"Could you please explain what projection is and how it is done? Are we doing it all the time in this world? Thank you."
Projection stems from a simple act of believing in separation. Separation is an attempt to put some kind of illusory distance between who you believe you are, and who you believe you are not. Initially, you are everything and are One and Whole, but after the separation the mind became split and divided.
You can think of the separation in the mind kind of like a wall or a "gap", as Jesus sometimes refers to it. It's the same thing as trying to push something away or get rid of something. There are many words for this which all mean basically the same thing, such as rejection, force, pushing, avoidance, denial, attack, withdrawal, fear, etc. It's an attempt to create some kind of "rift" where there previously was only a wholeness, so that there is now a two-ness, or a multitude.
In order to do that, in a mind which has no "sides" or opposition, the mind has to invent some kind of illusory fiction about how parts of the mind are different from each other in some way. This also has to entail the invention of fake identities in the mind. Identity correlates to the mind's content and awareness, so by introducing separation or a split into the mind, with differences introduced into each half, the mind has to believe in "multiple personalities".
These fictional personalities are sometimes referred to as the persona and the shadow. Both of them form, collectively, the "ego" or false self, which is in a state of conflict within itself, as though it has two opposing wills fighting against each other. This makes the ego constantly play both sides of every war, is both its own victim and victimizer, is both for and against everything, is two-faced and hypocritical and a liar, and generally makes no sense.
But what happens is, the "denial" that is introduced in order to believe that an illusion of separation is real, in the mind, causes one part of the mind to become unaware of some of what appears to be in the other part of the mind. The form of differences that each part of the mind takes on, as illusions, causes each part to identify with those differences, and become blind to the qualities or character of the other part of the mind.
So as this progresses and develops, the mind ends up with this mostly conscious small part which we call the conscious mind, and this conscious mind is not very aware of this large other part which is the unconscious mind. The sense of identity in the small conscious mind *seems* to be the "whole" of identity that the conscious self is aware of, but that's only because the rest of the mind is unconscious to it. This is why people with an ego believe that they are already all of who they are, when in fact there is far more to the True Self than just this little fictional character or "self image".
So then people will identify mainly with the persona, which is the conscious self, which is constantly trying to hide from and repress and deny and get rid of the sense of sin and guilt that arose after the separation. Its aim is to accept things which make it look innocent and not guilty, as a way to "deny" that it is guilty. This denial covers up the guilt and makes it unconscious, so this is a protective mechanism.
The non-innocent stuff that the persona conscious self tries to get rid of, which includes any tiny trace of not being good or right or attractive or desirable or approved, etc, goes into the "shadows", as it were... i.e. into the unconscious part of the mind. The persona is constantly attempting to refine the conscious self, in order to get rid of every trace of guilt, so that it will have an ILLUSION of innocence. And it equates this with spiritual growth.
But its efforts to perfect the fake self is never ending and never good enough and never complete and never innocent enough. So it will keep chopping away pieces of the Self, parts of Identity, to try to get rid of all the stuff that it does not approve of. Generally speaking it will never approve of anything because it believes in attack and guilt and sin, so this is a bottomless pit of self sacrifice.
That means that what appears to be a "good self" which is all pure and innocent-like, is actually the cause of self destruction, by never accepting that the Self is worthy of forgiveness. Often those who put on a facade (persona) of goodness and niceness and people-pleasing and so on, are inauthentic and are mis-representing themselves to try to protect themselves. What appears to be the least likely cause of "attack", is actually causing self destruction by trying to get rid of everything about the Self which isn't good ENOUGH.
This is really the ego mind attempting to get rid of the Self, i.e. your real identity, by gradually picking it apart and throws parts of it into unconsciousness in the form of rejected, hated, unwelcome, unwanted aspects of yourself. The thing is, the unconscious mind is not completely unconscious, and there is a threat to the conscious mind that some of that rejected "garbage", as it sees it, may potentially still leak out or cross the boundary of awareness, and come back into the conscious mind. The persona sees this as an attack, and it is very threatened by this and fears it.
So the conscious mind then makes this very strong effort to try to disassociate itself from, i.e. separate itself from, create a rift between, emphasize the unlikeness of, itself and the unconscious self. It does this through various forms of attack. In terms of what the whole mind is doing to itself, this is of course "self attack", because the whole mind is splitting itself apart and at war within itself.
The persona conscious mind sees the shadow unconscious mind as its enemy, to be hated and despised, because it is the storehouse of everything that reminds the mind of the sin and guilt that it was trying to deny and keep under wraps. It reasons that if it will attack this other part of its own self and turn that part of itself into what *seems* like "not myself", or "otherness", then it will keep its distance from the repressed guilt.
Another thing that happens here is that, from the perspective of the conscious persona self, everything in the unconscious mind is seen as "external" to itself, as though cut off and separate from itself. Separation, and the belief that separation is very real and strong and intense, weaves this illusory perception that the conscious mind wants absolutely nothing to do with this hated, reviled shadow self.
The more it can hate it, attack it, get rid of it and reject it, the stronger the persona's perception becomes, that it has nothing in common with the unconscious self. Separation serves to create this profound illusion that what is on the other side of the separation is not yourself. The more you hate and reject and see the "otherness" as an enemy, the less you believe you have anything to do with it, the less you share with it, the more disconnected from it you are. This is disassociation.
So far I have not talked about other people or the world or anything in it, we're just talking about what happens inside your own mind, completely within the confines of your own Self. It is a war within yourself, where one part of you is attacking another part of you. The persona part attacks the Self and forms the shadow part, and then the shadow part attacks the persona. Sometimes the shadow becomes more conscious or leaks out or comes into awareness and attacks "you", i.e. your conscious persona self, upsetting you and pointing out how flawed you are and so on.
So, this is so far the act of denial and suppression, which attempts to hide from awareness the belief in sin and guilt that you thought was real. The thing is, this has a purpose. It is deliberate. By hiding the guilt and sin, you keep it. It goes unchallenged. You assume its so horrible that you never want to look at it again, but secretly you also have this plan to keep it that way.
If you can cover up the guilt which you believe is real, and act and believe as though you are innocent, putting on a show and a performance for yourself and everyone, you kind of convince yourself that you are not really guilty. But this of course is you lying to yourself, and you will never quite feel safe and free from the guilt that keeps trying to come back up in your mind. And the profound degree of people-pleasing, ass-kissing, fakery, lack of authenticity, dishonesty and emptiness that comes with the persona "false self" is not enjoyable or meaningful. It's also a very stressful experience.
So let's say now that you have your split mind with conscious and unconscious parts, and you - identified with the conscious part - are trying to keep the unconscious part at bay. "You" see the unconscious stuff as nothing to do with you, so it's not your self, not your identity, you didn't choose it, you didn't want it, you didn't put it there, and you are not even aware that it's there.
The way this played out, first of all, in the really really big picture, is that when this happened in the mind of the One Son, before the physical universe was created, the act of believing in separation and the denial and disassociation that this produced, basically sort of split off part of the One Mind into "self" and the rest of the mind into "not self".
The "self" part of mind, conscious self, then further divided into what seems like individuals, and these individuals are an attempt by the mind to further divide itself up into smaller parts. This is where Jesus refers to our attempt to achieve "littleness". What we end up with, is a mind in which there are lots of little conscious "identities", all different, and then this large expanse of what appears to be "not self" which is external to these selves.
This is all happening in the very large mind of the Son of God, so now His thought of separation is producing so much "difference" and disassociation that the differences start to become more solid or dense seeming. Appearances seem to become diverse. And this is what leads to the manifestation of the physical universe, within the mind of the Son of God.
Little conscious selves become physical bodies, where the body itself is the illusion that there is a thick wall of separation around the self, and then outside of that wall is everything "not self". In other words, the universe and world itself houses content of the unconscious mind, which expresses through it (usually as various "bad stuff" happening). Then what's "inside" the body is considered the conscious self - all of who you are. Also in terms of the big picture, the whole of the body is a "persona" (thus a "person").
This happens on a big scale, but it also happens within each individual conscious self. Each "person" (persona) has a split in the mind with unconscious content. So each person sees themselves as "inside" a body, with the body as a defense against the whole and a protection against everything that is outside of it. And then everything outside of it is considered "not myself". So your own mind is inside your body and also outside your body. And your body itself is also within the larger mind, where the drama of inner vs outer conflict is playing out.
Now something interesting happens because, let's say you are walking around the Earth with your split mind, you believe the part of you you're conscious of is all of yourself, and all that is externalized and separate from you is not you or yourself. And yet, your own mind - the whole of your mind - is also "out there", outside your body. So now your own unconscious content, guilt, hate, rejection, rage etc, is going to start showing up out there. These "lessons" are then opportunities for forgiveness and integration.
What happens is, because you in your persona self do not believe you "own" what is in your unconscious, i.e. your own guilt, your own sense of sin, and you've made it separate from you and external, you will believe that it is outside of whatever you believe you are. So generally that means, outside of your body. Therefore you locate your own guilt as being outside of you somewhere in the unconscious, anywhere other than inside yourself. And because you've disassociated from it through separation, you do not believe it is yours or that is has anything to do with you.
You therefore show the world a face of innocence, which is fake innocence. This starts at birth, with the form of a baby which appears innocent. However, in the ego's scheme of things, it reverses the meanings of sin and innocence, to claim that the innocent are vulnerable, affectable, victimizable, justification for attack, weak, dependent on the external, etc. So instead of innocence meaning strength, integrity, truth, power, safety etc... it comes to mean vulnerability to and being at the effect of the external world.
So basically this is the ego mind playing out, where the persona self is putting on a false image (in the form of a body) of an "innocent self", a self that did not choose guilt, a self which did not do anything wrong, a self which is harmless, and a self which does not appear to in any way incite or ask for any kind of punishment. And yet, it is utterly dependent on, susceptible to, vulnerable to, affected by, dictated by, decide for by, and changed by the external.
The ego has attempted to deny and get rid of, i.e. cover up, what it doesn't want, with an illusion of innocence, like "I didn't do it". The side effect of attempting to put up a defense or to strengthen the separation, is that is makes you weak and vulnerable. The truly innocent need no defense, but the guilty need a lot of defending and this defending just attacks them more. "If I defend myself I am attacked". So the choice to put on an image of fake innocence causes the innocence to be attacked. The attackers have really come to prove that the innocence is itself an attack and therefore attack is justified.
So now there's this innocent person walking around the illusory world, believing they are special and perfect and righteous, and all of their unconscious junk is hidden from their awareness. But it still affects their awareness, because it blocks it. They will "see" this unconscious content as being outside of them, and therefore they see it "projected" onto the world, or laid on top of it. They are looking through a veil of separation in their own mind, and their own repressed sin and guilt is going to be thought of as outside of them.
They will have displaced their own sin and guilt into what is external from their conscious self, thus outside the body, and so it becomes very natural to see it there and to attempt to keep it separate.
It just so happens that we walk around the world with many other separate conscious selves who also have split their mind and made their guilt and sin unconscious and are now believing that it is outside of their body. Situations arise, confrontations, where someone appears to be doing something. It doesn't matter what it is. It's all basically neutral and nothing to do with you.
But something will happen and because you are supposedly innocent, it will seem to attack your innocence. And because you claim you are innocent, and believe it, and because you have disassociated from your own sin and guilt, stuff seems to be coming out of "nowhere" to attack your persona innocent self completely un-asked for. In other words, there is content leaking out of your unconscious mind and coming up for healing, but is viewed as an attack on your sense of identity. It has seemed to arise from "outside of you", from some source which is "not me".
This external attack then seems to attack your vulnerable self and, seeing yourself as having not caused this in any way (because you are not aware that you put this nasty stuff into your unconscious mind), it comes to attack your conscious self as though completely unjustified and not something you willed. This also correlates to how a split mind has a divided will, against itself - the conscious will seems to be at odds with the unconscious will, and the unconscious will seems to be doing stuff to the conscious self against its will.
The conscious self does not have awareness, or believe, that this unconscious self of hate was made by it, and so sees its attack as not asked for. Thus the conscious self is now justified in claiming it has been unfairly treated. And this of course leads to the justification for anger. It seems real to the persona mind that it really did not ask for this, and that this "real attack" has been completely unwarranted.
This is in spite of the fact that it was the persona's attack on the Self that "made" the Self out to be a vicious enemy, and that very same vicious enemy now seems to have returned within awareness to attack the persona. It claims this is uncalled for, yet the persona itself made its own enemy.
Therefore it is justified in being upset and angry and in wanting to attack in return. The so-called real attack coming from the outside proves that you are justified in attacking, so then you launch a counter-attack.
When you are in this state and are doing this, you will feel completely justified and right as though whoever did this to you is obviously completely wrong and evil. You can get really into this. People go into rages sometimes, because they have such a fake sense of innocence that it is very easily destroyed and so they vacillate between trying to be extremely nice and then turning very vicious - sociopaths for example. You react to your own false perception that an "alien will", as ACIM calls it, has come to do something to you you do not want justifying that you defend yourself and attack it.
Ultimately this counter-attack is your secret desire all along, because you're really itching to find some excuse to get rid of your own sin and guilt onto the external. It could be to blame people or to blame objects or animals or places or events or whatever. So long as you can take whatever opportunity presents itself, even though you supposedly hate to be attacked, you LOVE to then be very justified in attacking in return, because it allows you to put even more distance between you and your unconscious mind.
Each time you believe that you are attacking other people, you are really attacking your own unconscious mind and are attempting to keep its distance from you. You blame other people for doing stuff so that you can disown ownership and responsibility for what you are experiencing. You maintain enemies, as much as you complain about them, because it serves you to help you to have a way to get rid of your secret sins and hidden hates. You could refer to this as "projecting" your sin onto others. You want to believe you are projecting it, but really it's still taking place inside yourself.
As Jesus tells us, "you but accuse your brother of your own sins". This is literal and complete. We ONLY accuse others of our own sin. We are the ones who believe that we have sinned, and that we're guilty, and now we're trying to get rid of responsibility for that. Our main strategy is denial, creating fake innocence and victimhood, so that we can set ourselves up ready to be attacked, so that we can then have an opportunity to "vent" or "displace" all of our inner sin and self-hate onto external people or objects.
We welcome attack, to have the chance to blame, because blaming and accusing and disowning is the mechanism of separation which keeps our own sin unconscious. Basically we've taken parts of our own SELF, have judged them as sinful and evil, have tried to get rid of this self through denial, and then we use whatever opportunity possible to reinforce its separation from what's left of our identity, and then having projected it onto situations we attack it as though it is "in" and "belongs to" and is "coming from" someone whose identity is not our own. It's really our own self that we are attacking.
And this is why all attack is not personal. We really are just attacking ourselves either directly or indirectly. People will go around the world in this state looking like they are relating to, blaming, targeting, and scapegoating other people, but really they are hallucinating and are delusional.
They are actually talking to themselves, and are attacking their own self, and are having a really bizarre disassociated relationship with their own mind by trying to get rid of it and attack it. It seems to externalize, they seem to make it about you or other people, but they are really living inside a "private world" that is unconscious, blind to others, lost in the past, and riddled with sin. The unconscious part of that mind seems to be outside of the person's body, thus easily associated with you, but it's really nothing to do with you.
To basically answer the other part of your question, yes, most people are projecting all of the time to varying degrees. But if you're working on waking up then it'll be in your best interests to learn when you are projecting and to become more honest and responsible for the fact that you are actually attacking yourself, it's YOUR sin that you are seeing as attacking you, it's YOUR guilt that you're trying to get rid of, it's YOUR power that you tried to disown, and you are literally doing this all to yourself.
If you can get to the state of mind, of wholeness, where there is no separation in the mind, then there will be none of this split between conscious and unconscious, the unconscious will have been re-integrated and healed, its dark content will have been forgiven, the differences between these parts of mind will have dissolved, and they will have disappeared, revealing the One mind that housed those entire drama to begin with.
Then, when you encounter someone with a split mind, you will not be so easily drawn into the ILLUSION that they are targeting you, attacking you, or doing anything to you, or that anything they claim is "about" you at all. It's all about themselves. It's their own self attack and their own belief in sin and they are doing all of it to themselves. You will learn not to see them as a victim, therefore, because you've learned not to see yourself as one. And then you can love and heal them, like you loved and healed yourself.
Projection makes perception, the Course says. This basically means that you will see the content of your own mind at all times. So if your mind contains sin and guilt, you will see it "projected" onto what seems to be outside of you. Another word for projection is displacement. As you go into denial and your perception changes to a strange, distorted view, which is in denial of your own self hate, you will see the self-hate externally attacking you and thus you will see what you have come to believe in. You will see "someone" trying to destroy you, because that's what you are doing to yourself.
A simpler analogy is the movie theater, where the projector is projecting a movie film outward, and its creating an external picture on a screen. And you will start to believe that the stuff happening on the screen is real, and try to attack it and react to it. If life in the world is the movie on the screen, it's easy to be distracted by appearances and forget where the projection is coming from. i.e. the source of all of this is within your mind.
You can also think of your eyes like mini movie projectors which are beaming OUTWARD pictures of what you want to see, and then you see it as though it happened on its own and told your brain about what's out there. The suggestion that light from external objects comes into the mind and the brain "perceives" what's out there, is actually an illusion and is backwards. The mind chooses what it would believe and thus what it will see as reality, and then it projects this externally and THEN perceives it. It uses the body to CONFIRM what it projected, not to tell it what existed objectively separate from the body.
But of course, this illusion makes it seem like your body's eyes "see" stuff that is out there, but you are actually blinded by sight of form ("nothing so blinding as sight of form"), and in fact your body does not see at all. Your mind visualizes, makes illusions real, projects it, and experiences it on the way OUT. The illusion of looking at what you projected and having IT tell you what it is, is a complete coverup for the fact that you put it there to begin with.
The mind has vision or "sight", the body does not. Only the mind can see, and it can only see in the light. Its dreaming produces the illusory world, and then it pretends to have the world tell it what is in the world, by being at the effect of it as a victim.
The body's eyes were made to fixate you on "form", i.e. appearances, illusions, and to block your awareness from recognizing that you see with your mind only, and that you are the one who invented the world. They are like a way of looking at the inside of a dark box, incapable of seeing outside of it. This ensures you cannot see God.
Only when awareness of God is in the mind can the mind see God. "God is in everything I see because God is in my mind." - which does not necessarily mean that, therefore, what you see as forms is also God. They will disappear because they are actually devices for holding separation in place. When separation is no longer believed in, all forms must be canceled and undone.
A key part of purifying your mind and correcting your perceptual errors is identifying the ways that you have projected, which really means, the ways that you have disowned your Self, trying to get rid of it, trying to give all of its qualities to external personalities other than yourself, trying to make yourself weak and affected so that you can fake your own death.
A good starting point is always to begin to recognize that you are "projecting", i.e., now owning, and are not realizing or admitting that you're actually doing this to yourself. It's not about other people, its not about the world, it's about you. Your conflict is within your own mind, from yourself, to yourself. Your ego is split and it is waging war between your conscious and unconscious. You have to become very honest and clear and admit to the truth.
That means, not "projecting" responsibility for what you are experiencing, which should lead to, not disassociating or hiding or disowning or denying what YOU believe about yourself. Your only real issue is your OWN belief that you are guilty, which came from your own belief that you really did sin. You have tried to get rid of that since the beginning. Remember Jesus says, "you but accuse your brother of your own sin". You never accuse your brother of anything else. This is all about your own choice to destroy yourself and your unwillingness to love yourself.
Owning up to who you really are, is the reversal of projection, because it erases the separation in the mind that is keeping the mind in unconsciousness. When the unconscious becomes conscious and there is no longer defenses or denial, the mind becomes whole again.
Your sense of identity completely correlates to the extent of your awareness of "what is you". Thinking you are only the conscious persona self, living in denial, scapegoating people, blaming left right and center, reveals that your awareness is limited. Therefore you will not be aware of all of your mind. And therefore you will not be aware of all of your Self.
As your mind becomes more open and aware of more of itself, becoming more conscious, waking up, increasing awareness, your sense of your Self will expand. It must. The "edges" of yourself are exactly dictated by where your awareness stops. As you become more inclusive of yourself, and less rejecting, and less judging, and more welcoming, and more accepting, etc, the edges of what you are aware of will widen, and thus your awareness of Who and What you are will widen.
Your sense of "Who am I" will expand into your True Self, Holy Self, Higher Self. You simply will uncover yourself, through the removal of the blocks to the awareness of the presence of the love that you ARE. And then you will stop believing in separation and stop denying yourself and will have no basis for projecting or disassociating from fictional sins. All sin is unreal and forgiven.
In summary, projection for the "cause" of something happens when the real cause is denied and made unconscious. If you deny that you chose to believe in sin, you will try to get it out of your awareness by hiding it behind illusions, which makes it unconscious. Then, not seeing what the cause of your problems really is, you will look for a cause somewhere else, thus projecting or scapegoating the cause of problems into "otherness", or "not self".
This will naturally map onto "other people" in the dream world who conveniently appear to be "not self", and so it's easy to confuse your mind's content with them, based on what they do to trigger your hidden hate. The reversal is to own up to where the cause really is, which is in your mind, in your Self. This entails the dismantling of illusions that keep the "belief in sin" unconscious or projectable, and once you reclaim it you then can undo the belief in it. Forgiveness sees that there is no real sin, and therefor your sin is forgiven and you are genuinely innocent. Wholeness is holiness.