Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of January 29, 2018

Left-click for MP3 audio stream, right-click to download

Sensitive Energy Awareness

(Climbing Jacob's Ladder: 1)

While the sensitive energy does operate in our mind and emotions, we can most readily perceive it in our body. Indeed the sensitive energy enables and mediates all our direct perceptions of our body. We can sense our body because of the sensitive energy.

A classic and powerful approach to spiritual practice begins with body awareness, for example in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness of the body, or as he puts it: the body in the body. Mindfulness practice does go on to more subtle objects of awareness, and so shall we. Nevertheless, body awareness practice can be a lifelong source of deepening presence and joy for us.

The straightforward practice of body awareness jumps past the question of how our body awareness arises, how it works. Between us and our actual flesh and blood body, there is the sensitive energy. It permeates our entire body. When we put our attention into part of our body, say our hand, we become aware of the muscles and tendons, aware of the information returned by our proprioceptive nerves. Our consciousness, though, is too refined, too high-level and rarefied, to be able to be in direct, visceral contact with our body. Thus, body awareness requires an intermediary, a role filled by the sensitive energy.

On the one side, the sensitive energy suffuses throughout our body, in contact with the physical material of our body. On the other side, the sensitive energy informs our consciousness. Ordinarily, though, we look right through the sensitive energy, not noticing it, just noticing the body sensations it brings to us. We know, in our consciousness, that we have a body, that our body is in its current posture, that our body is moving as it moves. We direct our body's movements, using the kinesthetic feedback from our changing posture. And while all those perceptions, directions, and feedback are transmitted by the sensitive energy, we ignore that energy itself. The air carries sounds from their source to our ears. Yet in hearing, we ignore the air. So it is with the sensitive energy in body awareness.

This matters because the sensitive energy can serve as the foundation of our presence. Perhaps the most powerful way to enter presence, to live in the here and now, is through being in our body. Unlike our thoughts and emotions, this body always stays in the here and now. As we learn to perceive, and later enhance, the sensitive energy in our body, our ability to be present, as well as the strength and robustness of our presence, grows. As the quantity of sensitive energy in our body grows and our contact with that energy grows, we find firm footing for more frequent and longer lasting presence.

To become aware of the sensitive energy, start by putting your attention into your right hand. We are not attempting to think about or visualize the hand, because that will only distract us from the work of direct awareness. We put our attention into the hand, to become aware of the hand from within it. We sense the inside of our hand, everything within its skin. We notice the aliveness of the hand, through thousands of tiny vibrations spread throughout the hand. Those vibrations are minute bundles of sensitive energy. As we continue to hold our attention in our right hand, the attention feeds the sensitive energy, so that those infinitesimal packets of energy multiply, growing denser in our hand. Soon enough, our hand seems unmistakably filled with the sensitive energy, brimming over with life. We call this process sensing.

For this week, please practice focusing and holding your attention in your hands and feet, one at a time. Hold your attention there until the sensitive energy grows to be readily perceptible. In this way, familiarize yourself with that energy in your body. Acquire the taste, the immediate recognition, of the sensitive energy.


About Inner Frontier                                    Send us email 

Copyright © 2001 - 2022 Joseph Naft. All rights reserved.