The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

* * *

This poem by Mary Oliver helped save my life many years ago.  It can do the same for you, if you let it.  Thank you, Mary.

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

This poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer helped me be true to myself many years ago.  It can do the same for you, if you let it.  Thank you, Oriah.

The Spark Is Still As Pure As the Great Light

Hey Sparky!

It’s been a while since I wrote, and you’ve been on my mind the whole time. I’ve been immersed in the Thought that each and every one of us has the spark of God within us, and share this so you can feel the Light within yourself:

The power of one mind can shine into another, because all the lamps of God were lit by the same spark. It is everywhere and it is eternal. In many only the spark remains, for the Great Rays are obscured. Yet God has kept the spark alive so that the Rays can never be completely forgotten. If you but see the little spark you will learn of the greater light, for the rays are there unseen. Perceiving the spark will heal, but knowing the light will create. Yet in the returning the little light must be acknowledged first, for the separation was a descent from magnitude to littleness. But the spark is still as pure as the Great Light, because it is the remaining call of creation. Put all your faith in it, and God Himself will answer you. (T-10.IV.7&8)

Please re-read the quote slowly and thoroughly. Read it out loud. Tell yourself, “I am a lamp of God. I am the spark within a Great Ray which streams from the Great Light. I am willing to put all my faith into the spark that I may hear God Himself answer me.”

The spark is the umbilical cord back to God. The Great Ray is the bridge you cross to your Source, the Great Light. The lamp is your body when you give it to God to use for His Purpose. The ego uses the body for fear, anxiety, tension, and death. If you would like some practical mysticism for undoing the ego’s darkness and discovering your spark, join “Undoing Anxiety,” a free MiracleShare Academy webinar series. Just click the pic below.

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Glowingly, Amy

Copyright © 2016 Amy Torres. All rights reserved worldwide.

God Is In Your Smile

“Find where your smile originates and you will find your Source.”  Holy Spirit beamed this thought into my open mind and Amy crosslegged whiteinstantly I became aware that a smile is not your lips, your tongue, your mouth, your teeth, your jaw.  A smile starts deeper than that and spreads beyond the face entirely.

In fact, during my advertising career years, when I was lucky enough to work with voiceover artists and celebrities in recording studios, I learned that you can hear a smile.  If the person reading the script is faking their smile, a smile is not communicated!

(FILES): This February 24, 2008 file phoTo digress a moment, Wesley Snipes once read some copy of mine before he was famous.  And it was an honor to write for Ossie Davis, whose voice raised thrills as he warmed up by practicing some of my lines aloud.  Both of them had beautiful smiles, by the way. Ossie Davis smile

As I was saying, a smile spreads beyond your face because a smile is actually your Inner Light.  Your smile is one of those obvious, but often overlooked, clues that God is in you since your smile isn’t mechanical, therefore it must be inspired!  I remember telling my psychotherapist at a very low point in my life when I felt that I couldn’t overcome the anxiety and depression that was paralyzing me at that time, “The worst part is that deep inside I know I’m naturally cheerful — it’s in my smile!”

Have you ever noticed that smiles are contagious?  When someone smiles at you, or you at someone, usually both end up smiling.  This is because, “The power of one mind can shine into another, because all the lamps of God were lit by the same spark.  It is everywhere and it is eternal.  In many only the spark remains, for the Great Rays are obscured.  Yet God has kept the spark alive so that the Rays can never be completely forgotten.  If you but see the little spark you will learn of the greater light, for the Rays are there unseen.”  (T-10.IV.7:5-6; 8:1-3)  Your smile can help you learn of the greater light if you follow it to the Light from which it originates.

I once knew someone who had Bell’s Palsy* which is a condition that affects the nerves in the face.  He was self-conscious John Sudworth bells palsy smilethat his smile became crooked and spent the rest of his life trying not to smile.  How sadly backwards.  It took an effort to stop smiling — and if, instead, he had smiled, he may very well have healed and reactivated the nerves and muscles of his face.  But even if he didn’t, his smile would have communicated Love which overrides any deformity.

