Purpose: To put you in touch with the happy things that you are entitled to as God's Son.
Frequent reminders: Every ten minutes is highly desirable.
Close your eyes (if feasible), repeat the idea, and apply to yourself several attributes you associate with being a Son of God. For example: "I am blessed as a Son of God. I am happy, peaceful, loving and contented."
Remarks: You can see that he really means us to do this practice today. He urges us to do our best to keep to the schedule (1:3). He reminds us that the practice takes "little time and no effort" (3:1). And he has three provisions for when we do not or cannot do the practice as instructed:
- When you notice that you have forgotten to practice, even for a long stretch, rather than feeling guilty and giving up, simply get back to your practicing right away.
- If it is not feasible to close your eyes-which will often be the case-don't let that keep you from practicing. Just practice with eyes open.
- If there is not enough time to do the exercise as suggested, simply repeat the idea. That takes about four seconds.
There is no escaping the importance the Workbook attaches to actually trying to practice as instructed. In this lesson, whose practice is in one sense a relaxation from yesterday's and in another sense an intensification, you cannot read these words and think that the author believes that it does not matter whether or not we follow the instructions:
No long practice periods are required today, but very frequent short ones are necessary. Once every ten minutes would be highly desirable, and you are urged to attempt this schedule and to adhere to it whenever possible. If you forget, try again. If there are long interruptions, try again. Whenever you remember, try again. (1:2-6, my emphasis).
Attempt…try…try…try. The more often we can repeat the lesson, the more impact it will have on our mind. How can you have a "course in mind training" (T-1.VII.4:1) without some kind of mental discipline? You can't; it's that simple.
At the same time notice that there is no "guilting" going on here. The author anticipates our indiscipline and expects (or allows for) our forgetting, and for "long interruptions" (1:5). He knows we lack discipline; that is exactly why the practice is so "necessary." But he does not judge us for it. He says, simply, "If you forget, try again." Don't let forgetting, even for long periods of the day, be an excuse to give up for the rest of the day. Every time we remember, we add a link to the "chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement" (T-1.I.25:1).
He goes to the trouble of pointing out that just because you can't get alone and close your eyes, that is no excuse for not practicing. "You can practice quite well under any circumstances, if you really want to" (2:4).
The practice for today is, very simply, making positive affirmations as often as possible. "I am blessed as a Son of God. I am calm, quiet, assured and confident" (3:7-8). This might take ten or fifteen seconds, perhaps a little longer to think of a new list of attributes that you might associate with being a Son of God: "I am serene, capable and unshakable." "I am joyful, radiant, and full of love."
Can any of us really consider it a trial to engage in practice like this? Our egos do, and they will resist. I am no longer startled, but still astonished, at the variety of ways my ego finds to distract me and keep me from practicing my own happiness-for that is all we are doing here. Observing my ego's constant opposition to my happiness is one thing that has convinced me of the truth of that line in the Text: "The ego does not love you" (T-9.VII.3:5).
Because of what I am, an extension of God, I am entitled to happiness. The ego has to resist that idea because its existence depends upon my believing that I have separated myself from God; therefore the ego wants me to be unhappy. It wants me to believe that I do not deserve to be happy. Maybe it doesn't want me totally miserable-that might prompt me to reconsider everything. Just "a mild river of misery," as Marianne Williamson puts it. Just a vein of sadness and impermanence running through even my best times. Just enough to keep me from listening to The Other Guy Who talks about my union with God. And definitely not happy. Happy is dangerous to the ego. Happy says separation isn't true.
And it isn't!