Thursday, May 27, 2010

Course Note #64: What's Growing in your mind?

What's growing in the garden of your mind?


In every moment, we either resist being who we are, or we flow in willingness with who we are.  Our feelings are an indicator to which experience we have chosen, and as we let our feelings lead back to our thoughts, we recognize that we can choose again. 

            The other night I came home from work to a letter from the IRS indicating that I owed an additional several hundred dollars that came from fees tacked on at the end.  Initially I felt anger and that ole “I can never get ahead” feeling.  For about ten minutes I indulged in these feelings and vented to my husband, and then I knew that it was time to move on.  As I reminded myself that these were thoughts of resistance, I was able to let them go.
            Later I received guidance to notice if my thoughts around certain aspects of my life where heavy or light.  Even though I am essentially an optimist (not by nature though, I have to work at it! Ha!), I had to look at areas in my life where I can definitely fall into “heavy” thoughts. 
I’ve been working with letting go of feeling solely responsible for running my business and all that goes into that, and instead, choosing the lighter thought of placing it into the hands of God.  Certainly, when I focus on feeling heavy in my body, I am engaged in heavy thoughts.  Aha!  Since my body is a reflection of my mind, perhaps I need to take a deeper look at all my “heavy” thoughts!

What a groovy path to weight loss: Letting go of my heavy thoughts so that I may remember that I Am Light!  I am Light in body, mind and Spirit. Yahoo!

The thing is though, we cannot heal ourselves by ourselves, and so, it becomes important to give our thoughts to the Spirit of Healing that rests within our mind.  Holy Spirit cannot take from us that which we are unwilling to release. 
“Bring therefore, all your heavy and secret thoughts to the light of Holy Spirit.  At your request Love enters gladly, bringing light to darkness if you make darkness open to it.  Spirit holds the light, and you the darkness, they cannot coexist when Both of you look on them together.” (ACIM T-14.VII.6 paraphrased) 

“With faith and willingness give Me all that is in your mind, that it may be healed.  What you do not give me cannot be healed.  Search your mind for all these things, and when you find them, give them to Me quickly without any attachment to the thoughts you have found.  Search your mind for doubt, all manner of fear, hatred, anger, grievance, guilt, unworthiness, helplessness, loneliness, depression, striving, hope and longings.  These are thoughts of resistance.
“Focus on now and the thoughts that are in your mind now.  Lay aside resistance now.  Each thought that is not of peace and joy in the present moment can be given to Me.  Focus on your willingness and nurture appreciation for who you are.” (NTI Luke 24:1-12, Luke 17:20-37 paraphrased)
 
We’ve all heard that we reap what we sow.  We are constantly sowing seeds in the garden of our mind through our thoughts.  Every thought we hold onto plants a seed for tomorrow’s fruit.  Here’s to ever-increasing willingness to plant seeds of Light, rather than seeds of heaviness.  Let us water them with a mixture of hope and love, and watch our lives become juicy and ripe with healing, purpose, creativity and joy.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Course Note #63: A Little Willingness

This morning I was prompted to the section in A Course in Miracles on “The Development of Trust”.  I had a sort of “aha!” moment as I realized that I have been in a “period of relinquishment” for several years.  It says that this stage of the development of trust will engender enormous conflict, and it has, in that I’ve been feeling great resistance in pockets of my mind, especially in the past year and a half.
            In the “Oh My God. I’m Free!” sessions we talk about, and work through habits, addictions, and compulsions that we may want to let go of.  Addictions and habits would be a form of relinquishment; but the content is about the relinquishment of the small self.  It’s all really about the relinquishment of “my” will so that I may walk in God’s will.  Of course, both in content and form, we can see how this would engender great resistance and “enormous conflict”.
           
            I love how my Inner Teacher speaks to me through spiritual literature, and so almost immediately after this realization I was prompted to NTI:
            “To trust in Me is to give everything over to Me.  To not trust in Me is to want to do things your way.  But to do things your way is to continue to stumble.
            “Relax and give Me your trust. I am holding you lovingly in My arms as you struggle with yourself.

