Thursday, April 22, 2010

Course Note #59: Everyday Miracles

A Course in Miracles begins with fifty principles of miracles, and yet, we may still wonder, just what is a miracle?  The simplest and most meaningful idea to me is, the miracle is a sign that the mind has chosen to be led by Love. 
            A word for miracle in Greek is dunamis, which means, “power; inherent ability.”
This definition reminds me of a lesson in the Course (77): “I am entitled to miracles”.  Here we are told that we are entitled to miracles because of what we are.  We will receive miracles because of what God is. And we will offer miracles because we are one with Love. Miracles are inherent in the truth of what we are.  Wow!
A miracle is often thought to be a spectacle like walking on water or turning water into wine.  With physical illness, some may pray to God for a miracle hoping to see the physical manifestation of a healed body.  If this doesn’t happen, it may seem as if a miracle did not occur.  But perhaps more is going on than what we currently see.  The miracle just might come in the package of healed relationships, peace of mind and higher understanding. 
Several years ago a friend died of a brain tumor.  In the hospital shortly before his death, he experienced what he called a “spiritual healing”.  Of course, we all thought that meant that he was going to be physically healed.  He died two weeks later at home, in an amazing state of peace.  He was an inspiration to all that knew him.  And whether you believe in this sort of thing or not, his wife had a couple of messages from him, beyond the grave so to speak, that signified that he indeed experienced a miraculous healing.
Traditionally, a miracle is seen as a change in external reality, but from a Course perspective, a miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love.  Miracle principle 35 says that miracles are expressions of love, but they may not always have observable effects.  This is not to say, of course, that a shift in perception won’t facilitate a change in the body, but when we relegate a miracle to something that can only be seen with the physical eye, we greatly deny the power of miracles.  And it may be (as in the case of my friend), that we just don’t get to see the healing on this plane of existence.   

In the Course we are told that everyday should be devoted to miracles.  But how do I do that?  In the Course community we may hear the message that there is no one or nothing out there.  One day as I was pondering this, I opened the Course to this: “The truly helpful are God’s miracle workers, whom I direct until we are all united in the joy of the Kingdom.  I will direct you to wherever you can be truly helpful, and to whoever can follow my guidance through you.  You can do much on behalf of your own healing and that of others if, in a situation calling for healing, you think of it this way:

“I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Love,
 Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do because
Love Who sent me will direct me.
I am content wherever I am,
knowing that Love goes with me.
I will be healed as I let Holy Spirit
teach me to heal.”

I frequently start my day with this prayer, and it’s one I often use in my work as a chiropractor and counselor.  In those roles, it’s been so helpful to know that I don’t have to worry about what to say or do with the people who come to me, I need only be willing to get out of the way and let Love direct me.  This prayer helps me do that.  Honestly, I cannot say that I do this with every single person I come across (don’t I wish! Ha!), but I am increasingly willing to. 

            It doesn’t matter what kind of job we do, we’re all dealing with people on some level, even if only in our mind.  It has taken me awhile to understand that feelings of pity, guilt or fear toward other people are not helpful to them or me and so, the inner work lies in asking that my perceptions be healed. 

            ACIM is not a course in denial.  It’s impossible to deny our physical existence in this world, and it’s not suggested that we do so.  It is suggested, however, that we ask: “Holy Spirit teach me right perception of the body.” 
            Miracle principle number 29 says that miracles heal because they deny body-identification and affirm spirit-identification.  The miracle is a shift in perception from seeing someone as imperfect, sick, needing to change, guilty, etc., which is body perception, to spirit’s perception, which looks beyond the body to the truth.

                   We are instruments through which God’s Love extends to the world, but we are also instruments for fear to project into the world.  Spirit within yearns to express Itself creatively, abundantly and with love, but it cannot do so when we consistently listen to the voice of lack, limitation and fear.

            The miracle is the choice to be used by God, which is why we must undergo the mind training of learning to recognize the voice of fear so that we can choose again.  Often when I ask how I can be truly helpful, I am prompted from within to look at my thoughts.  And so I ask, “Sheryl, is this thought helpful?”  I let the question guide me.  We are truly helpful, first in our mind.