Your smile is an ordinary miracle, capable of reminding you every day that God is within you and without you.  When you smile, you radiate well-being and joy.  In other words, you are a conduit for healing miracles.  And when you become conscious that you have volunteered your body to fulfill the Holy Spirit’s loving purpose, your smile is reflected back to you a thousand times more than you smiled it!

A Course in Miracles defines a miracle as being spontaneous, natural, involuntary and it collapses time.  It defines a holy instant as a miniature of Heavewink with star in eyen — providing us with an experience of Timelessness.  String together enough miracles and holy instants and — poof! — you discover your Inner Light.  Why wait?

Let’s find where your smile originates right now and you will encounter your Self.  Take a moment and follow the trail of  your smile.  Does it actually start in your mouth?  Is it in your heart?  Your eyes?  Is it moving through you and emanating from you?  Right about now you could feel a shift in perception and realize that your smile is not only within you, but you are within God’s Smile!  The real you is a Smile without a face.

Abide in your smile“Father, Your Son is holy.  I am he on whom You smile in love and tenderness so dear and deep and still the universe smiles back on You, and shares Your Holiness.  How pure, how safe, how holy, then, are we, abiding in Your Smile, with all Your Love bestowed upon us, living one with You, in brotherhood and Fatherhood complete; in sinlessness so perfect that the Lord of Sinlessness conceives us as His Son, a universe of Thought completing Him.” (W-341)

Abiding in your own smile naturally leads to the discovery that you truly abide within Your Father’s Smile.  How many times does Jesus tell us in the Course that you are not the body, you are free, for you are still as God created you?  Well, it’s true!

While you identify as human, place yourself in the Holy Spirit’s Hands for guidance.  You will find yourself smiling more and more!  As you smile, you will realize that you are not human — you are Being.  And Being is Unaffected by what is not real.

As the Introduction to ACIM states: Nothing real can be threatened.  Nothing unreal exists.  Herein lies the peace of God.

* * * * *

You may also enjoy reading Service with a Smile! and Remember to Laugh and Happiness Is Your True Nature

* Click here to read about John Sudworth’s attitude towards Bell’s Palsy.

God Is In Your Smile was originally published April 26, 2015 and this is the newly revised and updated version.

To hear Amy speak about A Course in Miracles, watch her YouTube videosIf you’d like to ask Amy a question for her popular Ask Amy column in Miracles magazine, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com …  To receive blessings from Amy, read Sweet Dreams of Awakening.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, Amy’s online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice. 

Copyright © 2015 Amy Torres. All rights reserved worldwide.

Addiction to Spirituality: The Spiritual Bypass by Dr. Margaret Paul

I’m a longtime fan of Dr. Margaret Paul and her inner bonding work.  She has a way of explaining things simply and clearly.  Hope you benefit from reading her article below, Addiction to Spirituality: The Spiritual Bypass.

Are you using your spirituality as a “spiritual bypass” to avoid feeling your feelings and taking responsibility for them?

Lian had been meditating for many years before consulting with me for his depression. He had been part of a spiritual community that encouraged their members to turn to God through prayer and meditation whenever they were feeling any difficult or painful feelings such as anger, hurt, anxiety or depression. He had been taught that Spirit would transmute his feelings for him and bring him the inner peace he sought.

Yet Lian was depressed. “I have faithfully practiced what I’ve been taught, so why am I still depressed? What am I doing wrong?”

Lian was suffering from what is called “spiritual bypass.”

Spiritual bypass occurs when people use their spiritual practice as a way to avoid dealing with and taking responsibility for their feelings. Anything that is used to avoid feeling and taking responsibility for feelings becomes an addiction – whether it is alcohol, drugs, food, TV, work, gambling, spending, shopping, anger, withdrawal…or meditation. If, when a difficult or painful feeling comes up, you immediately go into meditation in the hopes of blissing out and getting rid of the feeling, you may be addicted to spirituality.

