As regular readers will know, I've been working on my grievances for some time. In the last post I talked about releasing ourselves from them and included a worksheet and some of the forgiveness lessons I've been using. You can find them here. After writing that post, a highly significant lesson from A Course in Miracles (lesson 78) made me pause and look again at what I called my 'stream of grievances'. The lesson is an important one with universal application, and I wanted to share some of the elements of it with you. Before I share the quote, I should explain that in the context of this pargraph, "miracles" refers to seeing the true nature of others*. The lesson starts by saying:
"Perhaps it is not quite clear to you that each decision that you make is now between a grievance and a miracle.
Each grievance stands like a dark shield of hate before the miracle it would conceal.
And if you raise it up before your eyes, you will not see the miracle beyond.
Yet all the while it waits for you in light, but you behold your grievances instead."
A "dark shield of hate". Wow! Such a strong image. In fact, my first reaction was to feel quite afronted by it. While there are plenty of people I prefer not to hang out with, I don't hate anyone and I've been working hard to release my major grievances. However, in light of this lesson, I saw many small things - judgments and opinions based on the past - that affect the little decisions I make throughout the day, and ultimately they DO stand in the way of seeing the true nature of others. The result cannot be much different from hiding behind a shield of hate and looking only at my grievances instead of truly seeing the other people. The most uncomfortable realisation was that I also do this with the people I love.
If you are honest with yourself, I suspect you might find exactly the same thing. Luckily, the Course teaches how to replace these grievances (with miracles) and in this post I'm going to talk about how to do just that, and will share an exercise which I've based on Lesson 78, but which uses my own words and phrases, rather than religious-sounding language or iambic pentameter which put me off studing the course for over 20 years. More on that later.
The heading for this lesson is "Let miracles replace all grievances"and as I indicated in the introduction, it could be paraphrased as 'let me see others, free of my grievances'. As A Course in Miracles ("the Course") is a spiritual text, the lesson is related to "God's salvation plan" but for the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on how it can help us to improve our relationships, resolve the feelings of resentment I talked about in the last post and ultimately how it can heal us through increasing our sense of wellbeing, happiness, and peace.
Before we move onto the exercise, let's get really clear on what I'm talking about. Imagine there is a collegue you're not very fond of. They never offer to make the tea, but always accept if you offer to make it. You're both sat in the office and you're feeling thirsty but you don't really want to make a drink because you feel it should be their turn. The more thirsty you get, the more resentful you start to feel towards them. Meanwhile, they are getting on with their work, oblivious that all this is going on in your head, and you are getting increasingly angry and thirsty! Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But there's a high probability that, like me, you do sometimes think like this.
Another example from my own life is directly related to the Course. For no obvious reason, I grew up with a deep distrust of anything 'religious' or related to a patriarchal God. (I have a strong sense that this isn't the only lifetime I've worked as a healer, and that this 'fear' of organised religion may not be from this incarnation, but it has been very real for me since childhood.) It caused me to declare myself an atheist from a young age and to reject anything that might suggest otherwise. For this reason, A Course in Miracles sat unread on my bookshelf for at least 23 years. I was first drawn to the book in my early 20s but I couldn't get past the language which seemed 'too Christian' and inaccessible to me, as it frequently talks about God**. My 'dark shield' was most definitely up, and my grievances were blocking any messages the book might have for me (and, as you might have gathered, there have been rather a lot).
The choice to remain thirsty or to ignore the teachings of a book which mentions God are simple examples of how we use our grievances as barriers in everyday decisions. Take a moment to think about it, and I'm sure you'll see further examples in your own life.
Lesson 78 suggests starting with a single person you have a grievance against. "Someone, perhaps, you fear or even hate; someone you think you love who angered you; someone you call a friend, but whom you see as difficult at times or hard to please, demanding, irritating or untrue to the ideal he should accept as his, according to the role you set for him." That last phrase is particularly noteworthy - 'the role you set for him'. In our first example, that role was a turn-taker in making tea, a role the colleague clearly hadn't assigned themselves!
So let's try an exercise in dropping the grievances and replacing them with a different vision instead. In my Reiki practice, when energetic blocks or ties are released from a person, I fill the 'space' that's left behind with something else - most often I visualise it being filled with light. To me, the following visualisation does the same thing, replacing grievances with a different vision of the person you are feeling resentful or judgmental about.
To do this exercise you need only choose a person you have a grievance towards. In fact, the Course suggests that the person you NEED to do it with is likely to have come up for you already.
Once you have selected a person, take a moment to get comfortable and think about him / her and the way you consider them now.
Think about their faults and all the things that you hold against them.
What pain or neglect have they caused you?
Think about the big things and little things they did or didn't do, that hurt you in some way.
Mentally list all of their faults as you perceive them.
Now start to turn your attention to his or her physical body. How do they look to you?
Visualise them clearly. What flaws do you think they have?
Is there anything nice about the way they look?
Once you have a really clear sense of them, think about all their 'mistakes'.
Imagine that you have a shield. Each of the things you have listed against them is a different layer of that shield, that also makes it bigger. Notice how heavy it feels.
Visualise yourself standing behind the shield, in darkness. The other person is standing in sunlight, but it cannot reach you.
It is cold in the shade of the shield and your arms ache from the heavy burden of holding it up.
The fact that you chose this person means that, at some level, you are now open to seeing them in a new way.
With your eyes closed, start to picture this person differently.
Visualise yourself looking around the edge of your shield and seeing them standing in the sunshine.
Imagine that you can see the positive things about them that are normally hidden from your view.
Imagine whatever you perceived as their physical flaws burning away in the sunlight.
Know that this is the perfect person for this exercise and recognise that by being willing to see them differently, you no longer need to hide behind the shield.
See that your shield does nothing to harm them - they are enjoying the sunshine. It is only you who is in the cold and dark with aching arms.
You are free to lay down the heavy burden of your shield of grievances at any time you choose. Do so, when you are ready.
When you've done that, leave the shield behind you as you step away to join the other person in the warmth of the sun.
Notice how much lighter you feel without carrying your grievances and how good the sun feels on your face after the darkness. Breathe it in.
Take a moment to enjoy the feeling of freedom and lightness.
When you are ready, open your eyes.
You can repeat this visualisation at any time with anyone from your past, and anyone new that you meet. The interactions you have and choices you make each day might be quite different if you do.
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*See Workbook footnote 125 (p1086) in the Circle of Atonement Complete and Annotated Edition of A Course in Miracles . This commentary on the lesson by Robert Perry might also be of interest to Course students.
**It was Gabby Bernstein's work that made me reconsider. Through her use of the word 'Universe' in place of God, I was able to see the benefits of the Course teachings and became willing to try again. This in itself was a miracle! By the way, the wording no longer triggers me, in fact some of it is so beautiful I stay with the same lesson or piece of text for several days.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Knight is a qualified Reiki & Seichem Practitioner and intuitive Card Reader. You can read more, and book personal treatments with Sarah at www.intentionalhealing.co.uk. You can also find Intentional Healing UK on Facebook and Instagram.