Where’s your head at?

I usually spend around 20 hours a day in my apartment. I work from home, and sleep here, so that makes up 17 right there.

I started noticing that it felt like I was drowning in my thoughts. I had these negative loops start, and I would just keep building them, and building them, and building them, because there really wasn’t anything to break me out of that rut. Every once in a while I would peak above the waves and get a breath of fresh air, but then plunge right back beneath the surface.

But then last week I was out of town the whole week on business. I’ve noticed the past couple times I’ve been out of town that all these thoughts immediately dissipate. I get incredibly clearheaded. I can actually breathe freely again. But then when I get back into my apartment, slowly but surely I build them back up and am back to where I was before.

Except this time it was different. When I got back I started noticing these thoughts when they were forming, before they got to the point where I was drowning in them. And it wasn’t the kind of thing where I was trying to force myself not to think these thoughts, I just shined some light on them. I asked myself “Where are these thoughts originating from? What is my motivation right now? My purpose? Does this make me feel good?”.

And just asking those questions naturally brought me out of the loops. I could clearly and effortlessly see how destructive they were. How badly I felt when I was in them.

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Chapter 9, section 7 “The Two Evaluations”, paragraph 6:

“You cannot evaluate an insane belief system from within it. It’s range precludes this. You can only go beyond it, look back from a point where sanity exists and see the contrast. With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable. Your littleness is taken for granted there and you do not ask, “who granted it?” The question is meaningless within the ego’s system, because it would open the whole thought system to question..”

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The course is always so timely… this is something I’ve been working on all week, and then I read the above passage this morning and it was just perfect. This is exactly what happened. I would get caught in these patterns and try to figure them out from within them, which would only pull me further beneath the surface. It’s like asking the ego “Hey, what’s going on here? Can you explain this to me”. Of course it’s not going to give you a straight answer, because it was the one who designed the trap. It’s like a prisoner asking a guard “Hey, it’s awful uncomfortable in here, would you mind letting me out?”

But as soon as I got a little distance, I can look back and clearly see how insane it all is. I’ve been home for a week and I’m still totally clearheaded. This is a major accomplishment.

I also love the idea of contrast. I’ve been making a list of the patterns I found myself starting, and what its opposite would be. And then just feeling into which one of these I prefer. Not making a judgement or anything. Just making a choice. Here’s some of the stuff I came up with.

Am I motivated by lack or wholeness?
Am I trying to protect what I have or express who I am?
Am I trying to get things or share things?
Am I desperate or content?
Lonely or secure in the divine?
Fast or slow?
In a panic or calm?
Resentful or grateful?
Doubtful or assured?
Trying to solve a problem which can’t be solved or seeing that there aren’t any problems?
Needing everything to adhere to my plans or releasing it to the divine?

Just establishing this range is so helpful to see how destructive and uncomfortable these patterns are. The more contrast there is, the easier it is to see what truly feeds you. And the easier it is to make a conscious decision.

I guess I’m not in control after all…

I feel like I constantly come from this place of desperation. Like I have to have certain things happen or I get frustrated, depressed, angry…

A couple weeks ago I had one of these ideas really built up, a lot of energy invested in a certain thing happening… And then it didn’t. But it was weird. It didn’t affect me like it usually does. I went for a walk afterwards and noticed that for the first time I felt like I had some weight. Some substance. Like I could actually feel my body.

And from that foundation, I no longer felt like anything really had to happen. There was a calm contentment. There were still things that I definitely wanted to happen, but this newfound groundedness wasn’t dependent on it. It was more like I just wanted to enjoy these things. Express myself through them.

I also noticed there was a feeling of expansiveness that coincided with this weight. Like I was coming through my body and then expanding outwards into my environment. I could feel the objects of the room that I was in. I had a feeling that I was occupying space in this environment. Before I had lived in a complete vacuum. Unaware of my body or what was around me.

This also fits right in with what I’ve been reading in the course.

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Chapter 8, section VII. The Body As a Means of Communication, paragraph 12:

“Learning must lead beyond the body to the reestablishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself and it’s extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the minds function.”