It all depends on what your intent is when you are meditating. People can meditate for two totally different reasons: to avoid pain or to learn about love.

If you are meditating to connect with yourself and your spiritual Guidance in order to learn more about loving yourself and others, then meditation is a good way to get out of your head and into your heart. It is a good way to connect with a loving part of yourself so that you can welcome and embrace your painful feelings and learn what you may be doing or thinking that is causing your own pain. When your intent is to be loving to yourself and take responsibility for your own feelings, then meditation can help you become centered and compassionate enough to do an Inner Bonding process.

However, if you are using meditation to bliss out and avoid your pain, you are using your spirituality addictively. You are using your spirituality to bypass learning about and taking responsibility for your feelings.

This is what Lian was doing. Because he was avoiding learning from his feelings, he was continuing to think and behave in ways toward himself and others that caused him to feel depressed. Then, instead of exploring what he was doing that was causing his feeling self, his inner child, to feel depressed, he was meditating to try to get rid of the feelings.

In his work with me, Lian discovered that he was constantly either ignoring his feelings or judging himself. The combination of ignoring his feelings – which he did primarily through meditation – and judging himself resulted in his inner child feeling unloved, unimportant and unseen. Lian saw that if he treated his actual children in the way he treated himself – ignoring their feelings and constantly judging them – they would also feel badly and maybe depressed. But Lian did attend to his actual children’s feelings and needs. It was his own that he ignored and judged.

Lian realized that he was treating himself the way his parents had treated him. He was a much better parent to his children than his parents had been with him, but he was parenting his own inner child the way he had been parented. He was not only treating himself the way he had been treated, he was treating himself the way his parents had treated themselves. As a result, he was not being a good role model for his children of personal responsibility for his own feelings, just as his parents had been poor role models for him.

In the course of working with me, Lian learned the Inner Bonding process. He learned to welcome his painful feelings during meditation. He learned to quiet the self-judgmental part of himself and to treat himself with caring and respect. He learned to take loving action on his own behalf so that his inner child no longer felt abandoned by him. It was the inner abandonment that was causing his depression. He discovered that his depression was actually a gift – a way his inner child was letting him know that he was not being loving to himself. With practice, Lian learned to take loving care of himself and his depression disappeared. Now his meditation practice was no longer a spiritual bypass.

Visit Dr. Margaret Paul’s website to see all her Inner Bonding work has to offer: http://www.innerbonding.com/show-article/4063/addiction-to-spirituality-the-spiritual-bypass.html

Message from Jonette Crowley

I want to share Jonette Crowley and her work with you.  Although she does not teach A Course in Miracles or non-duality, her work may resonate with some of you.  Visit her website to see her offerings, including spiritual pilgrimages and soul body fusion: http://centerforcreativeconsciousness.com/ … here’s a message from Jonette that may lift your heart:

“Many of you have volunteered to come to Earth to transmute ancestral karma from your family tree.  You basically told the Angels: ‘The Buck Stops Here!  I shoulder this burden, I heal it by healing myself.  I proclaim that I shall meet suffering with compassion and so stop it from spreading forward!!’

In some ways we are like Jesus, intending that through our mastery of our fate, we diminish darkness and hatred, leaving this world in a better state than we found it.”

~Jonette Crowley      P.S.  You deserve a medal!

Ask Amy: How to Run Harmonious ACIM Study Groups

Guy QuestionQ:  I recently started an ACIM study group and am upset to find that one person is kind of taking over the group. He talks over other people and speaks as if he really knows what the Course is really saying. There are about nine of us and it’s clear some folks feel irritated by his comments. Now the rest of us are inhibited to share because we don’t want to be criticized or corrected by him. How can I sort this out?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA: A book could be written on this subject, but for the sake of brevity, here are three pointers on how to apply the forgiveness practice in your study group.

