Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of July 25, 2016

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Inhabiting Our Body

(Basic Inner Work 2)

One great advantage of utilizing our body as the arena for our inner work is that it is always here and now. Unlike our thoughts and emotions, our body never strays from this moment. All of its sensations and attractions arise here in this moment. And our inner work, our spiritual work needs to be based in this moment. So the question becomes how to base ourselves in our body. For that, various effective techniques have been devised and refined by generations of people engaged in spiritual practice. It is only when we begin work with such methods that we see the extent to which we are not based in our body. For the most part we are in some thought or emotion, or perhaps outside of ourselves altogether, in something we see or hear or think about. Coming home into our body enables all our inner work.

A second great advantage of our body as a focus for basic inner work is its organic, visceral, physical nature, which makes our body easier to stay in contact with than our thoughts, emotions, or other capacities. Because of this, contact with our body gives us a viable and potentially stable foundation in the present moment. Again, though, the question is how.

Sitting quietly, slowly and systematically relax your entire body, checking and relaxing each part. After you have relaxed your body, begin the following exercise.

Place and hold your attention in your right hand. When you notice that your attention has wandered, simply bring it back to the hand. Have a direct perception of the hand, from inside it. Thinking about the hand or visualizing it does not help with sensing; it moves us into our mind at the very moment we are aiming to be in our body. Just keep your attention in your right hand. After a few minutes of this, notice the difference between your immediate perception of your right hand and your left hand. The right hand may be more alive, more vibrant. In contrast, the left hand seems relatively empty.

This difference is due to the presence of the sensitive energy in your right hand. The act of holding your attention in the hand has drawn that energy into it. We say that you are sensing your right hand and that it is full of the sensitive energy.

Now move your attention into your right foot and hold it there for a few minutes. Gradually the sensitive energy will begin to collect in your right foot. You will be sensing your right foot. Next sense your left foot and then your left hand.

In time, you will acquire the taste of sensing, so that you can easily recognize its presence or lack thereof. Then you can begin sensing entire limbs. Putting your attention in your right arm and holding your attention there in the whole of your right arm, the sensitive energy will spread throughout the arm. Next, sense your right leg, then your left leg, and then your left arm.

If you persist with the practice of sensing, your perception of and facility with it will grow. Then you can shift into sensing both arms or both legs, or all four at once. And then practice sensing your whole body, all four limbs, as well as your torso and head. In sensing your torso, however, keep to a general overall sensation of it, rather than trying to sense particular inner organs, so as not to interfere with their automatic functioning.

When you become able to sense your whole body, a qualitative shift occurs. You can then inwardly take possession of your body, be in your body, inhabit your body, in a new and powerful way. We sense our whole body and we inhabit it; we are here in our body, in the whole of it, and we work to stay in it.

Importantly, this practice fits well with our life beyond the meditation cushion. Except for life-critical activities that demand the whole of our attention, like driving, we can sense and inhabit our body as we go about our day. This brings a new and vivid richness to our life.

For this week, please practice inhabiting your body.


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