Monday, May 30, 2011

Course Note #103: Why would I want to let go of thinking?

I have been into emotional and spiritual healing work since my mid twenties and throughout all those years, I have received so much teaching on thoughts. It blows my mind that even after now, thirty years, I continue to learn so much about the mind, thoughts and thinking.  It seems that there are always deeper depths to travail.
This week I picked up a book containing interviews with Father Thomas Keating who is known for teaching the practice of  “centering prayer”.  I opened it to a page where he said that the chief psychological defense mechanism is thinking too much! I had to laugh because I’ve been receiving that message all over the place lately!
Since 2007 I have been in what A Course in Miracles calls “a period of relinquishment”.  While I have learned much in the past four years during this period, I finally see that what it is we are to relinquish is the process of “thinking”.  It is thinking that keeps the belief in separation alive and well. 

The Course tells us that this period will “engender enormous conflict” if we think that we are giving up something valuable.  I can attest that this is true! I have experienced so much resistance through most of this period, until the past year where I have come into a greater degree of willingness.  What I am discovering is that in my willingness to give up the valueless (my thoughts), I am experiencing more peace and freedom.

“This is why I have asked you to lay down your own thoughts.  But I understand that before you choose to do so, you must come to see that which you think has value as being truly valueless.  And this is the case with your thoughts, for as long as you hold onto them and cherish them, you cannot see the truth that is before you now.  They are like a veil that hides the Light of Heaven from your sight.”  (NTI  Luke 10v25-37. 9-16)

          Actually, the process of doing the workbook of the Course trains us to become aware of the context of our thoughts and teaches us to let go of our thinking mind, but it is a process and a practice to learn the ins-and-outs of the thinking mind. 
           Through my work with the Course, I became aware when I was not at peace, and I knew what to practice to return my mind to peace.  But what started happening in 2007 is that I began to receive much inner guidance on those innocuous thoughts that we think all day long that we are mostly unaware of, nevertheless, they too, create our lives.
After years of vigilant spiritual practice I used to wonder why certain areas of my life continued to be a source of frustration and struggle.  I now realize that in those areas of frustration (and we all have at least one), we think thoughts that we listen to and believe and act on, but we don’t hear them or question them, and so we continue to stay stuck because we are caught in a loop of habitual thoughts.

“Let go of old habits and old ways of thinking.  They have not served you.  To hold onto the old is to create a future like the past.  That is not useful to you now.  Listen to My Word.  Hear what I say.  Practice it.  Then you will know what to do.”  (NTI Matthew 9vs14-17)

So, why should I let go of my thinking?  Well, to create a future different from the past I must allow for guidance in this moment, and I do this through the willingness to stop thinking for myself and instead, practice listening to the Voice of Truth.
I’ve found that these areas of frustration are usually those where we are most mesmerized by the world.  Maybe you’re mesmerized in regard to financial issues, or body stuff or relationships...  Within this hypnotism, we are totally unconscious of what we are thinking. 
I am reminded of that fabulous teaching from the Urtext of the Course that says that it is the unwatched mind that makes up the whole of the unconscious.  What we think of as “unconscious” is really just thoughts that we have not brought awareness to and so therefore, we are not available to choose again.
I find this to be the most exciting thing!  A simple practice of watching our thoughts can return us to the realization of our freedom!  It’s not a small Wow!

Another great reason to practice giving up thinking comes from “Single Quiet Thought" ~65~  (SQTs can be found at http://www.reginadawnakers.com)

What you think, you see.
What you see, you experience.
What you experience, you think. 

This is why reversal is needed.

Be willing to think apart from
what you experience,
and you think apart from fear.
You think apart from guilt.
You think apart from division.

In this way,
you think in alignment with truth,
and that which is not truth,
can be undone.

Let’s say that I think that I am being victimized, and so I see victimization, and then I experience victimizing circumstances, and then I think about being victimized, and then I see
I think that I don’t have enough money, and then I see lack in the world or in my life or in someone else’s life, and then I experience lack and limitation, and then I think about lack, and then I see

Do you see?

So, how do I let go of my thinking mind?
The second part of the SQT asks us to be willing to think apart from our experience.

          “To think apart from your experience and to think apart from the world is a request that is to be taken literally in all circumstances without exception.  This will seem to take practice, but as you practice, the increase in willingness will make the practice easier.”  (NTI 2 Corinthians 6v3-10.1-15)

           In this section of NTI we are then given a way to practice, which essentially says that when we are having an experience of suffering, let’s say, we can choose not to suffer.  Let the body do what the body does, but recognize that you can choose not to suffer and can rejoice that the experience of suffering is not the truth about you.

           Through practice, we begin to see that experiences are truly not real, because our experience changes as we change our mind.  We begin to see that, “Wow! I am not ever being victimized by a person, place or thing, I am only victimized by my thoughts!”

