Workbook Lesson 4

This lesson and commentary is part of a complete class on A Course in Miracles offered here at The Joy Within. Signup for the full class here, or view all ACIM workbook lessons.

Lesson 4: Idea for the Day

These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place).

Guided Audio Narration

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Insights and Commentary

Before you begin to contemplate the idea for today, take a moment to step back. Begin to create some space between your thoughts and the act of thinking. If this is difficult for you, spend a few moments observing your breath. As you inhale, notice you are inhaling. As you exhale, notice you are exhaling. Repeat this mantra for several cycles of breath.

As you observe your breath, you can begin also to observe your thoughts. Just as your breath cycles through you, so too do your thoughts. They cross your mind easily and effortlessly, entering and leaving your awareness as simple as your breath.

When you gain distance from your thoughts in this way — when you begin to realize you are not your thoughts and cease to identify with them — you can begin to gain insights about them. Today’s lesson is the first of those insights. Do not worry if it does not yet make sense to you, for this idea will resurface many times throughout the course. Today we are merely introducing the idea.

All thoughts are meaningless. Just as we have already explored the meaninglessness of the things around you — your chair, table, house, or car — we can extend the same concept to thought.

You imbue all thought with meaning. You create stories to explain your thoughts, and you form beliefs from the stories you consistently tell yourself. Emotions arise from those beliefs and, without your recognizing it, the thought is colored with judgment.

Without your stories, beliefs, and emotions attached to it, the thought could be just a thought. Simple. Meaningless. Neutral. With them, it becomes good or bad, enlightening or confusing, invigorating or depressing.

From a calm, centered space, you can begin to notice the neutrality of your thoughts. Observe that, like the breath, thoughts come and go easily. Only your insistence to latch onto them, to believe in them, causes them to linger.

As you observe, you may wish to select specific thoughts to explore more fully. If you find it difficult to identify your thoughts, speak them aloud. Notice one thought, one idea, at a time.

Say quietly to yourself: “This thought about ____ does not mean anything. It is like the things I see in this room. 

Just like with the previous exercises, some thoughts are easier to see as neutral than others. Play with noticing different kinds of thoughts, both “good” and “bad,” “serious” and “not serious.” They are all equally meaningless.

For example:

  • My thought about what to have for lunch does not mean anything.
  • My thought about what to wear does not mean anything.
  • My thought about what my boss will say does not mean anything.
  • My thought about the size of my house does not mean anything.
  • My thought about the bills I must pay does not mean anything.

The first time you do this exercise, go easy on yourself. It is ok if some thoughts trigger emotions or feel more important than others. You have trained yourself to think in this way your entire life. Now, you are learning otherwise. It will take practice, and patience.

With time, you can use today’s idea to release negative thoughts. When you react negatively, you can learn to observe why the thought triggered a harmful emotion, and you can choose to observe instead the neutrality of all thought. You will begin to see more clearly how you have assigned its meaning, and created its stories.

This is a long term goal. It is part of the course’s aim to shift your attention from the external — what appears to be happening to you — to the internal — the meaning you create for yourself. As you choose to create for yourself, you can choose joy, peace, and love in every circumstance.

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