Monday, September 27, 2010

Course Note #75: Looking at Guilt to Let it Go

Recently, and with some trepidation, I prayed a prayer asking my Inner Teacher to reveal to me whatever I have been hiding from myself so that it could come forth for healing. I asked that the darkness be brought to the light.  Lo and behold, what came up was an experiential lesson in looking at guilt.  If you've been reading this blog then you know that I've been receiving many messages on guilt lately! Ha!
I’ve noticed over the years that emotional healing is never forced on us.  Whenever a new level of growth is about to occur, Spirit prepares me for it in one way or another.  In this case, I had been listening to an audio by Regina Dawn Akers, and in it she talked about a time in her life when a lot of guilt came up for her to look at.  I had listened to it on the way to work, and that afternoon I received an email from a family member that really triggered a lot of stuff from the past.  As we know, family relationships offer an abundance of learning opportunities!

First it triggered anger around something that had occurred between us a few years ago.  And then I started thinking thoughts about the person that caused me to feel even more angry, and then, guilty!  Next, I took a dive into my childhood, and from there where could I go but to blame and more guilt, Guilt, GUILT!  This was all very interesting to me because normally I'm not into the blame-game, and it wasn't as if the person was trying to hurt me in any way.
That morning I had listened to Regina teach on NTI 2 Timothy, about how our thoughts are distractions that keep us from experiencing our feelings.  I realized the truth of this as I watched my mind spin on the thoughts of victimization from the past, and saw how these thoughts were indeed distracting me from looking at the guilt within.  I’ve been at this inner work long enough to know that I did not want to stay in this emotional state.  There is a prayer in A Course in Miracles that I credit for much healing over the years.  So as I sat at my desk immersed in feelings of anger and guilt, I prayed:

I must have decided wrongly because I am not at peace.
I made this decision myself, but I can choose again.
I want to choose again, 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 allow it.
I choose to let healing in by allowing Holy Spirit to choose for God,
 for me.
                                                                                                   (ACIM. T-5.VII.6:7)

Almost immediately I felt more peaceful and was then inspired to open NTI and look up the passages I had been listening to that morning.  Immediately my eyes were drawn to:
“You are not deserted.  When you feel deserted, you have looked away from the Love within yourself.  Take this moment to be quiet and to ask Me to look at your pain with you.  I am with you always, but through inviting Me you acknowledge My presence within you.  In peace we will experience your pain together.  Through peace, we will joyously let it go.”  (NTI 2 Timothy 16-18)

Here Holy Spirit addressed exactly how I was feeling as I was feeling deserted and unloved.  I invited this presence to look at my pain with me.  As I drove home that night I thought, "Sheryl, this has nothing to do with her and, this has nothing to do with your past, you need to look at this guilt and where it's coming from."  
In that moment, I felt such gratitude that Holy Spirit used an innocuous email to take me deeper into healing.  I saw that the whole incident was really an answer to my prayer of willingness to look at what was within.  The next day I came to his passage in the Course:

“For all relationships that guilt has touched are used but to avoid the person and the guilt.”  (ACIM. T-13.X.2:3)
It became clear to me that guilt caused me to want to avoid relationship with this person, and as I projected my guilt onto her in thinking that she was guilty, I could avoid looking at the guilt within me.  We simply can not let go of that which we are unwilling to look at.   
Ego, which is essentially the belief in guilt, uses guilt to keep us stuck in the past.  Guilt keeps us feeling separate from God, one another and our true Self.   Ironically, I’ve had several recent conversations with women who I would consider to be “perfect” daughters, only to find out that they too feel a lot of guilt in their respective parent-child relationships.  One friend said that while she may look like the “perfect daughter”, everything she does for her mother, she does out of guilt.
Parent-child relationships are rife with guilt, and ego loves this because when we’re feeling guilty and separate and stuck in the past, we cannot know ourselves as Love.  I love this person very much, but while feeling so much anger and guilt, love was nowhere to be found. 

The Course speaks of the existential guilt that we all feel, which stems from a belief that we are separated from our Source.  I could never relate to that frankly, but now I see that the guilt we feel isn’t about our relationships at all, rather, the guilt is made up of all the negative and unworthy feelings we have about ourselves. 

