THE PRACTICES OF

A COURSE IN MIRACLES

Peter Solon, Ph.D. (BIO)

In recent years, if I happen to mention A Course In Miracles at social events, I’ll often hear some form of the following reply: “I once tried the Course but never finished it.”  What the person is really saying that he or she attempted to complete the 365 lessons that comprise Volume 2, the Workbook for Students, but couldn’t and after one or more failed attempts, gave up on the Course altogether. This is an unfortunate but common phenomenon and it occurs, in part, because students mistakenly believe the Workbook to be their only practice option.


In the paragraphs to follow, I'll attempt break the misconception that the Workbook is the only way to work with the Course; and will present a more flexible approach to practice.


The last chapter of the Course’s Manual For Teachers states that students’ practice requirements are “highly individualized” 1 and the Preface couldn’t be more clear:


The order in which students choose to use the books, and the ways in which they study them, depend on their particular needs and preferences. 2


In spite of these instructions, and no matter how unpleasant the task, students often push themselves into completing the Workbook’s 365 lessons. These are students who believe, if they can just complete the entire Workbook, performing every lesson perfectly, somehow, as if by magic, they’ll become spiritually evolved.  Typically, students start out with enthusiasm but eventually peter out, fail to complete the lessons  and in the worst case scenario, give up on the Course altogether.


This belief––that the Workbook is A Course In Miracles––is a straight-out misconception. It’s true: The Workbook is an effective tool for some but for others, it isn’t. Fortunately, A Course In Miracles contains countless other practice avenues, readily available for any student who chooses to use them.


For example: Years back, this writer spent six weeks practicing the first sentence of  the Text (Volume 1). That one sentence was my sole daily practice and I applied it to every difficult circumstance I encountered. When fully understood, the first sentence unravels the mind’s ability to trick itself into believing that external events are the cause of our suffering. Six weeks of practicing one sentence––a total of eight words––enabled me to achieve more progress than any equivalent period throughout my twenty-five years of practicing  A Course In Miracles.


Others practice by reading sections of the Text, Manual for Teachers or the pamphlets on a daily basis. Still others turn to the Course when day-to-day difficulties arise and rely upon their favorite stash of Course lessons as  a kind of spiritual anti-anxiety agent.  These are all legitimate, commonly employed practice strategies.


If you happen to be someone who "tried the Course but never finished it" ––if you tend to start the Workbook, stop and then months or even years later, the cycle repeats itself––take this writer’s advice: Put the Workbook aside. But don't  give up on the Course altogether. Simply choose a different practice, one that speaks to you.


A Course In Miracles is a joyous spiritual feast offering an endless array of unique practices and to overstate the obvious: You're free to choose any Course practice that suits your personality. As you make this choice, the following guidelines may be of value:


  1. 1.If practicing the Workbook isn't your cup of tea, put it aside. If you’re having difficulty with any section of the Course, move onto to a Course practice that makes your heart sing.


  1. 2.If practice brings you down, something is awry. A Course In Miracles is about being happy. If your particular Course practice doesn't engender a sense of joy, change it.


  1. 3.The Course isn’t a set of lessons to be done at pre-determined points throughout the day; nor is it a means to get high at a once-weekly group only to return to a life of suffering. The Course is designed to be practiced every moment of every day, twenty-four/seven. The whole point is to enhance your sense of peace as you go through every aspect of your day-to-day life.  


  1. 4.Be open to change: It’s probably not a good idea to marry one particular practice strategy for an extended period of time. As you immerse yourself into the deeper layers of A Course In Miracles, your practice strategies will likely shift.


There’s no right versus wrong way to practice A Course In Miracles. The only right way is your way. Practice the Course in a way that enhances your joy, brings you peace and suits your unique personality. Students who follow this single guiding principle are the very practitioners who make the most substantive progress.


References


                   1.    A Course In Miracles, M-29.2:6.

                   2.    A Course In Miracles, Preface, What It Is, 1:3.

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