Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of December 21 & 28, 2009

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Body Sensation: Wholeness

(Aspect 3 of 12 of the Path to Presence)

In contemplating what it might mean to develop our soul, we have precious little experience to guide us. But such experience does come in the practice of whole body sensation, which plays a fundamental role in the development of our inner body, our sensation body, the lower part of our soul. Over the past two weeks, we have practiced sensing parts of our body, bringing our attention to a hand or a foot, an arm or a leg, or our torso and head. The experience of the sensitive energy in our body, with its visceral reality, its staying power, and the way it anchors us to the present, offers a taste of what it could mean to develop our soul. Sensation brings the notion of soul out of the realm of imagination and into our direct perception. And by doing so, sensation focuses our inner work onto an effective practice with both short- and long-term value.

Sensing parts of our body is an essential beginning to this practice and could profitably be continued for months and even years until we become proficient with it. But its natural development moves toward sensing more of our body, toward creating a complete body of the sensitive energy. The difference here between part and whole is major, with whole body sensation bringing entirely new qualities not found in partial sensation. The latter does anchor us into the world of sensitive energy, which in itself is a welcome and significant step up from living in a primarily automatic fashion. Whole body sensation, however, creates a foundation that helps stabilize our contact with the conscious energy, with real presence. Conscious energy carries the quality of wholeness. And the wholeness of whole body sensation attracts and supports the wholeness of consciousness.

Partial sensation requires a focusing and division of attention that may leave little free attention for engaging in life activities. But whole body sensation can be sustained by the ongoing intention to be in our entire sensation body now. That leaves our attention undivided and free. Dividing our attention divides us, whereas whole attention makes us whole. Whole body sensation magnifies the wholeness of our attention and forms a strong base for it. Then if two or more objects require our attention simultaneously, they are both embraced within the broad reach of our unified attention. Instead of dividing, we expand.

For example, if I am in a conversation and practicing sensing my arm, I am dividing my attention between the arm and the conversation. I feel that I am withholding part of myself from the conversation, not fully participating. If instead I sense my whole body while in a conversation, my engagement in the conversation is enhanced. I listen more fully and speak from the whole of myself. I am no longer divided with part of me trying to practice inner work while the other part listens or speaks. I am more whole, more present, and more engaged. My inner work and my outer life merge. It becomes one complete and encompassing experience, not two partial ones: whole body sensing while conversing, not partial sensing alongside partially-engaged conversing. The other alternative of not practicing presence at all during a conversation leaves us splintered, at the mercy of our automatic thoughts and emotional reactions, hardly able to listen to the other person when our inner stage is so busy judging, reacting, and preparing what we will say next.

To come to whole body sensation, it helps to practice partial sensation first: an arm, a leg, both arms and both legs, and then the whole body. The practice of energy breathing, of drawing inner energies from the air around us, strengthens sensation throughout our body. That can be done intermittently throughout the day to refresh our sensation body. The end result: we experience ourselves to be more fully here.

Whole body sensation confers the strength of wholeness and a more stable organization of the energy of sensitive awareness. For this week, expand your practice of sensing parts of your body into the complete sensation of your whole body, your sensation body.


     

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