Aspect II: Workbook/Practice: Part 3 – The Four-Fold Structure of Workbook Practice

The Pyramid of Practice
ACIM Workbook Practice

Now let us look at what exactly Workbook practice is. The full picture of that practice emerges in the final review of Part I (Lessons 201-220), and continues through Lesson 365. I call this the four-fold structure of Workbook practice because it is composed of four fairly distinct kinds of practice periods. We will examine those four kinds below. With each kind, I will discuss three things: what we do and when we do it, its purpose, and some helpful tips. (Click image to enlarge it.)

1. Morning and evening quiet times
What and when

These are the longest practice periods in the Workbook. They, of course, are done morning and evening, preferably right after waking and right before sleeping. “If this cannot be done, at least try to divide them so you undertake one in the morning, and the other in the hour just before you go to sleep.” (W-pI.RIII.In.8:2)

There are many different kinds of practices utilized in these times. In the very broadest terms, however, there are basically two.

The first is an active practice, in which we actively use the idea for the day. For instance, we may dwell on the idea, or generate related thoughts, or send out variations on the idea to bless the world. But most often we apply the idea to specific things in our lives, to things we see, to thoughts we have, to sources of upset, to situations we are worried about or to people we resent.

The second is a receptive practice, in which in one way or another we hold our mind in receptive expectancy, waiting for an experience. We may listen for guidance, perhaps in answer to a question. We may wait for an experience from the Holy Spirit; for example, an experience of true perception. Or we may still our minds in meditation in the attempt to experience God.

Active and receptive practice are often combined. Perhaps the most common form of longer practice is to begin by repeating the idea for the day, then launch into an active phase of focusing on or applying the idea in a particular way, and finally enter a receptive phase of turning our minds over to the Holy Spirit or meditating on God. As the Workbook progresses, the specifics of these longer practice periods are left more and more to our own discretion and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps the single most significant form of longer practice is the receptive practice commonly called meditation. This is discussed at length in Part 4 of this “Workbook/Practice” section.

Purpose

Their purpose, first and foremost, is to allow us to enter the holy instant and experience the miracle, or even revelation (a direct experience of oneness with God). However, in relation to the rest of the practice, the purpose of the morning and evening times is to frame our day in God. Framing our day in God casts a divine light over the whole day. It creates a context in which spiritual practice becomes natural. As we mentioned earlier, the morning quiet time establishes a certain mental set for the day, thus providing the foundation for the entire day of practice. The evening quiet time provides a closing to that practice and also establishes a mental set for sleeping. According to the Course, this affects how we sleep: “It sets your mind into a pattern of rest, and orients you away from fear.” (M-16.5:7) It also affects how we wake, causing us to awaken joyously instead of feeling “drugged.” (T-8.IX.4:5-6)

Normally, we frame our day in various meaningless activities, especially in body rituals. This kind of frame gives our day a meaningless, body-oriented cast. The Course is asking us to have a different kind of day by giving it a different frame. It’s not that we should cut out grooming, showering, dressing, reading the paper, listening to the radio or watching TV. It’s just that we should be willing to give a higher priority to our quiet times with God.

Tips

We already discussed some tips about starting the day. Therefore, in this section we will cover some of the Workbook’s suggestions for how we use our minds during the practice periods. Just as athletic activities depend on the subtlest movement of each muscle and limb, so spiritual practice rests on the subtle movements, currents and postures of the mind. How the mind holds itself during practice is the key to successful practice.

A central problem, of course, is the wandering mind. The first thing we encounter in any attempt to train our minds is how untrained they are. For this reason, a great many Workbook lessons provide methods for dealing with all those distracting thoughts that flood into our minds the instant we try to focus on the lesson. The most common suggestion is to dispel such thoughts by simply repeating the idea for the day. This is an excellent method both for clearing our minds and for getting us back on track.

