In 1956 I was a successful college freshman. But secretly I lived in a private hell of anguish. Despite what people thought about me, I was sure that the “real” me was not only sick, but also bad and even evil deep inside where no one could see. It’s easy for me to say now that the pain came from repressed gayness. But this was 1956. I knew that if the ugly truth about me ever “got out,” my life would be ruined: I could be fired, denied housing, ostracized by society, including friends and family.
Unable to live with the secret pain any longer and hating myself, I confided in an older, highly-evolved friend. Weeping, I told him the truth about the real me deep inside. “Well,” he calmly said, “I just have one question. If that sick, evil person deep inside is the real you, from what part of you are you noticing and observing the so-called real you? Because the part that’s noticing must be different.”
Hearing those incredible words, I woke up to reality for the first time in my life. Could it be that I am not my thoughts!? For a short time I was awake, at peace, free. Of course it didn’t last. But in a very real sense I spent the next half century on multiple paths seeking that experience again. I took seminars, I meditated, I read books, I studied with gurus. And, yes, I had stretches of time when I was awake again for awhile. But I wasn’t satisfied because I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO WAKE MYSELF UP.
Then in 2006, a friend told me about Byron Katie teaching that when you believe a stressful thought, you suffer. Katie was teaching a way to inquire into those thoughts. Her method of inquiry was said to diminish and even eliminate stressful beliefs. My friend’s remarks were like a knocking on a door I had never opened. I opened it. Could this be the teaching I had sought for so many decades? I read Loving What Is (and all of Katie’s books), went to her workshops, watched her videos, practiced The Work on my own, and in 2009 attended the Nine-Day School for the Work.
My long quest to discover how to wake myself up came to an end in 2009; a new path opened before me. I am no longer at the mercy of stressful anger, anguish, sadness, depression, fear, and judgments, because my daily practice has taught me a deep truth: NO STRESSFUL THOUGHT CAN SURVIVE A GENTLE INQUIRY. My life now is peaceful, loving, open, sharing, kind. Of course I still experience stressful thoughts, but I now have a practice — Katie’s four questions and the turnarounds — which answer the question I posed in 1956: “How do I wake myself up?”
Presently as a New York Certified Facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie, whether on the international Helpline, in workshops, or in private one-on-one sessions (in person or on Zoom), I help people avoid the half century struggle and pain that I experienced. Now I can help you love your life. My passion is to share this simple but profound teaching.