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Is Byron Katie Your Guru?

So, isn’t Byron Katie your guru? people ask me. How is your relationship different with her compared to Osho Rajneesh that was your guru for 5 years? For starters, the, in my opinion and experience, outdated Indian spiritual concept of the master and disciple (sannyasin) is not the foundation for my relationship with Katie.
Yes, I have listened to Katie and practiced “her” modality, The Work, for over twenty years now, taken and staffed numerous trainings and workshops with her. I am a Certified Facilitator in “her” modality since 2012. All my classes that I teach are based on The Work. So, yeah, I get it – I seem like a ‘born-again-Kateist”…hehe.
The huge difference for me is that she has never claimed to be a “master” that has reached some kind of higher state than me and that I should do my best to “surrender” to her and then she will lead me to “enlightenment” (an awakening into constant bliss) that was the basic beliefs in the Osho community. I even wore a “mala” with Osho’s picture and a gold necklace with two birds: one larger flying higher and then one smaller following, representing the disciple flying under the master’s wings. My house was filled with gorgeous portraits of Osho and I listened for hours to his discourses; revering his wisdom.
With Katie, I don’t even have a picture of her at my house; why would I? Everything I have gotten out of The Work, I credit to myself, not her. My answers to the four questions of The Work are what sets me free, enlightens me and that uncovers my own wisdom. My own answers. My own solutions. I have never even been facilitated by Katie and feel no need to.
For over thirty years now her message has been the same: Question your thinking. Question your thinking. Question your thinking. Sure, she will answer questions and sometimes share a few minutes of what’s on her mind and for the most part, at every event, she dives right into people’s lives. What is your situation? What are your stressful thoughts? And then she asks the same four questions and listens intently as people uncover the stressful layers of their minds and come to peace. She listens to people’s mundane problems; “my husband doesn’t do the dishes” and to the deepest pain in humanity “my daughter was killed by a drunk driver” or “I am a survivor of the Vietnam war.”
At my first “School” (her flagship 9-day seminar, which was 14 days when I took it) in 2001, I sat down with excitement with a note pad. How interesting and inspiring to get to learn from Byron Katie for 14 days; I was going to make sure I took a lot of notes! Hahaha…the notebook was for me to write down my own stressful thoughts about every topic on the planet and then to question them with partners or in small group settings, 24/7 that was all we did; together with other profound practices that served me into finding even more deeper layer of myself and my mind.
Katie is so accessible; no waiting in long lines to just catch a glimpse of her at a “drive-by,” no special people that have access to sit right in front of her at events, no hush-hush, anyone in the audience can raise their hand and ask her a question or get up on the podium to work with her. At Esalen Retreat Center, while running workshops there, she would have her meals in the regular dining hall, just like everyone else, chatting and talking to people that sat at her table. I had a lovely breakfast with her and her husband once and another time we sat together watching the ocean sunset at Esalen, in sweet silence. Sure, I love her, and she still makes me laugh and inspires me. I am so grateful to have the practice of The Work in my life and so grateful that she shares it with the world.
As Katie says in her own words:
What I am here for is to bring this anti-virus that I call The Work to those who think it would serve them. It’s not for everyone. It’s just an offering. That’s what can be of use. Not my words, not my presence, nothing about me is of value. What is of value can’t be seen or heard. I’m invisible. But what is manifest is the four questions and the turnaround. That’s where the value is. That’s what can be experienced when people are tired of the suffering.  ~Byron Katie 



By Helena Montelius


If he yells at you and you perceive that that isn’t love-

you have hurt yourself;

he hasn’t.

And if you are yelling within you that he shouldn’t yell at you,

that is where the pain begins,

not with him yelling at you.

You’re arguing with reality, and you lose.   ~Byron Katie


This was one of Katie’s quotes that I didn’t get when I first read it. What on Earth was she talking about? I had, during my entire marriage, been at war with my husbands yelling at me. Convinced that he was wrong and that he was verbally abusing me. And I was the crying victim; acting out my parent’s drama over and over again. Dad is angry and mean and mom is hurt and crying. I was convinced my dad had hurt me (and my mom) and that my husband was hurting me by yelling at me.

Everyone agreed with me; my friends, all the relationship coaches and books, even my husband agreed that he shouldn’t be yelling at me. And, yet he did; when he was upset, scared, stressed he would turn that into anger and…..yell!

It was deeply stressful to my nervous system; I often walked on egg shells wondering when he was going to get angry next. I was scared of my own husband. I withheld telling him things that I thought would upset him. Our daughter withheld things to not upset him; we would have secrets together. “Don’t tell dad.”

Then I would try to “get in my power” and channel some Kali energy; yeah! I am a powerful woman; I can yell too! Then we would be in yelling competitions; I would try to out-rage him! Occasionally that ended with a sort of stand-off where we got quiet, but more often than not, I would lose the yelling competition and fall back into being the crying victim. After that I would give him the silent treatment until he apologized and admitted he was the bad boy. Very exhausting! And heartbreaking to display this drama in front of our daughter. Because we were both hellbent on being right, no matter what the cost-even our own daughter!

