Three longer practice periods are required for today's exercises. One in the morning and one in the evening are advised, with an additional one to be undertaken at any time in between that seems most conducive to readiness. All applications should be done with your eyes closed. It is your inner world to which the applications of today's idea should be made.
Some five minutes of mind searching are required for each of the longer practice periods. Search your mind for fear thoughts, anxiety-provoking situations, "offending" personalities or events, or anything else about which you are harboring unloving thoughts. Note them all casually, repeating the idea for today slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next.
If you begin to experience difficulty in thinking of specific subjects, continue to repeat the idea to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular. Be sure, however, not to make any specific exclusions.
The shorter applications are to be frequent, and made whenever you feel your peace of mind is threatened in any way. The purpose is to protect yourself from temptation throughout the day. If a specific form of temptation arises in your awareness, the exercise should take this form:.
I could see peace in this situation instead of what I now see in it.
If the inroads on your peace of mind take the form of more generalized adverse emotions, such as depression, anxiety or worry, use the idea in its original form. If you find you need more than one application of today's idea to help you change your mind in any specific context, try to take several minutes and devote them to repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief. It will help you if you tell yourself specifically:.
I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety or
worry [or my thoughts about this situation, personality or event] with
Commentary by Allen Watson
The most helpful thought I ever heard in relation to this lesson was this: Notice that it says, "I could see peace," and not "I should see peace." It is far too easy to take this lesson as another reason for guilt. "Terrible me! I should see peace, but I am seeing this mess instead. What is wrong with me?" That is not how this lesson is meant to be applied.
The opening paragraph contains such a wonderful summation of the Course's philosophy of peace:.
Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must
begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your
peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.
Peace is the motivation for doing this Course. Our goal is what a later part of the Workbook refers to as "a mind at peace within itself". Peace must begin with our thoughts and extend outward from our minds. The focus is on the mind.
We can replace our negative feelings and our unloving thoughts with peace. We have that power. We can choose peace if we want peace. Notice that the practice instructions for applying the lesson to "adverse emotions" suggest that we repeat the idea "until you feel some sense of relief". This practice is meant to have tangible effects.
At times I have found that even in an extremely upsetting situation, repeating these words, "I could see peace instead of this," has a decidedly calming effect on my mind, even if I cannot, in that very moment, see peace. In a very subtle way, it helps to convince my mind that the awful things I am seeing are not rock solid, immutable reality. I am seeing something other than peace, but if I really could see peace instead, then what I am seeing must not be as real as I think. Even that level of relief is worth the time it takes to practice.
I used to believe that when upsetting situations
occurred, I had to deal with the situation and change things around in
order to be at peace. Through the practice of this lesson, I have
learned that I can respond to any situation much more effectively if my
mind is at peace first. I have discovered that I can bring my
mind to peace without having first "solved" my problems. It really is
possible to see peace instead of whatever seems to be upsetting me. And
when I do, if response is required, I act calmly and without fearPanic is not conducive to productive action; far better to seek peace
first, then act.