When we really get that we are victimized by our thoughts and perceptions, then we begin to heal.  I cannot be victimized by anything outside of me.  This is the truth, and it is a testament to the liberation and freedom that can be experienced now!

Lately, when my mind is engaged with thinking, Holy Spirit has been  prompting me to practice this:

Rest your mind.
Trust the healing process.
Be grateful for all that is.

            One day this week, early in the morning as I drove to the gym, I was caught up in thinking! I was thinking thoughts of grievance and resentment that I cannot even remember now, but in that moment, as much as I told myself to let them go, I just couldn’t seem to shake them. 
And then I stopped in my mind.  Before I share more with you, you may want to join me.  Perhaps today or right now, your mind is caught up in thinking and spinning on fantasy, let us take a moment to stop and rest. 

Spirit Within,
I see these thoughts of grievance and resentment
(insert your own).
And I am grateful that You have taught me how
to see them.

In this moment,
I am willing to rest my mind.
I am willing to trust the healing process.
I am willing to trust that I am being healed
even now.

I am willing, Holy Spirit,
to be truly grateful for all that is.
Thank You.
Thank You.
Thank You.

My mind returned to peace.  All those thoughts of grievance and resentment were gone.  But, when I tried to stop thinking those thoughts, I could not.

        What was I doing when I “tried” to stop thinking those thoughts?  I was thinking of how to stop thinking with my thinking mind, and it will not work.  In the moment that I was willing to stop and look at the thoughts, and then to rest, and trust and be grateful, then… the thoughts dissolved on their own.  This is such a simple and powerful practice.

            We have been trying to heal ourselves with the mind that thinks instead of letting go of our thinking so that we can hear the Voice for Healing.

A Course in Miracles does not discuss “thinking” in quite the same way, however, it does speak to us throughout about learning to listen to one of two voices. It speaks to us of “right-minded thinking”, which is listening to Holy Spirit the Voice for Love and union; and “wrong-minded thinking”, which is listening to the voice for separation, fear and lack and limitation.

I gave a talk on Sunday, 5/29/11 where I delved deeper into these ideas sharing teachings from NTI, SQTs and ACIM.  You can enjoy it here:

 
 
 


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Course Note # 102: How Can I See Differently?

Hi There,
I posted the audio from the teaching on Sunday 5/15/11 on: How Can I See Differently?
 
In this audio I include teachings from NTI and ACIM, and share some of my new discoveries on howto change long held areas of frustration and struggle. Teachings on:  
 
*  Why Do I See the Way I See?
* What Can I learn from What I See?
* How Can my misperceptions be corrected?


You can enjoy the audio here: 


 
 

 
    MP3 File
 




Join us at http://www.spiritualrehab.ning.com

Monday, May 09, 2011

Course Note #101: How Can I Be Useful?

Hi Friends,


On Sunday, I spoke on: How Can I Be Useful?


"Let me be truly helpful;
I do not know how."

Let this be your prayer today.
It is an invitation for Me to lead.
It is a statement of your willingness
to be healed.
It is a reminder that we are one.

Surrender to this prayer in peace.

~From our Holy Spirit
             SQT #11

I spoke on this "Single Quiet Thought" from an upcoming book called Thoughts of Awakening scribed by Regina Dawn Akers.


In this audio I also share ideas from A Course in Miracles and NTI, as well as a couple Holy Spirit messages given to Regina.


If you've been wondering just how you can be useful in this world, listen in.

You can enjoy the audio here:



 
 

 
    MP3 File
 





To enjoy more of the "Single Quiet Thoughts" visit: http://www.reginadawnakers.com

To enjoy more of my audios on NTI and ACIM visit: http://www.sherylvalentineaudio.blogspot.com

Friday, May 06, 2011

Course Note #100: Choose Again...

Hi there,
   I initially posted this in 3/10, but was drawn to it again this week. Enjoy!

               I read the following autobiography around twenty years ago.  I held onto it because even then, I found it brilliant in that it chronicles the emotional and spiritual stages we go through in order to break out of self-imposed prisons and enjoy the light of day. 

           Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One

            I walk down the street. 
                       There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
                        I fall in. 
                        I am lost…I am helpless. 
                         It isn't my fault.
            It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two

            I walk down the same street. 
                       There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
                        I pretend I don't see it. 
                        I fall in again.
            I can't believe I am in this same place.
                                    But, it isn't my fault.
            It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three

            I walk down the same street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
                         I see it is there. 
 I still fall in…it's a habit…but,
                                     my eyes are open.
 I know where I am. 
It is my fault.
            I get out immediately.

Chapter Four

            I walk down the same street. 
                        There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
                        I walk around it.

                                                            Chapter Five
            I walk down another street.  