            “During this time of learning, there will seem to be a battle in your mind.  What you have not realized is that you battle joy by thinking in your own way, and by laying down your own way, you find that joy awaits you.  The desire for joy is calling you, and you begin to recognize your willingness to lay down your own will, which is also to lay down the battle.” (NTI Acts 7: 1-8, 17-43)

            Yes, the period of relinquishment is really about letting myself be healed as I let go of the battle.  And this doesn’t take a lot of willingness, it only takes a little willingness.  With my small offering of willingness to Holy Spirit, I gain all power.

            One morning quite a few years ago, I awoke with the feelings of being obsessed about wanting to change something about myself, namely, my body! In the throes of obsession, I happened to open the Course to this:
            “Every special relationship that you have made has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your mind so completely that you will not hear the call for truth.”
            It was a rude awakening as I thought, “Wow, Sheryl, you’re having a special relationship with food!  Ha!

A special relationship is really a relationship with ego, the small limited self that feels lacking, limited and just not good enough. Has your mind been occupied with anything lately?  These preoccupations can take many forms, but they all have to do with “out there” – money, bodies, relationships, achievement, the future, and everything in between. 
            I received such a gift in this practice from A Course in Miracles that I’ll be sharing with you today.  It is a powerful practice, it is truly the answer:
            The Holy Spirit asks only this little help of you.  Whenever your thoughts wander to this preoccupation in your mind, enter into a holy instant and there let Love release you. Know that your willingness need not be 100% because Holy Spirit’s is. And I love this part: Out of your recognition of your unwillingness (resistance) for your release, Holy Spirit’s perfect willingness is given you.”  (ACIM T-16.VI.12 paraphrased)  
           
When first directed to this, I asked, “How do I enter with You into a holy instant?” Immediately I heard, “lesson 365”.  I turned there:

This holy instant would I give to You.
Be You in charge. For I would follow You,
certain that Your direction gives me peace.

            This lesson also tells me that Holy Spirit is in charge at “my request”.  As I pray this prayer, I indicate the little willingness that is the invitation to let Love enter my mind and heart.  As I continue to turn my mind to Holy Spirit, little by little I relinquish the hold of my small limited self, and give up the battle within.  I'm not kidding when I say that on some days, I must enter this holy instant here 20 plus times!
            In the Course we are asked if we would be hostage to the ego or host to God.  Stuck in resistance, I am indeed, hostage to the ego. With willingness I become host to God.  I am free to choose.  I can’t get into Heaven while I’m holding onto hell, but all I have to do is let go.

            In your home there is electricity running through the walls, however, the power of electricity is useless without an outlet to access it.  And even if there’s an outlet, the power of electricity is still useless without something to plug into it.
            In this same way the grace of God is the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.  The power of Love is within us, but it is useless if we don’t plug into it.  We plug into the grace of God in our mind.  As I let go of thoughts about lack, limitation, myself, other people, etc., I then become available to hear my real thoughts, the thoughts of Love.  The thoughts of Love are acceptance, forgiveness, appreciation and trust.
            I’ve received much guidance of late to bring increased awareness of my feelings as an indicator of my thoughts.  With my thoughts, I either plug into the power of the universe or I remain separated from it. 
Of course we will continually have thoughts about ourselves, however, we need not hold onto them.  Our task is to simply discern whether the thoughts are those of resistance or willingness. 
            I can only be separated from the Source of all Good with my thoughts.  I am held hostage or set free, in my own mind.

            As the topic of food came up in the “Oh My God. I’m Free!” session today, I suggested that we bring awareness to: “Who have I invited to dinner? 
If I sit down to eat feeling guilty, or feeling that I shouldn’t eat this or that, then I have invited the ego to dinner.  Healing comes when I invite a new guest.  When I invite Love to eat with me I begin to experience the happiness that can only come from that choice.

I leave you with this:
Focus on your willingness as if it is your truth,
because it is.

Focus on your willingness as if it holds the answer to all questions,
because it does.

Focus on your willingness as if it is everything to everyone,
because it is.