1. DEFER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
In the Preface to A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us, “The Holy Spirit speaks with unmistakable clarity and overwhelming appeal.” To hear His Voice in your study group, the members have to be willing to listen. As facilitator, you must have the ability to set boundaries firmly and kindly.

Phrases such as “Let’s be mindful of the time so more of us get a chance to participate,” and “Let’s do as little storytelling as possible and find the deeper question within the story,” keep group members internally-focused and humility-based. If anyone takes umbrage, encourage them to communicate using I-talk (sharing personal experience by speaking in the first person, i.e., “I,” “me,” “myself”).

When interactions become tense or heated between study group members, the facilitator can de-escalate the situation by calling for a few moments of silence to help everyone step back and allow the Holy Spirit to lead the way. “Gradually [the teacher of God] learns how to let his words be chosen for him by ceasing to decide for himself what he will say.” (M-21.4:5) When the group defers to the Holy Spirit, you give yourselves the opportunity to let your words be chosen for you.

2. HAVE A SPIRIT OF COOPERATION
“Salvation is a collaborative venture.” (T-4.VI.8:2) An ACIM class or study group is not a debating platform. Nor is it a place to preach to the converted–quoting the Course at each other is not loving; it is just the ego showing off.

Students who sincerely choose to practice A Course in Miracles should use study groups to apply forgiveness and experience miracles. “Healing is the effect of minds that join…” (T-28.III.2:6) If participants are willing to drop their own agenda and be receptive, the Holy Spirit’s pearls of wisdom will fall from your lips. Pay attention to them! They are not for “someone else” – they are for you.

3. CLARIFY THE PURPOSE OF YOUR STUDY GROUP
All throughout ACIM, Jesus asks us to clarify our purpose. Is your goal to remain separate or discover you have always been Unified? To identify as a body or Mind? To dream or to awaken?

The purpose of an ACIM study group should be to recognize what you truly are. If each member is non-judgmental, humility will prevail. The group leader needs to intercede if students get caught up in storytelling, complaining, pontificating, advice-giving, criticizing, etc., and remind them that practicing forgiveness is their purpose.

It takes grace, maturity and courage to run an ACIM group. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you cannot fail.

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the March-April 2016 issue of Miracles magazine. Miracles is a well-loved staple in the ACIM community. For a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  Click here to purchase digital copies.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

Copyright © 2016 Amy Torres. All rights reserved worldwide.

Ask Amy: Is Awakening a Feeling?

Guy QuestionQ:  Is awakening a feeling? Having suffered from depression most of my life, I always envy people who appear to be having blissful experiences (like a girl in my yoga class who remains in meditation longer than the rest of us). I’m looking forward to having a direct experience in this lifetime, although I don’t think it’s guaranteed. I want it very much and know I’ll never be the same afterward. I bet there are no words, but I hope I could pick up on the feeling.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA: You are not alone in envying that girl in your yoga class – the ego loves for us to believe that only others are capable of having blissful spiritual experiences. Despite the  persuasiveness of the ego, Jesus assures us in ACIM, “God indeed can be reached directly, for there is no distance between Him and His Son.” (M-26) Yogini Adi S

If there is no distance between God and His Son, not only is direct experience guaranteed, it is your Reality right now!

Let’s go slowly because there is a huge opportunity here. The reason you are unaware of your formless Self is because you believe you are the physical body. Yet, you wouldn’t be studying A Course in Miracles unless your inner wisdom was surfacing. Take a breath and allow a click of recognition to confirm that you know, deep down, you are not the body-person.

DIRECT EXPERIENCE

spiritual eye tunnelTake a moment, this instant, to be the Formless Space in which the sky and cosmos reside. Without knowing how, drop all your beliefs. Don’t think. Just let your Mind’s Eye open like an infinite telescope….