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It’s a routine of mine to check out The Cosmic Path’s free weekly astrology forecast. It’s usually totally relevant for what I’m going through. And this week was no exception, as it was all about expansion.

Here’s a little snippet:

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“While others are struggling with challenging circumstances, you’re in major expansion mode. This may be because you have so much experience with the challenging circumstances scenario, but whatever it is, your work right now is to remain centered and neutral in your considerably empowered self, and allow your world to continue to deliver its miracles to you. “

http://www.thecosmicpath.com/category/wh-capricorn

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When I read this I was like “Hell yes! How spot on!” But didn’t put too much thought into it after that.

Then tonight while on a walk I realized something very interesting. This shift that has happened the past couple weeks, I very much felt like this was a result of all of the work I’ve been doing. Like I am getting better at releasing the ego, I’m reading the right books, have the right friends. I was priding myself on how good I’m getting at releasing control and letting the Holy Spirit take over!

But then I realized “well…. that astrology forecast said the exact same thing. So is this expansive state really just a result of the stars aligning in my favor? Is it not really me doing this after all?”.

The ego can use anything to build itself an identity to preserve its existence. Even releasing the ego to the Holy Spirit. I had built up an identity that I was “good” at doing this. It’s like I was releasing control with one hand but clinching even tighter with the other. Realizing this astrology stuff had a role in the expansiveness I’ve experienced had the effect of suddenly releasing both hands. It felt like I was floating. Still very grounded, but totally unclouded. Seeing clearly.

I see now that it’s silly to think that doing A leads to B. I have such a small picture of what’s actually going on. To think that what I’m experiencing is influenced by the stars…. Even as ambitious as the ego is, the thought of trying to control the stars is a bit beyond it 🙂

So you think I’m an asshole? Yeah… you’re probably right…

So good…

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Chapter 8, section V. The Undivided Will of the Sonship, paragraph 5:

“Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey with us and cannot do so. Sensing defeat and angered by it, the ego regards itself as rejected and becomes retaliative. You are invulnerable to its retaliation because I am with you. On this journey you have chosen me as your companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold onto both, or you will try to go in different directions and will lose the way.”

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Wow… That’s pretty ruthless. To basically say you have to abandon the ego. This brings up all sorts of unpleasant feelings. The ego usually masquerades as a helpless child, so initially it makes you seem like an unholy asshole for abandoning it. For even thinking of abandoning it. What kind of heartless creature would leave behind a child? One who needed its help? Who was desperately reaching out, crying, beaten, tormented by life? Could you possibly live with yourself if you turned your back on this?

This is obviously a trap, but it’s a damn good one. I think in a lot of ways this is a good illustration that to follow a lot of this course stuff, you could legitimately be called an asshole when being judged by the normal standards of society.

And I think the trick is that you have to be okay with this. To be okay with living outside what most people consider to be decent. To not conform to what is “right”. To be an outsider in this insane society.

And the greatest ally in maintaining this position is the Holy Spirit, and the perspective it brings into this. Like I quoted above, this is a journey to peace, to truth. You can’t bring illusion with you, it must be abandoned. But these things have no real substance. You aren’t actually abandoning anything. It’s just an illusion. The guilt that comes with this is just a trick to get you to turn around. It’s perfectly okay to feel happy as a result of this abandonment, as bizarre as this might sound when viewed through the lens of what society normally thinks…

I’ll quote one more passage which is from paragraph 6. It’s hard to describe how badass reading this makes me feel (which I’ve done probably 20 times now).

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“Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. It has none, because the journey is the way to what is true. Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego. My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly, because I need you as much as you need me.”

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Awwwwwwwwwww yeahhhhhhhhhhhh, I love that!

Progression of Correction

I’ve been doing a lot of chewing the past couple weeks on this idea of relinquishing control to the divine.

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Chapter 2, section VI. Fear and Conflict, paragraph 1:
“My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose.”

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As I’ve seen this happen, I’ve been able to experience what a relief this is. How it removes this gigantic burden off my shoulders and lets me get back into the flow of life.