Focus on your own willingness.
That is Love Alive within the world.
                     (NTI Galatians 5:7-12)

The audio for today's session is one hour and 8 min.



MP3 File

You can read more about the "Oh My God. I'm Free!" sessions at my blog: http://www.gifttomyself.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Course Note #62: What I Resist Persists

Whenever I want something to change, be fixed, or just go away, I am resisting the healing that can be found in the present.  While I have experienced much healing in various facets of my life over the years, there are still a couple areas where I continually resist what is, and thus it persists!
In the last 3 years I have been taken into deeper inner work, which has been a lot about looking at my thoughts and my resistance to healing. I’ve come to understand ego as just that, the resistance to healing.
Lately, my inner work has taken the direction of bringing more awareness to how I feel as an indicator of my thoughts.  I predominant feeling for me in these bugaboo areas is a combination of frustration and struggle, or what I call, fruggle.  It became obvious to me that this sense of fruggle indicates that instead of going with the flow, I am trying to swim against the natural current of the universe.   

As I pondered these ideas, I was reminded that  A Course in Miracles says there are only two emotions: love and fear. Thoughts about wanting things to be different than what is, are thoughts of resistance, and resistance is fear.  What is fear?  Well, from a Course perspective fear is a call for love.  I had a sort of “eureka!” moment as I recognized that any condition that I am resisting is calling for Love.  The willingness to love what is right now, is to accept what is right now – it is to answer a call for love, with Love. 
            The goal is to know thy Self, and we cannot know thy Self when we consistently hold grievances.  Lesson 68 in the Course says:
            “You who were created by Love can hold no grievances and know your Self.  To hold a grievance is to forget who you are.  To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body.  It is the decision to let the ego rule your mind.” 
Resistance to what is, is a grievance.  Knowing this is good news because once aware of a grievance, we can then let it go.  I realized that when I resist what is in form, I am simultaneously resisting what is, in truth. If, for example, I want something about you to change, I am resisting seeing you as you really are.  If I stay focused on things I don’t like about my life, or myself, I am resisting who I am as Love created me.

The problem we might have with this idea though is thinking that if we accept things as they are, then we’re destined to be fat, broke, sick, insert your own, forever!    Truly, until we make peace with where we are, until we accept where we are right now, nothing is going to change.   The paradox is that “it” is not going to change until I learn to love it as it is, and when I love it as it is, I am free to truly be as Love created me. 
The natural flow of the universe is constant change, and so when we surrender to this flow, we surrender to change.  It’s interesting that while we may want certain conditions in our lives to change, our very resistance is all about the struggle to stay the same!
This morning I was led to this passage in NTI that speaks of this idea:
“Have faith in the healing process.  Do not see it as a race.  There is no prize that you should covet. There is only the realization of the beauty of all that you already are, even as you sit reading this now.
“Relax and pay attention to your healing. Know that all is perfect as your experience it. Embrace each opportunity to heal with gratitude, and you remember through healing who you truly are.” (NTI 2 Timothy 4:6-8)

We’re on a journey to the remembrance that we are Love.  So often we beat ourselves up for not being there yet.  These conditions that we resist are temporary, but we don’t see it that way because we’ve been thinking the same thoughts for so long that it seems to be just how it is. 

Someone at the “Oh My God. I’m Free!” session today talked about a condition of ongoing physical pain and asked how she could be more accepting of it. 

