Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of November 26, 2007

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Receptivity to Awakening

(Part 2 of 9 in the Inner Work Series The Stages of Presence)

When the grace of awakening offers us an opportunity to practice presence, we have a choice. Do we act on that subtle but sacred impulse by engaging in our inner work right then and there? Or not?

Just as there are many ways to practice presence, there are also many ways to choose not to. If we are too preoccupied, tired, lazy, or uninterested, we may simply ignore the impulse of awakening. This usually takes the form of sweeping the impulse under our mental carpet, an implied not now that lets the chance to practice slip away quietly, the same way it arose. We also can procrastinate, promising ourselves to practice later. Another escape in reaction to the realization that we have not been practicing presence in the moments or hours prior to the impulse of awakening is to feel guilty, inadequate, or frustrated, instead of taking it as a cue to practice. In short, we can always find a way out of awakening, a way to stay in our narrow channels of perception and our pre-programmed modes of living. In a vicious circle, the less we respond today to the impulse of awakening, the less likely we are to respond tomorrow. We simply cling to the habits of a semi-conscious life.

To work at this stage, we choose the other road by respecting the impulse of awakening and responding immediately to it through the inner work of presence. We can, in that moment of grace received, practice body awareness through sensation, awareness of breathing, energy breathing, or recognizing that I am here, doing what Im doing. We can repeat a prayer, with fullness of heart and meaning. Through any of these or similar methods, we use our inner time wisely, we grow our soul, we live our life more fully.

All such inner work leads to a virtuous circle. Our ability to respond to the impulse of awakening depends on having enough attention, enough inner space. The more we engage in the practice of presence, the wider our inner world becomes. Our ordinary thoughts and preoccupations no longer occupy the whole of our inner world. We have space for inner work, space to act on the prompts of the Spirit to come back to presence.

Our choice to respond with inner work to the impulse of awakening depends on advance preparation and commitment. We cultivate a general attitude and strong intention to awaken. We train ourselves to recognize and value the impulse. Then when the specific moment of opportunity arises, we stand ready for it.

For this week, by intention and by action, be receptive to the impulse of awakening. Honor that moment of grace, whenever it emerges, by returning to your practice of presence.


     

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