The past couple days I started to realize there is a progression here. When what the course refers to as the Holy Spirit first starts correcting the ego it’s very abrupt. I go for long walks pretty much every night, and a good example of this first stage happened as I was waiting for a car to pass in front of me before crossing the street. I noticed I was trying to do this thing where I would heal the person with my gaze. Like I would look into their soul and cure whatever ailed them.

I realized this is something I’ve been doing for a long time, and the Holy Spirit interrupted this process and was like “Hey, do you see what are you doing here? Healing people is my job, you don’t need to try to shoulder that responsibility. Let me do the hard work. Just relax.” And then I was like “Oh… You’re totally right, I’m beating myself up doing this, and not really accomplishing anything.”

So there was this whole dialogue that started where I saw this habit I was engaged in, had it interrupted, and then analyzed what was going on. Why was this habit there in the first place? What does it mean for my ego? What’s the best way to correct this? And on and on and on…. I do think dialogs like this are helpful to put things into context. Make all this a little more digestible, and easier to share with others. But at the same time they can very easily lead to stagnation. They can be a trap.

Here’s where I started noticing stage 2 of the correction process. When whatever habit was disrupted in stage 1 gets disrupted again in the future, that dialogue happens less and less. At first maybe I just summarize what I had gone through in stage 1. Then maybe it’s a few sentences. Then just 1… or just a few words. The basic idea is that I transition much quicker from a stuck position to getting back into the flow of life.

And what I’m just beginning to see is actually a third stage. I started noticing that it went from a whole analysis, to a couple sentences, to a couple words, to just one word, and then it dropped down to just a feeling. I could tell when this loop was starting before I got any thoughts in my head. So the correction happened RIGHT after the disconnected thought, so fast that I couldn’t even really tell what was happening. Just a slight slowdown, a slight restricted feeling, and then back moving again. Like I had digested pretty much everything I needed to learn from that lesson.

One of the main reasons I like walking at night is it really clears my head. Gives me a different perspective on all this stuff that’s whirring through my head. And I always have a notepad with me to jot down when things start clicking (many a blog post has originated on these walks…). I realized tonight that these walks are a perfect illustration of the stages.

When I first have a correction and am in stage 1, I stop walking, pull out my notepad, and jot down my ideas. This is very restrictive because I’m not moving anymore. I’m static. My ego might be learning, but at the expense of really living. Then in stage 2 I might just stop and jot down a word. And in stage 3 I never stop walking. And I noticed that if I stay in stage 3 for a little bit, it feels like I have a force field around me. A bubble of love. That there is nothing that can distract me or slow me down, because the correction is happening before it even enters my awareness. It’s like I’ve fully released control and the Holy Spirit is holding me in its hands.

 

So the take away here should be to get out and go on walks! Improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health! Is there an easier, legal way to do all of this? I don’t think so…

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Split mind and “minor” miracles

This is a perfect example of how unique and valuable the course is. I originally read this a month ago, and did get quite a lot out of it, but I reread this passage in a study group this morning and had a completely different understanding. That’s why you can never really be done reading this book. After only a month this little idea has changed so much. And this book is like 1,000 pages long…

The course often talks about a split mind. On one side we have the ego, and on the other side we have our spirit. This naturally produces a lot of friction, as these two sides seem to be in direct opposition to each other.

This is a fundamental concept that is talked about in pretty much every spiritual system, and it seems like everyone has a different solution. Some say to eradicate the ego, that ego death is the ultimate goal. Some say you have to retrain the ego. Force it to produce different, loving thoughts. Others say this split is irreconcilable. That it has to be accepted for what it is and lived with.

I’ve tried all of these, but ultimately they did very little to help. They actually probably did more damage than anything else. I realize now that self attack is never a solution, which was my approach to the ego for some time.

The course lays out why trying to resolve this split on your own is a lost cause.

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Chapter 4, section 1 “Right Teaching and Right Learning”, paragraph 2:
“Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. Your self and God’s Self are in opposition. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive in the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication”

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These two minds live in completely different worlds. There is no frame of reference for either one. You can’t teach the ego anything.

The course poses a different solution.

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“If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.”

