Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of November 29, 2010

Left-click for MP3 audio stream, right-click to download

Emotion Contact

(Inner Body Development: Aspect 2 of 7)

Very often, when in the grip of some strong emotion, or even just the influence of a mild one, we do not realize it. When we get angry, our immediate focus falls to the cause and object of our anger, and we may miss the fact of the anger itself. Same with fear, jealousy, sadness, happiness, and the rest. Emotions shape our inner experience, channeling our thoughts along paths symbiotic with the emotion, directing our attention toward those aspects of our immediate environment relevant to the emotion, and urging us to actions dictated by the emotion. This all happens automatically, without any choosing on our part, as if it were hardwired into our nervous system.

One problem with this lack of emotional awareness for our spiritual work is that some of these emotions drain and waste our inner energies. On the other hand, if we were to succeed in flattening our emotions, our life would become dull indeed. The solution, though not easy, is to bring more consciousness into our emotional life. Enhanced awareness itself changes the tenor and quality of our emotions, generally raising them to be more positive, less self-centered, less draining, and more integrated with our wholeness.

Our inner body, like our physical body, needs its center of emotional awareness. For that, we can simply use our attention to contact our emotional center, similarly to the way we sense for body contact. For contact with our inner body emotional center, we collect and hold our attention in the physical area of our emotions, our chest and upper abdomen between our breasts, our solar plexus and the upper part of our sternum. This awakens the sensitive energy of emotion, which mediates our contact with that center. The sensitive energy takes three forms relating to our body, our emotion, and our mind. Our inner body needs all three, including the sensitive energy of emotion.

Put your attention in the area of your emotions and stay with it. Five effects of this are (1) to make us aware of the physical aspects of our emotions, (2) to make us aware of particular emotions as they arise, (3) to make us aware of our emotions as emotions, (4) to awaken the sensitive energy of emotion, and (5) to keep us in contact with our emotional center even when no particular emotions are apparent.

This last point matters because often our emotional center seems quiescent. That would leave us nothing to be aware of, were we just trying to be aware of our emotions. But instead, we are working to be present in our emotional center regardless of what and whether emotions are there. Without any explicit effort to change our emotions, this sensitive energy contact with our emotional center enhances the quality of our emotions. Emotional center presence sensitizes our emotions to respond more readily and appropriately to the world around us. Suddenly, we are more complete. We are not just chattering mind and unruly emotion: we have a heart.

But on its own, emotional presence tends to evaporate quickly, either into nothing or into some strong emotion. So we always couple it with body contact, with sensing our body. In fact our inner work, to be most fruitful, generally begins with sensing our body, as completely and robustly as we can. Then once we are settled into body contact, we widen our presence to also be in contact with our emotional center. We practice this both in sitting meditation and in daily life, by sensing our whole inner body and feeling our emotional heart. Again, this does not mean that we try to generate a particular emotion, or intentionally change some emotion that is there, nor that any emotion will be there. It simply means sensitive presence in our chest and upper abdomen, in our center of emotion, while also sensing our entire body. We are alert in body and in heart.

For this week, practice sensitive contact with your center of emotion, while sensing as much of your inner body as you can.


About Inner Frontier                                    Send us email 

Copyright © 2001 - 2022 Joseph Naft. All rights reserved.