Friday, January 29, 2010

Course Note #44: What If...?

What if you slept?

And what if,
in your sleep
you dreamed?

And what if,
in your dream,
you went to heaven
and there plucked
a strange and
beautiful flower?

And what if,
when you awoke,
you had the flower in your hand?

Ah… what then?
                                                                                                    Samuel Taylor Coleridge                                                                                                                                                                       

In my slumber I can dream of heaven, and awake to find heaven in my hand.

Heaven is not God’s Club Med in the sky; nor is it a place governed by a scary dude who rewards if we’re good, and punishes if we’re bad. We cannot see or touch the Kingdom of Heaven, and yet, it is real, much more real than what we think of as “real life”. Heaven is here now, within you and me.  Heaven is a state of consciousness, and the good news is, so is hell. Both are just a choice away.  
A Course in Miracles tells me that heaven is a decision I must make.  Let us climb the stairway to Heaven together. What you say?

                          What if today,

I choose heaven?

      And what if,
                        I recognize that
         Heaven is all
 I truly want?

Ah…what then?


************************************************
On 1/26/10 gave a talk to an internet audience on:
Seek First the Kingdom


MP3 File

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Course Note #43: What is Your Grievance du jour?

We can read, hear and study spiritual principles ad nauseam, but they are essentially useless if we do not learn to apply them to the ins-and-outs of our daily lives. My daily spiritual practice is all about applying what I’ve learned to my grievance du jour. 



It’s probably fair to say that most of us have a grievance-of-the-day, and usually more than one.

The dictionary defines “grievance” as: “a complaint against a real or imagined wrong.”
I love this definition because from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, all of our grievances are imagined!


The ego’s plan for freedom and peace centers around holding grievances, maintaining that if someone or something were different, then – Eureka – I would be free! This petty tyrant wants everyone and everything “out there” to change, but it does not want to even consider that the common denominator in all my problems is: “Oh My God. It’s Me!”


If we’re paying attention we notice that we have grievances, a running commentary of them, all day long. It’s not the thoughts that seemingly pop into our mind that present the problem, it’s the ones we hold onto that keep us in hell. Every day we make constant choices between hell (holding on) and heaven (letting go).


Lesson 68: Love holds no grievances, asks us to notice that there is no one against whom we do not cherish grievances of some sort. “Not true for me,” you say? Never mind those that you have major grievances toward, call to mind someone you like or even think you love, and then notice if there isn’t some minor grievance you hold against them. Busted, eh?


I am Love. I cannot hold grievances and know that I am Love. When I hold attack thoughts toward a person, place or thing, I am attacking my Self.


One cloudy and stormy day as I looked out a large window in my office, suddenly a sliver of blue sky appeared amidst the clouds. I had somewhat of a spiritual “Aha” moment as I recognized that just as the blue sky is always there, so is God; so is the Truth of who I Am. Clouds can momentarily obscure the Truth, but they cannot change it.


Although I’ve read the lesson several times over the years, it wasn’t until recently that I noticed that lesson 69, My grievances hide the light of the world in me, contains a simple meditation with the same imagery; grievances likened to a layer of dark heavy clouds hiding the brilliant light that I Am. When I hold onto grievances, Who I Am is hidden from me.


At the moment I am reminded of that old saying: “Behind every cloud lies a silver lining.” It seems to me that God provides the silver lining, and I provide the cloud!


The course tells me that every decision I make is between a grievance and a miracle. Today, I am willing to remember that I no longer want to trade miracles for grievances.


If my grievance du jour is toward a person, I will quickly let it go with these thoughts:


Behind this is a miracle to which I am entitled.
Let me not hold a grievance against you (name),
but offer you the miracle that belongs to you instead.
As I give, so do I receive.


And if I am tempted to hold a grievance in the form of anger or fear in regard to circumstances and events outside of me, I will let it go with these thoughts:
Love holds no grievances.

When I let all my grievances go,

I will know I am perfectly safe,

I am perfectly loved, and

I am forever blessed as a child of God.
I am grateful this is so.