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Hmmm, that’s a new one. I don’t fight the ego, I don’t try to change it, I let the divine take care of that. Another burden dropped. And this is actually something I’ve been witnessing within myself for years. Where I will start having a very ego-based thought loop start, then all of a sudden I get this completely different thought dropped in that breaks that loop and brings me out of it. It’s like a friend is reminding me “hey, you don’t have to do this, let me lift you up out of here before you get sunk in too deeply”.

Sometimes I go right back into the loop, but most of the time I smile seeing how silly it was. I’d always kind of thought this was dumb luck, or just a random coincidence. But now I see this was the divine reaching down and helping me out. This intervention has happened to me a couple times today, and afterwards there has been immense gratitude and appreciation that wells up within me. It’s such a validation that the divine is connected to me, helping me out in my day to day existence. On the surface it might not appear to be some huge miracle where I am walking on water, or emerging from an accident unscathed, but to me these gentle reminders are just as special.

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“And gratitude to God becomes the way in which He is remembered, for love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and a thankful mind.”

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This is so cool to me. For the course to explain something that is already happening. So I can consciously direct it. Put more energy towards it and see the results.

It feels like so many solutions that other spiritual systems propose are creating something out of nothing. It’s like you’re almost going against your nature. Fighting upstream. Trying to force these changes. I’d much rather just tap into something that’s already happening. Especially something that allows me to relax. Drop burdens and responsibilities instead of adding more. The more I can offload onto the divine the better… I’m tired of fighting upstream…

Who’s on your altar?

A lot of the pieces of the puzzle came together tonight and I got a nice image that encapsulates a lot of what I’ve read in the Course In Miracles up to this point.

So God created us in his image. Since we are literally a part of him, it would reason that we have that same need to create. The same need to explore. So when this idea of separation came about, we naturally dove right in because that’s our nature. It’s just a new playground to create in. What would it be like to be a little god? That was the beginning of this path we are all walking down.

And in order to really experience this, we had to usurp the power of God. We had to separate ourselves. Build our own altars and deem ourselves “god”. We look out from this throne and create our world. Without God’s help. I think this was probably fun and exciting at the beginning, but slowly started to twist in on itself and become decrepit due to the immense burden of that responsibility. Think what it means to take over for God. He knows all, is all, forgives all, loves all. There is no way we could even hope to mimic a fraction of this on our own. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. From believing it’s possible. So we plod onward, the weight of the world slowly, relentlessly, unapologetically grinding us down. And regardless of the toll this takes, we refuse to give up… Refuse to lose…

Until we do. Until we turn around from this path and start walking backwards towards where it all began. Towards those open arms welcoming us back home. It’s like we were all floating down a river, and there was an inlet into a swamp that we all swam down. God is sitting back in the river, patiently waiting us to explore this path and make our way back so we can continue on down the river.

There are many obstacles on the way back though. One of the primary ones is guilt. As we wade through all of the decrepit shit we have created we punish ourselves relentlessly. But I realized tonight, what is really happening here? When we punish ourselves for the things we do? We are still enthroned on that altar, pretending to be God. Thinking what we created is real, and punishing ourselves as we believe we have to. As after all, we are god here, that is our responsibility.

But as we start to really step off that altar, we can see that the idea of punishment is silly. We are all just a bunch of kids in God’s sandbox. We’re just moving around sand. Nothing we create is real. Nothing we create is permanent. It’s like a kid that had built a sand castle and crying when someone pushes it over. God is just sitting on the side of the sandbox smiling. Knowing that nothing we do can cause any real trouble. Ready to clean us off after we’re tired of playing, and gently take us back home for a nap.

I started reading the manual for teachers and am loving it. Much different tone than the text. This lesson really struck me.

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Manual for teachers, number 10 “How Is Judgment Relinquished” , paragraph 5:
“Therefore lay judgment down, not with regret but with a sign of gratitude. Now are you free of a burden so great that you could merely stagger and fall down beneath it. And it was all illusion. Nothing more. Now can the teacher of God rise up unburdened, and walk lightly on.”

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So after seeing all this I’ve started asking myself “Who’s on the altar?” If I’m in fear it’s still me up there. But I need not be concerned with what’s happening. I’m just playing in that sandbox. This releases that guilt and I can start shifting the altar from me to God. And as soon as I do this, the sense of responsibility completely drops away and I find peace.

