Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of February 15, 2010

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Triune Presence

(Aspect 10 of 12 of the Path to Presence)

A stool, to be stable, requires at least three legs. So it is with presence. The act of simultaneously engaging all three presences of body, heart, and mind greatly multiplies our chances of maintaining our presence. The three interact and mutually support each other. When one of these presences weakens, the other two can reinvigorate it. With all three, we feel more solid; we stand firmly in the world of presence, of being here fully. So the first benefit of triune presence is the enhanced duration it enables.

Another major benefit lies in the breadth of triune presence. We become more fully human, anchored in our body with an alert, open, and adaptable mind and an appropriately sensitive heart. Our experience becomes more rounded, more balanced, and enriched. Clarity of mind is warmed by sensitivity of feeling, and both are grounded in the present moment of our body.

A third significant benefit is the intensity of triune presence, the vividness it imparts to our experience. The three presences of body, heart, and mind combine to form a stronger presence than one or two could. One reason lies in the degree and quality of attention needed to enter and maintain such presence. In meeting the challenge of being in all three, we raise the level of our inner work for those moments. But there is also a feedback from our awakened body, heart, and mind that supports the intensity of triune presence.

So how do we actually practice triune presence? In recent weeks we have worked at body presence, emotional presence, and cognitive presence. Now we can work on putting it all together.

We begin the practice of triune presence during formal, sitting meditation. After thoroughly relaxing our body, mind, and heart, we turn to sensing our body. First we sense parts of it: arms, legs, torso, and head. Then we move into sensing the whole of our body and staying with that wholeness. Once we feel grounded in whole body sensation, in body presence, we add to it.

We put some extra attention into our center of emotion, into the general region of our chest and solar plexus. We are there in our center of emotion, even if there are no particular emotions at the time. We are there in readiness to feel, in readiness to be our emotion, in readiness to respond with feeling. We stay with both, with whole body sensing and with attention to our emotional center. After having settled ourselves in both emotional and body presence, we add to that.

We place some extra attention into our head, into our mind, to establish ourselves in cognitive presence. We are in our whole mind, not just in our thoughts. We are there in our knowing, seeing, thinking, cognizing part. And then we stay with all three: sensing our whole body, emotional presence, and cognitive presence. Toward the end of the meditation period, we let all that go and allow the effort and energy to soak into our being.

We also wish to live our ordinary daily life in full presence. So we can practice entering triune presence at any time during our day when we have enough spare attention for it. As with the sitting meditation version of this practice, we begin with sensing our body, the whole of it. Then we add emotional or cognitive presence. And finally we add the third. With practice, you may be able to come into all three at once. So when you find moments during your day that do not require your full attention to whatever you are doing, you can try entering triune presence and staying with it. Ultimately you may find that triune presence does not detract from your engagement in your life activity. On the contrary, triune presence may add to your attention, so that you can do whatever you are doing more fully. But, of course we maintain the caveat that critical situations (e.g., driving, chopping vegetables) deserve our full attention without inner efforts of presence.

For this week, practice triune presence. Even if you are only able to enter such presence for brief moments, those moments repeated offer a taste of new possibilities, a new way of living.


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