***********************************
This lecture was recorded on 6-11-09 and is 42 min.:

Replace your Grievance du jour with a miracle




MP3 File


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Course Note #42: A New Decision

Wow, what a great OMGIF session we had today!  Lots of great sharing and participation! I started out with these thoughts:

This morning I was lying in bed thinking about this idea of change.  I thought about the idea that I’m not supposed to want to change, I’m supposed to let all things be exactly as they are.  It seems like such a paradox: to change or not to change! ha!

Through experience I’ve definitely learned all the ways that I can’t change:
1) By trying to change.
2) By hating myself into it.
3) I can’t change for other people or God, for that matter!
4) I can’t change by feeling that I “should”.

As I pondered these thoughts, I asked, “So Holy Spirit how do I change?  Talk to me.”  (And by the way, even when I think I know, I always ask because that opens me to deeper levels of growth.)

I heard the Inner Voice speak of a line from A Course in Miracles that I’m familiar with, “Seek not to change the world Sheryl, choose to change your mind. It’s all about making a decision.” 
            I thought for a moment about “decision” as Holy Spirit led me into prayer:

I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the
consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Holy Spirit decide for God for me.

I actually prayed that prayer with HS this morning and afterward I thought, “Wow, I never really thought of it like that.”  I felt released. 

I also had an “Aha!” moment because you see, I have prayed this prayer literally hundreds of times over the years whenever I have felt angry, irritated or obviously not at peace.  This morning HS showed me that when I’m thinking thoughts about something or someone that needs to change, I am obviously not at peace.

Think about it: When tempted to engage in an area of compulsive or addictive behavior, we struggle with ourselves and thus, we are not at peace.  Even thinking about needing to change reveals inner conflict.  It’s not about whether we engage in it or not, it’s the struggle within that we bring to HS for healing.  And once we are able to heal that struggle within ourselves, then these compulsive behaviors absolve on their own. 
The prayer involves awareness that I am not at peace, for whatever reason; and then the willingness to let go and choose again; and then, I let HS decide for God for me. 

So this week, here’s a great practice.  I’ll use myself as an example:  It usually goes something like this: on the way home from work I’ll start thinking about what I want for dinner. I’ll think of having this or that, but feel like I should have something else, and thus the inner struggle begins.  I am not at peace here.  And now I have a choice, I can pray this prayer and choose again.
As I thought about this as a way to practice, I then heard the inner voice say: “Sheryl, use this prayer and then do it or don’t do it, eat it or don’t eat it, but by praying the prayer you show willingness to let go of guilt and conflict.”  Wow!

I started the session with these ideas and then Monica took the mic and shared about a 12 step meeting she had been to the night before.  She brought up the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

She specifically brought up: “the courage to change the things I can”, and said that she feel that this is what these OMGIF sessions are about.  I thought that was Great!

The Courage to Change the Things I can.  What we can change is our mind. We can make a decision to change our mind.  My willingness to recognize that I am not at peace because of a decision I have made, leads me to the courage to change the things I can. 

Monica also shared about feeling powerless over emotions.  I talked some about using prayer, but also we had a great decision about whether or not to use physical aids as in medication and such.  I’m not going to write that out here, but if you’re interested there is some great stuff on the audio!

Then we talked about personal responsibility.  I had this thought this morning.  My first book is titled: “Oh My God. It’s Me!”   I have a feeling that my second book may be titled: “Oh My God! I’m Free!” 
In order to demonstrate, “Oh My God! I’m Free”, I must first come to the awareness of: “Oh My God. It’s Me!”  I really cannot experience freedom until I first recognize that I’m the problem.  Truly, it is only our thoughts that can imprison us.  Our addictive, compulsive behaviors and thought patterns are not caused by something out there, but by our thinking. It’s up to us to make a new decision. Healing occurs in the present.

I ended the session with a prayer:

Let all things be exactly as they are.
in this thought
I recognize my Self as You created me.
in Love was I created,
and in Love will I remain forever.
What can frighten me when I let all things
be exactly as they are?


