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 peace.
“I could see peace in this situation instead of what I now see in it.”
What a good reminder. Yesterday, my daughter and I went to Sam’s to buy me a new phone. My kids had pitched in to pay for most of it as a birthday present. It was a little hectic. The sales person I got was in training and had to repeat the process several times because she kept making mistakes. If I had been alone, I would not have cared, but my granddaughter is 19 months old and has limited patience when she gets bored. I started feeling the stress, which showed up as a headache.
Because we needed to speed this along for my granddaughter’s sake, I had them do just the bare minimum. After we left, I began the process of setting it up and I made a mistake that I didn’t know how to undo. I started to get stressed about that but remembered that stress is a self-imposed discomfort. I stopped for a moment and just rested in God. I knew that this would all work out in the end and that I could see peace instead of this and it would work out more quickly and painlessly.
All the tension fell away and I tried a few more things. Then I decided to go back to Sam’s and get them to help me straighten it out. The young man who was there this time was knowledgeable and friendly. He is one of those people who sincerely like to help. Because I did not have all my passwords with me, he could not fix it right on the spot, but he showed me how to do it once I got home. He also gave me his cell number and told me to call him if I had any problems at all.
When I got home it took a few different tries, but I was able to get it done and remain peaceful throughout. I still have a problem but I know that the answer will reveal itself. I joke that just as I have a wonderful parking angel, I also have an electronics angel. I seem to just stumble onto whatever it is that I need, the answer showing up in the most surprising ways. The only thing that interferes is anxiety. Once I let go of the stress and call on the peace that is always within me, everything falls into place.
Today we are doing the meditation, “There is another way of looking at the world.” As you do the meditation, the ego may utilize a trick. The trick is letting the lesson slide back and be repeated in the background of attention while thoughts sneak forward to reclaim the foreground of attention. Be aware of this and do not let it happen. Put your heart on the lesson so it remains in the foreground as you survey thoughts, which should be at a further distance.
Lesson in the foreground. Thoughts at a distance.
It is as if you are at the movies. The lesson is closer to you, a part of you. The thoughts are out there on the screen. This promotes genuine healing.
Having worked with this lesson a number of times over the years, I have come to the conclusion that peace is just a choice. I choose to be anxious or I choose to be peaceful. I don’t mean that when I feel upset that I quickly push the upset away and pretend nothing is there. I mean that when I am upset, I now know that I am upset because I see something that is not there and I can see differently if that is my choice.
For instance, one day I had to work with Apple Care to fix a problem with an iPhone. I was on the phone with them for about an hour and it wasn’t easy. And after all that time the issue wasn’t resolved. I would need to call back and start over. The ego mind wanted to think how frustrating this was and to blame the technician and see him as guilty. It wanted to think about how this is never going to be resolved and to be upset about that thought.
I can remember how that feels and allow the fear and anger to rise up in me, or I can simply choose peace. Both ideas are in my mind. It is up to me which one I experience in any moment, in any situation. It can seem like the situation drives my response but that is never true. I deliberately choose the response I want. When I choose something other than peace, I accept responsibility for that choice and choose again.
My Old Nemesis, Sleep
So many nights I had a hard time falling asleep. I always heard the ego mind making dire predictions about how I would feel the next morning and clamoring for a sleep aid in one moment, and in the next moment saying I would be guilty if I used this magical solution. Sometimes I choose peace instead, and when I do that, I just get up and do other things until I finally feel I can fall asleep. I used to worry and fret and was miserable that night and the next day until I finally understood that I really am under no laws but God’s. I don’t have to have a certain amount of sleep and I don’t have to experience an upset if I don’t sleep enough. I still experience trouble going to sleep, but I have learned that the choice that is always open to me is to do so in peace or to do so in misery.
Either I am at peace or I am Not
One morning a friend texted me with what feels like a very serious upset in her life. In the world it would be judged considerably more serious than any problems I had recently. And yet, if I lost my peace over the phone issue or the lack of sleep, then the outcome would be the same as it would be if she lost her peace over this seemingly bigger problem. If I was annoyed because I broke a nail, in that moment, I was not at peace. It is all the same. No matter what drama we cook up in our story, our options remain the same; we can choose to react, or we can choose peace.
“Do you want to understand or do you want peace?”
My friend and I were studying Nouk Sanchez’s book, The End of Death. In it she emphasizes that our job is to awaken and the way to awaken is to prioritize peace and consistently choose it. The ego mind wants to take the situation apart and to understand. But as Nouk says, her desire to understand resulted in an unbearable sense of separation. Her spiritual partner, Tomas, asked this question, “Do you want to understand or do you want peace?”
I know that sometimes we all have situations in our life that feel too real and too disturbing to allow us to choose peace. But we are never left alone in our awakening. My friend texted me a Joel Goldsmith quote that was helping to center her. “I am ice on the water. And when the Voice speaks it never leaves a person with the responsibility of doing something alone through his human strength and wisdom, but it is always beside him, performing that which it gives him to do.”