Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of December 31, 2012

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Energy Management

(Learning to Be: Part 7)

To be more we need to strengthen our inner being. And work on being is all about working with inner energies. Our will actually does the work, but our energies enable it. The principal energies that can contribute to our being are the sensitive energy, highest of the life energies, and two of the truly spiritual energies, which are not bound by space and time, namely the conscious energy and the creative energy. All of our inner work, all spiritual practices, all meditation, prayer, and inner exercises concern these energies. Though there are even higher energies, they lie well beyond our awareness and understanding, so we need not concern ourselves with them, except by way of prayer. Our work on being does concern contacting, engaging, generating, tapping into, accumulating, and organizing the sensitive, conscious, and creative energies that can form our soul.

In Part 6 of this series (In Body, Mind, and Heart), we delved into working with the sensitive energy in its various forms. The importance of that fundamental work, throughout our spiritual life, cannot be overemphasized. Our ability to sense, the strength, frequency, and duration of our work with sensing during our everyday life, becomes one effective measure of being and shows the status of our inner life. It is a kind of spiritual fuel gauge, a standard which can guide our efforts to regulate our energies.

Some things we might do can be very costly to our inner life because they waste our energies. These may include too much food, too much alcohol, tobacco use, recreational drug use, too little sleep, too much or too little sex, lack of exercise in short, the usual dimensions of a healthy lifestyle. Except now, our measure is not just our bodily health, but our ability to practice sensing. Destructive emotions like anger, anxiety, jealousy, and the rest also waste our inner energies, in direct proportion to the strength and duration of the emotional storm. Experimentation with, and careful observation of, how we live and how that affects our ability to sense can show us how to manage our lifestyle to maximize our spiritual energies. To change our wasteful habits, we work for awareness, for presence, not against some habit. We work to be aware when a wasteful impulse arises, and to stay aware of it as it passes by, without our needing to act on it. We seek to live in such a way that we can sense more, be more, live more. Indeed, sensing tends to diminish our energy wasting behaviors, both physical and emotional, by bringing us to a less identified state of being.

While minimizing our waste of inner energies is necessary, it is not sufficient to grow our being. Among other things, we also need to increase our intake of spiritual energies. This is a positive feedback process, because as our being grows our access to sources of energies also grows. The most readily accessible source is the air around us: it contains an inexhaustible reservoir of spiritual energy on the level of the sensitive energy. But until we learn and become able to access that energy, it remains just a nice theory.

Energy breathing has been taught and practiced in all the major spiritual traditions, although at times in a disguised form. Perhaps the clearest example comes from the Yoga tradition with its practice of pranayama. Today this is usually taken as a physical exercise of breathing through one nostril or both in a certain pattern. Otherwise the breathing is ordinary. But actually to breathe the prana or energy in the air is a matter of inner breathing, of using our attention and intention to contact and draw the energy from the air. The outward form of one nostril or a breath pattern is unnecessary and can even distract us from the real action required. The inner form is to put our attention into the air as we breathe it in and, with our attention acting as a kind of net, draw the energy into us, draw the vivid, vibrating particles of energy from the air and let them enter our body, our being, where they spread out to join and strengthen our sensitive energy. Visualizing and imagining these shimmering particles entering us with our breath can help get us started, but must not be confused with the actual experience, which is unmistakable. Energy breathing builds our being in a direct way and can be a very important part of our spiritual path. We can try energy breathing during our sitting practice for a week or so and if we still do not have contact with it, we drop it and come back to it later, say in six months or a year, and try again.

There are deeper sources of energy than what comes to us from the air. We will address working with the conscious energy in the next part of this inner work series and with the creative energy in a later part.

For this week, notice what you do that wastes your inner energies by noticing how your actions affect your ability to sense. Try the practice of energy breathing.


     

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