As the pain of our stressful marriage intensified, I finally began to question and apply The Work inquiry to underlying beliefs around this drama.

First off: My husband shouldn’t be yelling at me. I questioned this thought with the 4 questions of The Work several times, and came to see that he should be yelling at me (the turnaround to the opposite, the last step of The Work) because he simply didn’t know another way when he was stressed. He should be yelling at me to wake me up; to force me to look within myself for the love I thought I needed from him. I realized it wasn’t a matter of right or wrong; what’s spiritually appropriate and what is not; it was simply reality. The wind blows, the dogs bark and my husband yells.

Whose business is it if my husband is yelling? That would be his business. My business is what I do with it. The turn-around to “He should be yelling at me” helped me get present in the moment, with what is. I can’t change my husband even though I desperately tried, I can change myself and my own inner response; that is within my power.

When I could finally let him off the hook, I began to notice my own inner yelling; it was much louder than his. I had been yelling so loudly that he should STOP YELLING! He should be different, he should be more kind, understanding, better communicator, more respectful of me. I wrote all those things down on a long needs-list; I questioned each item on that list (through the 4 Questions of The Work) and then turned it around to myself. I should be different (especially when it comes to my husband’s yelling), I need to be more kind, understanding, respectful of myself and communicate better with myself.

This began such a beautiful journey into myself. When he would yell, I would go to my room and start writing down my thoughts and be really kind to myself. Hold myself. Stroke myself. Tell myself everything I wanted to hear. Owning my own giant wound in this area and giving it healing compassion. Giving myself everything I had wanted from my husband.

Now, I was able to just be present and witness him yell; like a movie. “Wow, he looks really stressed out today!” And him yelling had become his business; it certainly had nothing to do with me! “Poor guy, must be tiring to yell so much,” I would think.

I kept diving deeper and deeper into self-love; questioning all my self-critical and self-judging beliefs. My husbands yelling had simply activated what I already believed about myself. As more of my self-critical thoughts dropped away, I would leave the room if my husband got going with the yelling, or go outside for a walk, or to pet my dogs on the porch. Or get in my car and drive away if he followed me out. I was done yelling at myself (and at him) and I was very bored with his yelling. I am certainly not perfect, but I had come to realize I didn’t deserve anyone talking to me that way, so I would just get out of his way. Sometimes I was able to simply sit in compassion and send him love as he was yelling. My husband was my guru for sure!

A lot of things happened in our life; we divorced, moved apart, and started sharing custody of our daughter. And the yelling continued. When I had fully divorced myself from all my painful concepts about myself and relationships with men, I stopped taking his calls. I just never knew when he was calling to dump some anger on me. I only communicated via text or e-mail with him and only talked to him about matters concerning our daughter. Any derogatory or angry texts I simply deleted. I did not listen to any voice mails he left. I blocked him on social media. I was truly done. As my daughter got older, I was able to simply communicate directly with her about practical things and eventually I didn’t have any contact with my ex-husband.

A new man showed up in my life and he sounded just like my own inner voice now; gentle, loving, and supportive of Helena. He speaks my mind: “You are awesome, Helena. I want to support you in everything you want to create. You are beautiful! I love you!” This has lasted for almost a decade now. I love that I hardly ever cry anymore, except during touching movies, and I have not raised my voice and no one has raised their voice to me in close to a decade. Such peace!

And I can now honestly say, that my own inner yelling (at myself and my ex) and the interpretations of what his yelling meant is what actually caused my deep pain and heartbreak. And you may think that everything is rosy now because I was lucky enough to meet a man that is not verbally abusive. For me it’s very clear that it is the other way around. I shifted and healed my inner reality and my current relationship is simply a reflection of that shift. If we ever have an issue, we each take time and work it through in ourselves before we talk about it together.

Years later my daughter and I had a “fika” (Swedish word for coffee, cinnamon buns and conversation) at a local café’ and my ex happened to walk in and all three of us had a fika and a nice conversation together. I am so grateful for our stressful marriage and his yelling because it pushed me into setting myself free and finding my source of love within.

I am all for staying in your marriage and working on things and/or being friends with your exes, I have several exes that I am great friends with, and for a while I tried my best; doing Christmas together for example. And for me, in my situation, being friends simply was not working. I am open to that maybe changing in the future. I have worked with many couples that had the same dynamic where both partners were able to do inquiry and start working on themselves and they were able to shift this dynamic, end the yelling and start a whole new way of communicating.