Oftentimes, the Workbook gives more involved suggestions for dealing with interfering thoughts. One suggestion is to first note such thoughts dispassionately, “with as little involvement or concern as possible.” (W-pI.65.5:5) As with missed practice periods, getting upset at our wandering thoughts only strengthens them. After noting the wandering thought, the Workbook sometimes suggests that we repeat the idea plus an additional thought. For instance, “Should your attention wander, repeat the idea and add: ‘I would remember this because I want to be happy.'” (W-pI.62.5:6-7) Here is another example: “…say: ‘This thought I do not want. I choose instead_____.’ And then repeat the idea for the day, and let it take the place of what you thought.” (W-pI.RVI.In.6:1-4) If our mind is seriously wandering we are sometimes asked to go back and repeat the introductory phase of the exercise. Finally, Review II asks us to believe in our power to direct our minds and then to apply good old-fashioned firmness of will:

Do not allow your intent to waver in the face of distracting thoughts. Realize that, whatever form such thoughts may take, they have no meaning and no power. Replace them with your determination to succeed. Do not forget that your will has power over all fantasies and dreams. Trust it to see you through, and carry you beyond them all….Refuse to be sidetracked into detours, illusions and thoughts of death. (W-pI.RII.In.4:1-5:2)

The Workbook includes many more suggestions for how to hold our minds. For the sake of brevity I will simply list some of these, rather than attach comments and quotes.

  • Stay alert, do not retreat into withdrawal (drowsiness and lethargy).
  • Do not strain; use your mind in a relaxed, effortless fashion.
  • Do the lesson slowly, unhurriedly, with a sense of leisure.
  • Do it thoughtfully; let the meaning sink in.
  • Be sincere.
  • Be unusually honest with yourself.
  • Be firm and determined (though without strain).
  • Have confidence in success, expectancy about results.
  • Have willingness.
  • Invest importance in the exercise.
  • Be detached from your thoughts and feelings; observe them dispassionately.

2. Hourly remembrance
What and when

We do these every hour on the hour. At different places in the Workbook, the hourly remembrances take different forms. They are first introduced in the 90’s and 100’s, where they are sort of five-minute versions of morning and evening quiet time. They are then reinforced in the 120’s, 130’s and 140’s, where they are brief moments of quiet spent with the idea for the day.

Finally, in lesson 153, the hourly remembrances become a permanent fixture of the Workbook. There they attain their final status, as a couple of minutes each hour that we spend putting to rest the previous hour and preparing our mind for the coming one. Here are the instructions from lesson 153, which stay in effect for the next forty lessons:

And we will quietly sit by and wait on Him and listen to His Voice, and learn what He would have us do the hour that is yet to come; while thanking Him for all the gifts He gave us in the one gone by. (W-pI.153.17:2)

The next instructions for hourly remembrance come in lesson 193 and are in effect for the next eight lessons. They tell us to forgive the happenings of the previous hour, so that we enter each new hour “free of the one before.”

Each hour, spend a little time today, and in the days to come, in practicing the lesson in forgiveness in the form established for the day. And try to give it application to the happenings the hour brought, so that the next one is free of the one before. The chains of time are easily unloosened in this way. Let no one hour cast its shadow on the one that follows, and when that one goes, let everything that happened in its course go with it. Thus will you remain unbound, in peace eternal in the world of time. (W-pI.193.12)

Purpose

Like the the morning and evening quiet times, the purpose of the hourly remembrance is to allow us to enter into a different state of mind, a different way of seeing. Also like the morning and evening practice, its purpose is to frame each hour in God. In a sense, it treats each hour as a new day: establishing a mental set for that hour, providing a context in which practice becomes natural. The hourly remembrances are like booster shots: they extend and revitalize the medicine we took in the morning.

Tips

As I mentioned earlier, the hourly remembrances are perhaps the most difficult practice periods to make time for. Yet they are crucial if we are going to practice more frequently than morning and evening. They are like tent poles on which we hang our continued practice through the day. The greater the distance between the poles, the more the whole tent sags.

First, there is the issue of remembering to practice when the hour strikes. There are, of course, all kinds of ways to set up reminders for ourselves—alarms, signs, etc. However, I think the best approach is simply to train your mind to be aware of the time. If time is slipping by without you noticing, you can bet that it is slipping by without you practicing. Another suggestion: Do your hourly remembrance as soon as you realize the hour has arrived. Putting it off a couple minutes leads to not doing it at all and also builds an avoidance pattern around practice.

Second, there is the issue of finding the time. For most of us, closing our eyes for a couple of minutes each hour is no small feat (doing this in a conventional work environment can easily draw a crowd). This issue is discussed to some degree in Part 2 of this “Workbook/Practice” section. There, we see that the Workbook’s attitude is: If you can’t take the time, don’t worry about it. To be more accurate, we should say that the Workbook’s attitude is: Take whatever time you can.

