Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of December 17, 2018


At Home in our Body

(Spiritual Dynamics: 1)

From a spiritual viewpoint, one of the great things about our body is that it lives in the present. Our body is always now. And because the entire spiritual reality opens solely through the present, our body can serve as the foundation for our inner life. Toward that, we practice living in contact with our body, living in body awareness.

Notice that there is more to this than being aware of our body. Certainly, that is how our practice starts, but it deepens from there. Otherwise our inner work would be totally dependent on the state of our body; if our body were ill, our inner work would be impaired. That is indeed what happens, but only to an extent that depends on the depth of our practice. Ultimately, we might hope to reach a condition where even the death of our body would not stop our spiritual life.

In the meantime, there is an intricate dynamic between the state of our body and our inner work. No doubt, a healthier, more energetic body supports a more robust inner life. Illness and injury narrow our outlook and attention, because of the pain or discomfort and because of the biological imperative to stay alive and whole. We have little choice but to accept that and tend to our body, at least when the situation is acute. But afterward, in the recovery period or during chronic illness, we may be able to reintroduce presence, compassion, and even joy. After doing what is medically necessary, can we be there with the pain, not shrink from it? That way we open to our body, to our wholeness again and minimize the worrying, fear, and suffering layered on top of any unavoidable pain. For our relationships, we can take care not to allow our conversations to focus unnecessarily on our physical condition.

Beyond illness, there are the normal ups and downs in the state of our body. We contend with the results of not having slept well, having eaten too much or unwisely, having overindulged in alcohol, not having done enough exercise, or having used any tobacco, cannabis, or other drugs at all.

With the advancing legalization of cannabis, it merits a particular word: No. The use of cannabis destroys the energies we need for our inner work. For those who do use it, notice how it affects your ability to be present the next day, versus when you have not used it for at least a week. If we use cannabis for pleasure, is that worth the inner cost? We look for steady progress along the spiritual path. Short cuts through drugs become detours at best.

So far we have looked into being at home in our body as if our physical body were our only body. Inner work brings with it the possibility of deeper, spiritual bodies. As we work at sensing our body, at being in contact with the sensitive energy in our body, we can shift from being in contact with our body by means of the sensitive energy to being in the sensitive energy itself. If it is complete enough and if the energy is strong enough, it starts to be a body of sensitive energy. We might call this our sensation body or our energy body. We can practice being at home in our physical body, while also being at home in our sensation body, in the sensitive energy.

This offers us a way to measure our life and what we do in terms of its impact on our ability to be in our sensation body. Can we engage with what we are doing while being in our sensation body? Can we do what we do from our sensation body?

For this week, please practice being at home in your physical body and in your sensation. Notice the dynamics of this, what helps and what hinders?


        

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