Who Would You Be Without Your Story?

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From 24th April for the next 10 sessions, Lucy Lucas will be using The Work by Byron Katie to guide our mindful inquiry and meditations. The Work is based on her global best seller “Loving What Is”.

Byron Katie spent many years suffering from depression until one day a sudden insight caused her to question everything she thought was true. The result was her process of inquiry called The Work. She has gone on to write several books, deliver courses and talks, and host retreats. The Work is known worldwide as a highly effective way of inquiring into what we believe to be true about our experiences, and how these thoughts shape our responses. In The Work, we identify and question the thoughts that cause suffering and to find peace with ourselves, others and with the world.


One class is £18 or a set of 5 will be £80.  The full 10 week programme will be £160.

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What is The Work?

The basic premise of The Work is to bring about acceptance of our present moment experience. This is not driven by some spiritual enlightenment, or desire to be a better person. It is designed to reduce our suffering. As Katie herself says “When I argue with reality, I suffer”

The Work is not about the actual situation or event that we may find ourselves in, but the thoughts about it, the resistance, the avoidance, and the wanting it to be different. The Buddha referred to two darts: the first is the stressful event; the second dart is the thoughts and beliefs which you have about that event, which are stressful themselves. For example, you may receive an angry email from your boss. This is unpleasant and stressful, and causes uncomfortable feelings: anger, shame, maybe some guilt. BUT it is the thoughts about the email, which add another layer of unpleasantness: “How DARE they write that” “Oh no, the boss is furious, I’m going to lose my job. And then I can’t pay the mortgage! Then my partner will leave me! I’m such a loser!” And so on.

Which is more stressful? The initial angry email, or the story of getting fired and losing your home and relationship?

The Work is not passive or condoning of wrongs or boundary violations. It is about acceptance of what’s happening and then seeing what action can be taken. When we act from a place of acceptance, our behaviour is often radically different and more effective. If the worst did happen, and you did lose your job, as Katie says in her Introductory PDF, “Which is more empowering?—“I wish I hadn’t lost my job” or “I lost my job; what intelligent solutions can I find right now?”

How does The Work actually work?

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Katie devised 4 questions and a ‘turnaround’ statement that can be used with every situation. These are designed to get us to challenge our thoughts and beliefs about an experience. In this case, let’s take the thought that followed the angry email from the boss: “I’m going to lose my job”

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.) Actually, I don’t know
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.) No
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? Frightened, angry, ashamed, wanting to blame others; tempted to react immediately to the email with some damage limitation.
  4. Who would you be without the thought? I’d consider what my boss was angry about, and if I had any part to play in it. Maybe I should have stayed 30 minutes later yesterday to check those numbers before submitting them. Perhaps I could apologise and just fix the numbers?

Turn the thought around. Then find at least three specific, genuine examples of how the turnaround is true for you in this situation:

“I’m not going to lose my job” – it was a one off mistake, not a terrible performance review

“My boss might lose her job” – maybe she is stressed and lashing out at me?

“My boss thinks I’m good at my job” – all my performance reviews have been positive and I get asked to take on extra projects

The unpleasant feelings following the angry email have become just that: unpleasant feelings. As we allow them to pass and don’t get caught up in the story, we can see clearly what action could be taken to change the situation.

Katie calls this The Work, because like yoga and other disciplines, it is a practice. When done regularly, and with intent, it can become a useful tool to bring about greater acceptance, more responsiveness, and less suffering.

What does The Work have to do with Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is all about developing awareness of our present moment experience, regardless of how it is.  As we become more aware, we also work on out acceptance of our experience as it really is; turning towards our experience, meeting it with equanimity, maybe softening towards it.

To help us start to accept the present moment as it is, we practice becoming aware of the thoughts, stories and beliefs we have about our experiences and how these are often not helpful. In our meditations, we practice looking AT thoughts, rather than from thoughts; we start to develop a sense of perspective about them. After all, thoughts are not facts.

We practice taking responsibility for our feelings by understanding how our thoughts can dramatically change our reaction to a particular experience. These are our thoughts, and our feelings, they are not down to someone else.

Mindfulness aids our understanding of how our evolutionary Negativity Bias and Discrepancy Monitor affect our stories about our experience. Many of us assume the worst without ever inquiring into the story behind it. Or we spend so much time in our head solving problems that aren’t even there. The Work is about allowing us to change our relationship with our thoughts, not about making them go away.

So Who Am I Without My Story?

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My Story is about the thoughts and beliefs I have about my experiences. In The Work, Buddhism and modern mindfulness, it is these stories that cause more suffering than any actual experience. Our present moment experience may well be downright unpleasant, but is the thought “this shouldn’t be happening to me” ever actually helpful? Or does it add a layer of stress on top of an already unpleasant experience.

Who we are without stories, is in our actual, moment by moment experience. Sometimes great, sometimes OK, sometimes not so great. Sometimes we’re angry, sometimes ‘meh’, sometimes sublimely happy. And all of this is OK and how it should be. Practicing mindfulness and doing The Work is about developing a new relationship with the way things actually are, rather than wishing them to be different. It is from a place free from stories that we can find greater peace with the experiences in our lives.[/fusion_text]

Each 90 minute session will be lead by Lucy Lucy as will be structured as follows:

  • Initial ‘arrival’ meditation
  • Group check in
  • 20-30 minute guided meditation
  • The Work – reviewing concepts from the book, applying them to ourselves, reviewing the worksheets

No prior meditation or mindfulness experience is necessary and all are welcome.

For those planning to attend regularly, it is recommended to buy “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie.


One class is £18 or a set of 5 will be £80.  The full 10 week programme will be £160.

Please note: If you are currently suffering from severe depression, anxiety, trauma, please speak to your GP or contact one of us before signing up as meditation can sometimes not be suitable for these conditions.

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