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A New Insight about How to Live the Course

Recently, I feel I have realized in a slightly more complete way the kind of day the Workbook is aiming for, and this realization is captivating me and fueling my practice.

What I have realized is that today (or any day) is supposed to be about living in the state of mind contained in my lesson for that day. In this scenario, my inner experience becomes an effect of the lesson, rather than an effect of all the forms outside of me. In terms of my experience, the lesson takes center stage, and all the bustling forms recede to the periphery. I deal with them, but they are not what the day is really about.

Now I see more fully that all of the different elements of Workbook practice are meant to contribute to this overall idea. My morning practice is supposed to establish in me an altered state, the state of mind contained in the lesson, so that I can carry that state into my day. My shorter practice periods (either on the hour or in between the hour) then renew that state, keeping it lifted above the happenings of the day. And my response to temptation (responding to upsets with the lesson) then restores that state. I thereby protect my state from being taken over by the clashing forms around me.

As a result, the whole day becomes about establishing, renewing, and restoring a certain state of mind, the state contained in the lesson. And all of this contributes to what the Workbook calls my goal for the day, which (of course) is learning my lesson for the day. But we shouldn’t see “learning” in a superficial way. To really learn the lesson is to internalize it so fully that I experience it, so that it, rather than the forms around me, becomes my experience.

This has given me an overarching framework in which to see all the elements of practice. It gives each aspect of my practice a specific part to play in a single larger goal. It tells me why, for instance, I need to stay consistent with my practice throughout each hour. I’m maintaining my elevated mood. And it especially tells me why I need to use the lesson to dispel my upsets as quickly as they arise. I’m protecting my elevated mood.

It also energizes my practice by giving it a powerfully attractive goal. Who wants to go through the day feeling like each little thing has its hook in you and is tugging on that hook? Who wouldn’t want to spend the day in an uplifted state that flies safely above external storms?

At this point, I am only partly successful in making the day about living in the lesson’s state of mind, but I am at least much more successful than I have historically been. I have been feeling like I absolutely have to get this; I have to learn how to really have this kind of day. The idea mesmerizes me. I see that I have been stretching in this direction for many years now. This latest realization feels like another step. I feel that if I can just get this, then everything flows can from it. For, of course, how you spend your days is how you live your life.