 “The feelings within you are not to be hidden. As you hide your feelings from yourself, you are confused as to who you are.  I have told you that it is time to look at who you are not.  We do this for only one purpose…to realize who you are.

Know thy Self.

“Do no be afraid of the feelings you find within.  They do not define you. …By looking at them and experiencing them, and not fearing them, you may release them.  As you release them, do not feel that your feelings were caused by anything in the world. They were not.”  (NTI 2 Timothy, 4)

When I squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out because that is what’s inside.  When we think that we are feeling guilty or angry about what someone else did, we cannot experience those feelings unless they are already within us.   Blame is a thought, and it distracts us from healing. 
Our purpose is healing – healing the split between knowing ourselves as guilt or Love.  The only way we can really let go of this guilt is to first allow ourselves to experience it, and then look at it with the Vision of Truth so that may come to know that we are not guilty.  All healing occurs in the present.  Guilt keeps the past and the future continuous, because in that moment that I feel guilty, I am not allowing God’s Love to be present.

NTI 2 Timothy speaks of our desire to have an experience. 
“Guilt is a misperception and nothing more. …Release yourself by accepting your own innocence.  God has granted you the right to have experience.  You have, within you, the desire to have experience.  This desire remains until you have let it go.  But you cannot fear it and let it go also.  You must let yourself realize the experience to see that the experience can hold no limits that could ever limit or hinder you.”

As I read this, I wondered why I would desire the experience of feeling guilty.  After I had pondered this section for a couple days, and asked for clarity on it, I had an Aha! moment.  I am a free and unlimited child of God here in this time and space to experience what it would be like to feel limited, fearful and guilty.  I can let myself have the experience of feeling fearful and guilty, and choose not to cover it up with thoughts of blame and victimization.  I allow myself this experience only to see that the experience of guilt or fear cannot limit me, ever.  I am free to remember that I am not limited.  In my freedom, I am granted the right to experience fear and lack and guilt, until…I don’t want to anymore.
“Have faith in the healing process.  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 you experience it.  Embrace each opportunity to heal with gratitude, and you remember through healing who you truly are.”  (NTI 2 Timothy 4: 6-8)

Thank you Holy Spirit for answering my prayer and revealing to me what I have been afraid to look at.  Thank you for revealing yet another obstacle to the awareness of the Love that I am.  I am willing to go forth and embrace every opportunity to heal my mind.  Amen.

I did a talk on this on 9/19/10, it is 56 min.
Looking at Guilt

MP3 File

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Course Note #74: I Will be Gentle with Myself

Today, are you willing to Be as Love created you?

A Course in Miracles tells me that it is not my task to seek for love but to seek instead, within myself, the barriers to the awareness of Love’s presence.  The obstacles to knowing myself as Love are guilt, unworthiness and self-judgment. 
            Often we attempt to put whipped cream on crap, and by that I mean, we can quote spiritual words, and affirm spiritual truth as a substitute for going deep within to look at these feeling of guilt and unworthiness.  We can be fearful of going deep but when we do, we find that none of the judgments we have made about ourselves are true.  Spiritual words become tools for transformation when we are willing to apply them in our daily walk.
            In my willingness to be as God created me, I let go of self-judgment.  I often ask Holy Spirit to reveal to me what I have forgotten, to reveal to me what I have kept hidden.  Until we are willing to have what is hidden brought to the light, we walk in the world with something we’re unaware of directing our lives. 
            So let’s look at guilt.  Where does guilt come from?  Well, the short answer is that it comes from me.  I’m the one who judges myself as guilty.  You are the one who judges you as guilty.
Recently I’ve been directed to NTI 2 Thessalonians that speaks to us about self-judgment and guilt.

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.”
See, when I’m willing to see myself as God created me, then, I must see a different world.  When I look at the world through the lens of guilt and unworthiness, then, I must judge other people and see them as guilty along with me.
            I’ve often said that we relate, react and respond to other people, and the world, based on how we feel about ourselves.  With willingness to look deeply at this, we see that it is true.  We’re being asked to look at the unworthiness and guilt in our mind and be willing to let it go.  We cannot relinquish what we are unwilling to look at. 

