My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
Starting to read this lesson, I found my mind going back and forth from thinking of the past and then projecting into the future. It was a mental game of ping pong in my head and only when the ball hit the net was I in the present moment and brought back to the fact I was reading my ACIM lesson and still on paragraph one. Thus, I started over again. And again. And again, once more. It was a perfect way to get introduced to today’s lesson. As I observed my mind while reading the lesson, I noticed I was the lesson in action, especially the first two paragraphs.
“Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything (ACIM Lesson 8 2:3-4).”
Not thinking about anything? That means my mental game of ping pong was really nothing at all. I was relieved. In a way, and really the only way of the Course, this lesson brings another step toward full liberation. How free is it to know that our thoughts mean nothing? As in meditation, today’s lesson allows us to practice not reacting to our thoughts: less reaction, more wisdom. Today we train the mind that while it is thinking, it is not really thinking at all,
“Recognizing that your mind has been merely blank, rather than believing that it is filled with real ideas, is the first step to opening the way to vision (ACIM Lesson 8 3:3).”
As we preoccupy our mind with thinking about our thoughts or ideas, instead of realizing they are nothing, we continue to give those thoughts energy thus obscuring our view of the Truth. This makes today’s lesson is so juicy and because it is, I wanted to include a couple of examples from my personal practice with today’s statement.
During my practice period, I sat with my eyes closed and noticed various thoughts rushing in with no real order or even prompting. My mind was just like a mixed tape that was going mid-stream and skipping from one track to the next. I thought of my friend Steve. His image came to mind and I saw his black hair, his beard, his eyes, his smile, etc. I put today’s statement into practice:
I seem to be thinking about Steve. But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
That statement brought me back to the present moment, “[the mind] cannot grasp the present, which is the only time there is (ACIM Lesson 8 1:5).” As the Course states, this is tough to do and I do not stay long. But as I reflected, I realized Steve was not here. My mind was in the past. Also, I have no clue what Steve looks like right here, right now. He may have shaved his beard. He could be wearing glasses at this very moment wherever he is. Maybe my friend dyed his hair since I last saw him thus my image of his black hair is for sure rooted in the past. And because he is so cool, this is a possibility. Thus, my mind was not thinking of anything at all and really blank because Steve was not present and if he were, I have no clue what he would look like.
Then my father came to mind and this was an interesting one. It was easy to say that my previous thoughts of Steve were nothing and let that go. But with my father, on the other hand, I tried to justify and defend why the thoughts or emotions that came up were present now, real, and should be kept.
I seem to be thinking of my father. But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts…..wait a minute. No, this is not a past thought…my father does this to me…makes me feel that way…he is this way…and that way….for sure. No, this is not a past thought but is in fact true and right here, right now.
So I paused. I could feel the resistance in my body and my mind not wanting to move on from this thought. The Course has stated not to get caught up during the practice periods giving certain items more deliberation or weight than others. I began again and applied my emotions to the statement.
I seem to be thinking the thoughts around my father are real and present. But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
Ah, yes, that shifts something in me. A Miracle. They are past thoughts. I am choosing, those words are key, to keep my image of my father in the past. My father is doing nothing to me at the moment. Though, I sure wanted to hold onto that thought and project that he was indeed irritating me. Like Steve, my father is not here, and for all I know my father could be very loving and kind wherever he is at this moment.
How easy it was to let go of my image of my friend Steve and not my father, who, like all family, I have a mixed history with. I have done much healing work around my family and it is moments like these were something else seems to creep up to let me know there is still a little more love to be given to the situation, which is the gift of all these practice periods in any lesson. As we observe the mind, we allow for things to come up so our vision can become crystal clear. And I believe it is not only our vision but, also, our hearts that become much more light and clear.
Today we are getting to know our mind more and more. We start to recognize the tape that is constantly playing in our head and our reaction to the melody being played, creating our habitual tendency to react. We become aware of our tendency to defend our thoughts of smallness and the tendency to keep others small, in the case of my father. These practice periods give us the perfect pause to be present in the moment at hand. And in that hand is a gift from God, allowing Truth to reveal Itself to us. Give it try, the proof is indeed in the pudding, or in the practice periods, we could say.
Pause and the Truth will appear…Namaste.