Love within inspires all miracles.  I love the word “intercession”.  A miracle is an intercession between the self and the Self; between human will and Divine will.  When we choose to hear Love’s voice, our perceptions become holy – one with the mind of Love.
And so as we go about our lives this week, may we be willing to be devoted to miracles everyday.  I ended my talk with a fabulous song by Rickie Beckwith.  The lyrics alone don’t do it justice, you’ll have to catch the song, Use me:

Use me, O God
I stand for You, and here I’ll abide,
 as you show me all that I must do.

God is Creator,
Needing us to shine Its light
As me…as you.
So, use me, O God,
I stand for you, and here I’ll abide
as you show me all that I must do.

Command my hands, what must they do?
Command my life, it’s here for You.
God is the Love that wields all creation
God is Creator, makes all things new.

And God needs us, to shine Its light
as me…as you.
So, use me, O God
I stand for you, and here I’ll abide
as you show me all that I must do.

Show me…all that I must do.

Show me…all that I must do.

Note: The section from the Course that we are directed to where we can be helpful was especially meaningful when I came across it in the edition of the course known as the “Blue Sparkly” (pg. 90,91), as that section on being helpful appeared  just before the prayer.  In the FIP edition the passage on being directed is found in T-4.VII.8, and the prayer is found in T-2.V.A.18.  In the O.E. it's on pg.77, 78.

For another blog and audio on Miracles see: Course Note #22 here on this blog: A Recipe for Miracles

The audio was recorded on 4/20/10 and is 59 minutes.
Everyday Miracles

MP3 File

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Course Note #58: Mental Pest Control

Are ants running through your mind?   Ants – an acronym for automatic negative thoughts.  We’re told in A Course in Miracles that we have a choice between two voices, but we really have only one choice because ego is almost always on automatic pilot! The voice of ego is like a chatty Cathy in our mind that chatters away constantly and incessantly about everything we think, say, see or do. 

So it’s time to do some mental pest control. This inner work of bringing awareness to our thoughts is ongoing, and it never ceases to amaze me that it never ends!  In the last several years I’ve felt the inner training of bringing an increasing level of awareness to those ordinary thoughts, those mundane thoughts, those thoughts I think throughout the day.
Free will is the freedom to choose what you will allow your mind to dwell on.  The workbook of the Course basically teaches us mental pest control.  The first half reveals those pests in our mind, and the second half teaches us to choose again. 

It was a breakthrough moment for me several years ago when I realized that I could let go of “my” thoughts and be available to hear the thoughts of God, which are my “real” thoughts. The problem is that we’re attached to “my” thoughts. We think “my” thoughts are important. We think “my” thoughts are thoughts that really need to be thought.      
Some of these “my” thoughts are about my body, my bank account, me, myself and I.  My thoughts are all about myself.  I was prompted to this from NTI:

“Think not for yourself.  Remember that it is your thinking that has brought you to the point of needing healing.  (Yeah, Busted!) Relinquish your own thought, and trade it for My thought.  Lay down your own thought now, and I will fill you up with My thought.”
It goes on to say, “You will seem to forget My thoughts completely for a time.  Do not let that distress you.”  
This is important because when we are aware of, “Oh My God! My mind is infested with ants!”  ---- then we start beating ourselves up: “Oh, I’m such a lousy spiritual student! When am I going to get it? I’ve been doing this for years and my inner teacher is still talking to me about all those ants running through my mind!  I mean, really Sheryl, come on!”  When we let these thoughts distress us, we’re still listening to the voice of the small, limited, not good enough self. 
Holy Spirit goes on to say through NTI: “The thinking you do apart from Me cannot hurt you. It can only delay your healing for a little while.  Now is a new moment!  You help yourself by choosing My thoughts again now.” (NTI Luke 10. 6-22)

Our thoughts imprison us, they keep us in hell, and only by letting them go can we experience freedom.  These thoughts I am thinking about _____ are keeping me in hell.
In these “Oh My God. I’m Free!” sessions, we are learning to allow HS to use these areas of addiction and compulsion to set us free.  These areas in our lives where we feel imprisoned, frustrated and stuck can be training tools to heal our mind.  We experience freedom through the willingness to bring awareness to the thoughts around these things that we do. 
Anything that we do compulsively (and yes, listening to the toxic chatty Cathy in our mind is something many of us are addicted to!), here we can learn to ask ourselves: Is this thought about food, my body, money or my neighbor…Is this thought helpful to my spiritual development? Is this thought helpful to experience freedom?
If I look in the mirror and start thinking about how I am so fat, ugly, old, (insert your own), are these thoughts helpful to set me free from my small, limited self? No. Such thoughts keep us imprisoned and in hell.  Again, no need to beat up on ourselves, we simply recognize that we are listening to the voice of lies.

