Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of February 9, 2009

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Sensing Parts

(Part 4 of 9 in the Inner Work Series: Stages of Body Presence)

Our body is the hallowed ground in which our soul can grow. The energy of sensation produces awareness of our body. And this same energy also forms the raw material of our soul. By practicing body awareness through sensation, or sensing, we build our soul. Because our body always stays in the now, the practice of sensing grounds us in the present moment, the only venue for spiritual work and the only venue for a satisfying life. Sensing brings light into the semi-aware, unsatisfying, automatic moments that make up the vast majority of our day. Working with sensation offers us a foothold, an anchor in the present. To live in sensation means to live more, to be more aware, to meet each precious moment of our life.

Having familiarized ourselves with the taste of the sensitive energy in our body and having practiced sensing in quiet periods set aside solely for that, we can now begin to practice sensing during our daily life, during our ordinary activities. This offers a very practical and effective way to extend our spiritual inner work into the whole of our life. For that, we stretch our attention and intention to simultaneously include not only our life activity, or inactivity, but also the sensitive energy in our body. We walk and sense. We eat and sense. We think and sense. We listen and sense. We brush our teeth, wash dishes, get dressed and sense. Of course this is easiest when the activity itself is not particularly complex and so does not require the whole of our attention just to carry it out. With our spare attention, we engage in sensing. Rather than separating us from our life, sensing brings us more wholly into the activity, into the fullness of living.

Choose one simple activity that you normally repeat at least several times on most days. Some examples include eating a meal, sitting down on a chair, walking through doorways, waiting in line, typing on a keyboard, reading, or watching TV. Select one during which you will practice sensing for the coming week. Then each time you begin that activity, bring your attention to the sensation in one of your limbs. The first time sense your right arm, then next time your right leg, then the left leg, then left arm, then right arm, and so on. If you forget which limb you sensed last, start over with any limb and continue the pattern from there. If the activity lasts more than a minute, then consider switching limbs during the activity. In eating a meal, for example, you might start with sensing your right arm and then cycle through your other limbs during the meal.

In this, as with all inner work practiced in daily life, we use our judgment to refrain from taking any attention away from crucial or vital complex tasks, such as driving a vehicle or performing surgery. So when we drive, we just drive, and resume our sensing practice afterwards.

This practice of sensing in life can profitably become an important staple of our inner work, throughout our spiritual journey. For this week, practice sensing your limbs as much as possible during the day. Choose one of your ordinary activities especially for this. Sense your limbs whenever you engage in that activity.


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