            Ego’s goal, being the voice of separation, is to teach us: You Are Guilty!  The goal of Spirit is to reveal to us our innocence.  To let go of guilt, we must first be willing to let go of the belief in guilt, which means that we must be willing to see no one as guilty.
            “Remember that you are the vessel through which God’s Love pours into the world.  Be willing to put aside the last remaining obstacle that blocks the conduit of Love that you are.  This is a time of freedom for you and all the world.  Take this step in joy, for it is the step of freedom.”
            You are the vessel through which Love pours into the world.  When we begin to take this seriously instead of seeing it as simply nice words on a page – You and I are vessels for Love, and Love can not flow from a vessel that’s clogged with guilt, unworthiness and feelings of being not good enough.
            It’s also helpful to look at the judgments I make toward others.  A friend sent me an email recently lamenting some aspects of the “spiritual community”, and I got into it too until I heard the Inner Voice say, “Sheryl, focus on your own healing.”  That stopped me in my tracks.  No matter what other people are doing, my purpose to is to focus on my own healing.  And the way I do this is to be willing to let Spirit Within look with me at my guilt, and look with me at my judgments.  When I do this, the world really does begin to look different.
            I sometimes hear people talk about “the illusion” as in referring to the world we live in, however, the Course teaches that “illusions” are simply misperceptions about myself.  Guilt and judgment are illusions, not reality.

            Guilt runs rampant in the areas of compulsion and addiction, yet these areas of our lives can be used to keep us stuck or to set us free.   A frequent prayer for me: 

Holy Spirit,
Help me use this problem
to bring me closer to You.
Help me to not use it as another distraction
pushing you further away.
Thank You.

            Life is a classroom where everything can be used to set us free.  I’ve created these situations as tools for awakening.  I’m not a victim of anything.  As I recognize this, the deep inner work becomes fun.
            I heard a message the other day that said the slow way is the fast way.  That really spoke to me because it’s always been obvious to me that while the spiritual way is not the fast way, it is the only way.  Be willing to let all things be exactly as they are.  Spirit can use everything as a lesson in forgiveness.

            In Ken Wapnick’s pamphlet entitled: “Overeating: A Dialogue” he writes:
            “That purpose of forgiveness then becomes the importance of everything in this world.  Actually you should think of this very literally in terms of food.  …This is what you do:  Look with Holy Spirit, step back and watch with Him while you gorge yourself, or while you eat a salad which only 150 calories in it.  Stand back and watch with HS while you do this.  That is what helps you begin to put distance between yourself and the food, and change the purpose of the food.  Then food becomes holy instead of a symbol of your guilt and your failure.  It becomes a symbol telling you that this is the way that Holy Spirit is going to teach you that you are loved. …But then, you can’t sabotage this by then jumping on a scale afterwards.”
            We say that we’re going to go on this “diet” with God but then we jump on the scale and if we haven’t lost weight, we’re back into beating up on ourselves – we’re back to being ego’s hostage.  Ego tells us that thinness is the goal.
“You set the goal first.  If the goal is to be thin, then that is what you may achieve, but you’re not going to find peace.  If my goal is to be guiltless, to feel good about myself and to feel God’s Love within me, then I will see eating the hot fudge sundae as the means to achieve that end.  If is see the goal as losing weight, then I will see that the goal of not eating the hot fudge sundae is to lose weight, and I will probably fail, because it was set up to fail.  But if I see eating the hot fudge sundae as the means to achieve the goal of being guiltless, and I eat it with Holy Spirit, and I feel guiltless, then I’ve won. …I want to be guiltless, and if that is the purpose of my eating – whether it is a hot fudge sundae or a carrot – then I will eat, feel guiltless and say, “It does work.
            “And the fat then becomes your friend.  You can be grateful for the state of the body because you learned a lesson that would have taken thousands and thousands of years to learn within the illusion of time – and that is that you are guiltless.”
I’ve seen this in my own life, I have learned to like myself as I am and have a level of peace with myself.  However, it’s not that I don’t fall into moments of guilt and unworthiness, but I rarely stay there very long.  When I can keep the goal in mind to know myself as Love, rather than defining myself by numbers on the scale, then ultimately the weight will be released, as I will no longer need it.  Ego uses the body to keep us feeling guilty and wrong.

            Today I was also prompted to a section in the Course that meets us where we are.  “Do not despair, then, because of limitations.  It is your function to escape from them, but not to be without them.  If you would be heard by those who suffer, you must speak their language.  If you would set others free, you must understand what needs to be escaped.”
            Here it’s saying that we are not expected to be people with no problems and perfect lives, otherwise how can we help others if we haven’t been through anything ourselves?
With willingness to remember that I am as God created me, with willingness to do the deeper inner work, I bring others along with me because we are never healed alone. 
            It’s time to stop beating up on yourself, and focusing on your limitations.  It’s time to stop feeling frustrated because you still have issues to work with, instead, simply ask for help.  Help with be provided.  God meets us where we are.

            I ended today’s “Oh My God. I’m Free!” session with a beautiful song by Karen Drucker called “Be Gentle with Yourself” which you can hear on the audio.

            She sings:
I will be gentle with myself.
I will hold myself like a newborn baby child
I will be tender with my heart,
And I will only go as fast as the
slowest part of me feels safe to go.

I will be easy on myself,
and I will love myself like a newborn baby child.
I am gentle with myself.

            As you go about your life this week, remember that the slow way is the fast way.  Be gentle with yourself.  I love you.
This talk was given on 9/14/10 and is 1 hour and 11 min.

MP3 File

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Course Note #73: Lessons in self-forgiveness

Recently I have been receiving much guidance on self-forgiveness.  In A Course in Miracles we are told that no matter what “issue” we may think we have, the underlying content is unforgiveness.
I like thinking of my life as a classroom because the Course uses ego and Holy Spirit as being representative of two teachers.  Thus, I find it helpful to bring awareness to which teacher is teaching my class.  If I’m feeling pain, confusion, frustration and struggle…obviously ego, the teacher of attack and separation is teaching my class.  When I feel peace, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude then I have chosen the Love to teach my class.
            Many years ago, when I began asking Spirit Within to teach me how to forgive, I was led through various practices over the years that met me where I was at any given time.  Ultimately, however, I came to realize that when the Course tells me to:

Forgive, and you will see this differently,

I am being urged to choose again, to choose the Teacher of Love.  “These are the words the Holy Spirit speaks in all of your tribulations, all of your pain, all suffering regardless of its form.  …Shall we not learn to say these words when we have understood their power to release all minds from bondage?  These are words which give you power over all events that seem to have been given power over you.”  (ACIM, Lesson 193)

In feeling that we should act different, look different, or be different, we are harshly judging ourselves. We may feel that if we worth loving then others would not have hurt or betrayed us.  We may feel that if we worth loving we wouldn’t have these “issues”!  The inner work is to forgive ourselves for forgetting who we are, for forgetting that we are, in fact, Love.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve traveled many roads that led to nowhere.  I’ve traveled many roads that have led away from the truth of who I am.  And finally, I came to the recognition that I do not know how to help myself.  If I did, I would have. 
Last week I spoke about my new lessons in self-acceptance, and this week I find myself again feeling frustrated about myself.  Last week I had a glimpse of freedom and release, and then this week I’m saying, “God, when and I going to get over this!?” 
Thankfully the Course speaks of this when it says: If you were in a prison for years and years and were finally set free – you would think that you would jump up and down in joy.  Not so. You would run right back into the prison because it takes awhile to understand what freedom is.  This is so true!
Fortunately though, the prison door is always open, it is always my choice to stay in or walk out.  Last week I felt that I had a great healing, which I did, but it can be a process to hold onto it! We truly are enslaved by our thoughts.  Thank God we can change them!  We choose again in our mind, and if we stay focused “out there” we will remain miserable.
Ego seeks to keep us mindless, and it’s greatest way to keep us out of our mind is with a focus on bodies: appearance, health, illness, beauty, gender, race, perfection, aging, feeding it, clothing it, housing it…the list is endless!  There is so much focus in our society on bodies and sizes, I mean honestly, now it’s become vogue to be thin while pregnant!  When I forgive, I see it differently and can laugh at the insanity of it.  

“You’ll notice the opportunity to forgive when you notice feelings of …self-hatred or guilt or unworthiness within yourself.  …This is an opportunity for you to invite love into the world by returning your mind to truth.”  (NTI Galatians 6)
            Let us recognize that our self-judgments are an opportunity to choose forgiveness.  When I choose forgiveness, I am joined with Love.  Forgiveness returns the mind to the awareness of God.  When I choose forgiveness, I extend Love into the world. 
            There will be great resistance within as we do this deep inner work, and this is okay. I can let self-judgments be an invitation to Love.  Today, I rest in the awareness that I don’t want to hurt myself anymore.  Today I will remember that:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

                                                                                              Including You! 


I gave a talk on this on 8/24/10, 1 hr. and 16 min.
Lessons In self-forgiveness

MP3 File

Angel image by Carmen Cameron

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Course Note #72: Lessons in Self-acceptance

This past year I’ve been feeling really frustrated with myself.  In December I had a freak fall where I broke one ankle and sprained the other.  Prior to that incident, I felt like a strong and healthy woman, since then however, as I put on more weight and was unable to exercise to the extent that I did previously, my self-image changed.  A few months ago I said to my husband, “I Am Not Going to the Be the Love conference weighing this much!”  Not that I have ever told him how much I weigh! Ha/ha!
            As the event loomed before me, I engaged in a lot of self-judgment, especially when it was obvious that I was indeed going to have to go to the event weighting this much! 
A Course in Miracles says that there is no one here who does not feel imprisoned in some way.  The key word here is “feel” because a child of God cannot be imprisoned; I can only think that I am.  These areas of imprisonment (usually those where we feel a lot of frustration and struggle), can be used to heal our mind.  Instead of beating ourselves up and trying to fix ourselves all the time, we can let our Inner Guidance use whatever is going on with us for healing.  I have been at this  healing work for years, and so I had achieved a certain level of self-acceptance where normally I don’t fall into judging myself as harshly as I have lately.

Ironically, the “Oh My God. I’m Free!” sessions that I have been doing on the internet for the past year, were inspired a mere few days after my ankle injury.  I now see how Spirit Within inspired them to help me work through this area of imprisonment, and thus help others do the same.  Each week I am inspired to deeper understandings and insights, which led to a sort of healing not too long ago.   I had the realization that for reasons I’m not currently privy to, I must need this excess weight.  I don’t know what the reasons are, but I’m just going to stop trying to fix myself, and get off it.  I felt such a sense of freedom and release.

At the recent conference in Virginia, Chuck Hillig said something to the effect of:  Be an appreciative observer of your own stuff.  And that’s exactly how I would describe the healing I had that day.  And so I was able to let go of it. 
Being on the conference team for the Be the Love events, I’ve always felt that it is my responsibility to show up at the event with Love leading the way.  I’ve noticed over the last few years that before speaking engagements, I sometimes fall into those self-judgments, but every time, as I took Love with me, I’d find that I could totally let go of self-judgment.  
As it turned out, I had the same experience at our recent event.  If I had gone to the event with my ego, meaning, if I had gone there worried about what people were going to think about me, I would have had a completely different experience than the one I had. 

It seemed that wherever I went, in the airport, at the conference, and everywhere in between, I bonded with people and had a wonderful time.  As I surrendered all this to Spirit, I was able to get myself out of the way to let some of the best talks I’ve ever given come forth.  As my husband drove me home from the airport, I was excited to tell him that once again I had learned that the body really does not matter.  I mean really, does anyone besides Oprah, care how much Oprah weighs?

The next morning I was feeling so grateful for the experiential lessons in Self-acceptance that I had gleaned from the weekend.  I realized once again how we really are enslaved by nothing but our thoughts. 
“It is your thoughts that have made you suffer.  And so, if you would choose freedom, you must also choose freedom from your thoughts.  This is why I have come. I am here to teach you to lay down you thoughts, to loosen yourself from your binding, and to straighten up and walk in joy and gratitude instead.”  (NTI Luke, 13. 10-17)

