Recently I was blessed to attend a workshop facilitated by Nouk Sanchez (author of ‘The End of Death’ and ‘Undoing the Ego’). Nouk is widely known as a deeply inspirational and fabulous teacher of A Course in Miracles and her workshop was intense, profound and rich with many practical lessons for use in our lives. It was a life-changing experience and miracles abounded for all of us who attended the workshop!
Nouk gave us a practical analogy which we could use in developing awareness of when we are ‘in ego’ (following its dictates) and how to transfer our trust to the Holy Spirit. She used the analogy of two canoes – the ‘ego’s canoe’ and the ‘Holy Spirit’s canoe’ (in the river of life) and quite simply we are either in one or the other, depending on how we feel and how we perceive the world.
Shortly after my return home I found myself explaining this to my daughter who was facing a situation that was a major life lesson for her and which brought up fear and anxiety as well as the pain of the past. She was very open to help and as the Course tells us, only our ‘little willingness’ is required to usher in all the help we need. Although she was fearful I explained to her that this was a wonderful opportunity for her healing. I told her ‘You were born to do this and you CAN do it with grace and wisdom if you understand the opportunity here, and that you have a CHOICE’ .
‘Trials are but lessons you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that you chose before has brought to you.’ ACIM T.31.VIII.3
I considered explaining the ‘canoe’ analogy to my daughter but decided that she would really relate much better if I used shoes! Like many young women my daughter has a shoe fetish! So here is how I explained Nouk’s teaching to her. My daughter embraced it and she has encouraged me to share it with you, the reader, here.
So here is what is meant by ‘shoes again!’:
“Please imagine 2 pairs of shoes. One shoe is sparkly, very glam, super impractical but gorgeous and what every girl would die for. As a shoe girl you will go for these shoes big time. However these shoes give you blisters (wounds), they are prone to their heels snapping, crashing you to the floor, and they take you down roads you seriously do not need to go down… when you are blind to these shoes and what they can do, you will happily traipse along in them and go all sorts of places that take you so far from Who You Truly Are. These shoes do not wish you well although they will try to convince you that they will bring you everything you want. They will keep you endlessly searching for that special pot of gold. They will entice you to blame the world for everything. These shoes are literally to die for, because they do not have your best interests at heart. These shoes are of course EGO shoes, as below!
The other pair of shoes are HOLY shoes. These shoes are elegant, simple, practical and they wrap themselves around you with Love and Grace. They don’t scream for attention or accolades. They take you down the road of Love and Peace, and you will never get blisters from them and their heels will never snap! They will last you forever these shoes, and they will look after you. Even if you go down rough roads and bumpy waters, these shoes adapt and magically carry you. These shoes have been in your ‘heart’s closet’ FOREVER, through all of your life and they will always be there, waiting for you to choose them and to step into them. These shoes guide you with impeccable wisdom. They are gentle and they Love you. Sometimes you do hear them whisper to you.. such as ‘look behind you’.. or ‘do this’.. but because the glitzy ego shoes are so dam loud and insistent you don’t notice your Holy shoes much. They don’t mind – they wait patiently for you.
The thing with these shoes is that you have to CHOOSE to wear them. These shoes respect your free will and never interfere. Everyone who exists has access to these two different pairs of shoes (clearly men’s shoes will look a bit different so bear with me here…!). In every moment and every situation we can CHOOSE, and that is where our power lies.
For most of our lives we dance around in the ego’s shoes. And in these shoes we experience fear, anxiety, pain, heartache, loneliness, scarcity, ill health and a terrible feeling of being separate from our Source, from our True Self, and we feel separate from everyone and the all of it. We believe the lies and non-sense of these shoes. Ego shoes tempt us to replay scenarios over and over, particularly bad memories and to ruminate on the threats that lie ahead in the future. They tell us that if we are right that is what’s most important. Most of humanity dances in these shoes. Just watch the news, and see what happens in so many families and relationships, to get the gist of what I mean.
We choose to be in these shoes until we wake up and realise these shoes are toxic. That’s usually when the blisters have got so bad we can barely go on, and then we realise that seriously, there has to be a better pair of shoes. In that moment we can withdraw out of these shoes, and choose to slip on our Holy Shoes. It takes just a change of mind to do this, an instant, a nano second. The more we slip out of ego shoes and into the alternative the more we realise that living in the Holy Shoes is so much more preferable and life then becomes a dance of ease. It takes vigilance to stay rooted in your Holy Shoes, as we so easily, through habit, fall back into the ego shoes. We have to be mindful in every moment of ‘which shoes am I in?’ and then when we realise ‘whoops I’m back in the sparkly ego shoes’ we can choose to step back into our Holy Shoes. We see the world very differently depending on which shoes we are in, and which we ‘listen’ to (if that makes sense).
Just to clarify, the Holy Shoes are symbolic of your Right Mind, your True Self or Who You Really Are and this shoe story is obviously an analogy for the two thought systems that you have in your mind. In each moment you have the choice between the two – ego or Spirit.
