Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of November 18, 2013

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Being Your Body

(Being Yourself: Part 1)

Being relaxed is intimately connected with being ourselves, being comfortable with who we are, in our own skin. Though relaxing can begin in the mind or emotions, those connect with our body. So by relaxing our body, we also may relax our mind and emotions. And by relaxing into our body, we feel more at home, more ourselves. Being in our body is the place to start on being in ourselves.

But arenít we always in our body? Well Ė no! We are where our attention is. Our attention can be broad, like a wide lens, encompassing our body as well as whatever else we are paying attention to. Our usual situation, though, is either that our attention is taken by something and does not include our body in its view or that our attention is so scattered as to be non-existent. If our attention doesnít exist, we donít exist. If our attention is lost in something external to us, or even in a thought or emotion, then still we do not exist, because all of that is external to who we are. But as soon as we include our body, our whole body within our attention, we move a step closer to who we are, because our body is always in the here and now.

Simply having attention on our body is a positive beginning. The next steps, as stated above, are to relax our body and then to relax into our body. We are not just paying attention to our body as if from a distance, as if we are in our head or our mind and our body is out there, down there. Rather we enter our body, we become our body.

This practice applies regardless of the condition of our body. If itís healthy and pain free, we may tend to ignore it. If our body has some discomfort or pain, this certainly makes us acutely aware of our body, but here we also tend not to be in it: we reject that painful part. We flee the pain, inwardly shrinking from it, not wanting to experience it. Our practice instead is, while taking whatever medical treatment or other steps are necessary and appropriate to heal our body, we fully enter our body, including the painful areas. We do not reject any part or any sensation of pain. We let the pain bring us more fully into our body. We relax, accept, and embrace our whole body as it is. Sometimes it may even happen that this acceptance, and yes love, can help alleviate the pain, or at least diminish the emotional pain that gets layered on top of the physical pain.

Yet there is more, in regard to how to do this. We can be in our body more robustly through gathering and organizing a certain inner energy, the sensitive energy, the energy of sensation. Our experience of our body can be much more than of blood, flesh, and bone in action. Through the practice of sensing, we start to form an inner body made primarily of the sensitive energy, an inner body where we can be even more fully at home. We are not only our body. And we are not only our inner body. But being in them provides a place for our true self to reside. Here I am in my body, in my sensation body.

How to do that? It takes persistent, long-term effort to put and keep some of our attention in our body. The more we do that, the more natural it becomes for us to be at home in our body. So for example, we begin by sitting quietly and putting all our attention into our right hand. We experience our hand from within it, in a visceral, immediate way, not by thinking about or visualizing our hand. And we hold our attention in the hand. After a few minutes, we note the difference in our current experience of our right hand and left. Our right may seem warm, full of life, full of energy. By contrast our left may seem empty and flat. This is due to the presence of the sensitive energy in the right hand, drawn there by our attention. We continue this for a few minutes each with our right foot, then the left foot, and then the left hand, followed by sensing the whole right arm, then the right leg, then the left leg, then the left arm, then all four limbs at once, and finally our whole body, including our torso and head. We do not try to sense particular internal organs, so as not to interfere with their instinctive function. Rather we sense our torso as a whole, our entire body as whole.

Sensing our whole body puts us on the path toward forming a robust and enduring inner body. The more we practice sensing, the stronger our inner body, and the longer it lasts before dissolving whenever our attention and intention lapse. So we persist, coming back to sensing again and again. Having an inner body and abiding in it, even for a few moments, is a great luxury and a step toward the formation of our soul. With practice, we become able to be in our sensation, in our sensitive energy body as we go about our day. We find this enhances our participation in life. By being in our body, we can be in our life. We are more there, in a real way, in whatever we do, including in our interactions with people.

But not only that: being in our inner body gives us a foothold in a higher world, albeit one that should be natural for us. This is a world where we are more in contact with our life, less prone to being taken over by difficult emotions. And being in that world of sensitive presence, gives us a foundation to begin to understand the nature of higher levels of the spirit and to begin to reach toward being in them. At each step along this way, we become more fully ourselves, more uniquely ourselves.

For this week, please practice being your body.


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