Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of November 25, 2019


Breadth

(Advancing Our Practice: 4)

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The ability to focus narrowly, to hold our attention on one thing, is essential to our life and to our inner work. Just as necessary and valuable is the ability to broaden our attention, to take in a wide field of awareness. At moments when we do not need to focus attention one-pointedly, we can assess our state and our inner work by the breadth of our awareness: the more global the better. This global awareness keeps us out of identification, wherein we collapse wastefully into some small thing. It opens us to the wonder and beauty all around. In the domain of inner work during the day, we pursue the direction of broadening our awareness.

One way to practice body awareness is to sense some part of our body: a hand or a foot, an arm or a leg. The advantage of doing so is the anchoring action of focusing in this way. However, it is difficult to maintain that singular focus while we go about the myriad other actions of a typical day. If instead, we work to sense our entire body, to be aware of our body as a whole, a very different situation emerges. We feel complete and whole. We can engage fully, perhaps more fully than otherwise, in the activities of life, while sensing our whole body. It comes down to being in our whole body, which is of course our natural home. From that stance, we can what do we need or want to do. For example, you can sense your whole body and be fully engaged in reading these words. Thus, the first and fundamental example of broad inner work consists of being in our whole body.

Next we address our mind. The usual way of being in our mind is to be carried along, captivated by the never-ending flow of thoughts and attitudes. These thoughts typically are thinking themselves, bouncing off one another automatically, by association and habitual patterns. Sometimes we think intentionally, but usually we are just letting our thoughts run on, while we run after them. Our inner work with regard to thoughts is to broaden our awareness to take in our whole mind, including the cognizant stillness, the context of all thoughts. Behind, beneath, and between our thoughts lies the spaciousness of consciousness, pure seeing. The more we can move our center of gravity into that stillness, the less we get caught up in our automatic thoughts, and the more inner freedom we have, no longer burdened by the tyranny of our never-ending thought stream. The thoughts are still there, but we are not lost in them. They are just thoughts and just a small part of our vast mind.

The cognizant stillness of consciousness has no parts, it is one seamless, unbounded whole. It neither begins nor ends in us. But we can be in it and in doing so we enter the wholeness of our mind, not the little mind of our self-referential patterns of thought, but the big mind of consciousness.

We can come toward this in two principal ways. First, by sensing our whole body. The very unitary wholeness of that act resonates with the wholeness of consciousness. It gives us a real place to stand and be, stand and be whole, stand and be conscious.

The other way is to acquire the clear taste of consciousness through quiet meditation. We begin with sensing our whole body to establish our place. Then we turn to doing nothing, just being there. We do not try to stop our thoughts and we do not run after them. We do not focus on our body or our breathing and we do not run away from those perceptions if they arise. We just sit and do nothing. We just sit and be. Gradually this opens us to the stillness beneath and behind our thoughts and all our sensory perceptions. And we see that the stillness is conscious. We see that the stillness has substance and is indeed consciousness itself. In this way we enter our wholeness, of body, heart, and mind.

All our sensory perceptions, inner and outer, appear within this plenum of cognition. But consciousness is not limited to those perceptions. Consciousness is vast and boundless. This is the true breadth of our inner life.

For this week, please broaden your inner work, broaden your awareness. Life is big. The world is big. Awareness is big. Relax into your big mind.


        

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