Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of January 25, 2010

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Inner Energy Flows

(Aspect 7 of 12 of the Path to Presence)

All that we do and all that we experience involves energy. And all of it depends on the quality and quantity of energy available. This applies just as much in our inner worlds as it does in the external, physical world. So our spiritual practice, our path to presence, our hope to become more real, and our ability to serve also hinge on energies.

That naturally raises some questions. What levels and qualities of energy are we able to perceive and contact? How well do we manage our inner energies? How adept are we at producing and harvesting more inner energy and of a higher quality? How well do we use the energies available to us? All these questions point to areas of spiritual development full of unlimited and unexpected possibilities.

As our inner work progresses our perceptions change. In particular our ability to perceive energies grows more subtle. With those perceptions comes the possibility of more insightful and skillful work with energies. There are three levels of energies of most immediate interest in our practice of presence. In our path these are known as the automatic, the sensitive, and the conscious energies. The next higher energy, known as the creative or as the sacred light, comes more into play in our deeper meditation and prayer.

In our practice of seeing emotions as emotions and thoughts as thoughts, we have become somewhat more familiar with the automatic energy and how it drives a certain level of thoughts and emotions: the self-generated, pre-programmed, associative and reactive ones. This automatic energy allows us to sleepwalk and daydream through life, while our fairly sophisticated auto-pilot manages things for us. That auto-pilot is so complex that it successfully poses, both to us and to others, as a real person. But it is only our automatic-energy-driven personality, the accumulated patterns of a lifetime of experience, memories, past choices, desires, and urges. Nevertheless, in our mind-heart the automatic energy performs essential functions such as forming memories from experience, making the connections between those memories, recalling memories and skills as needed, and the ability to read, speak and understand language. All that of course is most necessary. But this energy’s spillover into automatic thoughts and emotions often results in negative thought and emotional patterns, or in fooling us into believing that we are these automatic personality patterns, or in masking the existence of deeper levels in us.

The same level of automatic energy drives useful and vital activities in our body’s instinctive and motor functions. Walking and talking, breathing and digesting, and many other processes use the automatic energy, whose flow is obviously very necessary for us. But here also, it spills over into patterns that are not so useful, such as habitual, unnecessary muscular tensions, fidgeting, overeating, drinking too much alcohol, and other physical addictions. Such bodily excesses burn up our energies and deprive our inner work of the energy it needs. So we need to manage our bodily excesses, manage our automatic energy.

In earlier aspects of the Path to Presence we studied the sensitive energy in our body. In coming weeks we will study it in our feeling and thinking. This is a crucial energy for our inner work, for its intentional use brings us a major step toward full presence and its accumulation gradually forms the lower part of our soul and grows our being. We can directly, with our attention and intention, cause this energy to flow into us from our surroundings. One such method, found in many traditions, is energy breathing: putting our attention into the air around us and intentionally and consciously breathing in the energy from the air. And we can stabilize it within our body by inhabiting the sensitive energy, by being in it on a frequent and continuing basis as we go about our lives. That takes a deep, vivid, and effective commitment to the path.

Our swirling thoughts and emotions, undirected movements of automatic and sensitive energies, distract us and thereby hide the still pool of consciousness beneath them. The conscious energy forms the context of our mind, the background of experience. In the emotions it often leads to peace, to equanimity. In the mind it enables seeing or direct knowing. When the cognizant stillness of meditation settles the automatic and sensitive energies that usually overlay the conscious energy, consciousness rises into the foreground of our experience. At such moments we are truly conscious.

The substance of our inner work, to a very great extent, involves the flows and interactions of energies. For this week, please study these inner energies in yourself. Choose one or more specific aspects discussed in the foregoing and arrange your practice accordingly.


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