Lessons come in all shapes and forms, and today the lesson came through a candle. My husband and I were recently working on our laptops on our back porch, and he lit a citronella candle to keep the mosquitoes away. I was downwind of it, and soon noticed my sinuses starting to ache. “Uh oh,” I thought. “This better not trigger a sinus headache.” And it did. Within an hour or so, I was writhing in pain.
I was feeling anger. Why did my husband have to light that stupid candle? As the urge to blame and attack arose in me, I also noticed that I was clearly was placing the cause of my pain outside of myself through the belief, “The candle caused my headache, dammit.”
A Course in Miracles teaches that we have a split mind. Part of our mind remains in Love (God), while part of our mind is asleep and dreaming of this world. This sleeping part of our mind (dreaming that we are an ego identity) experiences itself as separate bodies, and it feels guilty for seemingly separating from Love (God). As we turn to the Holy Spirit throughout the day, this sleeping part of our mind is shown through experiences that it can begin to trust Love again – that it doesn’t have to breathe life into the ego to know itself. This part of our sleeping mind learns that it is loved, and has done nothing wrong. It is this part of our mind that is being trained to return to Love by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
As I became aware of my belief that the candle caused my headache, I felt prompted to go sit quietly on my couch. Something inside of me “kicked in.” “This is a trap,” I immediately thought. “An ego setup. And I’m actually recognizing it. I’m willing to examine this with the Holy Spirit as my guide.” As I muttered “this is a trap” to myself, this sequence of thoughts rushed forward:
“My sleeping split mind, which is believing in the ego, is behind this. It has nothing to do with the candle. This situation is a trap, set by the ego, to “prove” its reality. It doesn’t want me to question this situation. It just wants my sleeping split mind to keep pumping belief into the ego.” After all, if I’m in pain, there is no better evidence to “prove” that I must be a body, and pain is the ego’s best attempt to prevent me from questioning the situation.
In the ego’s closed loop, this is what appears to have happened: My husband lit the candle (cause), I got a sinus headache (effect), I got angry, fearful, felt blame and attack, and concluded that I was the “innocent victim.” In this loop it seems that in no way I am “doing this to myself.”
Yet as the Course says:
“The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself.” – ACIM
With a miracle, I could see the ego’s closed loop for what it was: A trick.
What REALLY happened was this: My sleeping split mind (the cause of the dream) is pumping belief into the ego, because it is afraid to look back to Love. The ego wanted to give me “proof” that I must be a body and that this world must be real, because it’s existence DEPENDS on my sleeping split mind’s belief in it. Since ideas don’t leave their source, this thought of pain is COMING FROM THE SLEEPING PART OF MY MIND, NOT the citronella candle! My sleeping split mind is causing the dream of pain (not the candle!). I take responsibility for this. I look at it WITH the Holy Spirit.
For an instant, I felt Love’s Presence with me in a very LITERAL sense. I was NOT alone in my living room.
And the headache evaporated. The pain lifted. I felt a slight mild sensation in my sinuses for a few hours, but I knew the healing happened, and that my body would catch up to my mind’s decision to place cause and effect in their proper place – both in my mind. And that is exactly what happened. The headache was gone without medicine, and without any intervention on my part, except my willingness to recognize that I am the dreamer of this dream. And I am free to choose again.