Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For week of December 14, 2015

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(Presence Trigger 1)

We have studied and practiced methods and tools for establishing presence. And we have looked at various metrics to assess the quality and quantity of our presence. This still leaves us with the crucial problem of remembering to initiate our work of presence. Do we go about our day without practicing presence, even though we know how to do so and how to assess our efforts?

What we need are triggers that will remind us in the midst of our busy or not so busy lives, remind us to practice presence now. Rather than waiting for spontaneous moments of awakening into presence, which only come haphazardly, we develop intentional triggers that will awaken us. So now we begin to study and practice a series of such triggers. In doing so, as we learn the possibilities, we also become able to devise our own presence triggers, suited to our capabilities and circumstances. All the presence triggers depend on our taking the time to create a clear intention to awaken to presence whenever that trigger occurs.

We start with a simple, though not necessarily easy, way to trigger presence. We set up, in advance, appointments for ourselves, times during our day at which we intend to practice presence. We do this in the morning, at the start of our day, perhaps at the end of our sitting when we have heightened clarity of intention.

There are at least two approaches to using appointment triggers for presence. The first is the straightforward one of making an appointment with ourselves for definite times of the day. For example, we could say that we will practice presence at 10:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 8:00 PM, or other times that fit our life. Then when those times arrive, we engage in one of the presence practices from our inner work toolkit. If we miss the exact time, but remember about it later, then we just practice presence at that moment of remembering.

We may be tempted to set a reminder alarm on our phone or watch. This might work, but it has two problems. First, such external reminders tend to become ineffective after a while, as we just start ignoring them. Second, we want to build an inner force of presence, an inner source of remembering to practice, not have to rely on artificial means. The growth of that inner source itself becomes a central aspect of our spiritual work.

The second type of presence appointment is situational. We choose an event or circumstance we will very likely be in sometime during the day, perhaps more than once. And we set ourselves, in advance, to practice presence when that circumstance arises. Perhaps we know that we will go to a particular place today or that we will do a particular thing. We set our intention to practice presence at that moment, when it comes. This approach leaves the field wide open for us to experiment with various appointments for presence.

The important thing, anytime we do remember to work on presence, is to actually do it, to come back to ourselves, to come back to being here. When we remember, be it by appointment or otherwise, we immediately engage in one of the presence tools and we work to sustain and deepen our presence. If we remember and yet dismiss that remembering or let it slide, then the moments of remembering will come less often and soon enough we will altogether stop remembering to practice presence. We need to honor that moment of re-awakening to the possibility of presence, every time.

Setting appointments to meet ourselves in presence can be powerful and effective. It can happen that we suddenly come to, right at the time or situation that we set hours earlier. It is a gift we give our future selves.

For this week, please practice setting and keeping appointments to practice presence.


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