Joy Ignites Success

I am not a body I am free

By  - Friday, February 14, 2020

A Course in Miracles and the Body

In the study of A Course in Miracles, one of the core lessons, “I am not a body, I am free” sends many folks into a spin. As a body-oriented psychotherapist, I understand the struggle. For over 20 years I have been teaching that the body holds wisdom and is here to teach, guide and support.  Are these beliefs in conflict? Not for me.

In my experience, knowing that I am not the body does not prevent me from working with the body’s wisdom. In fact, quite the opposite. As I learn to identify less with the body and sensations, less aversion and attachment to it arises. When I believe I am the body, I also believe if the body is not okay, I’m not okay, which cannot be true. Stephen Hawking (who some would say was imprisoned in the body) and Victor Frankl (whose body was imprisoned) clearly demonstrate that we are so much more than the body.

When overly identified with the body and sensation, there is a tendency to extremes: we either exalt it as God, or vehemently deny it as the devil. In the hands of the ego, the body becomes a problem to solve and a tool to enforce the belief in separation. Clearly, if all I am is a body and you’re also that; I am not you and you are not me. And this completely contradicts any belief that we are one.

New age thinking has also had a heyday with the body; often blaming and judging those with physical ailments with a proclamation: “if you would only think right, you wouldn’t be sick.” This is not completely out of accord with the teachings of the Course (which says only the mind creates), but it is certainly out of accord with “Teach only Love, for that is what you are.”  I have certainly dealt with my share of physical ailments. Blaming myself and trying to figure out what I did wrong to create them is an attack upon myself and not useful and not kind. When we believe we are the body, we are inclined to take credit or blame for everything it does, which leads us further into separation and egoic thinking. Instead, I choose to heed any lessons (i.e.: "slow down," "don’t push so hard," or "don’t worry") and as best I can, to allow the wave of illness or discomfort to be just that.

The Course says the body is a way of joining and uniting minds with Spirit. And “the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.” Recognizing the body as a communication device and not what we are, opens up a whole new conversation. When I think of the body in this way, it’s a little closer to the way I think of my car. I love my car, but I am not my car. My car has a purpose and serves it well. If it should break down, I would not say I am broken. When I look at the body in this way, it no longer has power over me. And then, I can truly listen to its lessons.

In my work as a somatic psychotherapist, I teach clients how to listen and respect the body. To understand that it holds unresolved emotions; that it registers upset before the mind; and that it can teach us how to open and let go. When I know I am not the body, I can give it the respect it deserves. For more on having a respectful relationship with the body, see my previous posts Using the Body to Let Go, What is Your Body Trying to Tell You, and Where the Body Goes.

I would love to hear your insights and questions. Please share below or email me directly at Read More

Was that a gift?

By  - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Was that a gift?

Or maybe you meant to say contract?

In our Course in Miracles group last Saturday (during a discussion about giving without wanting anything in return), the question was asked about what to do when a gift comes with expectations.
With the holidays arriving soon, it feels like a good time to review the difference between a gift and a contract.
A gift, by definition, is given freely, without compensation. Gifts can come in the form of material objects for sure; but also in kind words, listening, sharing and so much more.  In giving a gift, we have the opportunity to find joy in our ability to give, to enjoy another’s delight and to bask in the energy of gratitude (either from the other, or from ourselves for ourselves). For some, the joy is in finding the perfect gift. For others, no shopping is required.
A contract, on the other hand, to be legally binding, includes promises from both parties. I’ll mow your lawn and you’ll give me money. Read More

2017-The Year of the Pause

By  - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I recently completed reading the entire text of A Course in Miracles. This was a huge task and one I had set a goal of completing by the end of 2016. A bit out of character, but I completed it. The next task was to read the Manual for Teachers. On January 1, when I opened the book, I immediately felt some resistance. And a deeper voice, saying “not yet”. On exploring this, I starting pondering how quickly we jump from one thing to the next and specifically, from one year to another. I realized that as much as I was ready to be done with 2016, I was not yet ready for 2017. Like the pause between the exhalation of breath that comes before the next inhalation, I needed a pause between years. Read More

I Could Choose Peace Instead of This

By  - Thursday, March 24, 2016



Many, many years ago, while I was still single and living in NYC, I read Gerald Jampolsky’s book, Say Good-Bye to Guilt. Of the many brilliant things he wrote about, one piece I chose to work with at that time was the 34th lesson from A Course in Miracles “I could see peace instead of this”. Somehow in my mind, I had translated the word see to choose, but I don’t think it had an effect on how I worked with the lesson. Over 30 years later, I still find this to be one of my most useful lessons.
What the lesson tells us is that peace is always an option because it is an inside job. The ability to find peace even in the most tumultuous situations lies within. This is poignantly demonstrated in the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor who writes about psychologically overcoming even the most unbearable of situations.
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The Cost of Giving is Receiving

By  - Monday, July 06, 2015

The Cost of Giving is Receiving

This lesson from the Course in Miracles is one (of many) worth paying careful attention to. Whatever it is you are offering to others has to move through your body. It is your only vehicle for communication. When you are angry with another, it is your body that feels the anger. When you are loving to another, again, it is your body that feels the love. What do you want to feel today?
The Course in Miracles focuses on the perspective that there is no separation and that what we do onto another we are doing onto ourselves and that all grudges we hold against another show us where we need to forgive ourselves. Whether this aligns with your beliefs or not, it still holds that you cannot seek vengeance or even hold a negative thought towards anyone, without feeling the impact in your body-mind.
As an experiment, just think about someone you’re upset with. If you pay attention, you will notice certain sensations in your body. You may feel butterflies in your stomach, a tightening in your throat, or a gripping in your shoulders. Undoubtedly, it won’t be a pleasant sensation. So, for now, just open inside and let the anger dissolve as best you can.

Now, as part two of the experiment, think about someone you feel very loving towards. Perhaps a child or pet. Again, notice the sensations in your body. Much more pleasant, yes?

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About MSI

Melanie Smithson Institute is dedicated to enriching lives through embodied education and training; using movement, play and releasing to connect with innate wisdom and joy.  

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