Now, we introduce Byron Katie’s 3rd question:
“How do you react, what happens, when you think the thought?”
Simple enough, right? (Not so fast. Let’s take a moment to sit with this one.)
The original thought chosen for “part 1” was,
“my voice will never heal, or get better than it is right now. My singing days are over.”
After examining those thoughts using the first two questions, and hopefully realizing they might not actually be true, we have the opportunity to check in with our bodies and feel what happens when we think these thoughts.
The body and mind will produce automatic and often unconscious feelings in reaction to our thoughts. This step offers us a chance to observe the physical and emotional reactions to those feelings.
First, close your eyes. Next, focus on your body by either noticing your breathing, feeling your stomach area, or feeling your heart area. (However “tuning in” feels, looks, or sounds for you, do that.)
Then, ask yourself: “how do I react when I think this thought?”
Notice the first thing that comes up – physical sensations, breathing changes, a feeling of heaviness, or maybe even tears forming. Whatever happens when you think the thought, “my voice will never heal,” just sit with it and notice your reaction for a few moments.
For example, if I’m having a particularly distressing thought, I often feel a weight in my chest.
You might also notice a plethora of feelings associated with the thought that surprise you. It is not uncommon to feel anger, sadness, or loneliness you didn’t notice before. That’s the point of the question – to notice what the thought does to you. Is it what you thought would happen? Typically, not so much.
Presence and curiosity are friends of this process.
Observe It All
This step is not an excuse to get lost in messy feelings. This is a chance to humbly notice how a thought is wreaking havoc on your constitution.
Once you notice how your thoughts make you react (and this might be the first time you’ve noticed the connection between your thoughts and feelings), you can create distance between yourself and your thoughts. Even if just a little.
Being able to observe our thoughts, and then realizing how they are swaying our emotions, gives us the ability to wake up from literal self-hypnosis.
To Be Continued . . .
Next post: the last of Byron Katie’s questions, and the start of turning it around.
Byron Katie, in her own words, gives an introduction to The Work: