Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of October 18, 2021


Sensing

(Fourth Way Practice: 1)

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The Fourth Way introduces many practices, each of which is useful, effective, and develops a different aspect of our soul, while collectively developing the whole human being. There is, however, one that can be considered the fundamental and characteristic practice of this path, namely sensing, a particular type of body awareness. That practice, as simple as it is, has many beneficial ramifications from the psychological to the spiritual. Sensing introduces us to the reality of inner energies. We believe we know our bodies, having been in them so many years. To then discover the vibrant energy of sensation right here in our own body can be quite surprising. That discovery prods us to realize that there is much more to reality than we had imagined. It opens the door to an inner world that is new to us.

Part of the power of sensing comes from the visceral contact with and grounding in our body. Psychologically and emotionally that grounding helps give us stability and solidity, especially if we practice sensing our whole body. Even when our thoughts are vociferous and our emotions are boiling, practice enables us to turn toward sensing our body, our whole body, thereby taking some of the energy out of those careening thoughts and reacting emotions. Our body of sensation gives us a place to be centered, a place to stand in the stream of life. That is the first step toward coming into our real individuality.

And because our body always and only operates in the present moment, the sensing contact with our body is the foundation of presence. All spirituality takes place through the present. All spiritual growth takes place through the present. Inner freedom begins in the present. Our body is our gateway to the present and to presence. The stability it brings is not only in the moment, but also across time. Sensing our body can sustain through time. From one moment to the next, our body offers a continuing haven in the now, inviting us to sense it and stay in contact with this one extended moment.

To experience sensing for yourself, place your attention in your right hand for a few minutes. When your attention wanders, simply bring yourself back to the hand. By staying with your right hand, the sensitive energy begins to accumulate there. Your perception of the hand grows more alive, more vivid, more vibrant, more there.

Now please compare your perceptions of your right hand and your left hand. You may notice that your contact with your right hand is much richer. This is due to the sensitive energy in the hand. We call this sensing the right hand, in contrast to ordinary awareness of the left. Placing your attention in part of your body awakens the sensitive energy there, and with persistence creates more of that energy.

Next, sense your right foot, then your left foot, and finally your left hand. Spend a few minutes at each to give the sensation time to build up. Once you develop some proficiency with that, move on to sensing entire limbs. Begin with your right arm, from shoulder to fingertips. Then your right leg, left leg, and finally left arm. With that ability established, practice sensing both arms at the same time, then both legs, and then all four limbs. Finally, include your torso and head, sensing your whole body. With your torso, do not attempt to sense particular inner organs, so as not to interfere with their instinctive functioning.

A robust sensation of your whole body is qualitatively different than sensing a hand or a leg. Contact with the whole body gives you wholeness: psychological, spiritual wholeness. This matters crucially for our further soul development.

You can work at sensing while in seated meditation and as you go about your day, though not during safety critical activities that require your full attention, like driving or chopping vegetables. Come back to sensing your body whenever you have a spare moment during the day and then carry that sensing-based centeredness forward from there.

The practice of sensing is important for people just starting out with Fourth Way practice, as well as for people with long experience of it. It makes our inner work very real and is directly connected with building our soul. For this week, please practice sensing.


     

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