Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the Week of May 30, 2022


Conscious Presence

(Stable Presence: 3)

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While the sensitive energy in the body, heart, and mind creates a foundation for presence, the air that allows presence to take flight is the conscious energy. We become familiar with the conscious energy through stillness, spacious and cognizant stillness. We begin with stillness of body, sitting quietly, relaxing our body, relaxing into our body. Though it may take a while, depending on how hot our issues of the moment are, as our body relaxes and as we sink into this relaxed body, our emotions begin to settle into peace. And our thoughts recede into the background as our mind begins to settle toward a sparse-thought, or even a thought-free, state.

When we enter the silence, we find at least temporary relief from the tyranny of our thoughts, from the tyranny of our personality, from the tyranny of our self-centered egoism. In this process, pure awareness comes toward the foreground, revealing the conscious context of all our experience. We are surrounded by cognizant stillness, a substantive stillness whose substance we call the conscious energy.

Being surrounded and permeated by the conscious energy is part of its nature. Consciousness has no boundaries. It is a smooth field of awareness. By intentionally abiding in consciousness, we soak in it and acquire a taste for it, enabling us to recognize and return to it at times as we go about our day.

One difficulty with consciousness is that even if we are able to come into it during a sitting meditation, as soon as we start engaging in the activities of our life, we are easily distracted from it. Sensing our whole body helps with that. The wholeness of total body sensation has an affinity with the characteristic wholeness of the conscious energy. Thus, whole body sensing provides a ready platform for consciousness.

Silence and stillness are how we learn about consciousness, how we train ourselves to experience pure awareness. Yet thoughts and emotions need not preclude our being in consciousness. Instead, like clouds passing through a vast, blue sky, thoughts and emotions can pass through consciousness without obscuring it, without displacing us from that big sky mind. We can learn to walk through life with thoughts, emotions, and sensory impressions streaming through us, while we remain rooted in consciousness. We live in the depth of pure awareness, while the content of our life streams by on our surface.

This is not a kind of inner multitasking, whereby we divide our attention between thoughts, emotions, sensory impressions, and consciousness. We are our attention. If we divide our attention, we are dividing ourselves. This is the weakness inherent in divided-attention multitasking. Rather than dividing our attention, we can broaden our attention. Let’s say we want to pay attention to our arm and our leg at the same. Instead of dividing our attention between our arm and leg, we widen our attention to include both our arm and our leg. Similarly, between thoughts and emotions, or between thoughts and our body, or between the person we are conversing with and ourselves, we integrate both into our one attention, have both inside the great umbrella of our attention. Instead of dividing ourselves into smaller, less-capable selves, we make ourselves a little larger and more capable.

That broadening of attention is made possible by the spaciousness of the conscious energy. We can expand through consciousness to allow a larger field to be covered by, included in, our total experience.

Just as we can find a way to rest in the sensation of our whole body, we can also find a way to rest in conscious presence, to be in the unique and singular wholeness of this moment. Within consciousness, our body, heart, and mind are made whole, a single, unified whole. Consciousness supersedes all our parts, raising us beyond the separate pieces of our life, the pieces of our human equipment and experience, and elevates us into wholeness. When we are present in consciousness, one of the veils of separateness fades away. We inhabit the same consciousness as our neighbor, the same conscious field that pervades the entire world.

The more we practice being in the conscious energy, the stronger it becomes in us. In the moments we intentionally open to the conscious energy, it comes to the foreground, transforming the level and quality of our awareness. Yet this also has a hidden, positive side effect: the conscious energy begins to stay with us at all times, albeit unnoticed in the background. The more we practice, the more that background consciousness grows. Then the moment comes when we realize that a threshold has been crossed: the conscious energy has come into the foreground of awareness and stays there effortlessly.

Continued practice makes this foreground consciousness stronger still and even more continuous. Every time we work to intensify our presence, it adds drop by drop to the steady consciousness we live in. The aim of stable presence becomes a reality for us. We start to live more in the contextual depth of pure awareness, while thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions continue on the surface, and we are less prone to collapsing into identification with that surface. At the same, the light of consciousness makes our senses, our life, more vivid, enriching us. And in presence, we are more there for the people around us.

For this week, please practice presence in consciousness. Please practice conscious presence.


     

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