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Focus on Facilitation: Adapting Inquiry to Alternative Learning Styles

Posted Aug 13 2010 12:36pm
The theory of multiple intelligences may be useful for facilitators of The Work of Byron Katie.

I have often used metaphors with my clients as a way of explaining how The Work works, but until last week, I never danced around the room!

Many of us are kinesthetic, musical or spatial learners; I know I am to an extent. I don't always understand abstract concepts right away, but if I can employ different senses and parts of my brain, find a tune to fit something I need to memorize, visual something concrete, I learn more quickly. As an educator, I was taught to use media and movement with my students as a way of helping them learn using different parts of the brain; for instance, getting some of my high school students to appreciate Robert Frost's poetry in print wasn't a happening thing, but they enjoyed listening to a recording of him reading "The Road Not Taken" (they were amused by his quavering voice and old-fashioned New England accent), which opened them to discussing the author's technique and intent. Similarly, when I was teaching elementary-school age English as a Second Language students, we sang songs in English which included lots of repetition; some kids who were not able to or interested in learning English in traditional ways soon were speaking in full sentences!

I have a client who, after several sessions, continued to have difficulty with question 3 of The Work, "Who would you be without this thought?" She gave me a clue about how to proceed by saying, "I have a hard time stepping out of the situation." I said, "So let's step out of it." Standing straight in front of her, I said, "Let's take a hypothetical situation. Say one day I left the house, went to work, and I was held up at gunpoint by a Croatian man in a warehouse, and now I can't go into warehouses, or be around men, or Croats, or hear Serbo-Croation being spoken, without getting panic attacks. My thought it, 'I'm too sick to work." (My apologies to men, Croats, and warehouses; nothing personal.) Because of her particular situation, which had nothing to do with being held up at gunpoint or men or Croatians, or warehouses, she actually related to the example.

I stepped to the left. "Prior to that incident, and that thought, I went to work each day, and had interactions with all kinds of people, and entered all kinds of buildings, without fear." She got that. I stepped back into the center.

"How do I react when I believe the thought, I'm too sick to work'? I tell a story about what happened, after the fact." I step to the right, facing the center. "I remember what happened over there, and from over here, my body tenses up, I feel faint. I break out into a cold sweat around men. I can't go into the basement at home; it looks too much like the warehouse. I'm sure that if I leave the house, it will happen again. My mind travels to someone pulling a gun on me and I die painfully." I go on like this for a bit more.

"Who would I be without this thought?" I move back to the center and take a step backwards." "Now I am taking myself out of the situation and looking at it, as it really happened, as if watching a movie, but without my spin on it. I see a man holding a woman at gunpoint and then letting me go. I, the woman, am okay, not dead yet. I notice I was always okay; he never hurt me.

"Now I need to use my imagination a little. Who would I be right now without this thought, applying for a job? I would go to the office building; I would fill out the application; I would be present, empowered and excited."

Click! Now my client sees that The Work is a way of observing the mechanisms of the mind; she doesn't have to deny what happened or even her experience of what happened; she gets to take on different vantage points and see if they can be equally valid. She has asked that we "somaticize" this portion of The Work this way from now on; and my guess is that we won't always need to, once she gets it "in the bones."


©2010 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.
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