NEVER BE THE SAME

Your question, “Is awakening a feeling?” may seem unnecessary now. It is true that once you see through the previously uncontested belief that you are a body-person, you are never the same. More accurately, you stop pretending to be different and separate from God. For it becomes clear that it is not the person who awakens; it is the changeless Spirit that has believed Itself to be a contracted form called “person,” which is now emerging from a self-imposed dream state.

THE ONE WHO AWAKENS

The one who awakens is not the “you” you take yourself to be. Awakening to your God-Self is simpler than waking up in the morning. Sometimes, when you’re sleepy, you feel groggy upon awakening, but eventually your head clears and you know you’re awake. You don’t have to keep pinching yourself to believe this.

The Lady muted eyesSimilarly, spiritual awakening is completely natural. Lesson 109 supports the idea of effortlessness. It says that the thought “I rest in God” has the power “to wake the sleeping truth in you, whose vision sees beyond appearances to that same truth in everyone and everything there is.”

Awakening is not a feeling; awakening is a recognition which occurs in the Mind. This recognition may be felt in the body as physical sensations such as vibrating, shaking, tears flowing, etc. Mental effects may include expansiveness, relaxation, and clarity. Emotions such as love, generosity, peace, joy and freedom are also common. Sanity prevails, and along with it, contentment, assurance, fearlessness, and inspiration.

THERE ARE NO WORDS

As you said, there are no words. “Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say ‘God is’ and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is.” (W-169)

This Q&A appears in the Ask Amy column from the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of Miracles magazine. Miracles is a well-loved staple in the ACIM community. For a subscription, email Jon@miraclesmagazine.org or call 845-496-9089.  Click here to purchase digital copies.  To ask Amy a question, email miracles (at) amytorresacim (dot) com

Copyright © 2016 Amy Torres. All rights reserved worldwide.

Coming Apart at the “Seems”

A Course in Miracles tells us that everything we think we see is an illusion.  It says there is no world, there are no bodies, and life as we know it is merely a dream.  Grasping this intellectually is the first gulp. After we swallow, we still need to digest this sublime wisdom.

One simple and effective way of digesting this is what I call coming apart at the “seems,” a play on “coming apart at the seams.”  It’s a spiritual way of falling apart which, paradoxically, reveals that you actually have it Together.

Who we areLet’s look at several instances of “seems” from the Course:

In Lesson 6: I am upset because I see something that is not there, we are told, “Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems* to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose.”

Lesson 8 gives us a practice, “I seem to be thinking about [name of a person], about [name of an object], about [name of an emotion]. But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.”  Lesson 9 calmly points out, “It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems* to picture is not there.”

In Chapter 31 we read, “Whatever form temptation seems* to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not.”

Lesson 68: Love holds no grievances, begins with this:  “You who were created by love like itself can hold no grievances and know your Self. To hold a grievance is to forget who you are. To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body. To hold a grievance is to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death. Perhaps you do not yet fully realize just what holding grievances does to your mind. It seems* to split you off from your Source and make you unlike Him.”

After practicing Course principles for some time, my language changed to include the word “seems” on a regular basis.  It was the outcome of mind training.  For example, I would tell myself,

“I seem to be upset that my phone bill is outrageously high!”

“I seem to be angry that my yoga practice seems to keep throwing my back out.”

“The hurricane warnings seem to be scaring me because I still haven’t gotten flood insurance.”

“I seem to be a person and my body seems to have a stomach ache.”

“The world seems very real and the atrocities occurring in it seem highly disturbing.”

This one word “seems” had a potent ability to tune me in to my Inner Teacher.  “Seems” changed everything.  “Seems” slowed my thought process down and provided holy instants of illumination.  Light streamed through the reasons I thought I was upset and unveiled that I’m never upset for the reason I think (see Lesson 5).  “Seems” allowed me to see that I was defaulting to the ego as my teacher.  Then it became easy to choose again–choose the memory of God within me (the Holy Spirit) as my Guide.

