The review periods in the workbook of A Course in Miracles (six in number) are essential components of the first part of the workbook. They’re also boring – we want to get on with awakening! – and one can easily be tempted to slight them. For reasons I’ll set forth, this is not a good idea.
It’s important to remember that A Course in Miracles is course. To the extent we experience it as a spiritual path or practice, its form still remains that of a class that one takes. Look at the primary material: there’s a text, a workbook full of lesson, and even a Manual for Teachers.
In other words, it’s a curriculum, not a scripture. A classroom, not a congregation. And we are learners, not worshipers.
(Nor, by the way, is there an ordained human instructor, which is different from saying there are no human teachers).
Given that context, review periods are not optional, nor should they be approached in a casual way. They are opportunities to reinforce our learning and ensure that our mind is successfully being trained “in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world” (W-In.4:1).
But more than that, the review periods offer us a chance to perceive gaps in our learning and actively work to redress them.
For example, you might find in a given review period that you are focusing on a certain lesson because you enjoy it. You like its effects; it resonates. You’re good at this particular exercise; it comes naturally.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but it can be as intersting – and often more helpful – to give attention to the lessons we skim in review, the ones we don’t care about or even actively resist. All of these speak to movements of mind that remain undeveloped; ignoring them is how ego retains a foothold in our thinking.
So while I want to be happy and fluid in my practice, and give time and attention to the aspects of my practice that pass with ease and grace, I also want to be sure I am finding out and tending to those spaces where my practice limps and stumbles.
However, it is critical to avoid making the lessons overly burdensome. I don’t want to beat myself up, or become obsessed with a certain lesson or sequence of lessons. My goal is to be serious and thoughtful, but also gentle and forgiving. I want to nurture what expands and deepens my ACIM practice, and turn away from that which does not help.
The workbook is clear that we not have to believe, accept or even welcome the ideas contained in the lessons (e.g., W-In.9:1). We are even allowed to resist them (W-In.9:2)! We should approach the review periods in that spirit as well. We want to show up as committed learners, not perfect learners.
In that light, the review periods become opportunities to remember God’s perfect trust in our learning potential, and offer it yet again on behalf of the salvation of the world.