Byron Kathleen Mitchell (née Reid), better known as Byron Katie, born December 6, 1942,is an American speaker and author who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as "The Work of Byron Katie" or simply as "The Work."
Byron Kathleen Reid (or "Katie" as she is often called) became severely depressed in her early thirties. She was a businesswoman and mother who lived in a small town in the high desert of southern California. According to Katie, for nearly a decade she spiraled down into paranoia, rage, self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide; for the last two years she was often unable to leave her bedroom. Then, one morning in February 1986, while in a halfway house for women with eating disorders, she experienced a life-changing realization. She called it “waking up to reality.” In that moment of enlightenment, she says,
"I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment."
According to journalist Allison Adato, soon afterward people started seeking Katie out and asking how they could find the freedom that they saw in her. People from her town and eventually from elsewhere came to meet her, and some to even live with her.
Katie is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition.She is married to the writer and translator Stephen Mitchell, who co-wrote her first book, Loving What Is and her third book, A Thousand Names for Joy.
Katie calls her method of self-inquiry "The Work". She describes it as an embodiment, in words, of the wordless questioning that had woken up in her on that February morning. Adato further writes that as reports spread about the transformations people felt they were experiencing through The Work, Katie was invited to present it publicly elsewhere in California, then throughout the United States, and eventually in Europe and across the world. She has taught her method to people at free public events, in prisons, hospitals, churches, corporations, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, universities and schools, at weekend intensives, and at her nine-day "School for The Work."