In Chapter 5, Jesus tells us, “The Holy Spirit has the task of undoing what the ego has made.”  You and I do not have to undo anything. We can leave undoing to the Holy Spirit. But we do have to choose to follow His Guidance.

open head w mechanical parts“Undoing” means uprooting the ego thought system.  This naturally leads to seeing through ego illusions to the Truth.  The ego thought system thrives on holding grievances. We do not have to try not to hold grievances. We simply need to become aware that we have chosen a “grievance” state of mind.  Once we realize that we are the dreamer of the ego dream of separation, and that grievances, guilt, fear, and punishment perpetuate the dream, then we can choose another teacher, the Holy Spirit, to undo our attachment to grievances.

Coming apart at the “seems,” for me, is the Holy Spirit’s undoing of “Amy.” Several years ago it came to me that I was thinning away, like the heel of a threadbare sock. The Course puts it this way:

“By focusing on the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good.” (T-31.VII.3:3)

This is one of the happy outcomes of coming apart at the seams. As Shawn Colvin sings in her song, Round of Blues, “it’s a new breakthrough, it’s an old breakdown.” If you’re sick and tired of your old breakdown, let’s have a new breakthrough together by coming apart at the “seems” :)   To the ego this is terrifying, but when you allow yourself to move your attention from the ego to the Holy Spirit, you find merciful detachment from this convincing, but false, terror.  Freedom awaits.

A Course in Miracles gives us concrete tools to apply to this seemingly material world while we believe we’re in it.  If you’re ready to join me in coming apart at the “seems,” please feel free to insert “seems” into every situation and emotion in your life that seems to be upsetting you.  And let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear from you.

*Emphasis mine

You may also enjoy How to Take Yourself Less Personally.  If you need help practicing the Workbook lessons from A Course in Miracles, sign up for my online class, Workin’ the Workbook.

Copyright © 2014 Amy Torres. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Clean Slate 2016

It’s the first day of a new year — a clean slate.  clean slate with eraser

A clean slate is full of promise … and can be daunting, especially if you have tried and failed in the past.  So let’s apply the Course principle that there is no past, right now. Interestingly, the past and feeling guilty go hand in hand.

If you are willing to reassess a past failure as a worthy attempt, your heart is uplifted rather than downcast.  When your heart lifts, the chains of time are momentarily undone and the holy instant purifies your mind as you enjoy a glimpse of Heaven.  Maybe you have not paid enough attention when your heart lifts. Here’s your chance.

Say aloud, “On this clean slate let my true function be written for me.” and take a full inhale and exhale.  If your heart lifts, breathe through that feeling, enjoying it fully.  This connects you with your Inner Teacher, the Holy Spirit, the bridge to God.

If your heart sinks, know that you are feeling guilty in some way, and allow yourself to know more about what this sinking feeling represents. Don’t avoid it — plumb the depths with your trusty partner, the Holy Spirit, your Friend and Comforter.

As you become aware of the upsetting, disturbing, enraging, terrifying, shameful and destructive thoughts and feelings that result in your downcast heart, give them to the Holy Spirit.  Have a conversation with Him/Her.  Report your thoughts and describe your feelings aloud, giving each one to your Friend, your Inner Light, which cannot help but shine away inner darkness if you expose it in this way.

Now 2016 is truly a clean slate!

The phrase “a clean slate” is used in the audacious Lesson 65: My only function is the one God gave me.  Lesson 65 “offers you escape from all your perceived difficulties. It places the key to the door of peace, which you have closed upon yourself, in your own hands. It gives you the answer to all the searching you have done since time began.”

We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, if you began the Workbook on Lesson 1 today. But the truth is, any lesson can take you all the way Home if you surrender to it fully. That’s why I sometimes refer to every lesson as “Lesson One” because essentially they are all the same.

Happy Clean Slate!

Copyright © 2016 Amy Torres. All rights reserved worldwide.