we don't complain about it, or say things like "I won't do it...give me netflix! I haven't written a worksheet in weeks!"
I get surprised, in fact, that people continue to come over and over to show up, answer the same four questions, and wonder about their minds. :)
But they do. And shockingly, so do I.
I hear the voice say things like "Ugh. Whatever. Isn't there an easier way than these repetitive four questions? I mean, Jeezus. Really?"
Or the voice sounds like two people having a conversation:
Voice-In-The-Mind A: "You know, remember that thing called The Work? Four questions? If you did The Work on that disturbance, you might discover something."
Voice-In-The-Mind B: "Aw, give it a rest. Can't I just watch a stand-up comedy routine on my computer in peace?!"
The thing is....there might be waiting to do The Work, or having a hissy fit while getting out the pen and paper....
....There might be trying other options or listening to podcasts....
....but in the end the simplest, shortest, least costly way to understanding when I'm confused or upset and not sure what else to do, is The Work.
Yesterday, the first day of Spring Retreat occurred online.
From brand new beginners to The Work, to very experienced facilitators and people who have been to multiple schools and events with Byron Katie.
All sixteen of us assembled together on zoom, our painful worksheets and situations in mind.
It's truly astonishing what people are willing to turn towards, sit with, share, and question. How real, vulnerable and honest people can be. Knowing there is no right way or wrong way, just noticing what the mind is doing as it receives questions, and answers them.
It's totally inspiring.
What I love noticing is that despite complaining, even about doing The Work....despite trying to avoid the conflicts, fears and agonies we imagine....despite over-eating or trying to escape through other mechanisms or fantasies...despite feeling furious or enraged at Those People who betrayed us or who have had power over us....
....people show up, willing to share what they're believing that hurts, and willing to question their stories.
I am inspired and re-inspired every time.
I actually think "Wow, how fascinating this person is! So smart! So open! So raw! So honest!"
So if you've had the belief cross your mind that The Work is too simple, or too boring, or too weird, or too much work, or too repetitive, or too hard....sometimes just getting with one other person or a small group of kind listeners can make a huge difference.
It certainly does for me.
P.S. Another online retreat is coming: June 2-June 7. This one has a different schedule than the one underway and one of my fav co-facilitators is joining me: Tom Compton.
For more information about online retreat with Tom C and Grace B visit here.
My very first guest who bravely did The Work for Peace Talk podcast (which is a podcast dedicated to self-inquiry and all things The Work) shared her pain about having physical ailments.
Bottom line, most of us are against physical ailments.
We argue internally, fight, plead, beg God/Universe for relief and change and when we feel anxious....at least if you're like me....you have visions of a difficult or horrifying future.
We believe the pain will get worse, we won't function well, it will be our fault somehow, and then....we'll suffer and die.
I loved sitting with this inquiry.
To listen on itunes, visit http://bit.ly/peacetalk.
To watch on youtube, visit here:
Marlyna does The Work on physical ailments and "itis" conditions disturbing her
Much love, Grace P.S. We will do The Work on body, relationships, money, God/Universe, and even have a mindful meal together to open to the way we make contact with food (Grace's favorite) for Spring Mental Cleanse Retreat May 13-17, 2020. Join us in Seattle. Read more HERE.
P.P.S. These open sessions for Peace Talk public broadcast filled almost instantly through June, but more will open later in the summer. When new slots open I'll be sure to let you all know.Much love, Grace
What a fabulous five night annual Eating Peace Retreat. Followed by a huge insurgence of webinars and all the activity of people joining Eating Peace Experience.
Activity, movement, busy, bells, now, write, reply, answer, go, quick.
Life moves at a high pace at times.
And yet this moment here, always, is OK. If the mind is not overly involved or desperate for something else right now, all is well. Slowness can even happen in this present moment.
As you can see, I just needed to do The Work right on the spot as I began writing today.
Mind says "Writing? No time. Expanding? No more room. Reducing? Not possible. Too much of this, not enough of that. Never just right. Watch the clock!!"
That's the mind's motto.
I'm reminded of it since the eating peace group has just begun especially.
With eating, or other substances or processes we love like TV, shopping, traveling, drinking, distracting, relationship-hunting, improving, smoking, fantasizing....
....the never-ending impulses of the mind create excitement, fear, worry, dread, self-pity, anger, criticism, depression, avoidance, grief.
Wow, it's a circus in here!
Thank goodness for The Work.
Because then, I can start with the predicament on top, the one disturbing me now--just starting with one, not over-thinking which "problem" to work on--simply beginning with one.
