Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For week of December 21, 2015

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Ad Hoc Goals

(Presence Trigger 2)

Short-term presence goals can help. Say you are out for a walk or a jog or a bike ride and you decide to be and stay present. You might choose a landmark that you will soon pass, like a tree or a pole, an intersection or a building. And then you work to maintain your presence until you reach that landmark. Once you reach it, you immediately select the next suitable landmark and stay present until you get there. This type of practice has the great advantage of being concrete and immediate. The circumscribed nature of the effort enables us to bring more intensity and more continuity of presence, at least for that brief time.

The endless other examples of short-term goals of presence include: until the next commercial break in the TV show, until you reach the front of the line you are waiting in, until you finish brushing your teeth, until you finish doing the dishes or just this dish, until the end of the conversation or the meeting or just this sentence you are speaking or reading. We use our creativity and intelligence to find such ever-present opportunities and adapt them to support our inner work.

We can transform our ordinary activities into occasions for inner work by choosing to practice in particular situations and events as we enter them. For example, I am about to go into the grocery and suddenly remember that this offers me a chance to work. So I decide, on the spur of the moment, just before entering the store, that I will attempt to practice full awareness of my body through sensation during the entire period I am in the grocery. Then as I shop, I keep returning to my intention to practice and keep strengthening my contact with the sensitive energy in my body.

Similar possibilities abound in which we can choose discrete events, on an ad hoc, opportunistic, non-premeditated basis, to be venues for inner work: going to a party, a concert, a commute, a walk, a meeting, a meal, doing a household project, pumping gas, taking a shower, performing minor tasks like taking out the garbage or combing our hair, and so on. The power of this method lies in the fact that the inner task is limited to one time interval, which becomes a field for our will, for our intention. Because we can envision the entire event ahead of time and because it has a clearly defined duration, we can fill the event with our intention to practice and thereby bring stronger, more frequent effort to bear on our inner work than might otherwise be possible.

For this week, be prepared to respond to the unexpected impulse to pursue your inner work during a situation or event you are about to begin or already in. When you recognize the opportunity, let this recognition be a presence trigger for you to set yourself to practice presence during the event. As you go through it, stay in touch with your intention and actually practice for the duration of the event. If you lose your intention, then, as soon as you remember, return to working to be and stay present.


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