The allure of the ego shoes is so vast and we’ve become so used to them that most of us don’t know about the other pair of shoes. We’ve learnt to walk in the ego shoes and we have so over-used them we don’t even realise they are the cause of our blisters and twisted ankles. We have no clue. We literally go through life entranced by the ego’s shoes and feeling helpless. It’s madness. But a part of our mind knows and it is always calling us, inviting us to try on the comfy shoes, to choose them instead. When we decide (after a lot of pain usually) to dump the ego shoes and try on the Holy Shoes life just is easier. We can say ‘Holy Shoes, you guide me, show me where to go, what to do, what to say..’ and then we trust the shoes will do that and we follow.. we surrender to this gentle presence that is our Holiest Self with an enormous sigh of relief.
You cannot be free of the grief and anger, of the hurt of all you feel has come your way, until you make a better choice and that choice would be to wear your Holy Shoes, and to act from there – from that wise, right-minded part of you. From this alternate perspective you will see through the eyes of Love. If you are willing, even the tiniest bit willing, to see it all differently, and to view the ‘problem’ from your Holy Shoes, then all the help you need will be there for you. The Holy Shoes contain all of the Love you can imagine, and all of the Help in the Universe, but this is not available to you until you decide to give it a go. You simply ask for help and your Shoes will be right there for you. So to speak.. ha ha.. what I mean is that Spirit will be there for you, and all your angels, Archangel Michael and Rafael (the Archangel of healing) or whoever it is you call on. All are symbols of the Holy Presence within your mind.
It is not easy to consistently choose the Holy shoes. It’s a process and a practice. Yes, we often say ‘oh I know that’s my ego’ when we react or judge others, as if we are helpless to it – but that’s BS. Our power lies, as I’ve said, in acknowledging ‘I know that’s my ego and that means I’m in the ego’s shoes, and I CHOOSE to step out of them now and to see this through the eyes of my Holy Shoes’. This can be difficult in the midst of drama for sure, but quietly ask your Inner Guide or whatever is symbolic for you of the Wise One within your mind, to assist you, and you will find yourself returned to that peaceful place.
It’s helpful to do a physical action to help yourself transfer from ego shoes to Holy Shoes. When you realise you are in the ego’s shoes and you’re going down the rabbit hole of fear of ‘what might happen’, and ‘what if they’ and ‘I wish this or that’ and so forth you can say to yourself ‘NO, I can choose again’ and you literally take a little side-step, as if you are going from one pair of shoes into another. If it helps imagine a column of light above the Holy Shoes, which you step into. This is a simple re-centering exercise which you can do wherever you are. As you step across from ego to Spirit you say ‘by myself I can’t do this, and I choose to follow You instead of the ego’. Then you let go of the struggle and you TRUST that you are in safe hands (or shoes so to speak!).
What I would suggest is you step into your Holy Shoes before you face this situation and you breathe in the Amazingness and the Strength and Love that you are. You will then act from that place and you will say and do whatever is appropriate, with Presence and Grace. You will feel more peaceful and calm. Yes, nerves will be jangling naturally just as when you go for root-canal treatment for example, but what you do with the nerves is you recognise from where they come; you simply observe them doing their thing, and you release them to your angels or whatever works for you… simply say ‘no, these are not for me, I can choose peace instead of this’.
You may ask ‘but what about the others in this situation?’ The beauty is that even if it is YOU who chooses a better way and others do not perhaps, that is perfect and all that is required. You make the choice for everyone concerned. This is healing. Your choice has an impact on the whole caboodle – it is an unconscious dynamic and it is powerful energetically. You choose love and the rest is handled by your Holy Shoes (aka the Holy Spirit!). Effects may not be seen immediately, in fact it can seem as if nothing’s happened but that is not your concern. The decision to choose peace instead of conflict is like a dazzling thunderbolt that resonates throughout the Universe.
The Course says ‘there is no holier place on earth than where an ancient hatred has become a present love’ – isn’t that magnificent? Instead of being caught in the horizontal time-line of past, present and future you do this whiplash to vertical – as it is in heaven, so it is here on earth. This may sound woo-woo but I mean it! Your choice heals you and it heals the entire mind that we all share. Can you get why it is so powerful? Just think about it… lifetimes of endless recycling of hurt and guilt – gone – in a moment’s decision. This lesson has been learnt. The ego would say ‘show me the evidence’ because that is what it demands, but the evidence will be felt within you as peace, calm, strength and a sense that it is done, and accumulated blisters and wounds from the dance you’ve done in the ego’s shoes will vaporise… and positive effects will follow. Trust in this..
Oh, and just another thing – if you do find yourself in the ego’s shoes (which you will because you are human!) do not fall into guilt over it. Then you are really glued into those pesky shoes, because it’s the ego that has you feeling guilty for choosing it in the first place. It’s classic, you have to laugh! Just know that however you feel and whatever you are ready for at this time is perfect. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. And remember for the future – in every difficulty that you face in your life you always have the opportunity to ‘shoes’ again!”
A Course in Miracles says just this so many times throughout, and particularly at the end in Chapter 31 titled ‘Choose Again’.
‘In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again”.’
And that is the story of the Holy shoes! In case you are wondering, my daughter did wear her Holy shoes when she faced her life lesson. She stood in Grace and Strength and offered healing to the person in question which she had not felt drawn to do when in her sparkly ‘ego shoes’. This was a miracle of healing for her, a shift in perception, and in future she will remember that she can always ‘shoes again!’ ♥