At times, perhaps, a minute, even less, will be the most that we can offer as the hour strikes. Sometimes we will forget. At other times the business of the world will close on us, and we will be unable to withdraw a little while, and turn our thoughts to God. Yet when we can, we will observe our trust as ministers of God, in hourly remembrance of our mission and His Love. (W-pI.153.16:2-17:1)

Another helpful passage is one that urges us to spend five minutes each hour (an amount that only holds for lessons 93-110) and then says, “but do not think that less is worthless when you cannot give Him more. At least remember hourly to say [the idea for the day].” (W-pI.105.9:1-2)

We also saw that this question of how much time, if any, we can give each hour is clouded by our resistance to practicing and by our attachment to our normal activities. We are therefore asked to learn to distinguish between a situation poorly suited to our practicing and one that we are using as an excuse not to practice. If you are around other people as the hour strikes, my suggestion is this: Ask yourself honestly whether it is possible to find some privacy for a couple of minutes. Are you really needed at this particular time? If you truly are needed—and this will sometimes be the case—just repeat the idea for the day briefly in your mind. However, I have found that we can get away more often than we might assume—if we want to. The secret weapon in this is the bathroom. Just take off to the bathroom. Taking regular private time for bathroom visits is an unquestioned, culturally-sanctioned right in our society. Unfortunately, taking regular private time for spiritual practice is not.

Another great technique, which applies to when you are out in public, is to position yourself so that you look like you are either sleeping or casually resting your eyes. Again, fulfilling your body’s need for sleep and rest is already culturally-sanctioned.

3. Frequent reminders
What and when

This kind of practice is first introduced in lesson 20 and then made a staple of Workbook practice beginning in lesson 31. Lesson 31 introduces a two-fold structure of practice, an initial step toward the eventual four-fold practice. This structure, says the lesson, “includes two aspects, one in which you apply the idea on a more sustained basis [the morning and evening practice periods], and the other consisting of frequent applications of the idea throughout the day [frequent reminders].” (W-pI.31.1:4)

Frequent reminders are simply brief moments of repeating and dwelling on the idea for the day. They are brief, but concentrated, and very powerful. They are not empty, rote repetitions designed to fill a quota or to score points in Heaven.

We begin by slowly repeating the thought for the day (or our own variation on that thought). We do this preferably with eyes closed, although we may have to leave our eyes open. Ideally, we repeat the idea with confidence, conviction, joy and gratitude. And we let the idea sink into our minds, drinking deeply of its true meaning. Following this brief beginning, there are many variations on what comes next (the particular variation we use will be spelled out to some degree in that day’s lesson).

We may focus on the idea itself, perhaps repeating it several times; perhaps dwelling on it and holding it in mind; perhaps letting related thoughts come to mind; perhaps telling ourselves something about the significance of repeating the idea—for instance, that by repeating it we are making a declaration of release, or inviting God to speak to us, or bringing healing to someone else’s mind.

Or we may apply the idea to something in our experience. We may apply it silently to everyone we meet (using their names as we do so), or apply it to the things we see around us, or apply it to various situations and events in our lives.

Or we may simply repeat the idea and follow it with a brief receptive phase, in which we rest in peace, or wait for assurance, or listen for an answer, or open our minds to God.

That, then, is how we frequently remind ourselves. Having covered the “reminder” part, we now come to the “frequent” part. The question is: how frequently? Most of the instructions say “often” or “as often as you can.” This sounds very vague. It leaves many of us feeling that if we remembered to do this several times in a single day, we have followed the instructions, since that seems to be “as often as we can.”

However, there are seven lessons that are more specific. (Lessons 39, 40, 67, 71, 75, 76, 91) These lessons give a certain number of frequent reminders per hour. This number ranges from three or four to six or seven, with most of the numbers clustering in the middle of that range. These lessons tell us that, in the author’s mind, “as often as you can” means roughly five times an hour.

This may seem like an incredible amount of practice, and for most of us it is. However, it actually takes up a negligible amount of time. Most frequent reminders will take between five and thirty seconds, which is nothing, really. Five of those per hour will come out to a minute or two, spread out over the entire hour. We will easily fritter away more time than that daydreaming, staring at the walls, scratching ourselves, or any number of other things. Therefore, the time this practice requires is really not a factor. What makes it difficult is not the time it takes, but the mindfulness it takes. We will discuss how we can cultivate that mindfulness in the “tips” category below.

Purpose

Frequent reminders are extremely important. At one point the Workbook compares their value (along with the value of response to temptation, which we will discuss below) with the value of the morning and evening practice periods, saying, “The exercises to be done throughout the day are equally important, and perhaps of even greater value.” (W-pI.RIII.9:1) The Workbook gives several reasons for this importance.

