Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of February 2, 2009

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Recognizing Sensation

(Part 3 of 9 in the Inner Work Series: Stages of Body Presence)

The practice of relaxation prepares us for a new relationship with our body and a new relationship with our inner world. In relaxing, we may find our perception of our body growing more vivid. With energy-wasting tensions diminished, the energy that mediates our body perception naturally collects, opening a new, more direct, more visceral contact with our body. We call this the sensitive energy. And sensing is what we call the practice of being in contact with our body through the sensitive energy.

As a get-acquainted exercise in sensing, sit quietly for a few minutes with your hands resting palm-down on your knees or thighs. Then place all your attention in your right hand. Become aware of the hand directly, not by thinking of the hand or by looking at it, but by inwardly opening to the immediate perception of your hand from within the hand. Hold your attention in your right hand, in a relaxed way. If you notice your attention wandering, gently bring it back to the hand.

After some time your right hand may seem more substantial, more alive, vibrant, warm, even tingling. This marks the accumulation of the sensitive energy in the hand. To establish the “taste” of sensation, notice the difference at that moment between your perception of your right hand and of your left hand. One is full of sensitive energy brought there by your attention. The other is empty. You are sensing your right hand.

Now move all your attention into your right foot and sense it for a time. Then sense your left foot. Then your left hand. Repeat this pattern to grow accustomed to sensing: putting your attention in a part of your body, with the intention of awakening and accumulating the sensitive energy there, and then maintaining your awareness of that sensation. Give each part its due, spending enough time and attention to raise sensation there thoroughly. Once you have a clear contact with sensing hands and feet, you can widen the practice to sensing entire arms and legs, one at a time.

The process of placing and holding our attention in a part of our body actually creates the sensitive energy. Directed attention carries with it a high energy. In sensing, we bring that higher energy into contact with the lower energies already present in our body. That interaction refines and converts the lower energies to produce the sensitive energy. The inner work of transforming energies, from lower to higher, is an essential part of our true role as human beings and consequently yields an unmistakable feeling of rightness and fulfillment.

The practice of sensing offers many benefits of crucial import to our spiritual path. The sensitive energy is the principal substance of our inner body, the lower part of our soul. This inner body is as yet unformed in us. So we practice sensing to organize and concentrate the sensitive energy, to build our inner body, to create our soul, to raise our level of being, to develop an inner platform for a stable presence. Furthermore, the practice of sensing trains our attention and develops our will. So altogether, the work of sensing presents us with a very practical, effective, and immediate method of engaging our path into the sacred spirit, a method of inward service to the higher through the transformation of energies. The precious moments we spend living in the sensitive energy enrich our life and liberate us, at least temporarily, from much of the attachment and dissatisfaction we encounter in living in the lower energies.

For this week, set aside at least one quiet, undistracted period each day to practice sensing hands and feet, arms and legs, one at a time. Familiarize yourself with perceiving the sensitive energy in your body and with the practice of sensing.


     

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