I felt it important to bring up first that healing is a process, and that as we to learn love and accept ourselves it’s not like those fifty extra pounds are going to immediately melt away, or that physical pain might not linger.  Which is why these ideas can be difficult to put into practice because we are hypnotized by “what is” in form, and so the conditions persist because we're constantly looking at form instead of Truth.  Our frustration comes up in inner dialogues such as this:
“Yeah, but I do this work, I turn to Holy Spirit, I pray, I meditate, I do this, I do that…how come my body still hurts?  How come I’m still doing this or that?  How come I’m still broke…Gee, shouldn’t I be further ahead? I can’t believe I’m still dealing with this issue!” 
Or, we continue to look at the condition and think, “This spiritual stuff doesn’t work.  Maybe I need to find a different spiritual path!”
Sound familiar?  This is the voice of resistance.  Luckily, there is another Voice to listen to.
The other day I was prompted to a page in NTI where I had placed a big green post-it note with a quote from the Course that says: “Decide that God is right and you are wrong about yourself.” (T-14.IV.4)
 “Be happy that you have been mistaken!  Be joyous that there is another way to see!  Decide to turn from the ways of ignorance and turn to the Voice of Knowledge.  This is a joyous decision, for this is the decision that changes all things.  This decision that you have made is the decision to let go of the thoughts you have listened to until now and to listen to another Voice, the one that comes from God.  This decision is a decision to change the habits you have had until now.  It is the decision to see yourself through new eyes, eyes that are based on the foundation of truth.
“This is why I am here. I am here to help you make this change from believing in the false to listening to the Voice of what is true.  This is your path. This is your way. And I will help you, until you do not need this help anymore.” (NTI Acts 3:11-26)
Wow!
As I read this I thought about how learning to change the habit of listening to the voice of resistance is the only way to lasting change because as I do this, it will lead to a change in behavior habits. 
Lesson 268 in the Course says to: Let all things be exactly as they are.  I realized that this is really the antidote to resistance because it returns me to the Truth that I am indeed as Love created me and, that everything really is okay exactly as it is.
God is the Love in which
I love myself.
God is the Love in which I bless
this body as a tool to
heal my mind.


As usual, so much more was covered in this session than I was able to write here.  Another participant brought up pain she is feeling around conditions in her young child’s life, and so we also talked about that.  All can be heard on the audio, which is 1 hour and 12 min.  Enjoy

MP3 File

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Course Note #61: Stop Beating Yourself Up




                       A Course In Miracles tells us that we can be hostage to the ego, or host to God.  Beating up on ourselves is one of the ways ego holds us hostage.  Do you find yourself continually listening to that inner chatty Cathy who chatters incessantly about things you need to change?  


              Nothing is ever good enough: Not our bodies, or our relationships; bank account needs an overhaul, a new career would be nice... And let’s not forget ego’s favorite admonishment, “You’re a failure at this spiritual stuff!”  On and on it goes.
            I heard a wonderful story that speaks to me about this:
            Many years ago two brothers stole sheep from a neighbor.  They were caught and punished.  In those days the punishments were very harsh, and so the two men endured having the letters “ST” (Sheep Thief), branded on their forehead.
            The older brother, unable to face his guilt and shame, left town.  Wherever he went people asked him what “ST” stood for.  He never gave much of an answer, but instead moved to another town.  He traveled from town to town facing the same problems in each one, until he finally died after having lived a bitter and lonely life.
            The younger brother remained in his hometown.  Knowing that he had made a mistake, he asked forgiveness from the townspeople.  He served others, he was generous and kind, and basically led an upstanding life.  When he was an old man someone new came to town and asked one of the townspeople, “I met a man here with the letters “ST” on his forehead.  What do the letters stand for?”
            “I don’t know,” the man replied, “it happened a long time ago, but I think it stands for saint.”

            The moral of the story is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.  I love this story because it reveals that we have a choice.  The choice is not between “saint” and “sinner”, but is instead, a choice between imprisonment and freedom.
            Let’s take another look at the man who lived a bitter and lonely life.  We can understand what he went through, and like him, many of us might as well have a brand on our forehead shouting of our past mistakes.  Heck, some people may feel that they have the whole alphabet branded on their head!  Unfortunately, we can define ourselves by our mistakes and with this mistaken identity, we move from city to city, job to job, or from one relationship to another – lo and behold, finding all the same problems, creating a future that is continuous with the past. 
            The other man shows us that when we are willing to own our mistakes and seek healing and forgiveness, we enter a future different from the past.  Our mistakes occurred in the past – healing occurs in the present.  We need not continue to live imprisoned by our thoughts.  