First (and in my mind, foremost) these frequent reminders cause our practice to penetrate into our daily activities and our ongoing stream of thoughts. Our practice leaves the stands and walks onto the playing field. If our practice is going to truly transform our thinking, it must walk right into the home of that thinking and take up residence. The following passage from review III underscores the importance of bringing our lesson into “the business of the day”:

You have been inclined to practice only at appointed times, and then go on your way to other things, without applying what you learned to them. As a result, you have gained little reinforcement, and have not given your learning a fair chance to prove how great are its potential gifts to you….Do not repeat the thought and lay it down. Its usefulness is limitless to you. And it is meant to serve you in all ways, all times and places, and whenever you need help of any kind. Try, then, to take it with you in the business of the day and make it holy, worthy of God’s Son, acceptable to God and to your Self. (W-pI.RIII.In.9:2-3,11:3-6)

The frequent reminders are said to support the other kinds of practice as well. They retain in our minds the gifts we gained during our morning quiet time: “…this reminder…has the power to hold your gifts in your awareness through the day.” (W-pI.122.14:2) They also prepare us for the next hourly remembrance. “Throughout the hour, let your time be spent in happy preparation for the next [hourly remembrance]….Repeat [today’s idea] often, and do not forget each time you do so, you have let your mind be readied for the happy time to come.” (W-pI.98.10:1,3) And they prepare us for the evening quiet time. By frequently repeating the idea, we “use the day in preparation for the time at night when we will meet again in trust.” (W-pI.92.11:2)

Overall, repetition is a crucial part of the Course’s program, and shows up both in the Course’s writing style and in its practice instructions. Practice, of course, means repeated practice, for repetition is how we learn. The Workbook speaks often of the great need we have for repeating these ideas: “This needs repeating, and frequent repeating.” (W-pI.91.1:2) “Over and over this must be repeated, until it is accepted.” (W-pI.93.6:2) As the following passage points out, we must rehearse the truth so frequently, because we are currently so absorbed with rehearsing falsehood.

You need to hear the truth about yourself as frequently as possible, because your mind is so preoccupied with false selfimages. Four or five times an hour, and perhaps even more, it would be most beneficial to remind yourself…. (W-pI.67.5:2-3)

Tips

How are we going to remember to give focused attention to an idea several times an hour? It is a little impractical to set an alarm for every ten or fifteen minutes. And even if we did, we could very quickly learn to ignore it. So again, how do we remember? I have four suggestions.

First, want to remember because you want the benefits of remembering. There are two mental stances we can have about these frequent reminders: approach or avoidance. The avoidance stance says that frequent reminders are a hassle; that our time is really best spent on other things, that summoning concentrated attention is exhausting, and that shifting mental gears from our familiar perspective to a new one is uncomfortable and disorienting. This stance, of course, will lead to infrequent remembering.

The approach stance says that we want to remind ourselves as often as possible because our happiness awaits us in that new perspective. And when we rehearse that perspective, we taste a little bit of its happiness. In other words, we want to remember frequently because it feels good. Clearly, this stance will lead to frequent remembering. In fact, the Workbook states that how often we remember is a direct consequence of how much we want liberation. Thus, the frequency of our remembering is actually the gauge of our desire for God.

The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea [“Above all else I want to see”] to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. (W-pI.27.4:1-3)

Second, the Course directly addresses this question of how to remember frequently. It gives a four-part answer:

  1. Try to remember.
  2. Have conviction that you will succeed in remembering.
  3. Rest this conviction not on your own abilities but on the Holy Spirit in you.
  4. Call to Him to help you remember.

Here is the passage:

…he has need of reminding himself throughout the day of his protection. How can he do this, particularly during the time when his mind is occupied with external things? He can but try, and his success depends on his conviction that he will succeed. He must be sure success is not of him, but will be given him at any time, in any place and circumstance he calls for it. (M-16.8:1-4)

Third, the instant the idea of practice even vaguely crosses your mind, regard it as a prompting from the Holy Spirit and repeat the idea for the day. Do not pause and consider whether you will practice then or not. Do not put it off to a minute from now, or thirty seconds from now. Just do it. Make this a conditioned reflex. Make it an ingrained habit. I believe that this method is a more effective memory prompt than any sort of external reminder. If you practice the instant that practice comes to mind, it will come to mind more often, and then you will practice more often, and the cycle will continue until practice becomes your normal way of thinking.

