It’s been an especially turbulent time in my mind these past few years. And through it all the world seems to spin, sitting aimlessly and perilously on the edge of a frightening cliff. It’s ridiculously easy to scare myself about what could happen, and convoluted and confusing to work my way back to feeling safe again.
I grew up feeling motivated to be radical, I stood up for the things I believed in, and I couldn’t care less what others thought about my feelings to “save the world”. But there under all that good intention was a seething anger that fueled all the judgement and privilege others surely saw in me. I was radical in the sense that I was different than others, but as I desperately prayed for happiness every day, I couldn’t see that it was my anger that was bringing me so much unhappiness. It wasn’t the world that needed immediate saving, it was my own mind.
Even still, though I was unhappy and angry, I had hope. I had hope that the world would somehow sort itself out and I had joy at the thought of a better earth.
And then the shift happened. I entered into my mid-20’s and my anger was revealed to me in a moment – my spirit completely lifted the veil, and I was left in shock. I could see that it was the frustration that I let myself speak of with others, the anger that I let myself dwell in, and the judgement of those that lived differently than I did that were all keeping me strapped in unhappiness. I retreated into myself, I stopped taking action, I regimented a life that I thought was pure love and Godliness, but rather just a life that avoided conflict entirely. I avoided the frustration, and I became fearful of everything – all the anxiety that I had around conflict and authority deepened. The world became darker and darker. I thought I was staying happy and sane, but my fear had taken over everything, and with it, my perception of the world became even more frightening.
I waver in and out of God’s presence. Even though I have always had a sense of my spirit’s presence in whatever form it has come to me, still it wavers. Like a good victim of my ADHD, I find spirit through as many different lenses as I can sample and move through – Christianity, Paganism, Agnosticism, Wicca, and Yoga all leading to my current four-year tenure with A Course in Miracles. A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a spiritual mind-training program, a volume of channeled text that helps to break down the barriers between us and love’s undying presence in our lives. Within it’s hefty blue cover is contained a workbook with 365 lessons, one for each day, each one building on the next, breaking down these barriers and helping us to see the universal commonality between everything and everyone in this world. For some, these teachings are transformative. For me, from the moment I picked up the book, I knew I was finally home.
Even though I flourished and blossomed through the first 235 lessons, I now sit just as perilously on lesson 236 of the ACIM workbook, as the world does around me.
“I rule my mind, which I alone must rule”
Although I venture forward in the lessons, I am always drawn back to lesson 236 with the harsh realization that I haven’t ruled my mind… well, ever. The only moments where I felt control were in the hands of the bottles, the liquids, or the powders that at one time, felt like the only relief from my aging and frantically chaotic mind. And even though I’ve moved beyond the substances, here I spin as the world spins around me… And though I cry for help, it seems to come in the most mysterious ways. It comes through my return to The Course. And like clockwork it comes in my return to a most contact voice of reason in my life, Marianne Williamson – a teacher of ACIM for decades, and an enduring voice of spiritual reason for those of us consciously searching.
There are many in this world who are insistent on the immediate death of all these so-called cancers of our planet – the terrorists, the rapists, the criminals and the outcasts. And I can’t say that I’m against retaliation, but I certainly can’t agree with the attitudes of those around me—I can’t justify acting in anger or hate, I can’t support the conversation that seems to always come back to killing. And so I’m challenged. My voice seems trumped by those that speak more eloquently to me, and the words I write on paper are often left unread. I get lost in the moment, my mind gets foggy, and thoughts and feelings become trapped in my throat. My heart races, my palms sweat, and I give in. I am perceived as weak and idealistic to those around me because it’s so hard to express myself in the moment. I am riddled in fear that with each passing conversation, I will once again be mis-perceived, and at the smallest sign of someone disagreeing with me, I seem to back down. Sure, with time and contemplation, there comes the right words. But this world moves too quickly for those who struggle to speak well. This mind moves too quickly for those who seem caught up in needing validation for our thoughts and feelings. Most days it just seems relatively mind-boggling to keep up. Time, in these moments just races forward.
So, I pray for more than the peace it must take to think and speak so clearly and truthfully. I pray for a long-lost strength. I pray for a heart that can handle a moment of stress without causing my brain to go foggy. I pray for guidance and help to heal my mind, and to heal my spirit – to allow myself the freedom to live truly in support of my inner voice, rather than continuing to shut him down.
And, I seem to find the tools I need when I need them, but sometimes only when things get so hopeless that giving into the anger, giving into the chaos, giving into the crazy seem to be the only options available. Only in these moments, do I completely become open to the reality of a miracle, and only in those moments can I see all the love that is around me. I see my faults constantly, my repetitious cycles, my weakness. I hear the words of others, and my own words lifting me up. I hear the voice of the spirit, and then hear the silence as he becomes lost to me once again. I may be caught in a repetitious cycle, but there is guidance around me at all times. When the state of the world seems too heavy to handle and we finally get down on our knees and ask for help, this is when the books, the lectures, the teachers, and the support seem to finally come calling.
Many of us struggle to find the strength to overcome the fear of just being ourselves as many of us struggle to control our own minds. And I only hope that those of you who do, can know that there is hope for this world yet because if I can find hope in this beautiful broken mind and body, then surely we can all find hope in this beautiful broken planet we share.
This is not just a call for hope, but a thank you for holding my courage and devotion, my strength and my compassion when I couldn’t. With every passing day of pain, another neuron is strengthened and another muscle is tightened. I slowly become a little more capable of holding all my courage and devotion, all my strength and compassion myself.
For all of you, so much gratitude… So much hope.
Trevor Ellestad is a writer, an herbalist, and an ex-yoga teacher who spends his days creating plant-based magic at Vega. Trevor keeps a tidy home with his partner and their as of yet un-named spider monkey of a kitty cat in Vancouver, BC. At night, Trevor likes to surround himself with plants and obsess over the seemingly simple lives of cats and robots.