As students of A Course in Miracles, we eventually begin to experience the truth and the freedom found in, “You’re doing this to yourself!”  At first though, when we realize that it’s not anyone “out there” who’s doing something to us, we may then fall into blaming ourselves.  In fact, some people feel that self-honesty is about blaming themselves. Not so.  Blame is ego-identification, and so it doesn’t matter whether we blame someone else or ourselves, it’s still the same mistake. 
            Have you ever watched a baby who’s learning how to walk?  She falls down, gets back up, falls down, gets back up, falls down again…  She doesn’t sit on the floor and wonder, “Darn! When am I going to get it?  I can’t do this! I give up!”
Yet as adults, we seem to have forgotten this early childhood lesson.  We fall down; we do whatever we said we were not going to do, but instead of getting back up, we lay on the floor and lament something along the lines of: I’m such a failure! You did this to me! I can never get ahead! I give up!” 
Recently while watching a baby toddle around in my office, I noticed that when he fell down, he got up and toddled forward and then feel down again.  But he didn’t look back to where he started and cry, “Oh my, do I have to start all over and go all the way back there?   No, he simply got up from wherever he was and moved forward. And so it is with us.  We can stand up and start where we are.
We may beat up on ourselves because we see how far we have to go, all the while, failing to recognize how far we’ve come.  When we berate ourselves for falling into our negative patterns, this will only keep us stuck in them.  Holy Spirit cannot take from us what we are unwilling to give up.  So if we don’t want to give up the mistakes from the past that manifest in the present as feelings of self-pity, anger, guilt and blame, then we stay stuck in the past.
           
We relate, react and respond to one another based on how we feel about ourselves.  With a focus on what’s wrong with us, we are ego’s hostage and thus cannot love one another.  Love cannot extend from me to you if I hate me, and Love cannot extend from you to me if you hate you.  When I begin to know myself as God created me, it follows that I will see a different world.

In The Holy Spirit’s Interpretation of the New Testament (NTI), Spirit says to us:

I will teach you to see the world that you see differently,
by teaching you to see yourself through new eyes.

            “I have told you that you see the world through the filter of your mind.  This filter through which you see is your own judgment and belief about you.  As this filter is changed, all that you see is changed, because the lens through which you see is made new. 
            “Remember that you are the vessel through which God’s Love pours into the world. Be willing to put aside the last remaining obstacle (your judgment of yourself) that blocks the conduit of Love that you are.  This is what I have come to help you do.” (NTI 2 Thessalonians, 1. 5-10 through 3. 1-5)

Lesson 93 in the Course busts us when it says, “You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake.”   It’s time to know that no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, and no matter how many mistakes you continue to make – You are not a mistake. 
Freedom requires the acceptance of but one thought; you are as God created you, not what you made of yourself. Whatever mistakes you made, the truth about you is unchanged. You are and will forever be exactly as you were created.  Light and joy and peace abide in you because God put them there. 
And so it is.
***********************
This Audio was recorded for an internet audience on
5/4/10 and is 58 min.
Stop Beating Yourself Up



MP3 File



Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Course Note #60: Telling it Like it Is

The other day, I listened to a cd about the law of attraction.  The speaker talked about the idea that people tell it like it is, rather than telling their story how they want it to be.  Some suggestions were that instead of saying, “I hate this ugly, old, unreliable car,” to say, “ I want a pretty, new, reliable car.  Or, “I’m fat,” switched to, “I want to be slender.”
I understand, of course, that it’s not a good idea to continually talk and think about conditions that I don’t like, but the truth is that I really don’t know what I want. 
So instead of telling it how I want to be, I need to tell it like is, in truth.

What is the truth? I am not a body, I am free. I am as God created me.  I am one Self, united with my Creator.  I am complete, I am healed, I am whole.
           
A Course in Miracles teaches that wrong perception is the wish that things be different than they are. So it follows that right perception is the willingness to let all things be exactly as they are.  I had an Aha! moment a few days ago, when I got on a deep level that everything really is okay exactly as it is.  Everything is perfect right now for me to learn what I am here to learn right now, and so it is for everyone else.

