Are you guys familiar with Byron Katie? She teaches “The Work”, which is a method of questioning the stressful thoughts that cause us to suffer.
When I found “The Work” in my early twenties, I’d walk for hours through the big trees of western Washington with “Loving What Is” playing on my gigantic walkman.
Katie, as she’s called, is one of a small handful of teachers who have impacted my life and my perspective profoundly.
I was over the moon to attend her workshop last month with my mom. We had a great time on the six hour drive, drinking in the blue skies and eating cherries from a farm stand. We arrived at the Omega Institute in high spirits but as we pulled into the parking lot, my stomach dropped into my feet like a broken elevator.
There, walking up toward the registration desk was the one person I most would not choose to be there. A person I care about deeply but whose very presence brings up all sorts of stuff for me. A person I’d decided to love from afar.
It was so bizarre and surreal that it was kind of hilarious (apart from my strong desire to throw up in the bushes and then find out if my ticket was refundable).
But there we were, having come all this way to do The Work and I supposed this couldn’t be an accident. (No accidents.)
That first evening, with the whole group gathered in the main hall, Katie walked a couple of people through The Work. And in so doing, she reminded us of one of my favorite of her teachings: three kinds of business.
And saved my weekend.
In short it’s this:
There are three kinds of business: mine, yours and God’s (or Reality, if you prefer).
We generate a tremendous amount of suffering when we stray from our own business.
This is such a simple concept that it is easy to overlook its enormity. But letting it sink in and then practicing it saved me that weekend.
It saves me every time I remember it and it can save you, too.
What I noticed was that I was stirring up a lot of mental drama as I thought about that other person. I was wondering what she was thinking/feeling/doing. How was she going to act toward me throughout the weekend? I was thinking thoughts like “this was supposed to be my special workshop!” and “I’ve already done The Work on her!”. I was rehearsing different responses to an imagined future interaction. And feeling predictably restless, upset, nauseous and victimized.
As soon as I checked back into my own business? Waves of energy running through my body, strong sensations. Awareness of being in this lovely place with this teacher I feel so inspired by. Sitting there next to my beautiful mom. And over there, a person I care so much about. Peace and space opened up. I found joy, even.
Hell into heaven in the blink of an eye.
What is she thinking? She didn’t say hello to me!…that would be her business. She shouldn’t be here. This should be different!…that’s God’s biz.
Are you following me here?
What do I feel, want, need? What is the truth for me in this moment? That’s my business and it’s plenty for a whole lifetime.
Being in your own business is freedom. It’s remembering your always and forever home. As Katie says, when you notice you’re lonely, take a look at whose business you are in.
Whose business are you in when you find yourself comparing your thighs with the woman in front of you at yoga? Or when you don’t say what you like in bed because you’re afraid your partner will think it’s weird? What about when your child gets in trouble and they call you from school? When you love an addict and they continue to use?
A lot of what we call “love” or “concern” or “parenting” is actually being all up in someone else’s business. You’ll know because it hurts.
You might find that you are almost never in your own business.
That feeling of waiting for your “real” life to begin? It ends the moment you fully inhabit your own business.
It’s the gateway to an embodied experience of yourself, your life, your beating heart.
It’s thrilling, truly. Try it.
Mind your business.