A Course In Miracles, Lesson 34 plus Commentary by Allen Watson
I could see peace instead of this.
The idea for today begins to describe the
conditions that prevail in the other way of seeing. 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.
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.
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