Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of October 31, 2016

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Hurry and Worry versus Calm Presence

(The Challenge of Presence 1)

Time is our most valuable asset, though we often make it our prison, like when we hurry or worry. When we are late or want to get something over with, we hurry. We could move quickly without being inwardly rushed or anxious, but instead we hurry, both inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly, hurrying makes everything a blur. Outwardly, hurrying makes us tense and mistake-prone.

If some potential problem looms in our future, we worry. We could take whatever actions are possible to prevent unwanted future occurrences without worrying. If no such actions are possible, worrying will not help anyway. Nevertheless, we fall into anguish, apprehension, and fear, or at least an uneasiness about what might be lurking out there, waiting to meet us as we are pushed along by time.

Besides their inherent unpleasantness, hurrying and worrying kill our precious time, waste our time. Instead of living in the eternal now of calm presence, we collapse into clock time where the present moment shrivels into nothingness. In the eternal now, experience is rich, it has depth and vivid color. In clock time, the present is gone almost before it arrives, impoverishing experience, keeping us barely on the surface, depriving us of a place to be and air to breathe.

This very moment is the point of contention between the forces, between living presence in the eternal now and dying descent into the fleeting instant of time. In calm presence, we feel the broadening of this moment, we feel its eternal quality. In calm presence, time is the opening into our future. We can be here in this moment.

In clock time, however, we shrink, along with our moment, each tick marking our loss. So much that comes to us from time pulls us into its ebbing tide. Can we stand up and be, while the waters of time swirl around us, while its siren beauties call?

Of course, we are constrained to respect time by our body, our family, our planet, which are, in part, products of time. So we do what we need to do to take care of the future. But we can do that from calm presence. We do not need to be a slave of time. And there is the future beyond our needs, the future that evolves, that we serve and create. We cannot serve that future if we are pushed along by time, if we live only in time, because we cannot see it, or conceive it. But from calm presence we can.

When we notice ourselves hurrying, what can we do about that? The most obvious thing would be to slow down and relax. But when we are in a hurry, slowing down may be exactly what we cannot do. But that applies externally. Inwardly, perhaps we can slow down, even while we outwardly rush forward. The effort is not to stop hurrying, but to move inwardly into calm presence while we hurry, if we must. For that, we pay attention to our body. We raise the level of our contact with our body. We enter our body. We sense our body. That contact enables us inwardly to move with our body, rather than allowing our hurrying body to drag us along. We are here in our body, moving as necessary, without the extra tensions. Engaging purposefully in that movement takes the emotional edge off the hurrying. We find ourselves calming down, resting in presence, even in the whirlwind of action and time.

When we notice ourselves worrying, what can we do about that? Sometimes nothing. If our anxiety is deep or strong, we ruminate obsessively on the situation, and our emotions contract into that one dimension. Even if our worrying is mild, we may not be able to just turn it off at will. Instead of trying to stop the anxiety, we shift our attention toward establishing ourselves in calm presence. We come into body contact, sensing our whole body. We relax into our body. We let our body absorb the worry, letting it dissipate. As that occurs, we relax our emotions. We move into the wholeness of presence. And here we are, dealing as best we can with the worrisome situation, but now from a place of calm presence.

The deeper our presence, the more we recognize the eternal beauty of now. Can we live in that? Can we notice what pulls us out into time? For this week, please take up the challenge of calm presence versus hurry and worry.

See Also: Hurry and Worry


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