So now we’re ready for the 3 steps to mental pest control:
First, I bring awareness to what I am thinking. 

As I said this in today’s session, I heard the inner voice say, “No, first be aware of what you’re feeling.”  Okay, so if I am aware that I am feeling angry, sad, depressed, etc…this can lead to…Ah…what am I thinking about?  And, is this thought helpful?

The way we can bring Heaven to earth is through the willingness to be truly helpful.  The work begins at home, in my mind.  Before we can be truly helpful in the world and to one another, we must first be helpful to ourselves, and we do this by bringing awareness to our feelings, which takes us to our thoughts and then, Ah…are these thoughts helpful to my spiritual growth?  I like to think of it as spiritual maturity, which is the process of evolving into remembering who I really am. 

So once I am aware of the thoughts I am thinking, I can then ask myself, “Am I willing to let these thoughts go, or do I want to remain attached to them?” 

Either choice is okay!  Holy Spirit says to us now, “Hey I’m here. If you aren’t ready to choose Me now, I’ll wait until you change your mind.”
So, let’s say that right now I recognize that I am feeling angry. Then when I bring awareness to my thoughts, I realize that I’m thinking thoughts about that person who pissed me off! 
Okay, Sheryl you know what the next step is, so are you willing to let this go? 
No, I’m not willing to let this go, at least not in this moment! Give me a few minutes! 
And this is okay.  Recognize though, that you have a choice. 

The 3 steps to mental pest control:
1) bring awareness to my feelings and thus “my” thoughts.
2) become willing to let go of attachment to “my” thoughts. 
3) choose again with willingness.

Review six in the workbook of A Course in Miracles gives us a wonderful example of this practice.  Here we are told that any thought of God can release us from every form of bondage.  It essentially says that when you are tempted to forget who you are (and we do this with our fear and limitation thoughts), hasten to proclaim your freedom by saying:

"This thought I do not want.  I choose instead..."

I am not a body. I am free.
I am still as God created me.

I can “choose instead” to repeat the workbook lesson of the day, or any thought that redirects my mind to God, and let it take the place of what I thought before.

A participant in the session brought up that she would also “own it” as in owning her thoughts rather than projecting them onto others and blaming.  That’s great, and is actually inherent in the practice in the sense that, when we’re not aware of our thoughts, then we automatically project and blame. 
We need all 3 steps in the process because I can be aware that I’m feeling anger, and I can look at my thoughts as to why: “I’m angry because you did this to me!”   Here, I am still looking outside my mind for cause.  Healing comes through willingness to take the next step: “I don’t really want to listen to this thought about you anymore.  This thought is keeping me in prison and in hell.  I choose instead…”

This morning I read something that a celebrity said, “The first thing I do is look at the news to see what kind of day I’m going to have…what kind of hell I’m going to have today.”  She said this in reference to reading news about herself.  Her comment suggests that she lets the world outside of her determine the way her day is going to go.
My inner teacher brought to my awareness that many people do this.  Maybe we let the numbers on the scale, or the numbers in our bank account, or something one of our kids says or does, determine our state of mind and our day.
It’s not about the numbers, it’s not even about the thoughts that we think, it is about being willing to let them be used to redirect me to the thought of Love/Peace/God.

Again I defer to NTI: “Your goal now is freedom, and you will succeed in your goal by letting go of every thought that would keep you imprisoned.  For the hellish thoughts within your mind are your prison, and only by letting them go can you be free.  Listen to Me. I am sharing the secrets of your imprisonment and your freedom. It is not My will that you be imprisoned. It is My will that you be free.  Listen to Me.  Accept my will as yours, and open your prison doors.”  (NTI Matthew 5:29-30)

If we have ants or other assorted pests in our house, we may call an exterminator.  And so it is with mental pest control, we need Divine help but we must make the call. This thought I do not want, I choose instead…is a call.  Crying Help! is a call.  My point is that free will involves making a choice. may be great for your home ant removal, but for Mental Pest control: 

Spray your mind with
Ants BeGone


As usual much more was discussed than I've shared here, so enjoy the audio, it's one hour and 8 min.

MP3 File