Fourth, I believe that frequent remembering depends on a quality morning time and quality hourly remembrances. The mental set you establish in those times will make remembering natural. Rather than being the furthest thing from your mind, the lesson will always be just to the side of your focus of attention.

4. Response to temptation
What and when

Response to temptation is a major practice in the Course, perhaps even the primary practice. It crops up throughout the Text (in fact, the term itself is coined in the Text) (T-31.III.1:3) in those places in which we are asked to repeat a certain italicized quotation whenever we are upset, disturbed, afraid, etc. In the Workbook, it begins as an optional practice as early as lesson 4 and quickly becomes a basic part of Workbook practice. It is included in the instructions for three-quarters of the lessons.

“Response to temptation” means, in essence, responding with the idea for the day when you are tempted to indulge in egoic thinking, especially in the form of upset feelings. Here is a good example: “Be alert to all temptation to hold grievances today, and respond to them with this form of today’s idea: Holding grievances is the opposite of God’s plan for salvation. And only His plan will work.” (W-pI.71.10:1-4)

We can encapsulate this crucial practice in the following sentence: Whenever you notice any kind of disturbance of your peace, immediately respond with the idea for the day (or some variation of it). I would like to expand on this by breaking it down into four points.

“Whenever you notice” Essential to Course-based practice is watching your mind. You mustknow what is passing through your mind before you can change what is passing through your mind. It is essential, then, to learn how to stand back and watch your thoughts. Indeed, you will need to eventually install a kind of permanent mental security system, programmed to go off when any thought less than the highest enters your mind. This is what the Text refers to frequently as “vigilance.” More than anything else in this world, the mind’s stream of thinking deserves and requires our eternal vigilance. A fellow Course in Miracles teacher (1) has coined a phrase which I love, “Watching your mind is a full-time job.”

“any kind of disturbance of your peace” The emphasis here is on any kind. Our upset feelings are some of our oldest and closest friends. We are dearly attached to them, which means they are often the last thing we want to apply the Course to. We will therefore be continually tempted to make exceptions and decide either that the Course simply doesn’t apply to this particular upset, or that we are not even really upset. It is helpful, therefore, to be extremely honest with ourselves about when we are upset, and to be willing to apply Course principles to all upsets. The Workbook asks us to apply the lessons to a very broad range of upsets, many of which we would not consider upsets, or would not see as something to be solved through spiritual practice. Here is a partial list:

  • Negative reactions toward people—anger, attack thoughts, grievances, lack of trust, envy
  • Upset or distress about any person, event or situation
  • Sadness, (W-pI.163.1) sorrow (W-pI.166.13)
  • Fear of the future in any form
  • Generalized adverse emotions, such as anxiety, depression, worry (W-pI.34.6)
  • Dismal thinking or lamenting (W-pI.131.15)
  • Concern for bodies (W-pI.163.1)
  • Sense of burden (W-pI.133.14)
  • Any perception that there is a problem (W-pI.79.9-10, 80.6)
  • Any thought that a difficult decision is facing you (W-pI.133.14)
  • Any temptation to engage in planning (W-pI.135.26, 136.19)
  • Any temptation to defend yourself (W-pI.153.19)
  • Any label you apply to yourself (W-pI.35.9)
  • Any thought that implies that you are not spirit (W-pI.97.8)
  • Any thought that implies you are subject to earthly laws (W-pI.76.12)
  • Any thought which values something in the world (W-pI.128.8)
  • Any doubts about the power of your change of mind to free you and the world (W-pI.132.17)

“immediately” Over and over again, the Workbook tells us that once we notice we are upset, we should apply the day’s idea immediately, quickly, instantly. Our usual habit is to ruminate on our negative feelings, to turn them over and over in our minds, all the while building a stronger and stronger case for them. Only after simmering and seasoning this brew for quite a while do we usually try to stir in some spiritual principles. The Course, on the other hand, recognizes that this ruminating is a practice in its own right, a practicing of ego. Instead, it urges us to form the habit of immediately responding to such thoughts the instant they enter our minds. It wants us to dispel them at the molehill stage, before we have turned them into mountains.

“respond with the idea for the day (or some variation of it).” Ideally, take a minute, close your eyes and repeat the day’s idea. You may want to “take several minutes and devote them to repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief.” (W-pI.34.6:2) You may want to respond to your upset with your own inspired variations on the idea. It is imperative not to use the idea to bludgeon your feelings, trying to force them out of existence. That is plain old denial. Rather, simply speak the idea in your mind, firmly but without strain: “with gentle firmness and quiet certainty.” (W-pI.73.10:1) Keep your hands off your feelings. Just quietly step back from them and rely on the power of truth to dispel them, as light shines away darkness. Also, try to be specific about your upset. Name the person you are angry with, or the situation you are afraid about, or the particular emotion you are feeling.