As I pondered this I thought of a passage in the Course: some of your greatest successes you have judged as failure, and some of your biggest failures you have seen as success.  I was then prompted to look up the passage: (T-18.V.1:6)
Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures: Weeks before the event I had been judging myself as a failure for not changing my habits, and thus looking my best on a physical level.  Then HS chimed in:  
            “The one thing that has never wavered is your willingness to let your body, and your very life, be used as a classroom to heal your mind.  You have made great advances this year.  You may not have succeeded in changing your body, but you have greatly succeeded in changing your mind.”
            And then HS had this to say about the second part of the Course passage: …and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success:
“Let’s say that prior to the event you had lost all kinds of weight.  You and everybody else would have evaluated you as a success.  But, if that were all you did, as in focusing on getting your body in shape instead of your mind, while you may have felt like a success, all you would really have done is retreated more deeply into the illusion that you are your body.” 
Yes, I would have been more entrenched in the prison I have created for myself.  If changing my body doesn’t come as a result of changing my mind, then all I have done is confirmed that I’m a body, and with that mindset, no matter how I look, or what I accomplish in the world, I’ll still be left with feeling “not good enough.”  Can you relate?  And this is ego’s game: Keep us mindless with a focus on changing or fixing what’s “out there.”

Although, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we cannot desire to improve our diet, bodies, relationships or whatever, but if we do that without the willingness to change our mind – and we’ve all lived this – we will still be miserable, looking for something else to fix or change about ourselves, someone else or the world.

The Good News is that whatever your area of frustration, it can be used to keep you more entrenched in the prison of your mind, or it can be used to set you free.
“Watch your mind, for it is only your own thoughts that may enslave you.  Whenever you do not feel free, you are believing illusions.  There is a direct correlation between your thoughts and beliefs and your present experience.”  (NTI Galatians 5:1)
And then in NTI Galatians 6 we are told that the outer is not important, but that the inner is everything.  What is outside will seem different as what is inside is transformed.  Wow! I now know this to be true.

Have you too felt like a failure because in your estimation you just don’t seem to measure up?  You’ve made more advances than you think because, even the fact that that you were drawn to read this today reveals your willingness to be healed.
           All the things that we think matter really don’t matter.  It has been so liberating to recognize that when I think other people are judging me, it’s because I am judging me. 
You know what?  Most people really don’t want to see perfect bodies and perfect lives, they want to see authenticity and Love extending through us, they want to see someone real.  This cannot occur if we are focused on ourselves.  When focused on our bodies, bank accounts or whatever, we are dwelling with the ego and cannot know ourselves as Love.

Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures,
And some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success.

As we go about our lives this week, may we be willing to let Spirit Within shine light on this for us, and lead us to live in the freedom of who we Really are.

I gave a talk on this on 8/10/10, 44 min.
Lessons in self-acceptance

MP3 File

Monday, September 06, 2010

Course Note #71: The Pain of Changing...

Recently I had an email conversation with a friend, and I told her how much I admire and respect all the deep inner work she has done in her life. She replied, “It’s called ‘motivation born of desperation’.  The pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of changing.”
As I read her email I was reminded that A Course in Miracles says something similar: “Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way.  As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning-point.”  (T-2.III.5)

“The pain of changing…” as I pondered this, I was once again prompted to the “Development of Trust” section in the Course, and specifically to the third stage of development which is called: “a period of relinquishment.”  (M-4.I)
            If you feel that your life is in upheaval, as in things seem to be rapidly changing, or if you’re feeling dazed, crazed and confused turn to this section, chances are you will discover that you just may be going through a stage in the development of trust.

In retrospect I see that that I entered into this relinquishment period around February, 2007, but it wasn’t until August of that year that I first recognized that I was in this period of inner growth.  For me, this period has been one of letting go of certain lifestyle habits, some have been easy to let go of and others have not.  Well, let me take that back, none of them have been easy to give up! I guess it seems so in light of the ones I still don’t want to give up! Throughout the past three years I have seen my Inner Teacher use my behavioral habits to teach me about my habitual thoughts. 

It’s not just about habits in form, because most of us have the habit of listening to ego, the voice of the small, limited self.  Changing habits of thought precipitates changing habits in form.  Most spiritual literature speaks of laying self aside to leave more room for awareness of the Divine.  I now see how clinging to old habits keeps me in bondage to this small self. 

