Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of March 2, 2009

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Sensation in Movement

(Part 7 of 9 in the Inner Work Series: Stages of Body Presence)

Our bodies move all day in an amazing variety of ways, for many different reasons and purposes. From our first groggy movements on awakening from sleep to our last delighted shifting into bed at night, a vast field of movement, large and small, populates our day. From brushing our teeth and scratching our head, to driving our car, walking, jogging, typing, and talking, we move and we move and we move. We chew and we blink, we fidget, smile, and shake hands.

Our myriad movements often have an intention somewhere behind them, but usually have little presence, little sensation, and little intention in them. The typical connection between our choice or intention to move and the movement itself is an automatic one, as it must be. But it need not be solely automatic. We can bring much more awareness into our movements without interfering in their automatic operation. The opportunity calls us to spiritualize this entire inwardly-empty field of our life, the field of movement, by being present as we move. And the first step toward that consists of awakening and attending to the sensitive energy in our moving body.

To begin work on sensation in movement, sense an arm or leg while seated and not moving. Then slowly move the arm or leg while continuing to sense it, continuing to be directly, organically, and viscerally aware of the moving arm or leg through the sensitive energy.

From that rather artificial beginning we can progress to sensing ordinary but simple movements. A prime and classical example is to practice sensing while walking, a form of walking meditation. Traditionally, this kind of meditation involves awareness of the body in very slow walking. Walking slowly enough allows us time to attend to the minute sensations of pressure and touch of the floor to our feet, the detailed sensations of our legs as they move through each part of the step, and the sensations of our whole body, as its weight and posture shift.

Generalizing, we can practice sensing while walking at our ordinary pace and doing so as we go about our usual day, whether walking just a few steps from one room to another or on longer walks. Walking requires very little ongoing attention, leaving us inwardly free to sense our body as we walk. This creates for us a remarkable sense of presence and purpose.

From sensing the gross movements of our limbs, we can work toward sensing our more subtle movements. In speaking we might sense our body gesturing, our changing facial expressions, and our moving lips and tongue. In eating, we sense the lifting of the fork, we sense our jaw chewing. In seeing, we sense our head as it turns to look and our eyes as they shift to focus. Sensing these subtle movements becomes much easier if we simply sense our whole body and use that full body sensation as a platform from which to be in touch with the small movements.

The point of all this is, of course, to practice sensing as much as possible throughout our day, whether in movement or repose. Through such practice, we live more fully and we build our inner body of sensation.

For this week, sense your body in movement.


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