Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of July 18, 2016

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Relaxation

(Basic Inner Work 1)

We begin our exploration of basic inner work with the practice of relaxation. The first level of relaxation involves relaxing our body. While we all do that when we go to sleep at night, the practice of relaxation trains us to relax consciously and to live in a relaxed body. One advantage is that when we relax we do not waste our physical and inner energies on tensions. That releases those energies for more productive uses, like nourishing our inner life.

With that we can already see that our physical tensions often are manifestations of emotional or psychological tensions. When we are worried, angry, afraid, harried, frustrated, or otherwise in a knot, it shows up in our body, most often in our face, or shoulders, or abdomen. Relaxing our body thus engages the interplay between our physical tensions and our emotions. If we can relax our body, then our emotions tend to relax. If we can relax our emotions, then our body tends to relax.

We can work at this during a sitting meditation. We sit upright and comfortably, in a posture that will not put us to sleep, a posture that we can maintain for the duration and that will help us stay alert. We direct our attention to our face. We notice the tensions there and let them go. We do not rush this; we relax into relaxing. And we continue this process throughout our body, from the top down. We put our attention on each part, notice the tensions there, and let them go. We relax our scalp and neck, our shoulders, arms, and hands, one part at a time. We relax our chest, back, and abdomen. We let the tensions drain out of us. We relax our legs, upper legs, lower legs, and feet, one part a time. Then we go through the entire body one more time to relax further.

We practice this regularly, daily at the beginning of our morning meditation. It is an excellent prelude to other meditation practices. It helps bring us inner and outer calm, from which our spiritual work can proceed.

Later, we notice opportunities for moments of this relaxation practice during our day. While tensions can be useful or even necessary in preparing us for action, they usually just waste our precious energy. We may find chronic tensions in various parts of our body and learn to let them go. Likewise, when we notice any unnecessary tension, chronic or episodic, we practice letting it go. We feel a little less subject to the exigencies of life, a little less at the mercy of every passing situation. We discover that we can at least have some impact on our formerly unconscious responses.

For this week, please practice relaxation.

See Also: Relaxation


     

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