“Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say? And to whom?” (A Course in Miracles)
The Course in Miracles is hard work. I struggle to understand it and to stick with it. It really is miraculous though.
Take the concept of forgiveness, for example.
I’d always thought of myself as a forgiving person. My upbringing was full of both reasons to forgive and lessons on forgiveness – at home, in church and at school.
As a young adult my idea of being forgiving was to ‘go back to’ or ‘take back’ a bad relationship again and again (note to past self: this isn’t forgiveness but low self esteem).
As a young mother I wrestled with memories of my parents in the hope of not becoming like them and tried so hard to get past blame. Again, this was a false idea of forgiveness that just buried my anger deeper – thinking or affirming to myself ‘I forgive’ does not make it so. Forgiveness is not a thing of the mind but of the heart.
At age 43, after 25 years of trying to think my way through everything and – when that failed – tricking myself out of feeling anything I finally got it. I reached deep within myself and asked my heart if I could finally, please, let all this pain go. The answer was, as the Course said it would be, an immediate yes followed by a rush of love. It was though a weight had been lifted from inside of me.
I walked around with a smile on my face for a few weeks until the next challenge arose and I felt myself flailing around in my head again, rationalising and failing to feel. For the thousandth time I was reminded that any amount of lasting personal growth requires disciplined practice every day. So now forgiveness is a daily practice – although it isn’t always quite as easy as that first time.
Acceptance is similarly difficult
Getting to a point of peace with the way things are is a skill. A skill which can’t be learned through any cognitive behavioural therapy or other mind-tricking technique. These techniques work with the conscious part of the mind – but it’s the unconscious mind that’s doing all the decision making and controlling.
The unconscious is a complex thing and not to be messed with. For me, reaching agreement with my unconscious through meditation, prayer and ‘checking in’ (body focusing) has been the key to achieving peace and acceptance. I’m a work in progress, of course.
Still, it really is a miracle that I haven’t given up – being angry and fighting against my circumstances was sometimes easier than doing the work to release it. It’s still very painful sometimes.
But, hey. You’ve got to feel it to heal it.