Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For week of November 30, 2015

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Rating the Day

(Presence Metric 6)

Time is precious. How we live today creates our future. Do we spend our time profitably in developing our soul? To answer this, we could use a daily measure, based on our presence metrics.

Taking stock of our inner work helps bring clarity to the apparent fuzziness of the spiritual path. Because the path only partly belongs to our ordinary world in space and time, we do not readily see its contours. By regularly assessing our practice, we can see our true situation more clearly.

Here is one approach to this. At the end of each day, at bedtime, look back to see the extent to which inner work, spiritual practice penetrated your life during that day. How often were you present, for how long, how deeply, how broadly, how intensely?

You need not make this a highly detailed review. Simply note your overall impression of the quality of your inner life during the foregoing day. To make it more concrete and to obtain a measure for day-to-day comparisons and goals, rate the day on a 0 to 10 scale, with 0 standing for no presence at all, and 10 representing your ideal of presence practice. The one absolutely necessary ingredient in this review and rating process is complete honesty with yourself, the willingness to see your life as it actually is.

This important and effective practice can be found in a number of wisdom traditions. It dates back at least five hundred years, for example to the time of the Khwajagan, the masters of wisdom of Central Asia, among whom were the founders of some of today’s Sufi orders. This daily evaluation helps us identify our obstacles to and opportunities for inner work. It helps us realize our true position on the spiritual path, thus encouraging us to redouble our efforts to practice more, to practice wisely, to practice with heart.

So at the end of your day, take a look back to see how you were inwardly. One clue can be found in how you are at that moment, as you retire from the day. The day is over and with it the time for active efforts. So here you are. In this effortless state, to what degree are you present? To what degree is your body alive with sensation? To what degree are you aware of your thoughts and emotions, of the stillness and equanimity beneath them? To what degree are you here? The quality of our presence at the end of the day is a strong indicator of how well we have worked that day.

Some of us start our day with a meditation period, which may result in a state of centered presence we can carry into the day. If we work at presence during the day, it builds up even stronger, so that by the end of the day, we are effortlessly here in body, heart, and mind. If on the other hand, in terms of inner work, we just coast through the day, making no intentional efforts of presence, then whatever presence we gained in our morning sitting will dissipate long before we go to bed. How we are at any moment is partially a function of our prior efforts, our prior practice.

For this week, at the end of each day, please rate the quality and quantity of your work of presence during that day.


     

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