Recently I had a meeting with an important mentor of mine I only see maybe once a year, sometimes longer in between.
We talked about my business and this service of doing work in the world, sharing, offering, working with this inner life.
And there I was telling her an old favorite sad story.
It's almost embarrassing to speak of, since it reveals insecurity, worry, doubt, mistrust of life, disappointment, discouragement. I watch embarrassment as it means I'll be revealing my inadequacy which means I'll make it obvious how imperfect I am which means I'm unworthy which means.....something bad.
It's like a core belief is revealed: if you have doubt, fear, anxiety, insecurity....it means you are bad, doing it wrong.
But back to the story (I stalled for a minute so I didn't have to reveal it yet, did you see that)?
This wise mentor suggested to me when we met "you have a pattern of believing in ruin, it seems."
Ruined? RUINED? I believe in RUIN?
Do I think about being ruined?
That word. Ruined.
I can hear it and find the drama in the mind.
Ruined financially. Ruined in divorce. Ruined physically from an accident or damage to the body. Day ruined. Bank account ruined. Relationship ruined. Life ruined.
Wow. That's rough.
Of course I had to look up the word "ruin" and the etymology and formulation of the word: Rough, collapse, decay, disrepair, falling into neglect, a building no longer standing.
Rue, to make sorry, to grieve, to affect with deep sorrow, mourn, lament. Rue, a strong-smelling plant.
And suddenly, through my own inner sense of feeling--the key to the thinking--I saw ruin as a feeling within.
Grief. Sorrow. Regret.
To hold our regrets inside can be so difficult when the mind works over them, again and again.
So good to have self-inquiry.
Find a place where you believe you were ruined, or someone else was, or you notice the fear of ruination in the future.
For example (ahem): I was financially ruined (in my divorce).
Is it true?
Yes, I had no money. Yes, everything in the material world I knew appeared to be gone.
But the story that went with it (I am not safe, this will last forever, I'll never get ahead, I'll never love again)....
....that was not true.
I'm breathing. I made it. Here we are.
What happens when you believe in ruin? When you regret?
Very painful. Images of the past--when you're sure it was better. Here come those pictures and images. Here comes the grief.
Here comes the thinking "I should get over this and stop having PTSD about money, I should be someone different. I should stop wishing."
Who would I be without this story?
Noticing the quiet moment here, on a laptop, grey day, new year, tearful with memories, appreciating those in the past I once knew. Noticing everything comes and goes.
Noticing the odd "accident" just a few moments before of googling something in Ireland and landing on my former father-in-law's obituary page and seeing he died this exact same date five years ago.
Without the belief in ruin, I simply watch the parade of pictures in my mind, and see the astonishing benefit of this day today, and that grief is OK and even normal.
I can remember if my mind says to me "ruined!" I might wonder what I feel sorrow for today, and the bitter taste of strong-smelling grief.
Turning the thought around: I am not ruined, I was not ruined. (This is 100% true--here I am as I said--life went on apparently). The grief didn't destroy me, the sorrow didn't make me always bitter. I sometimes find life incredibly funny, and laughter bubbles up.
I also notice "I am" can never be ruined. It's been here the whole time, unfazed.
It says, 'Yah yah, you were born, you grew up, you got married, divorced, succeeded with money, failed with money, failed, succeeded, yadda yadda yadda....did you notice how beautiful this room is, and how strange and mysterious the sky out the window? Oh and by the way, I've got a new joke...."
Turning the thought around again: My thinking is ruined.
And that's some fantastic news.
It's outdated, crumbling, in decay and decline. It focuses on the past and projects what happened into the future. It collapses every night for some rest, and often during the day as well. It chatters away and then forgets about whatever it said.
Except for the thinking, all is well indeed.
Turned Around: Everything is being born in this moment.
"Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure." ~ Rumi
Every "ruined" situation I encountered brought something precious and invaluable: No money showed me the generosity of others, the amazing support and surprise of people. Relationship gone showed me new potential and new possibilities. Body damaged brought me trust and rest and slowing down, and poetry. Losing someone brought me to service, to connection without fear.
Would I take it away, any of it?
I'm not in charge of that. Except I can see the benefits, and notice when I think "I'm ruined" about anything, I might need to cry.
"Where you stumble, there lies your treasure" ~ Joseph Campbell.
Much love, Grace
This weekend on Sunday, we begin the 8 session live zoom course Divorce/Breaking Up/Separation Is Hell–Is It True?
The pain of feeling separate from another human being who appears to move away from you can be so strong.
Sometimes, even though they aren’t “divorcing” people sign up for this course to look at fears, future anticipation of a changed relationship, upset about change and transition in primary relationship.
