“When a situation has been dedicated wholly to truth, peace is inevitable.” (A Course in Miracles, T 398)
In the autumn of 2007, I was deeply depressed and seriously ill. I had been suffering from a form of Multiple Sclerosis for almost 20 years and from returning phases of depression all my life. I had just turned 50 and had recently exchanged my profession as actor and breath-therapist for early retirement, which had been like the final deathblow to me. A life-long spiritual seeker, I had experienced times of harmony and ease; however, they seemed to be completely dependent on outward situations. When these outward situations changed, anger, despair, fear and, sometimes, even panic took over immediately. There had never been any genuine, permanent anchor available to me. There was just the hope of enlightenment sometime in the future.
I had tried various spiritual paths, eventually clinging to the mind training of A Course in Miracles. Some long-time students of the Course held my hand and helped my understanding along. Still, I was unable to accept the fact that I was completely responsible for the situation I experienced myself in.
Then my Course-mates planned a silent retreat in the Sinai Desert of Egypt. Despite a sheer hell of resistance, I finally agreed to accompany them, even though I knew very well that, due to my neurological symptoms, I would hardly be able to tolerate the intense desert heat, not to mention the difficulties walking with my crutches in deep sand. Yet going to the Sinai Desert was the only option I could see to get out of my horrible depression, which had brought me to the brink of suicide several times already.
What I learned in the desert was the most precious and easiest inner practice I have ever experienced. A Course in Miracles calls it “Practicing the Holy Instant” (T 309). Let me call it the technique of ‘Giving Up’. This does not mean resignation, in any form. It means to give one’s whole situation upward into the hands of God, our Source, or the High Intelligence.
The Course states adamantly and uncompromisingly that everything we feel is of our own choosing. So, if I felt fear, it was because I had chosen to feel fear, and I alone could make the decision to feel something else.
As I lay there in my sleeping-bag at night, in the Sinai, full of despair over my ruined life and health and full of anger and envy at all those ‘healthy’ people I was with, I started to practice this inner technique of ‘Giving Up’. I didn’t believe in it but, since I had absolutely no other option left, I just started. Somehow, I imagined hands of light reaching down to me and I put all my miserable feelings and thoughts into them. And, strangely enough, suddenly there was a short giggle of relief within me and immediately I fell asleep.
The moment I woke up, all my despair and panic was back, of course. However, I practiced ‘Giving Up’ again and again. And, eventually, when I returned from Sinai there was no speck of depression left in me. I knew I was healed and healthy and whole, no matter whether my body was presently limping or not, and that the Divine always was with me — as with everyone, whether they currently experienced it or not.
However, at this point, I was not really aware of the power of choice. This insight only dawned on me and it proved its efficiency six months later, again in the Sinai Desert, this time with my wife in a little hotel by the Red Sea, when I had a sudden panic attack, related to severe MS-vertigo. As I lay there in bed, stiff and frozen with panic, phrases from A Course in Miracles came into my head: “God goes with me wherever I go” (W 63)… “I am sustained by the love of God” (W 79)… “I am the light of the world” (W 102)…
These sentences were tiny points of light in the oppressive darkness that enveloped me. I clutched at them like a drowning man. Suddenly, the darkness began to revolve like a massive wheel. Amazed, I watched the whole scene unfolding clearly in my mind’s eye. The darkness was in my mind. Light arose in my mind. The choice was mine alone to make. I relaxed more and more and finally fell asleep.
When I awoke it was still night. I was able to move again, and I groped my way through the dark, tottered to the sliding glass door leading to the terrace and gazed, filled with gratitude, at the dark, empty beach and the calm Red Sea. Dawn crept in gradually. It was getting light, and in the stillness a small sparrow fluttered onto a nearby antenna cable. He hopped back and forth on the wire and chirped at me boldly and cheerfully.
Now, as A Course in Miracles continues to guide, teach and inspire me, ever deeper, my physical health situation keeps improving. My physiotherapeutic exercises are no longer fearfully aimed at preventing further deterioration but, rather, an expression of joyfully relearning neurological capacities.
And it all really started with practicing the holy instant from the Course, through this inner technique of ‘Giving Up’.
What proves to be the most effective inner act I can perform in order to free myself, in no time, from negativity — such as fear, anger, greed, or lethargy — is the following:
I take whatever I am experiencing — say some nightmare I just had, anger, panic or dullness I feel right now — and I imagine handing this over into some kind ‘hands of light’ that reach toward me from up above. That is all.
Try it yourself. Give whatever unease you are experiencing over up high. It takes just a moment. Probably nothing big will happen immediately but, if you keep practicing this inner technique whenever you think of it, eventually, things will change. Relief and happiness are bound to result.
And if you want, you can even surrender the positive and the good to the Divine. At last, you will not be keeping anything for yourself and, paradoxically, you will win everything — the indescribable peace that surpasses all understanding.