I am sharing the practices and inquiries that supported me in this journey through my Radical Love Shift- Dissolving the painful love stories through The Work of Byron Katie Class. You can find more info about that at

If you want to learn how to do The Work there are many free resources available at


The Alchemy of Turning Unmet Needs into Bliss

The Alchemy of Turning Unmet Needs into Bliss

by Helena Montelius

Have you ever felt needy in a relationship? Or needy because you are single? Needy for more attention, more touch, more sex, more quality time, more help with the housework, more space, more communication, more appreciation, more…Most of us have felt that need/longing for more arise in our romantic relationships and in other relationships as well. And most of us have had the experience of sitting down to talk to our partner; explaining what we need and feeling even more need arise; the need to be heard, understood and seen in our neeeeeeds. And then feeling rejected, unloved, unappreciated, unseen, unmet or disappointed when our partner cannot fulfill our needs for some reason.

If my partner won’t give me more touch, I’ll feel unsatisfied forever, says ego.

If my partner won’t give me more time, I’ll feel lonely forever, says ego.

If my partner doesn’t help out more in the household, I’ll feel exhausted forever, says ego.

Here is a practice to break this cycle of co-dependency:

  • Write down a list of what you feel you need from your partner (or, if you are single, write what you need from your future partner that you are hoping to meet), be very specific. For example:

I need more touch. When, where and how do you need more touch? I need my partner to stroke me softly and slowly. I need my partner to hug me when he comes home. I need my partner to reach out to touch me spontaneously and not just before sex. Etc…

I need my partner to see me. What would it look like if your partner truly saw you? He/she would give me a lot of space to share about my feelings. He/she would look into my eyes and speak of something he appreciates about me. He/she would acknowledge my talents and strengths. Etc…

I need my partner to give me more space. What would that look like? He/she would not walk into the office every five minutes to talk about something when I am working. Be OK with me sleeping in my own bed some nights. Let me be emotional and upset when I am. Etc…

The more specific you are; the greater your freedom will be at the end of this practice. Ego doesn’t like specifics; as long as I keep it vague and general (I need more touch is vague) and avoid the how, when and where ego can stay identified as a victim. As the one who is not getting their needs fulfilled.

  • Now take your list of specifics and turn it all around to yourself. Write down all those specific things but replace your partner with yourself. For example:

I need me to stroke me softly and slowly. Begin practicing this when you long for touch.

I need me to hug myself when I come home. Sit down and give yourself a welcome home-hug.

I need me to give me a lot of space to share about my feelings. (Sit down with yourself and write down everything you are feeling, or record it on your phone and then really sit and listen to yourself.)

I need me to not walk into the office every 5 minutes while I am working. By allowing you to walk in every 5 min. I am the one walking into the office every 5 min. (Lock the office door or put up a sign “In Session” or “I am working, please don’t disturb” or go to a coffee shop to work or…find solutions to give yourself what you need.

  • Now you are busy end engaged in giving yourself everything you need. It’s fun, it’s freeing, it lets your partner off the hook and makes it so much easier for him/her to be around you without this cloud of needy expectations hanging in the air. Let this be your spiritual practice of love for yourself, for God/Goddess. If you are single it will engage you in a deeper relationship with yourself; fulfilling yourself so that when and if you go on a date you show up as this fulfilled person glowing with love instead of a needy, anxious person; and what is going to be more attractive? Isn’t it fine to love at such a level and know you’re not ever going to be disappointed in it? ~Byron Katie
  • After some time of the turnaround to the Self, when you feel so overflowing with love and bliss that you just want to share it; find ways to give what you need to your partner, or family members, or friends or even to strangers in the store. This is the turnaround to the other:

I need to touch my partner/others more.

I need to see my partner/others.

I need to give my partner/others more space.

Find specific, practical ways to give to your partner, to others, what you are longing for. There is no need to tell your partner that this is your spiritual practice, just do it. And this is the magic of the turnarounds; while you are engaged in giving your partner more love you get to be in the space and flow of love. You are receiving your deepest longing through sharing it with your partner/others. The receiving is in the giving. It is a gift you give to yourself.

If you want to, you can check in with your partner and ask in what specific ways he/she would like to receive what you are longing to give.

If you find yourself, as I did, in a relationship where the other often is not willing to receive anything from you; pass it on to someone else. When my ex didn’t want any touch or love from me, I would go sit with my dogs and stroke them and just be in a love bath with them. Or go to my daughter’s kindergarten for a few hours and help out and play with the kids and just revel in the love I was sharing with them.

During the times I was really hurting from not receiving what I longed for and not being able to give it to the person I wanted it from the most; finding a dog, a tree, a garden, a friend, a child to give to was hard at first. I felt stuck in my pain, but as I slowly, reluctantly, started giving to another being I came into the flow of love and became fulfilled. That opened me up to living in the flow of love and the boundaries of me and the other dissolved. It’s not like this person owns a certain amount of love that I need to get from him/her, or that I own a certain amount of love that I can dispense or not to another; that is an illusion. While I was busy looking for love I missed the love that is always here. I found that every thought about my needs was a story about the future; in the present moment there is never anything missing.

Seeking love is how you lose the awareness of love. But you can only lose the awareness of it, not the state. That is not an option, because love is what we all are. That’s immovable. When you investigate your stressful thinking and your mind becomes clear, love pours into your life, and there is nothing you can do about it.                           ~Byron Katie