Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of May 11, 2015

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Surrender to the Present

(Living in Flow: Part 1)

Tensions come in an endless variety of flavors and sizes. Many contribute directly to what we are doing, and so are both useful and necessary. Others, however, impede flow. They burn our energies wastefully. They draw part of our attention away from what we had intended to focus on, thus fragmenting our will. Depending on where we started, tensions may either pull us out of the timeless into time, or keep us stuck in time. These tensions may be physical, mental, or emotional.

To illustrate, take the example of putting away your clean dishes and utensils after they have dried in the dish drainer or the dishwasher. Each item belongs to a particular cabinet or drawer. Your job is to put them where they belong. To accomplish this, you move around your kitchen in a purposeful manner. Your whole body is engaged: your hands to pick up the items and to put them down, your legs to move you from the unsorted collection to the cabinets and drawers, your eyes to see where you are going, your memory to indicate where to put each thing, and your ears to listen for the clinks and clunks that help you avoid breakage.

If you are in flow, this whole process becomes a kind of dance. It may occur in time and space, but you feel timeless. You are getting this small task done, with no impediments. You move fluidly and efficiently. It all goes smoothly on its own, without your conscious interference. Your mind is quiet. You give yourself to the action for its duration. You even enjoy it and end up with a sense of accomplishment, in its own small way.

But certain kinds of tensions can make this picture very different. If we are in a hurry, it will be a chore, not a dance. If we give in to attitudes of not liking the task, of resenting, avoiding, or rejecting it, of wishing we did not need to do it, of wanting it over with so we can get to the next thing, so we can go relax, then it will be a chore, not a dance. And the irony is that by wanting to get it over with so we can go relax, we miss the opportunity to be relaxed within the task itself. Wanting to get something over with is our attempt to kill that piece of time. But we cannot enter the timeless by killing time; only by accepting time can we transcend it. Only by flowing through time, unobstructed by tensions, can we flow into the timeless. Learning to relax into our life is one of the secrets to living in flow.

Our problem is that we are very attached to our tensions. Indeed attachments are the source of our tensions. So we practice surrendering our tensions. Not surrendering to our tensions, but rather surrendering to the moment by letting go of our tensions. Say we have an ongoing, self-propelled thought-train that is inwardly loud and packs an emotional punch. As long as part of our attention stays with that, we cannot enter the flow of any other action. Our choice here is to surrender that thought-train, letting it go by releasing the hold it has on our attention, by putting our whole attention back onto what we are doing, onto where we are, into our body, into being here.

The same principle applies to any other distracting tensions, such as attitudes of wanting to get away from what is happening or of wanting to grasp something outside the present moment. These divert our attention and divide us inwardly. Can we let those attitudes go and relax back into this moment? We may have some emotion unconnected with the present moment, an emotion that takes us away or weakens our contact with the present. Again, can we let that emotion go and relax back into this moment? Mental and emotional tensions lead to unnecessary bodily tensions, which burn our energies and distract us. Can we relax our body and thereby relax into this moment?

Whatever pulls on us, whatever keeps our body, mind, heart from working together and being fully engaged in what we are doing, can we let that go and totally surrender into the present? For this week, please practice entering flow through relaxation. Relax your body. Relax your mind. Relax your heart. Surrender your tensions to the present.


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