Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of January 12, 2009

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Stages of Body Presence

In the context of the usual spiritual notions of consciousness, presence, meditation, prayer and love, the idea of practicing awareness of our body seems at first blush mundane, uninteresting, and even unnecessary. The truth, though, proves very different than that surface assessment. Despite our many efforts, we enter the deeper realms of the spirit only briefly at best, principally because we have no anchor, no place in those realms. We may be present for a moment, but then we evaporate. We may open to the utter peace of stillness, consciousness, but we soon fall back into our busy mind. We may touch the sacred glory in silent prayer, but quickly descend to our concerns of the moment. In all these cases, we lack a place to stand and sustain ourselves.

That place can be our inner body, made primarily of the energy of sensation, if we develop it adequately. So rather than attempt to leap straight up to the second or even third rung of Jacob’s Ladder, we reach for the first rung, the rung of sensation and work to establish ourselves there. Once we can stand on that first rung, the higher steps become more feasible.

We traverse the spiritual path much more sure-footedly if we are rooted in sensation, in a robust foundation of contact with our inner energy body, which mediates direct perception of our physical body and supports our contact with the present moment, our presence in the here and now. A great deal of effort goes into the growth, care, and feeding of our physical body. No less effort is needed to grow, care for, and feed our inner body. The stages of that process can be outlined as:

      1. Relaxing Our Body
      2. Body Calm
      3. Recognizing Sensation
      4. Sensing Parts
      5. Sensing the Whole Body
      6. Energy Breathing
      7. Sensation in Movement
      8. Stabilizing the Inner Body
      9. Body Presence

Over the course of our spiritual path, whether as a beginner or after long experience, we frequently return to these practices, even as we also use other methods to reach further into the sacred realms. Those with extensive experience of spiritual practice may find themselves tempted to ignore sensing, the practice of contact with our body, as they move toward the deeper spirit. But sensing and the development of the inner body prove necessary, though not sufficient, for attaining greater stability in the higher. The inner body of sensation engages us in the present and offers a platform for attracting and containing the next higher energy of consciousness. Thus the importance of the practice of sensing our body cannot be overstated. Although it is the simplest way into presence, the richness and power of sensing grows enormously as it develops into our inner body. That is why sensing is so effective at all stages of the spiritual path. And it enhances our natural joy of being embodied.

This weeks’ inner work is the prelude to the series of the nine stages in the work of body presence. For this week, notice how long you can be present in the here and now. Notice your relationship with your body, your frequency and degree of contact with it through direct body awareness.


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