Step Away From That Thought

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Years ago, I was standing on the sidewalk in Paris chatting with a group of friends. When I moved toward the curb to let some people pass by, I was close to a parked car. Suddenly, a man’s deep voice boomed, “Step away from the car. Step away from the car.” I had never encountered a recorded voice car alarm like this, and I quickly put some distance between me and that car, much to the amusement of everyone who saw me yelp and leap back!

I was reminded of this incident recently when I read a passage in A Course in Miracles about developing the habit of engaging our minds with God, open always to divine presence, united with all beings in our sacred unity. We can develop this habit by actively refusing to let our minds “slip away.”

Our minds can slip away when we get caught up in regretting something from the past, or worrying about something in the future. We can slip away into resentment or blaming or shame or anxiety. Lately, I’ve been thinking about something that happened years ago when someone hurt my feelings. And about a different time when I let someone down. I can get stuck in these thoughts, turning them over and over in my mind, churning up distress.

Before I know it, I have slipped far away from the present moment, far away from God, far away from peace and joy. A Course in Miracles says that when we catch ourselves slipping away with these thoughts, we need not fight them or judge them or reject them. We can simply “step away from them.”

When we have realigned ourselves with the divine, then our inner wisdom will guide us rather than our fear. If action is needed, we will know what to do, and we will have the courage to do it. If stillness is needed, we will know that, too, and we will have the serenity to wait.

So now, when I catch myself getting too close to thoughts that do not serve me, I hear a gentle voice. “Step away from the thought. Step away from the thought.”

The sage lets go of that and chooses this. ~Tao Te Ching

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About the Author: Galen Pearl’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort anthologies, and her popular blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), attracts thousands of readers every month. Recently retired from teaching law, she regularly leads retreats and workshops on developing habits to grow a joyful spirit. A Southern girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys her five kids and two grandchildren, martial arts, her cabin in the mountains, and mahjong.