In fact, there’s always a minimum of one or two people who are still in a committed partnership, with no talk of divorce even happening….but there’s trouble.
I notice a tendency in my own mind to believe there are three options with just about anything I’m opposing in my life, relationships or otherwise.
I see the situation. I don’t like it.
Mind quickly moves to one of three options:
Choice A) Get away from it. Run. Disappear into the woodwork. Back out of the room slowly. “Ghost” the person or situation (vanish without a trace). AWOL. No show. MIA.
Choice B) Attack the situation or person, whether in your head or right out loud. Aggression. Fighting energy. Feeling furious. Give them a piece of your mind. Rage. Say bitter, upsetting things. Threaten whomever it is you’re opposed to. This can happen internally, without them even being in your environment.
Choice C) Collapse. Feel hopeless, depressed. Rake yourself through the coals. Feel bad about you. Lonely, piteous, sad. List the reasons you’re a piece of sh&* and you screwed this up. Give up. Feel stuck.
Sometimes they call it Flight, Fight or Freeze.
But any one of these has to do with arguing with the present situation.
Relationship, or otherwise.
This course called Divorce/Breaking-Up/Separation Is Hell is really about our own minds and how we divorce ourselves, break-up with ourselves, separate from ourselves.
This is certainly what I did when I got divorced fifteen years ago. I felt panicked, enraged, betrayed, abandoned and lonely.
I felt like my first husband leaving meant I was worthy of being left….and the inner dialogue was horrible.
(Thank God Almighty for The Work–that’s what my grandma would say. Thank Reality Almighty, Thank Peace Almighty, Thank Silence Almighty….use whatever word you like most).
Now, I’m very happily remarried to an adorable and loving man (who’s also great at The Work and self-inquiry) and I still have this range of thoughts on a very subtle level sometimes.
Like, for example.
We received a call saying “we need to come into your house to upgrade an electrical panel by adding 100 amp something-or-other. We’ll be there at 7:30am.”
No problem. (We have a building project underway in our back yard).
The electrical panel is in my husband’s office.
He lightly suggests to me “maybe we should move the couch so they can quickly and smoothly get to the panel”.
Then I enter the office.
Boxes, files, piles of books and CDs, clothes and towels on the aforementioned couch. Papers, envelopes, more boxes, storage tubs, folders, boxes for his classroom, a full can of garbage.
My instant reaction to the sight: AGAINST WHAT IS!!!
There were some words, and my little snappish commands, and a quick clean-up session.
But here’s why I’m mentioning it. In the past, because of seeing clutter, my mind has actually gone to the thought in zero to sixty seconds…..“I can’t live with this!”
Pan to me sitting in a tiny cabin near a beach all alone, with zen type clutter-free counters and almost no stuff except laptop and a bookshelf of books. Pure minimalism. Husband or any other human is nowhere n sight. Ahhhhhhhhh.
The mind shows pictures of how great it will be in the future if you make a change.
Either one is fantasy.
What’s amazing is watching the mind do this, jump to one of the three “survivor” choices, without question.
When I do The Work, I get to see differently, and find new creative ways to work with what is. I get to communicate with the partner (if it’s a partner) or share and speak if its someone else.
With self-inquiry, we get to see what other options are possible besides believing “this relationship is a threat, it’s no good, I have to get away”.
It never means you don’t leave a situation or relationship that doesn’t work, or say goodbye and move on (that can be incredibly exciting).
But it’s nice to feel solid instead of pining for the past, or anticipating a disastrous future.
In our course, we get to do exercises with situations that repeat themselves, our fears, sadness, loss. All the exercises can apply really to any relationship where conflict arises.
AND, it’s incredibly sweet and bonding to be with all folks who are facing primary relationship troubles: should I stay or should I go? What brings up my anger? What am I afraid of here? How do I work with these patterns that feel so hard?
We’ve got room for a few more. We meet this Sunday, then no class on January 19th (I’m teaching Eating Peace Retreat next weekend) then seven more sessions on Sundays until March 8th. All are recorded so you can come and go as you need to if you can’t attend them all.
Join me and Nadine.
Today, I share a wonderful second interview with a certified facilitator Helena Montelius who experienced a profound piece of news from a former lover….and her story and inner work around this is amazing.
She learned from her former boyfriend that he had AIDS, and now, she did as well. She knew she was sick, and her practitioners had never tested for AIDS as they didn’t think of it–it hadn’t crossed their minds as an option.
Hear about her own “separation hell” to separation heaven in her own heart and mind. It’s incredibly inspiring on so may levels.
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