Purpose

As I mentioned above, response to temptation is perhaps the primary Course practice. The entire Course is an attempt to shine the light of truth directly onto the hazy heart of illusions. Here, in response to temptation, is where that happens. The subterranean heart of the ego is manifest in each angry, fearful, resentful, anxious or worried thought that crosses our minds and snares our allegiance. If we have the courage to expose these thoughts just as they are to the naked light of truth, then we will accomplish the goal of the Course. Response to temptation is where our practice not only walks onto the playing field, but goes head-to-head with the other team; where our practice not only enters the ego’s house, but tosses out the current tenant.

Tips

In addition to simply doing each day’s lesson as best you can, I have only one tip for learning this particular practice: Set the goal of making response to temptation a habit. Decide that you want it to be one of your primary habits of thought, one of the main ways in which your mind works.

This is not an impossible goal. You already have the requisite skills. Your mind is already trained to watch for, detect and instantly respond to certain stimuli. For instance, you have trained yourself to be on a permanent alert for threats to your physical safety and to respond immediately should they arise. This training took years to acquire, but those years seemed well worth it. Now, the Course would suggest, you should train your mind to be on the alert to the real threats to your safety and happiness and to instantly respond with real solution. This training will also not be accomplished overnight. You will have to swim against the constant tide of your desire to seclude your upsets safely from the light. As you go, you will therefore uncover one layer after another of fears, worries and irritations that had hitherto been stagnating in your mind completely unanswered. Yet, in the end, this training will be well worth it. It will not simply protect the status quo from falling into disaster (like your present training does); it will lift you out of the status quo and into ecstasy.

Several times the Course refers to the crucial importance of making response to temptation a mental habit. I have italicized the word “habit” in the following quotes:

It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. (T-31.III.1:3)

Learn, then, the happy habit of response to all temptation…. (T-31.VIII.5:1)

…you have not yet formed the habit of using the idea as an automatic response to temptation. (W-pI.95.5:3)

One passage in particular speaks a world about how this habit will look as it develops. The passage is speaking about lesson 194, “I place the future in the Hands of God.” It says, “As it becomes a thought that rules your mind, a habit in your problem solving repertoire, a way of quick reaction to temptation…” (W-pI.194.6:2) This passage not only speaks about having the habit of instant response to temptation, it also speaks of possessing your own “problem-solving repertoire.” This clearly refers to having your own collection of ideas that you have found particularly effective in healing your upsets. These ideas become thoughts that rule your mind, permanent pillars of your thinking. They become your personal doctor bag, filled with remedies which you quickly and skillfully apply to any of your mental cuts and bruises.

The pyramid of practice

This concludes my discussion of the Workbook’s four-fold structure of practice. I like to picture all four forms of practice, put together, as constituting a “pyramid of practice.” Each form of practice corresponds to a level on the pyramid. The lower the level, the more time that practice takes, or the more structured or pre-planned it is. The higher the level, the more brief, frequent and spontaneous the practice is.

Each level provides the foundation for the levels above it. The morning and evening quiet times provide the foundation for the entire day of practice. The hourly remembrances then extend this foundation into the day in the form of smaller, hourly foundations, which allow one to practice frequently in between the hours. Finally, these frequent reminders enable one to respond quickly and effectively to any temptation that arises. The bottom levels, then, indicate quiet time spent apart from the world (perhaps we can even see the ground the pyramid rests on being the foundational activity of study). And this time spent apart allows the pyramid to reach high into the sky, symbolizing our practice reaching far into the hustle and bustle of our day.

The overall effect of this pyramid is that our whole day is enclosed in God. Every hour is framed in Him, and all the time in between filled with His Presence. Contact with God is established in quiet times apart, but then renewed and refreshed throughout our busy day, so that His light can dispel any shred of darkness that may arise in our minds. This pyramid promises to deliver both deep, meditative experiences and the transformation of how we see the smallest, most ordinary things during our day. For the Workbook’s purpose is not merely to impart isolated spiritual experiences. Its purpose “is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world.” (W-pI.In.4:1) Its purpose is salvation.

Note: This material is a revised version of material that originally appeared in Booklet #14, The Workbook as a Spiritual Practice.
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(1) David Hoffmeister
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[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
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