In Lesson 34, you begin training the mind to focus on peaceful possibilities. Without this focus, you are often distracted by distressing thoughts. The Course teaches you that circumstances don't change to provide peace, so much as the decision to be peaceful helps circumstances change. The idea that you could see peace instead of upset is a powerful reminder that you are always at choice as to your emotional state.
I could see peace instead of this.
The idea for today begins to describe the conditions that prevail in the other way of seeing. Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.
Three longer practice periods are required for today's exercises. One in the morning and one in the evening are advised, with an additional one to be undertaken at any time in between that seems most conducive to readiness. All applications should be done with your eyes closed. It is your inner world to which the applications of today's idea should be made.
Some five minutes of mind searching are required for each of the longer practice periods. Search your mind for fear thoughts, anxiety-provoking situations, "offending" personalities or events, or anything else about which you are harboring unloving thoughts. Note them all casually, repeating the idea for today slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next.
If you begin to experience difficulty in thinking of specific subjects, continue to repeat the idea to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular. Be sure, however, not to make any specific exclusions.
The shorter applications are to be frequent, and made whenever you feel your peace of mind is threatened in any way. The purpose is to protect yourself from temptation throughout the day. If a specific form of temptation arises in your awareness, the exercise should take this form:
I could see peace in this situation instead of what I now see in it.
If the inroads on your peace of mind take the form of more generalized adverse emotions, such as depression, anxiety or worry, use the idea in its original form. If you find you need more than one application of today's idea to help you change your mind in any specific context, try to take several minutes and devote them to repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief. It will help you if you tell yourself specifically:
I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety or worry [or my thoughts about this situation, personality or event] with peace.
Quote of the Day
"Peace stems from forgiveness. Pain doesn't stem from the love we're denied by others, but rather from the love that we deny them. In a case like that, it feels as though we're hurt by what someone else did. But what really has occurred is that someone else's closed heart has tempted us to close our own, and it is our own denial of love that hurts us."
— Excerpted from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles