Exploring Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’

Can a Self-Inquiry Technique Help Breast Cancer Survivors?

In 1986 Byron Katie developed a self-inquiry method that showed great potential for improving emotional and physical wellbeing. It’s called ‘The Work’ and is described by many as a simple yet powerful process. A recent study published by the European Journal of Integrative Medicine sought to establish whether ‘The Work’ could improve the quality of life of breast cancer survivors, in terms of health and wellbeing.

How ‘The Work’ Works

The idea behind this method is that it provides a way for the practitioner to identify thought processes that could potentially create suffering and pain in their lives. After the suffering inducing thoughts are identified, clarified and understood, problems can be addressed more effectively. The Work is reported to have a range of incredible positive effects. These include alleviation of depression and stress, improved relationships and increased mental clarity – all while giving the practitioner more peace and energy. The basis of the method is asking one’s self four questions, followed by introspection and attentiveness to deeper answers as they come to surface. This process is supposed to eventually enable the practitioner to embrace his/her reality and life without fear and move forward. According to the study, Byron Katie’s technique can also be helpful for breast cancer survivors.

Improved Physical and Mental Health

Over the course of 12 weeks, 29 breast cancer survivors took part in the clinical trial of ‘The Work’. The trial consisted of 3 ½ hour long weekly group sessions and additional individual practices, each lasting at least one hour per week. The trial found that 82.75% of the women who completed the study experienced significant improvement in well-being and sleep quality. With these encouraging results, the researchers adamantly believe that further research is called for in order to better assess the potential of using ‘The Work’ as a method for improving the quality of life of breast cancer survivors.

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