First time readers
For first time readers, the first read through can be a bit of a challenge. The temptation to want to understand the messages intellectually (or through the perception of the mind) can leave us in a spiral of trying to interpret the meanings and dissect the Chapters paragraph by paragraph. You will find that often (if not always) whatever question that comes up or particular idea you seemingly do not understand will be answered or addressed in the next paragraph (and if not the next paragraph then the next chapter).
Read the addendum “Learning in the Time of Christ” in the back of the book before you begin reading as this addresses reading with an open heart rather than your perceptual mind. There is a section for each of the books- (I) for Book 1 A Course of Love, (II) for Book 2 The Treatises, and (III) for Book 3 The Dialogue.
On the first read through of any chapter I highly recommend to just keep reading. Even if you do not think you understood a section, or cannot even recall what you just read- keep going. Try to read a whole chapter in one go. This allows for the entire message of the chapter to be received and for it to be integrated into your daily experiences. Your mind will not grasp some of these ideas, but your heart will leap with joy! If you allow yourself to put the mind on hold you will find the heart begins to become easier to hear.
Read the chapter more than once. In the first reading try to read it all the way through as mentioned above, then give yourself a day or two to allow the teachings to integrate. After some time has passed, go back and re-read it again. This time you may find yourself pausing as you notice that you have experienced what you are reading in the days that have passed, or different sections will jump out at you as being extremely important to where you currently are along the journey back to your Self.
Read the chapter one more time. In a third (or more) read through this is a good time to underline or highlight passages and take notes. You may choose to do so in the first or second reading, but often the third reading will provide a more direct experience and clarity.
Attend a Study Group
Attending a Study Group is extremely helpful for new and long time students of A Course of Love. (Can’t find a study group in your area? Schedule a study session with Me!) Having a place to share your experiences, what resonates with you, what brought up resistance, and to ask questions is invaluable. Joining together to hear the variety of individual experiences and understandings of the teachings helps to reinforce “different does not make separate.”
Study group formats and facilitation styles vary greatly; however, I suggest a reading schedule for the group. This allows participants to feel “ready” to share as well as a common denominator for the experiences that are coming up in our lives. Additionally, a reading schedule keeps the momentum moving forward and prevents groups from staying stuck on one idea or chapter that may be bringing up strong feelings of old thought patterns and beliefs.
For first time readers, a study group also helps in staying on track with the reading and not allowing the resistance to last for too long. Even highly motivated students sometimes don’t even want to pick up the book, let alone read a couple chapters. Having a study group can help “keep you accountable” to continue the forward momentum of reading.
Follow your inner guidance
If you are attending a study group, be sure to be mindful of the pace that feels best for you. The group may be going too fast or too slow for your highly individualized experience with ACOL. Some days you may want to read 30+ pages, and other days you may only want to read 3. Allow yourself to follow what naturally comes up and stay flexible in the amount you read.
If you are attending a group with a schedule and read far ahead in the book, be sure to go back and re-read the sections your group is on. This will assist in staying with the group and not sharing too much of what will be coming in the later chapters of the book your group has yet to read. You will find it extremely beneficial to revisit the ideas and observe that many experiences have now solidified the teachings in your daily life.
Stop Trying to Figure It Out
I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. ACOL is not like any book you have ever read before. It somehow bypasses your mind and integrates directly with your heart, but only if you are willing to allow this to occur. If you find yourself struggling with a sentence, paragraph, or even an entire chapter- simply keep reading. Trust that even if your mind does not understand or does not want to accept what is being stated it is all part of the process. ACOL is extremely intentional and if you are willing to continue transformation will occur effortlessly. Your mind will begin to become more quiet and your heart will once again become known to you, and finally mind and heart will join in Wholeheartedness.