Purpose: To attempt again to reach your one Self. "In patience and in hope we try again today" (3:3).
Longer: Every hour on the hour, for five minutes (if you cannot do this, at least do the alternate).
- Say with all the certainty you can give, "I am one Self, united with my Creator, at one with every aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace." You'll probably need to keep your eyes open in order to read the line.
- Close your eyes and repeat, "I am one Self." Say this several times, "slowly and thoughtfully, attempting to allow the meaning of the words to sink into your mind" (11:3). Saying it in this way will allow it to have a much greater effect on you.
- The remainder is a meditation in which you try to reach your one Self, which is perfectly united within Itself, perfectly joined with all your brothers, and perfectly at one with God. "Feel this one Self in you, and let It shine away all your illusions and your doubts" (13:3). Draw upon all the training you've received in Workbook meditation.
Frequent reminders: As frequently as possible.
There are two forms of this frequent practice:
1. Repeat the idea. Realize that every time you do, healing enters someone's mind out there.
2. Say silently to everyone you meet, "You are one Self with me, united with our Creator in this Self. I honor you because of What I am, and What He is, Who loves us both as one." Applying the idea to everyone you meet is an important practice, which you have previously done in Lessons 37, 43, and 78.
Encouragement to practice: Here on our third day of the five- minutes-per-hour practice, we are given an extended explanation as to why this practice schedule is so important right now. First, you need shorter practice periods. Otherwise, your mind will wander all over the place, which you probably noticed in those ten to fifteen minute practice periods. Second, you need frequent practice periods. When there were only two longer practice periods a day, you probably tended to forget the shorter ones (frequent reminders and response to temptation). With the longer ones now being more frequent, you will be more likely to remember the shorter ones. Third, you need regular practice periods. Having them scheduled at these fixed, regular intervals will make you more likely to practice, given how resistant you are to practicing.
For all these reasons, he urges you to omit as few of these as possible. The key to carrying this out is how you respond when you've missed one. Missing a practice period is simply a mistake, that's all. The way to respond to this mistake is to correct it—which means to get back to your practicing. The danger, however, is that you'll regard this mistake as a real sin. This takes the form of you deciding that you've so hopelessly screwed up that you might as well give up for the day. Sound familiar?
This is a subtle ploy of the ego. It is terrified of what your practice will bring: the realization of your Self. Its fear is what caused you to miss that practice period in the first place. Now it has convinced you that since you missed once, you should keep on missing more. It has successfully nullified the threat of your practice by convincing you not to practice.
The solution is to regard your initial missed practice period as a mere mistake and forgive yourself for it. It was no big deal, just a moment of weakness. Seeing it as a moment of weakness deprives it of power. Now it no longer has the power to dictate everything that comes after it, to make your day over in its likeness. Now you simply correct it; you just get back to your practice. This, by the way, is the Workbook's consistent counsel on how to deal with missed practice periods.
Do your utmost to implement this counsel, starting today. "Do not forget today" (you are told this twice, in 14:1 and 14:6). Heaven needs the healing thoughts you will send out to the world with today's practice. It is confident you will try today, so you can be confident, too.
This lesson is one of my favorites, because it acknowledges both my reality and the lowly image I have made of myself. It affirms my greatness without denying my illusion of weakness. It holds up the exalted picture of my "one Self…at one with every aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace" (11:2). But it does so in the context of speaking about my "lapses in diligence" and my "failures to follow the instructions for practicing" (8:3). It makes me realize that, somehow, this lofty vision of my Self is not incompatible with my stumbling, bumbling attempts to follow this course. It lets me know that my mistakes do not negate the truth about me.
If anyone doubts what I said yesterday—that the overall intent of these next sixteen lessons is to reach inward to an experience of our one Self, and that the Workbook attaches a great deal of importance to disciplined practice as a means of attaining that experience—let him or her simply read this lesson several times. You can't miss the message, and I can't say it more clearly than the lesson says it:
Structure, then, is necessary for you at this time. (6:1)
Do not forget today….try today…Be vigilant. Do not forget today. Throughout the day do not forget your goal. (14:1, 3, 5-7)
The lesson seems to be talking about two such disparate things. On the one hand, myself as God created me, my perfect unity. On the other hand, the emphasis on regimented, very specific, structured practice, every hour on the hour for five minutes. If I am perfect, why do I need all this discipline? Why not just affirm the truth about myself and be done with it?
We need the practice just because we do not believe the truth about ourselves. We have all these hidden warriors in our minds, the subtle and deceitful manipulators of consciousness planted by the ego that keep us from full awareness. Beware of telling yourself you aren't doing the disciplined practice because you don't need it. Show me you don't need it by doing it, and maybe I'll believe you. You don't just sit down at a piano and play Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 right off the bat; you start with scales. Scales aren't great music but they are the necessary way to it. Just so, "Regularity in terms of time [playing scales] is not the ideal requirement for the most beneficial form of practice in salvation [the concerto]. It is advantageous, however, for those whose motivation is inconsistent, and who remain heavily defended against learning" (6:2-3). That's me; I don't know about you, but that's me.
The beauty of this kind of repetitive practice is that it discloses all the tricks of the ego that keep us from God. Just do it, like the Nike ad says, and you'll begin to realize how many resistant strains of antispiritual virus exist in the maze of your mind, how many ways you have invented to keep you away from knowing your Self. That is one of the primary purposes of the practice:
You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline, and of your need for mind training. It is necessary that you be aware of this. (4:4-5)
We have to be aware of our need before we can recognize the solution that has already been given us. We have to discover the "self divided into many warring parts" (2:2) before we can acknowledge the "perfect unity" (1:4) of our reality. So this practice will uncover our need, and expose the ego; that's good, that's what it is supposed to do.
But that isn't all. Yes, part of the intent is that we learn to forgive ourselves for failures. But the purpose is not to fail and then forgive. The purpose is to fail, forgive, and then do it. To say to yourself, "Oh, of course I didn't do the practice today; I'm supposed to fail," is just another way to refuse to let your mistake be corrected. It is unwillingness to try again.
To allow a mistake to continue is to make additional mistakes, based on the first and reinforcing it. It is this process that must be laid aside, for it is but another way in which you would defend illusions against the truth. (9:3-4)
In other words, accepting failure is not the goal—it is what has to be laid aside. Both the failure to practice and allowing the failure to continue "are attempts to keep you unaware you are one Self" (10:2).
One Self, with one purpose: "to bring awareness of this oneness to all minds, that true creation may extend the Allness and the Unity of God" (12:2). Let me give myself to this process, knowing my true purpose, recognizing I am in training to awaken mankind along with me. Let me take these minutes out of each hour to become aware of Who I am. "It is given you to feel this Self within you" (13:5). I want that; today, Father. I want to let go of my shabby illusions and feel the extent and power of my true Self, given me by You. I want to forget my belief in my littleness, even if only for a few seconds each hour, and to continually bring myself these reminders (since I am so quick to forget) until the awareness dawns in permanence on my mind, never again to be forgotten. So be it.