We had a really great discussion today about healing in general, with several people sharing really great ideas.  There is much more on the audio than I have shared here.

Note: all of the blogs and audios for the "Oh My God! I'm Free!" sessions are posted on this blog: http://www.gifttomyself.blogspot.com

This audio is 1 hour and 18 min.


MP3 File


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Course Note #41: Living Indoors


Much of spiritual literature tells me in one way or another that if I keep my mind focused on God/Truth/Love, anything within me that is not aligned with this energy will drop way.  While I have experienced this to be true, there are aspects of my life where I continue to exhibit compulsive behavior, and  feel frustrated with myself.  HS addressed this with me over the last few years, saying, “Sheryl, the reason you feel frustrated, and struggle in this area is because in this aspect of your life, you don’t practice what you’ve learned.”
            I am experiencing much peace, freedom, abundance and creativity in many aspects of my life through my willingness to practice, practice, practice, and yet, in my areas of greatest frustration I don’t practice.  I think of “spiritual practice” as any practice used to return my mind to the truth.  HS has taught me that with the practice of prayer I return to the Source of healing.  This idea of “living indoors” is about keeping focus within instead of “out there”.


            It doesn’t happen often, but once in awhile throughout the night I’ll hear a particular sentence over and over again.  It’s not like I’m thinking the thoughts, but hearing the thoughts. Based on experience, when this occurs I know that HS is attempting to get my attention. 
Well this week I had at least two nights where this occurred.  Throughout the night I heard a line that I recognized from the Bible: “You are to be doers of the word, not just hearers of the word.” (James 1:22) 
And I heard a passage that I recognized from NTI: “For to listen and to agree, but not to practice, is not to have heard. And one who will not hear cannot be healed.” (NTI, Matthew 7:6)
I heard these two sentences over and over again throughout two nights.  I knew what HS was trying to say to me.  In those areas where I feel frustrated, dazed, crazed and confused, I am not practicing what I know and thus, I stay stuck in compulsive behavior. 


Last year HS gave me some amazing practices for healing in this area, and while I am wowed by them, and I see the power in them, I have not been practicing consistently, consequently, I continue to feel imprisoned.  The Course tells us that there is no one here who doesn’t feel imprisoned in some way.  The key word is “feel” because a child of God cannot be imprisoned; we can only think that we are.
My Inner Teacher is attempting to teach me that if I am unwilling to practice what I am learning, I cannot experience freedom.  So, why am I experiencing so much resistance?  You may also be experiencing resistance to healing in some area of your life.  Let’s face it, most every one of us have the compulsive behavior of listening to ego! Ha!


As I have continued to ask for guidance and healing on this, HS has led me to some powerful teachings on just why I might be so resistant. First to these teachings in NTI:
 “Your resistance is nothing more than your desire to keep things the same, to keep things as you see them now.  And you desire this because you desire safety, and you think there is safety in the security you have made.  And yet, you fear yourself and what you have made also. Safety comes from the guarantee of who you are.”  (NTI, Luke 11:29-32)
HS then prompted me to this section in A Course in Miracles: It’s in the workbook just before Lesson 261 in the section, “What is the body?”
“You will identify with what you think will make you safe. Your safety lies in truth and not in lies.  Love is your safety.  Fear does not exist.  Identify with love, and you are safe. Identify with love, and you are home.  Identify with love, and find your Self.”
In these places where we are trying to keep things the same, we believe lies.  Your safety does not lay in a focus on the small, limited self.  Your safety must lie in truth.  And the Truth is that you are Love.  I am Love.  We are Love.