          Chapter One reveals our tendency to feel victimized; while Chapter Two calls our attention to how we engage in denial.  Chapter Three introduces the idea that as we open our eyes to our repetitive thought patterns, we can then take responsibility for them and move on to Chapter Four – personal empowerment.  Chapter Five represents freedom through making another choice.

  The addictive, compulsive thought loops that drive our behavior are about falling into that hole over and over again.

 A Course in Miracles tells us: “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you can now make a better one.”
   This means that the hole in the sidewalk is going to come up again and again and again until you realize that it is a choice you have made.  Begin to view those holes in the sidewalk as simply opportunities to choose again.
            Chapter Three in the autobiography points out that we must awaken to the fact that we have a choice.  It is your responsibility to choose the life you want.  In relinquishing that responsibility, you are destined to drift through life aimlessly waiting for others to make your choices for you.  Realize that you do not have to choose anger, denial, self-pity or blame.  In the past you may have thought you were in pain because of what was done to you, but you now realize that you are in pain because of how you think about what was done to you.  To heal, you must come to the realization that you are doing it to yourself.  And yes, this is not fun, but ultimately it will set you free.
            Even with the knowledge that you have a choice, you can stay just as stuck unless you are willing to exercise that choice.  In some ways, knowing that you have a choice and not exercising it is worse because, you may then beat yourself up: ‘Now I know I have a choice, but I'm not exercising that choice, I'm just a failure!  I’m worthless!’  You just fell back into the hole.  But now you know that you don't have to stay there.  

            All too often, we forget that the greatest power we have been given is that of choice.   We let people and events enslave us emotionally – I am angry because you are doing this to me.  Or, I have financial problems because they are doing it to me.  Or, I have an illness because God is doing it to me.  In order to attain peace of mind, you must come to recognize that you always have a choice as to how to respond to what is happening in your life. 
            Blaming anyone or anything for our problems will not set us free.  Personal empowerment evolves through recognition that pain is stemming from how I choose to think about the circumstances in my life.  In any situation, I have a choice between imprisonment and freedom.  If I created something in my life, I also possess the same creative power to change it.  The obstacles, the holes in the sidewalk, are simply opportunities to learn a lesson.  Your life is a classroom.  You can learn your lessons with the Teacher of Love and union, or with the teacher of fear and attack.  Which teacher will you choose? 

            Chapter Five – Freedom.  I walk down another street.  It is probably fair to say that few of us are there yet, at least in the whole of our lives.  But it is our destiny to become free of our self-imposed limitations.  When, is our choice.
           
One of my favorite lines in A Course in Miracles says, In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity the Holy Spirit calls to you and gently says “My brother,  choose again”  I love that – My brother, choose again.

Begin to view the holes in the sidewalk for what they are – opportunities to choose again.  You will experience freedom when you stop condemning the world and choose to see it from a higher, more loving vision.

            Life really does become more fun and meaningful when you do this inner work.  You begin to see that there is meaning within all that happens to you.  Have you had the experience of going through a divorce, business failure, an illness or whatever; and in the aftermath realizing that you had gained a gift from the experience?  Through spiritual practice, we can learn to find the gift in our circumstances, and cease feeling victimized by them.

             We have all experienced those situations when we said, "I know one of these days I will laugh about this!"  Laugh now!  What is keeping you from laughing now when you know you'll be laughing later?  It's a choice.  You can laugh now.  But does that mean that you deny your feelings, invalidate them, or act like you’re not hurt?  No!  Feel bad!  Cry!  Moan to all your friends!  But in a few days, start laughing.  Choose again, make another choice – a higher choice.  Your choices can liberate you or keep you in bondage.
            
       The journey is about Self-realization.  It can seem to be a long process.  You are not seeking human perfection, but the remembrance of who You are.   See your projections as a gift, as a thought process that can teach you whether you are choosing fear or love.  With awareness, you can then make another choice – a choice to extend love into the world rather than project fear.

            When you find yourself tempted to fall into that hole yet again, stop for a moment, enter the silence, and listen as the Voice for Love whispers, “Choose another street.
           

Holy Spirit,
I am willing to refrain from
thoughts that are not helpful
to me at this time.
I turn to You for ever-present strength
and inspiration to 
choose again.

After I prayed this prayer this morning, I opened NTI to a prayer that spoke to me as a response to the one I had just prayed:

You must trust Me above all that you think and hear and see.
You must put Me above your self and your world.
And you do this by your choice,
By selecting the thoughts you will believe
And the thoughts you will let go.
                                                                                    (NTI Matthew 14: 36-43. 14-17)


Thank you!

As usual, we talked about much more than I have presented here.  You can enjoy in on the audio:
Recorded for an internet audience on 3/23/10, 1 hour and 9 min.

MP3 File