ACIM Workbook Lesson 21
I am determined to see things differently.
W-pI.21.1. The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one. 2 This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise. 3 Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.
W-pI.21.2. In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself. 2 Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. 3 The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. 4 The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. 5 You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.
W-pI.21.3. Try, therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods. 2 Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything. 3 You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.” 4 This is not so. 5 It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.
W-pI.21.4. As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:
2 I am determined to see _____ [name of person] differently.
3 I am determined to see _____ [specify the situation] differently.
W-pI.21.5. Try to be as specific as possible. 2 You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect. 3 If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:
4 I am determined to see _____ [specify the attribute] in _____ [name of person] differently.
Initial Insight: This is the sentence that made all the difference in the world to me, the sentence that changed everything from the first time I read it. “5 You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.” The very first time I considered this, I somehow knew it was true and as I looked for the fury, the rage, I began to find it. I stopped kidding myself, stopped pretending that I could quantify my emotions and therefore ignore some of them as unimportant.
The other important idea in this lesson is that I don’t really recognize what causes anger in me or even understand it. For a long time, I would continue to justify anger in some cases and to hide this behavior from myself by pretending that the lesser feelings were unimportant. But on some level, I knew better and so I finally found my way out of this. I became willing to recognize that I was filled with rage and that I wanted to attack in the hopes of relieving that rage. If I had not been willing to accept what Jesus says, I would still be caught in that awful cycle.
Daily Application: I don’t find a lot of anger in me anymore and so I was having trouble finding a current situation in which to use this. I have had moments when I attacked, at least in my mind, but I generally see it right away and choose to see it differently right then. I was going to write about one of those times, but I decided to do my morning meditation first and the perfect opportunity to practice occurred right in the middle of the meditation.
I am using a lightly guided meditation in which I am attempting to sink into myself, past the imagined world of the ego and into my egoless Self. It is a pretty ambitious desire for someone who struggles with meditation, but I am determined to see, so I am doing this. Well, I am attempting to do this. I would start to sink below the ego chatter and then I would feel myself pulled into a story and would have to start over.
This happened over and over for 30 minutes. I was beyond frustrated and when I say beyond frustrated, I mean I was angry with myself and I saw my perfect opportunity to apply today’s lesson. I became willing to see this situation in which I seemed to be failing to achieve my meditation goal differently. I became willing to see my frustration and anger differently. Doing this, I kept forgiving myself and continuing the practice.
Insights from Holy Spirit: In the guided meditation, Regina reminds you that much is happening of which you are not aware. Trust that. Continue your practice and trust that you are succeeding even though it doesn’t seem so. Let go of your perceived outcome and simply accept the next step and then the next one. Imagining the end result is still bringing up fear and that is driving the desire to return to ego stories. Trust that as you move closer and closer to your Self, the desire to merge will overcome any fear. Your sane mind knows you are not in any danger and that this is what you truly desire.
Gratitude: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your advice and your comfort. I hear the ego mind tell me that this is safe to do because I will not succeed and I know this is its way of convincing me not to succeed. I see what it is doing and I am not interested. I will succeed because I desire this merging and what I truly desire is what I always receive.
A Little More
I am going to add this excerpt from my book, Hey, Holy Spirit, It’s Me Again because it might add to the understanding of this lesson.
Lesson 21 has always been important to me because of the line that says, “You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.” Oh, my gosh, what a statement! I really believed that I could be annoyed and it was okay, that it had little meaning and that it was not as bad as being enraged.
At the local grocery store something happened to me that really drove this idea home. I was standing in line trying to get my groceries paid for so that I would not be late for something. I don’t remember what was so important, but I do remember the lady in front of me who was engaged in a riveting conversation with someone on her cell phone. I was getting really impatient with her when I remembered this lesson. I decided to think about how I felt. What if I could feel anything I wanted to feel without guilt and without judgment? What if I didn’t care how I looked or what I thought about myself?
Better yet, what if I could act on that feeling without any repercussions? I would not get in trouble or really hurt anyone, no matter what I did. I would just be expressing my hidden feelings, and that would be okay. I had nothing better to do as I stood there tapping my foot in impatience, so I really let my mind go. What I felt was absolute rage. Before I could stop my imagination, I had mentally grabbed that phone out of her hand and hit her on the head with it.
I couldn’t believe how strongly I felt about this. I couldn’t believe how strong my hidden emotions were. Never again did I doubt that annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury. This is the kind of thing that encouraged me to become serious about being mindful of my thoughts and to stop trying to figure out what any of it means. I just note if it is a true thought or an ego thought, and if it is an ego thought, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see things differently. This has become my process, my path.
I remind myself daily that I am determined to see things differently. I pay close attention to my thoughts, and make every attempt to look at them with the Holy Spirit and to remain open to His correction. Having used this helpful process for a long time now, I know how effective it is. I know that untrue thoughts can always be seen differently. Maybe the ego-mind cannot imagine a different way to see, but the Holy Spirit will show me the truth, and the truth will always lead me to peace and to joy.
Holy Spirit: In making this your daily practice, you have invited Me to work with you in your mind, and you have made Me a part of your thought process. Each time you ask Me to look with you at a thought or a feeling, you make that decision again. This is your purpose, your salvation and your freedom.
Me: I thank You each time You show me a different way. My gratitude is never-ending. I love You.