We think we want change, we think we want freedom but in some respects, we don’t.  There’s a line in the Course that says something to the effect of:  If you were in a dungeon for years and years and all the sudden you were set free, you’d think you would jump up and down with joy and yell, “Eureka! I’m free!”   But no, you wouldn’t.  You’d run right back into that prison.  And we would – we do!
We experience glimpses of freedom in aspects of our lives, but we all have that one area where we feel imprisoned.  You are free now.  The light has come.  But instead of jumping up and down in joy, we stay mesmerized by the world of form that tells us that we are caterpillars instead of butterflies.
In that section of NTI regarding practice it speaks of healing: Let yourself be healed, that your brother may see your health and recognize that it is but his own, then he will ask for healing and it will be given him. Concentrate first on your own healing, that you may be used to lead your brothers to health.
It is our responsibility to practice remembering who we are so that, we can help others remember who they are.  HS can love you through me, only as I am willing to get me out of the way.  And so may we make a deeper commitment this year to move past resistance to healing and on to embracing freedom.  

Holy Spirit, help me be willing to be willing!


What do we practice? Let HS guide you. It doesn’t matter what the form of the practice is, it may be different for each one of us. One thing I like to do is take favorite passages in the Course and fold them into prayer:


Holy Spirit,
You have told me that I identify with
what I think will keep me safe.
Help me know that Love is my safety.
Help me know that fear does not exist.
Help me identify with love so that I will know
 that I am safe, and I am home.
Help me, Holy Spirit, to identify with Love
so that I may find You in my Self.
Amen.


Note: HS denotes: Holy Spirit, Higher Self, Inner Teacher
NTI is: The Holy Spirit's Interpretation of the New Testament
***************************************
This Audio encompasses much more than I have written here, and is powerful on spiritual practice.
It was recorded to an internet audience on 1/19/10, and is 51 min.
Living Indoors



MP3 File



Course Note #40: Prayers in A Course in Miracles

There are many “prayers” in A Course in Miracles that HS has guided me to practice over the years.  I rarely, if ever, hear people talk about prayer when it comes to the Course, nevertheless, I learned to pray through my study and practice of it.
I learned to pray these prayers when I needed them, and consequently, I have experienced great healing in my life.    
In my early years with the Course, I actually kept a list of them in the front pages of my book!  I don’t need to turn there anymore because I have practiced them so much that they are handy and available in my mind.  I don’t use them as memorized prayers, I use them as invitations to the Divine for the purpose of restoration and healing.  

Here they are, referenced to the FIP edition:

1) I am here only to be helpful… T-2.V.18:
This is one I use frequently to get "me" out of the way!          

2) I must have decided wrongly because I am not at peace… T-5.VII.6:6
I wrote about this one here in Course Note #17 and #42.  I’ve prayed this 100s of times over the years and credit it for facilitating much healing with anger and defensiveness.

3) He leadeth me… T-14.V.19
            I use this one when feeling doubt and fear.  I wrote about this one in Course            
Notes #10 and #22.

4)  I do not know what anything means… T.14.XI.6:7
            I wrote about this one in Course Notes # 22, 23 and 27.

5) I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself…T-15.XI.10:5
I call this one my “forgiveness” prayer and write about it in Course Note #29.  This one is obviously a mainstay in my spiritual practice. Ha!

            6) I am not alone… T-16.I.3:10
I use them when I am tempted to judge a situation. This is another one I frequently use when working with people in my office with counseling and chiropractic, and when I am tempted to emphasize with weakness rather than strength.
           
            7) I desire this holy instant for myself, that I may share it with my brother...
                        T-18.V.7:3   
I use this prayer frequently! Whenever I have an altercation with someone, or if I am engated in a conversation that seems to become conflicted, I become silent in my mind and pray! Whenever I feel a lack of peace in regard to another person, I pray!  I cannot tell you how much healing this prayer in particular has brought to my relationships.

            8) Take this from me and look upon it… T-19.IV.11:8
                        This is another one when feeling doubt, fear, etc.

            9) I am responsible for what I see… T-21.II.2:3
I am often prompted to this one whenever I fall into feeling victimized or unfairly treated. ;)

            10) Forgive us our illusions…  T-16.VII.12
                        This is the Course’s version of the “Lord’s Prayer”.

            11) This holy instant would I give to you… WB lesson 365
I have been prompted to this one throughout this past year. It’s one that I’ve come to rely on to make my mind a fertile ground for guidance.

