As ACIM students we talk and intellectualize quite a bit about the importance of choosing peace. Do we actually do it?
For me I have found that I am choosing peace more and more. How do I do it? I use vigilance of my mind. I have heard many students over the years get mired in personal problems, relationship issues, financial woes and yet to still choose peace. I understand this because I too in the past have done the same. There can seem to be a knee-jerk reaction that occurs. (And you can read that as the ego’s voice, please.)
Remember that the ego speaks loudly and first. The ego wants to resolve the problem in the world. The ego wants others to do the same things that we are doing. If we suffer through choosing peace than how could you just so instantly choose peace?
We cannot judge how long it takes anyone to make the choice for peace whether it is an instant or days. It all comes to “When am I ready to choose peace?”
My road to vigilance was a long one, or so it seems. I found that I grew very tired of being tired (weary of judgment, remember Jesus saying), anxious or angry when situations or unpleasant experiences came my way. What has helped me is sincerely making the goal of peace and following suit. I follow suit by nipping the thought/feeling in the bud by being in constant and consistent mindfulness of how I feel. If I can feel any slight twinge occur I say to myself, “There I go again Holy Spirit, help me to see this differently.” This can happen in the middle of a heated conversation, while driving or anywhere. Holy Spirit is portable as He goes with you wherever you go.
I was working with a spiritual direction client yesterday and I role-played what I actually do when I feel fear rise up within me. The topic was money and finances that we were focusing on in the session. There is a flow from Holy Spirit as we have to remember that He is always speaking to us. When we find that we may not have enough income to meet our expenses this month, for example, right away we want to find the solution ourselves. It must be out there in the world and I’m going to find it!
When we take over then we stop the flow of creativity. We may not see what is there for us or we may miss opportunities. So immediately when the discomfort appears I acknowledge that feeling.
Oh, I can sense that I am feeling fearful. I am, I feel it in my chest, my head and I feel like I want to cry and run and hide. Mmm..this is not peace. I don’t like this feeling.
I remind myself that peace is my one goal.
Okay, deep breath, I can get through this. I desire peace in this situation. I can’t figure it out myself but I know you can Holy Spirit. I’m willing to see this differently.
That may not help in and of itself. I may then take a few deep breaths and relax. The important piece that I have learned is that I have to stop whatever it is that I am doing in the moment immediately, which is letting my mind run amok and stop the flow of fear so I can go back to the flow of Holy Spirit.
Believe me in the past I would be one that was reactionary and fearful. In psychology terms, it seems that I have PTSD over years of abuse. It is the way that I had learned to respond when I felt unsafe. It was a learned response, this fear, let’s focus on learned response.
The Course teaches us that we need to unlearn what we have learned in the past. We have been poorly taught. Enter in a new way, a new response. The new learned response comes from practice, yes, that is right, practical application. It does not come from sitting around talking and writing about it. It comes by doing.
Some of us are better at it than others. Do not compare yourself to what other people do or don’t do. Focus on you and what you need to do to change your response.
If the fear keeps recurring for me, I keep repeating the new response. That is, handing it to Holy Spirit. I know that I do not want to feel the unpleasant feelings or experience the fearful thoughts. They are there though at times. I acknowledge them because I cannot think differently until I do. I cannot shove them aside and deny what I am thinking and feeling. It is what it is in that moment. Once I acknowledge, accept then I can crack open the door if even so slightly so Holy Spirit’s Light shines through.
It is really not as hard as it seems. Tune in to the feeling. Don’t like it. Ask for help. You do not have to figure out the situation yourself and you do not have to stay mired in the feelings. Sometimes we expect others to respond as we do and they don’t. Every person and situation is different. Even our response can be different presented with the same set of circumstances.
It certainly happens to me. I cannot stress enough what I have shared here in my experience. I have had a hard life of abuse, deep pain and trauma, yet I know I am not that trauma as it does not define me nor will I let it define my everyday experiences.
I can choose peace. It’s simple, it’s handy, and it’s always there for us. It works for me and I assure you that it can work for you too.