Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For week of December 7, 2015

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(Presence Metric 7)

We have looked at six ways to measure our inner work of presence, six different views. One of the primary reasons for gauging our presence in these ways is to see what works. We have available from various spiritual traditions an abundance of proven techniques for bringing ourselves into and maintaining a state of presence. Yet what works well for you, may not work for me. What works for you today, may not work for you tomorrow or next year. What works in one situation, may not work in another. To assess all that, we now look to combine our various metrics into one overriding meta-metric: effectiveness. Using this effectiveness measure enables us to experiment with the methods in our toolbox of presence and see which work best for us. The practice of presence is an art, but gauging the effectiveness of our approach puts that art on a sound foundation.

Sometimes habit and momentum cause us to carry on using a presence technique long after it has stopped being effective or optimal for us. In other cases, we find ever-growing depth and value in a particular technique as we continue to engage in it over months or years. Checking on ourselves, in terms of the frequency, duration, intensity, breadth, and depth of our presence and how it varies day-to-day, shows us how effective our practice is. Then we can try changing our practice and seeing how effective that change proves to be. We bring our full intelligence to bear on our inner work. We sort out what feels good, comfortable, or familiar from what actually makes a difference in our ability to be present.

No one, no spiritual teacher and no book, can tell us what practice is best for us. They might show us practices and advise us, but only we ourselves can judge what fits and what works for us. Though we seek out and profit from spiritual companionship and communal practice, self-reliance remains an essential element of our way. To rely on ourselves means that we understand that no one can do our inner work for us. It also means assessing our inner work as best we can. Ultimately, self-reliance develops our contact with our own I, the core of true presence.

In our path toward presence, we do not seek escape into eternal bliss. In seeking a better life, we do not give ourselves entirely over to the material world of time. Presence puts us right at the interface between the eternal and the temporal, honoring both and giving each its due. We bring the depth of our spirit to our actions in time. We are here. Yet we do not know this place very well, this shoreline of the sacred. But now we have a sense of how to measure our presence and thereby pierce the fog that envelops our perceptions. When we can see and know our own presence, then we can find ways to enhance it.

For this week, please notice the effectiveness of the various ways you work to be present.


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