Little Questions, Big Trees, and Me

I just returned from a three day event at Breitenbush Retreat Center in the old growth forest of the Oregon Cascade mountains. There we all were, almost thirty of us,  with some big questions, some big trees, and ourselves. Because we weren’t able to access our cell phones, Internet, or ordinary life stories, there was a sense of adventuring together as we asked the Four Questions and Turn-Arounds of Byron Katie. We adopted the name Deep Divers, which described perfectly the experience of going again and again into the depths of our own minds. Once we began to answer the questions, we each emerged with our own pearls: the truer and kinder answers that brought each of us a sense of peace in our own lives . Maggie Carter, long-time practitioner and facilitator of The Work, reminded us that there’s nothing magical about the 4 Questions. (If you’d like more explanation, go to Katie’s website: And yet there was little doubt for any of us that the process itself was magical.

I notice as I return that a renewed clarity and a peace of mind is possible when I’m not in the thrall of my beliefs. I notice I have a choice in whether I want to live from the old, archaic beliefs that have caused me stress or to challenge myself to find a kinder way. When I believe that I’m in charge of everything, I suffer stress. I fatigue myself.

When I notice all the ways I’m not in charge, I feel free. When I believe that other people won’t accept me when I operate from my own sense of authenticity, I shrink back and don’t offer my gifts to the world. When I don’t believe it, I’m free to honor my own knowing and act with integrity.

Again and again I’m noticing a Beginner’s Mind that allows me to see where I have a choice and where I live out of an unexamined belief. This is the true power of inquiry for me, the experience and the scent of freedom. This is kindness. This is the pearl that I bring back to examine again and again in the light of reality. This is magic.

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