12) The workbook of A Course in Miracles is of course, a book of 365 prayers.  The entire second half of the workbook is written in the form of prayer.  You may notice as you read various Course Notes in this blog, that I have been guided to fold many wb lessons into prayer.

13) Over the years I’ve also learned to take favorite passages in the course and form them into prayers.  This practice has been particularly powerful for me.


      As you peruse the list, recognize that I was guided to these practices in form throughout many years of Course study and practice.  It wasn’t like I ever sat down to find them and memorize them.  HS prompted me to places in the course at various times in my life, revealing to me how truly practical and applicable the Course really is.  When the Course is used as a practice rather than as only a book to be studied, we find that it is overflowing with wisdom, beauty and profundity, applicable to every life experience.    
Enjoy!

I have given many talks on the Course over the years.  You can find some on my audio blog:
http://www.sherylvalentineaudio.blogspot.com


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Course Note #39: Remain In Me

Hi there
This Week, 1/5/10, we held the 2nd session of "Oh My God! I'm Free!"  (For more on this, check my website for information about Tuesday 11:30 sessions, http://www.Sherylvalentine.com  and click on "events").

   We had a great discussion and many people shared about all kinds of body issues.  You are going to love the audio!  

I kicked off the session with a section from Ken Wapnick's "Overeating" pamphlet where he was commenting to one of the people in the dialogue who said that chocolate seemed to be a more immediate fix than the Holy Spirit.  He responded to her: "...the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with our bodies.  He is in our minds, and if we believe we are bodies, then that is where the gratification has to come from."   

    This reminded me of something in A Course in Miracles that says that the ego dwells in the body and lives united with the home it has made. I was planning on doing a lecture on the "Vine and the Branches" sometime last year, and happened to listen to a cd recording of this lesson, 199, "I am not a Body I am Free".  I've read the lesson many times over the years, but with the idea of "uniting with the vine" in my mind, I heard it in a new way.

   I had an "Aha!" moment as I realized that whenever I'm thinking about changing or fixing the body, I am dwelling with the ego; I am in fact, united with the ego.  Juxtapose this with John 15 in the Bible that speaks of the vine and branches.  We can think of the vine as: True Self, Holy Spirit, Kingdom of Heaven...  The Divine Presence whispers to me:

Dwell in Me as I dwell in you.
Live in Me as I live in you.
Abide in Me as I abide in you.
Remain in Me as I remain in you.
Make your home in me
as I make my home in you.

Just as an apple cannot come to fruition if not attached to an apple tree, so we cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit while dwelling with the ego.  The fruit of the spirit is cultivated as a result of remaining with Spirit -- abiding with Love.  I like "remain in Me..." as it reminds me that we have never really left the home of Divine Love.
   When abiding to the Vine, we bear the fruit of: peace, freedom, happiness and miracles.  When we unite with the ego, we bear the fruit of: guilt, fear, compulsions, feelings of unworthiness, and the list goes on, and on, and on.
    Holy Spirit tells us in the Course: My mind joined with your mind can shine away the ego.  We can let our addictions and compulsions be used as opportunities to recognize where we have been dwelling.  Don't fall into beating up on yourself for indulging in your compulsive behavior of choice this week, for that is also ego.  Instead, if and when you engage, ask Holy Spirit to join with you.
   
As Ken says in his pamphlet in regard to eating, but of course, anything in form applies: "The ultimate choice therefore is not: to eat or not to eat. Rather the choice is with whom we choose to eat.  And in that choice is found hell or Heaven. Learning this single lesson is the goal of A Course in Miracles.

I ended the session with a prayer:
Holy Spirit,
Today I am willing to remain in You
that I may have increased willingness and patience
to persevere in the process of change.
Help me today to accept where I am right now.
Help me to keep my focus on one goal:
To Remember Who I Am as You Created Me.
In that remembrance, 
I am complete,
I am healed,
I am at peace. 

**************************************
Enjoy the Audio...It is 1 hour and 22 minutes



MP3 File