Byron Katie (find her on Twitter and read her book Loving What Is), founder of The Work, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. As she guides people through the powerful process of inquiry she calls The Work, they find that their stressful beliefs—about life, other people, or themselves—radically shift and their lives are changed forever. Based on Byron Katie’s direct experience of how suffering is created and ended, The Work is an astonishingly simple process, accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and requires nothing more than a pen, paper, and an open mind.
Through this process, anyone can learn to trace unhappiness to its source and deal with it there. Katie (as everyone calls her) not only shows us that all the problems in the world originate in our thinking: she gives us the tool to open our minds and set ourselves free.
Byron Katie became severely depressed in her early thirties. For almost a decade she spiraled down into rage, self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide. For the last two years she was often unable to leave her bedroom. Then one morning in February 1986, she experienced a life-changing realization. There are various names for an experience like this. Katie calls it “waking up to reality.”
In that instant, she says, “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
She realized that what had been causing her depression was not the world around her, but the beliefs she’d had about the world. Instead of hopelessly trying to change the world to match her thoughts about how it should be, she could question these thoughts and, by meeting reality as it is, experience unimaginable freedom and joy. As a result, a bedridden, suicidal woman was instantly filled with love for everything life brings.
The Work, Katie’s process of self-inquiry, didn’t develop from this experience; she says that it woke up with her, as her, that February morning in 1986. The first people who did The Work reported that it had transformed their lives, and she soon began receiving invitations to teach the process publicly.
Since 1986, she has brought The Work to millions of people across the world, at free public events, in prisons, hospitals, churches, corporations, universities, schools, at weekend workshops, at her amazing nine-day School for The Work, and through the Institute for The Work.