Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of April 3, 2006


Finding Time

In today’s world, because we experience so many competing demands on our time and new opportunities for spending it, we must continually triage our possible engagements. Since our spiritual work does not obviously and unequivocally contribute to our material well-being, we tend to let it slide, allowing other musts and wants to take precedence over our time for meditation and prayer. Even if we were to live a hundred years, our life would be all-too-brief compared to our possibilities. How can we manage this precious, limited resource of time to give our inner work its due?

First and foremost we examine our priorities. Do I spend my time in ways that matter? Does my lifestyle support and express my inner work? Do I allow the spiritual attraction of the sacred to shape my commitments and drives?

We might seek to understand how much time we really need for meditation and prayer. How much is useful at our current stage of inner evolution? Toward that, we can experiment with longer and shorter periods of formal practice and see how they affect our level of presence during the day.

Once we have a clearer picture of what would be useful, we can look to adjust our life accordingly. Perhaps we need to go to sleep earlier so as to have more time for morning meditation and prayer. Maybe we take a half hour out of our evening to practice, or extra time on the weekends, or a brief meditation in the midst of our busy day.

But a whole other realm of time also awaits us. By distinguishing between inner and outer time, we can more than double our time. The quality of our presence determines the quality of our time. To the extent we live in presence, we add a vivid inner experience to our outer experience, vastly enhancing the value and perceived length of any interval of time. With presence we live in two parallel times: one belonging to our body and the outer world, and another belonging to our inner life.

Some of our outer activities require our full inner resources, while many others do not. But as our attention grows wide and deep, and as our practice fills our reservoir of energies, more of life falls into the latter category, leaving us free to discover an inner space-time that parallels the outer. We then live two lives: an inner life and an outer, each enriching the other. Further along the way, these two merge back together in the fullness of a unified spirit.

Within that spirit, our practice touches what is beyond time altogether. A brief moment lived in depth can hold as much life as an entire day lived on the surface. As we enter deeply into the present moment, time disappears as our “now” becomes timeless, eternal. The events of life pass through our contextual consciousness, which fashions them into a seamless whole. By way of that timeless dimension, the sacred enters, offering substance and meaning to all our moments.

For this week, see if you need more outer time for your inner work. If so, look at how to find it. See, also, how the work of presence creates more life and more time.


        

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