Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of October 24, 2016

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The Challenge of Presence


Those who have attempted to be present or to be mindful as much as possible during their daily life know that not much seems possible. Our lives seem to be chock full of situations and personal tendencies that sweep away any semblance of presence. When we do manage a bit of presence, we typically last only a few seconds before losing it to some other force.

One common fallacy we perpetuate to ourselves as an excuse for not being present is that all that life throws at us and demands from us prevents us from being present. Certainly, the life of presence is an ongoing challenge. That challenge, though, is not truly from the circumstances of our life, but rather from our inner responses to life. It is our own long-established, personal ways of being, experiencing, thinking, feeling, and acting that shove aside our intentions to be present, to live in presence. We believe that life blocks presence. We may even believe that to be more present we need to withdraw from life, maybe go on a retreat.

The reality is different. What needs to change is not the external circumstances of our life, but our inner life. We give exclusivity and priority to the wrong things inside us. Yet presence does not mean giving up all our usual ways of experiencing, thinking and the rest. It means adopting another way of being, one that does not replace our current inner experience, but wraps it, and us, within the loving arms of a wider, more objective, and more centered awareness.

Wider awareness means not so narrowly focused on a small part of our current experience. Objective means not subjective, not so narrowly focused on ourselves. And centered means actually being the one who is doing what we are doing and experiencing what we are experiencing.

Except for the extremes, we do not need to work directly on changing what we think and feel. Instead we work directly on presence. The inner context provided by presence changes us indirectly in subtle and, over time, not so subtle ways. Presence enables us to grow, to evolve naturally. We slowly shed our problems rather than ripping them away. Maturity is not something we attain once and for all; it is a life-long process whose further limits bring us into the sacred. How mature is God?

In the coming weeks we will work with some of the many challenges to presence. We will look at challenges as the ways in which specific qualities of presence are called forth by their opposite tendencies in our usual way of being. In this way, we intend to extend presence into more of our day.

    1. Hurry and Worry versus Calm Presence
    2. Presence versus Inertia
    3. Responsible Presence versus Unreliability
    4. All-In Presence versus Scattered Absence
    5. Engaged Presence versus Indifference
    6. Grasping versus Just Being
    7. Task Presence versus Distractions
    8. Presence versus Thinking About Presence
    9. Humble Presence versus Self-First

For this week, please work at being present during your day and notice what blocks that, what either keeps you from entering presence or makes it evaporate.


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