Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of April 24, 2006

Come What May

If we abandon our spiritual work in moments of difficulty, we abandon ourselves. Whether in the face of minor annoyances, moderate problems, or major troubles, we can always find a way to return our inner life to its sacred orientation. Not only do we then reclaim part of the energy being wasted in the difficult situation, but our inner work of that moment also helps us see the problem more objectively, not identify with it, and thereby remove an unnecessary layer of it.

If I am mildly ill or caught in a traffic jam, stuck in a long line or discovering a flat tire, arguing with someone or overloaded with work or errands, rejected in my proposal or failing in some other way, my mind will start spinning a story. That story creates a personality and identity built of thoughts and emotions about the problem “I” have. The more intensely I feel the “problem” and my inner rejection of it, the more energy goes into feeding the story and aggravating the situation.

The work of body awareness, of conscious breathing, of presence, or of touching the stillness can interrupt that story, reclaiming its energy to feed my soul. If I come back to myself, to my simple presence here, the belief in the situation as “my problem” also weakens, making it less of an issue. I am freer to be fully in this moment, to experience it, and to respond appropriately and even creatively to the “problem.” The dimension of depth returns.

The keys to spiritual work in the face of difficulties consist of remembering the path and choosing to return to it in this moment. That requires us to let go of our complete immersion in our “plight” and to accept what is. In acceptance we stop pushing or pulling on the situation; we stop wallowing in negative thoughts about it. However, acceptance is not acquiescence, but rather an openness that allows us to act from unbiased clarity. The choice to let go of being caught in the time-bound and to open to the timeless restores our balance.

For this week, notice your life difficulties when they arise. Notice your identification with them, your thinking of yourself as someone who has this problem. Notice the associated story your mind spins to cause and feed your identification. Choose to turn part of your attention back to your inner work, to presence.

Stick to the path, come what may, and it will be a good friend in need.


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