            The Course says that this period of relinquishment will “engender enormous conflict”, and I have found this to be so true.  For the past year and a half I have I recognized great resistance within myself, although I wasn’t even sure what it was I was resisting. Now, it’s becoming clear. 
I’ve come to see ego as the resistance to healing.  This resistance has a voice in my mind that I call the Toxic Chatty Cathy.  She chatters incessantly about everything I see, say or do.  It has been a rude awakening to discover that her voice is the very same voice that I think of as “my” thoughts.  Egad!

            Frequently over the past year and a half I have written and spoken about how my Inner Teacher has continually led me back to NTI Luke.  Recently I understood why – it’s all about how to get through this period of relinquishment!  It never ceases to amaze me how the Spirit Within guides us truly.
           “Here is what you fear: You fear the loss of self.  But loss of self cannot be, because your true Self was given you by God as a gift.  This gift shall never be taken away.
            “So what is that you fear really? You fear the loss of an illusory self, because you have forgotten who you are.  You think that to lose who you think you are is to lose who you really are, but as I have already told you, nothing could be further from the truth." (NTI Luke 23)

Wow, there it is in a nutshell!  This period of relinquishment that, by the way, we all most go through at some point, does indeed engender enormous conflict and resistance because on some level, it feels as though I’m being asked to give up something valuable and desirable to me – Me! 
I’ve been in this period for over three years now, and I’m wondering how long it goes on.  Nevertheless, it has been, and continues to be a period of deep inner growth – painful and glorious all at the same time. 
I’m told in the Course that I have this to look forward to: As my willingness increases to give up the valueless (my thoughts about me, myself and I), I will find that where I anticipated grief, I will find a happy lightheartedness instead; where I thought something was being asked of me, I will find a gift bestowed upon me.
During the session where I spoke about this, I was asked, “But Sheryl, the world will love me if I am perfect…how can I give that up?”
            Thinking that we have to be perfect to be loved is self-judgment, and this cannot coexist with acceptance.  This period of relinquishment also involves relinquishing self-judgment, and having the willingness to give up what “the world” wants us to be.  What the world wants us to be is the antithesis of who we are.    Whenever we feel that we must somehow be better or different, in that moment we are not accepting who we truly are, but are instead hanging out with the false and illusory self.

The self we think we are usurps the Self that we really are.

            When it comes to “the world”, let’s face it, there’s a voice seemingly “out there” to criticize you no matter what you do!  The world will always tell you that you are not enough, that you’ve got to be bigger, you’ve got to be Better, you’ve got to be the BEST!

The Spirit Within whispers, Be still.  In the stillness, I glimpse the perfection of who I really am.  In my willingness to glimpse the perfection of who I really am, I can then begin, little by little, to relinquish the hold on who I am not.

            “This is a time of forgiving your own thoughts by laying them aside and again opening your heart to Me.” (NTI Luke 11:1-13)

In this moment I am willing to forgive the thought that I have to be perfect to be loved.  I do not have to be perfect to be loved, and neither do the people who I don’t love because they aren’t perfect.
            When I find myself falling into thoughts of unworthiness, guilt and self-judgment, Luke tells me to, “Calmly forgive this confused and fearful voice. 

‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

            “Look beyond this voice to the beauty that lies within.  Listen in rest for the Voice that does not crucify and knows no crucifixion.  This is your true Voice, the gift of Heaven that cannot be taken away.”   (NTI Luke 23:26-43)

                This interpretation of that famous sentence “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” is so powerful!  The thoughts of unworthiness, guilt and self-judgment do indeed crucify us. 
            I’m reminded of a passage in the Course, “The crucified give pain because they are in pain.  But the redeemed give joy because they have been healed of pain.  Everyone gives as he receives, but he must choose what it will be that he receives.”  

The pain of changing is rooted in wanting to hold onto the small, limited “not good enough” self.  I wonder why we fear the loss of it? 
I now see how our habits, addictions and compulsive behaviors can be used as tools to heal the mind.  This period of relinquishment is really about giving up the compulsive behavior of listening to the ego – the voice that crucifies.  And as I increase my willingness to let go of that habit, all else will fall into place.
And so as we go about our lives this week, let’s be willing to form a new habit:

Listen to the Voice that does not crucify. 


On 8/24/10, I gave a talk on this topic. It is 1 hour and 27 min.
A Period of Relinquishment

MP3 File