Looking back on the years my son went through dealing with certain addictions, and what we went through with him, I don’t think that he (or my husband and I for that matter), would have the wisdom and appreciation for life that each of us has gained had we not gone through what we did.   It’s with ego that we think that we’d be much better off with perfect lives, lots of money, and the perfect car.  And then as we stand in line in the grocery store, we are bombarded with images of all the people that seem to have it all, and yet, they aren’t happier than anyone else.  The laws of the universe apply to all of us equally. 

The difficulty with this idea of acceptance is that we might think that if we accept things exactly as they are, then nothing will ever change; we’ll be broke, sick or lonely forever!  But, it’s all about thought and energy.  Thoughts are energy.  Can you feel the difference in energy when you feel happy and at peace versus when you feel angry, sad, or depressed?  There’s nothing wrong with wanting conditions to change, but having heavy negative thoughts about the way it is now will not promote change.

This morning I was led once again to this teaching on thoughts in NTI:

 “Love is all there is.  This is a fact you may put your faith in. When any thought does not feel like Love, you may put it aside as false.  Thoughts that are not Love are thoughts such as these: lack, limits, competition, victimhood, personhood, strife, and fighting, sickness, death, rage, and sorrow, helplessness, hopelessness, control and loss.”
(1John 4.7-12)

These thoughts listed here are indeed heavy thoughts.  NTI goes on to say: “God is Love, and Love is everything. The thoughts of everything are these: acceptance, joy, gratitude, peace and welcome.” 

It behooves each one of us to bring increasing awareness to the context of our thoughts.  Are these thoughts in alignment with what I want?  If I want to experience peace and happiness, is a thought of feeling victimized in line with that?  In form we really don’t know what we want.  When we are willing to focus on the content of what we want, Love, then form will take care of itself.  The focus on changing form, as in wanting to change our bodies or anything else out there, will just keep us stuck for a lot longer.  Have you noticed?

Telling it like it is in Truth, is telling the truth about what is eternal and changeless.  I like to think of it as the I Am statements of Truth: I am Spirit. I am one Self.  I am as God created me.  I am not a body, I am Free.

The conditions in our lives are temporary, but they don’t seem to be because we’ve been thinking the same thoughts for so long that some of this stuff that we think we don’t want, has been going on for decades!  The Good News is that thoughts can be given up. As we begin to tell it like it is in truth, then the form, which really is temporary, can begin to change.  But whenever we want to change our bodies, for example, by hating them, nothing will change.  We cannot change by hating ourselves into it. 

My inner teacher took me to a deeper level this week in showing me a contradiction within myself in regard to money.  On one hand I live in a lot of trust, and in the big scheme of things I feel blessed and taken care of; but on the other hand, I may rant and rave about corporate greed and the plight of the homeless.  I’ve been doing the “inner work” for so long that abundance outweighs lack in my life, nevertheless, I’d like to move forward, and the only way to do that is to be willing to look at these internal conflicts.
            When we let our lives be led by Holy Spirit, then form can be used to lead us to content; life conditions can be used to teach us what’s in our mind.  The ego believes that the mind is dangerous and so seeks to make us mindless, and it does this by keeping us focused on thoughts about our bodies and all the stuff out there.  We are imprisoned or free with our thoughts.

When we rest in thoughts of love, forgiveness and acceptance, there is no conflict.  Some think that they are enlightened or awakened, and maybe they are, I don’t know.  The way it works in my life is that I have awakened moments.  When I am able to let go of thoughts of fear, guilt, etc., and rest in truth, in those moments, I am awake.  I may fall back to sleep fairly quickly, but when I choose Love more often I will experience an awakened state for longer periods of time.

In the Course under "What is the Body?" we are told that our task is to: “Be free today.  Be you free, so that the Holy Spirit can make use of your escape from bondage, to set free the many who perceive themselves as bound and helpless and afraid.  Let Love replace their fears through you.”  Spirit Within wants to use us – our bodies and our minds to help free one another.  I will be healed as I let Spirit teach me to heal. All I really want is to be guided by Love.

As usual, so much more was shared and discussed in today’s “Oh My God. I’m Free” session, than I can present here.  The audio was recorded to an internet audience on 5/4/10 and is one hour and 12 minutes. Enjoy!  
MP3 File