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I have been going through A Course in Miracles. Thanks to Chris Cade, an enlightened being who is working it well – giving, selling, and supporting others’ in their work.  Every day I get an idea to work with.  The practice doesn’t take a lot of time but generates plenty of insights.  This Blog entitled Lesson got me thinking.

The Course is rooted in Christianity, at least in its speech.  I tend to shy away from the word God in these writings, but I do, very deeply, believe in Him. Susan Jeffers said, “There is just too much that nourishes and supports us to deny the existence of something . . . whatever that something is.” Surely, the fact that we come equipped with such amazing tools could be seen as proof of His existence.  Every one of us has at our disposal, whenever and wherever we want it, things like Imagination and Curiosity.  We all have the capacity for Courage and Love.  We are well supported by these things that come built-in.  By His nature, God can be anywhere and everywhere.  So, His presence can be achieved with simply a thought.  Barbara Sher offered a tool she calls The Ideal Family.  You pull together in your mind anyone you choose.  Knowing a little something about who they are and what their experiences have been, you can imagine asking them questions.  I know a few things about Marianne Williamson who I have chosen as my ideal sister.  Whenever I have something I’m churning in my head, I can think of her and imagine what she might tell me. Angels and Saints.  Music and Art.  Not to mention all the people I can reach out to with a word, a phone call or an email. All of this adds up to some serious strength at our beckon call!

When it came to the second part, I balked a little.  God has given so many gifts!  I’m healthy, I have a wonderful husband and live in a beautiful place.  I’m able to give of my talents to support others, etc. etc.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe Vision is one of His most important gifts.  We’re not talking about physical sight, but inner vision. So even those who are sight impaired can use this vision.  If I don’t see all those blessings in my life, they don’t do me much good.  The most pervasive change I’m seeing in myself from working The Course is my perception.  It is really all about how I see things.  I don’t know if there’s anything more valuable than being able to see who I really am, the truth of a situation, what I have to give and all that I have.

Be ready to take off!  Whether you are are reader or writer.

I took a journey through someone’s rant about a ruefully justified killing. Comfortable, easy language enticed me with its scent.  The bite of sarcasm, like the perfect spice, made it more palatable.  (Though in many ways, more dastardly.)  Just a simple essay, a small piece of candy, less than 600 words with quotes (and zero calories!).  Took me, happily, to the center and back of a vulgar issue.  And left me feeling richer for the experience.

Other journeys are much longer to faraway places, in distant parts of your imagination. Through a complicated series of thoughts and feelings, swirling around punctuated actions.  From the Himalayas, to a left-handed world, or through a Geisha house, into a school of witchcraft and wizardry.  Kinda leaves you breathless!

It’s not anything less than an adventure for the writer, either.  Anyone who’s ever played with fiction knows the trip through a story is always one of discovery.  Nuggets appear along the way which help the author to see things more clearly. Giving the story better legs to stand on.  Even in dry old non-fiction, shining insights and dazzling connections arise that hadn’t been noticed before.  The lay of the land can shift and change many times from one side of any piece of writing to the other.

Journaling takes me on a journey through my head and heart. It’s always filled with surprising twists and turns as I come to know the pathways through my own inner landscape.

Words stand ready to take you wherever you may wish to go.

When writing we are often told to use authentic detail.  It brings a piece of writing alive.  The butter colored daffodils, the bright blue sky peaking out between the white pillow clouds, the ripples of cool water swimming across her arms.  Instead of saying, “The man said,” you might choose to write, “The heavy set man with a mustache spoke in a thick German accent.”  These details bring the reader in, invite him to take a closer look, and maybe see what you’re seeing,  feel what you’re feeling.

And so it is with the details of life.  It’s those tiny moments, the ones easy to overlook that really make life special. The soft touch of a loved one, the crackling of the fire and the warmth on your skin, the perfectly prepared potatoes, the crisp speakers delivering such an accurate rendition of Dan Fogelberg’s “Beggar’s Game.”  It might be the sultry Sunday afternoons, spent with your great aunt Sarah, on her pristine white porch, sitting on soft green cushions, sipping mint-infused iced tea.

It’s important to pause and take notice of the small things in our lives. Savor them in rich detail and bold color. They may even reveal insights and gratitude we might otherwise be too busy to notice.

The sky is gray and sprinkling rain.  It’s not what you’d call chilly, exactly, and yet I feel it in my bones.  The dampness has set in.  I have nothing in particular to feel badly about, except maybe the weather.  But I am fussing and picking at everything! Things that usually slip off me like fine silk are rubbing me the wrong way.  I can’t stand the way he does that!  Why does she always do that me? It’s the kind of day where I might spill cottage cheese all down my shirt and then be really upset with myself, too.  I feel like I really, really just want to be somewhere else!

This, it would seem, is exactly the state of mind Eckhart Tolle says produces no choice. It was not my choice to stub my toe, I shout!  But I can tell my head is full of other things and I just walked right into that chair.

It’s a very intriguing concept to me.  This having no choice. I have long believed we make our own choices.  We are co-creators of our own lives.  How can this be that I have no choice?

But it makes a lot of sense, when you think about it.  Perhaps it brings some relief to say, I didn’t consciously choose to lose my best friend. I can see that when I’m all tangled up in the stuff in my head, it’s not easy to be making real choices.  I can’t even control my thoughts.  You wouldn’t really say that you chose to break your arm.  Maybe you needed it to slow down and face some other things.  But that was not your conscious choice. Your head was probably buzzing with complaints, past dredging or future dreaming.  When you get right down to it, if you’re not in the present moment, truly aware of what’s going on, you really do have no choice.  Yikes!  But it answers a lot of questions when you realize there are things in your life you didn’t consciously create.

And that’s just the problem:  we are not conscious.  How can we expect to make good, healthy choices for ourselves when we’re wrapped up in repetitive, unconscious thinking?

Noticing that this is happening is clearly the first step.  Then I stop, notice my breath and try to feel my body.  A good way in is to note how your body is:  are your shoulders up?  Tightness in your back?  What’s going on in your body?  That immediately brings you out of the nasty chatter in your head.  Like taking a shower allows insights to arise.  The funny thing is that being out of your head is the best place to be for good conscious, real choices.

Once I’ve gotten in touch with my body, I feel I have some control.  I can dig deeper to the feelings under the physical sensations.  That is where the true answers lie, where the guidance is found.

All of sudden, from that place, I can say to myself, Joe didn’t mean to do that.  He doesn’t really do it all the time.  He may just be tired.  Like I am.  I didn’t get enough sleep last night. That’s why I’m so cranky.  I may be back in my head, but I’m feeling a lot gentler now.  I’m directing and choosing my thoughts.  Choosing to have kinder and more loving thoughts.

Then I notice I do have a choice how I’m thinking and feeling.  And lo and behold, the sun has come out!

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