The Work

excerpted from Inspired by Miracles by Dan Joseph

A Course in Miracles offers many insights on opening to the experience of a miracle, or an inner healing. I'd like to jump right to one of the most powerful tools in the whole Course.

As I wrote earlier, the Course says that miracles are waiting for us all the time. We can accept a miracle – an experience of divine love – at any moment. The central blocks to miracles are our own negative thoughts. By loosening our grasp on our unloving thoughts, we open our minds to miracles.

In this chapter, I'd like to add a few more ideas on this process. According to the Course, we often "store" our negative thoughts in the form of grievances toward people. Grievances (or resentments) are, in fact, among the most common "hiding" places for our dark thoughts.

To illustrate this idea, let's imagine our minds as being filled with rows of cubbyholes. Each cubbyhole represents a particular relationship in our lives. We have cubbyholes for our parents, our children, and our friends. We even have cubbyholes for people we haven't seen in years.

In each of our cubbyholes, we store various thoughts toward the particular person. Some of these cubbyholes contain largely benevolent thoughts. Others are filled with grievances and other unloving thoughts.

We may think that everything is stored away neatly. After all, we rarely "look" into most of these compartments. However, the fact that we're not aware of our stored-away thoughts doesn't mean that they're not affecting us.

The Course asks us to open up each cubbyhole, and clean out any unloving thoughts that we're storing inside. In doing this, we clear out the darkness from every corner of our minds.

As an example of this, I may have a row of cubbyholes that represent people whom I haven't seen in years. I may not think that it's important to identify my thoughts toward these people – after all, I may never see them again.

The Course, however, points out that my thoughts toward these people are still in my mind, and those thoughts may be blocking the full experience of a miracle. The Course asks me to open each cubbyhole, and let God flush out any unloving thoughts I'm storing inside.

I may decide to "take a look" at my thoughts toward a handful of people whom I haven't seen in twenty years. As I begin to think of those people – and honestly identify my thoughts toward them – I may find a significant amount of resentment or anger stored away. As I give over those resentful thoughts to God, and let my grievances be replaced by miracles, my overall sense of peace is increased.

The Course wants us to open up every cubbyhole – open every relationship to God. Although this process may seem overwhelming (after all, most of us have thousands of these "relationship cubbyholes"), I find that the practice forms a momentum. The first dozen, or hundred, compartments that we open may require a reasonable amount of effort. But then our minds become comfortable with the process, and things begin to flow more smoothly.

This, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful practices in the Course. By identifying and releasing the "stored grievances" in our minds, we create a wide opening for miracles to flow in. The practice requires honesty – even some courage. But the results can be felt in a very practical way. I often feel an increased sense of peace by allowing just one cubbyhole to be cleaned out.

Before moving on, I'd like to share an observation from my work with this type of practice. I occasionally find that there is some discomfort that arises when I first open a door on a locked-away relationship.

Someone may come to mind whom I haven't thought of in years – someone whom I have some grievances against. I immediately feel uncomfortable, and want to slam shut the door on that compartment. But if I take one more step, and say, "God, I have some unloving thoughts toward this person. I didn't realize it until this moment, but I don't want to lock those thoughts away. Please take them, and replace them with your miracles," I am taking a powerful step.

The real challenge in this process is to turn the resentful thoughts over to God instead of locking them back away in their cubbyhole. If we bury them away, says the Course, they won't suddenly be resolved. They will simply be hidden. If we want our minds to be healed, we need to give God permission to wash these thoughts away, and give us a new perception instead.

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