The Obligation of Loneliness

The theme of this past weekend was loneliness and isolation. It started off by watching the movie “Lars and the Real Girl” which really touched me. Afterwards, I felt an intense, acute loneliness for the first time in quite a while. Probably since I established a close group of friends through the Traveling Psychic Supper Club. Next was “Only God Forgives” which is an incredibly isolating movie. Then Saturday night I had a huge perspective shift with my closest friend.

It’s like I had separated a large part of myself and invested it in her. A place it didn’t belong. Whenever we fragment ourselves there will undoubtedly be isolation and loneliness. Even if the hands in which it’s resting are incredibly loving. That they were so loving gave me the illusion that I was whole, but that evening I realized I wasn’t. That part of myself became dislodged and exposed the underlying loneliness.

Initially it was very unpleasant, but I think this shift was absolutely necessary. Not only in consolidating my energy in order to obtain wholeness, but also in the ability to continue to grow in that friendship without this clinging energy getting in the way.

Then to cap off the Ryan Gosling theme I watched “Blue Valentine” which is a very sad movie about what else… isolation and loneliness… What a fun filled weekend!

So it appears like the universe was trying to make a point here. It wanted me to really evaluate the depth of my loneliness. It had been quite a while since I had done this, and I have changed SO MUCH recently that there was probably going to be a different understanding now.

So while I was meditating Sunday night I had this belief pop up that goes something like “In order to understand and empathize with those that are isolated and lonely, I have to be isolated and lonely.” Like I need to be able to show them that we’re in the same boat. Sharing the same story. But this is not true. I can be happy and whole and still empathize with those that aren’t. I can feel for more than those who are exactly like me.

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Chapter 6, section 1 “The Message of the Crucifixion”, paragraph 10:

“We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. By being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably lead to demonstrate His way for all.”

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Relating to someone who is suffering at their current level doesn’t help. This doesn’t heal. True healing happens in helping them bridge the gap from their loneliness to their wholeness. To their divine. I will see the divine in you, which gives you the opportunity to see it as well.

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Chapter 3, section 2 “Miracles As True Perception”, paragraph 6
“Truth overcomes all error, and those who live in error and emptiness can never find lasting solace. If you perceive truly you are canceling out misperceptions in yourself and in others simultaneously. Because you see them as they are, you offer them your acceptance of their truth so they can accept it for themselves. This is the healing that the miracle induces.

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It seems like if two people in a relationship (all kinds – not just romantic) are lonely, there is comfort in sharing this loneliness. It’s like “I’m miserable, but at least I have company!” And it can also seem like there is an obligation for each party to remain lonely. That they owe it to the other person to do this. Like if one person became happy, it would be a sign of abandonment. That if they really cared about them they wouldn’t do this.

I asked myself “Is that what’s happening with me?” and got a very interesting response…
Isolation and loneliness have been major themes my entire life. I’ve been unable to establish genuine bonds with others at school, church, sports, social events… And in those rare instances where something was starting to develop, I would somehow distance myself from them or sabotage the relationship.

I think this goes back to childhood. My mother and father had a relatively good relationship, but I think my mother quietly dealt with severe isolation and loneliness. And as a baby, getting approval from your mother is your highest priority. Your life literally depends on it. So if your mother is isolated and lonely, it’s natural that you would mimic her. Establish the same pattern to garner her approval. And then you could never change from this, as this would be an abandonment. A rejection of the person who gave you life.

I think this is one reason why there has been conflict between us as I got older. I wanted to make genuine connections, grow and evolve, be happy, but unconsciously I believed that I had to stay lonely. That she was essentially forcing me to do this. So naturally I resented her for this without really understanding what was happening.

But now I do understand. Now I am in a place where I do have genuine connections. Where I am happy. Where I have people surrounding me who I love. And now I have the opportunity to invite her into this space. To release her from that loneliness.

Ultimately it’s still her decision, and I can’t force her out. But even if she chooses to stay, this no longer affects me. To truly love someone is not to jump in the pit with them, it’s to patiently sit on the outside with an outstretched arm, waiting for them jump up so you can pull them out.