Monday, January 8, 2018

Anytime's a good time for a First Step

Nine months ago I  found myself getting upset and obsessed with the news. Politics can be deadly if you allow it. So, with the beginning of this new year I decided to review and repost what helped me last year. . .(See how Step One can be useful to you during this January, and in February we will review using Step Two)

             Are you a political animal? I have always watched political shenanigans from afar, voting when asked and then getting on with my life. But, I have to admit these political times are addictively fascinating – sort of like a train wreck.
            When I found myself checking CNN as it rehashes every detail and opinion possible, or even impossible about the ongoing hoo haa in Washington, I realized I was doing the same thing I needed to go to Alanon meetings for – I was obsessed with what the other guys were doing. And in my humble opinion they were doing it annoyingly and scarily bad, bad, bad.
           Doesn’t matter which political party you are devoted to, that obsession is probably sucking you in, just like it was doing to me.  
            So I went back to my Alanon training and decided to start with the first step and admitted I was powerless for the moment over Washington. Take a look at what I wrote in ‘Side by Side – the Twelve Steps and A Course in Miracles’ and see if it helps you, too. (See the left column for this book) 
 Step One - We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or in this case the idiots in Washington) —that our lives had become unmanageable (with fussing, worrying and bouts of anger).”

         “All of us eventually way “Enough!” We recognize that all the pathways we followed before, all the attempts to control our lives (or others!), all the manipulation of relationships, all the anger dumped and guilt accepted hasn’t brought us any real release. Eventually all of us say, “There’s got to be a better way.”          
            Until this point is reached we will continue to try out methods based on pain, which promise relief. Not until the pain becomes too great to ignore, or too great to rationalize will we look for another way to lead our lives.   
            At this point we are willing to gamble on anything that will help. Let there be one spark of hope that the old methods will still work, let there be one shred of doubt as to the efficacy of gambling on the new, and the bottom hasn’t been reached. For each of us that bottom is uniquely our own. No one can decide for you when you have had enough pain and no particular incident will be the motivator — we each choose our own limit. But the experience will be the same: We no longer feel we are able to control any aspect of our lives without disaster and so we desperately try ANYTHING else to find release. 
            After all, we reason, what have we got to lose?” 

This first step spoke eloquently to me at once. I had let my opinions get the best of me and now I must practice letting everyone do and be just the way they are without worrying about them. I do this by going to the second and third steps and give the whole mess to the Holy Spirit to sort out. If H.S. wants me to participate in some way, I will be told. 
          So, with a deep breath I now watch the news with careful discrimination and take the attitude it is one huge comedy, have a really good laugh and get some solid shuteye. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Help is on the Way!

         Sometimes it’s easy to just get stuck in a loop of yucky thoughts and feelings. When that happened recently I remembered (Duh!) what I had written years ago as advice for my son. That turned into the book for young teens, “Help is on the Way!”  In the book Jerry, a pre-teen is caught in that loop. Fighting at school, bad grades, a whiny kid sister – Jerry is in despair until Will, an older teen, shares his own methods of handling life’s challenges. Maybe his advice can help you right now, too, just like it helped me.

“Here’s what Will wrote :  

Dear Jerry,

          Just ask yourself these questions whenever you don’t feel happy:

Do I like what I am feeling?

          Remember, kid, you’re not trapped. If don’t feel good; if you’re worried, scared, angry, guilty embarrassed, sad --there is a way out of it. You can find the answer, and you can feel good. But do you want to?

Can I see this differently?

          Take a moment and look for something good in the situation you are in. Is there anything about your situation that can make you feel good, and begin to give you the answer you need? If you find it, you’re feeling better already and you’re on the right track.

If I can’t see things differently, do I really want to see this differently?

          If you can’t find any good, it’s because you’re holding onto your bad feeling because, inside you think it will get you something you want. Remember, the only thing it’s getting you is a bad feeling. So decide again--Do you want to see this differently?

There is something inside of me that can show me the way.

          You are never alone. God’s Love is in your mind ready to show you the way and make you feel good. God’s Love is in everyone’s mind so His Answer will always be right for you and everyone else!

Do I want to be shown the way?

          This is it, kid. Do you want to let go of your anger, guilt, sadness, and let Love guide you? Or do you want to be stubborn and continue to have more pain? It’s your choice.

I will be still and let the answer come.

          Stop trying to figure things out. Admit you don’t know the answer and take a big step in growing up. Let the Voice which knows the Answer guide you. Let it slip into your mind. Maybe you’ll hear your mind telling you what to do; maybe you’ll get an idea; or maybe you’ll just feel good and know everything is all right. But remember, the Answer always makes you feel good!
Jerry saw that Will had handwritten something on the page:

          “This always helped me. I guarantee it will help you. Remember, kid, if you are not feeling good start with step one again until your mind is quiet, the answer comes and you feel good!”
       Jerry already felt good. He carefully put Will’s notes away and he fell sound asleep. The next morning, before he got out of bed he began to read the next pages. And from then on, every day he followed what they said.

       And Jerry did his weekly lessons, remembering to use WILL’S GUIDE FOR BETTER LIVING each time he got stuck in bad feelings. At the end of the year he had formed some really good habits. When he got angry, sad or worried he thought about his lesson for that day and week and God’s Voice helped him. Sometimes he heard the Answer in his mind, sometimes he got the answer from parents or friendsand sometimes the person he was angry with gave him the right answer. And Jerry always felt good.

      At the end of the typed pages Will had written the following words: “Help is on the way, and here it comes now! Enjoy the rest of your life.”

          And the last page was signed, 

(Excerpts from “Help is on the Way”, shown in the left column Spanish translation included at back of book. ) 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Learning to be what you know. . .

      Are their some days when you wonder if you have actually made any spiritual progress? There you are, doing your lessons every day, attending your favorite study group, reading the articles and blogs to keep you on track. And - BAM! Ego strikes a low blow. Jealousy curdles your insides, anger fires up a dose of acid reflux, guilt lowers your head and bends your back with its weight making you cringe your way back to bed like a dog waiting to be kicked.

      Do those days happen just a little too often?

      Well, there is a section in A Course in Miracles that reassures. (Paraphrasing just a little) When you have made progress ego gets really nervous and grabs you by the back of the neck and drags you back into the old coping methods of guilt, anger and fear.

      So, doesn’t that make you feel just a tiny bit better? Falling backwards may be a necessary step in moving forward.

      Now, for those of you who would like a bit more precise reassurance about how far you have actually come, there is a chart with informative chapter in “Sacred Steps, A Program for Soul Progression – Ancient Yoga and A Course in Miracles” that describes the levels of growth we all must go through. The chapter can help you place yourself on a scale of soul progression.

      There is also a parallel chart that will give you an idea of how fully you are actualizing what you have learned. Yes, that is a bummer, but unfortunately true, you can learn quite a bit and yet utilize only a fraction of that knowledge. As the Course has told us there are always many tools in the world that can keep you on the straight and narrow. The Sacred Symbols focusing tool offered in “Sacred Steps” is designed to keep your brain, your commitment and your actual progress in lock step so that what you learn is what you actually demonstrate. What you know, you are.

      Once more we must be patient and forgiving of ourselves, keep up with our commitment to our studies, roll with ego’s punches and allow those luscious holy instants to come at just the right times.  Remember. . .

“Forget not once this journey is begun the end is certain.” A Course in Miracles

(If you are intrigued by the Soul Progession chart and want extra help to keep you focused on your path, try “Sacred Steps”, using ancient Yoga methods. You can find this program in the column to the left.)