Inner Task Exercises

One of the unique features of our Wisdom lineage is the way it combines the traditional Benedictine rhythm of ora et labora—”pray and work”—with the Gurdieffian practice of taking on an inner task as a touchstone for mindfulness and self-inquiry. Practical work becomes “conscious work” as you learn to use the ordinary outer tasks of your day as a laboratory for inner awakening. For several years now members of our community have volunteered for an eight-week turn at the helm to offer guided practice in working with an inner task. You can sample their handiwork here, both as a collection of individual tasks and as a fuller teaching series.

Medicine Leaves

An Intro to the Inner Task: Eight Exercises in Sensation Part I

In this two-part post, Jeanine Siler Jones invites us to work with foundational approaches through a cycle of eight Inner Tasks. These exercises were originally designed to be used, one per week, over the course of eight weeks in conjunction with daily life and practice. Available here as part of Northeast Wisdom’s intention to offer…

An Intro to the Inner Task: Eight Exercises in Sensation Part II

In this two-part post, Jeanine Siler Jones invites us to work with foundational approaches through a cycle of eight Inner Tasks. These exercises were originally designed to be used, one per week, over the course of eight weeks in conjunction with daily life and practice. Available here as part of Northeast Wisdom’s intention to offer…

Attitude: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

Last week I wrote about the importance of approaching the tasks with the right attitude, with lightness and joy. This week I wish to invite you to explore further that which we call ‘attitude’. Gurdjieff said that the only thing we can change is our attitude. Can I adopt an attitude that can lead me…

Conscious Breathing: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

Dear Wisdom Friends,  I am Vesna Nikolic and I live in Toronto, Canada. I will be posting the inner tasks for the next eight weeks. Inner tasks are part of the inner practice in Gurdjieff tradition and their aim is to help us see ourselves as we are, to bring us into presence, to attend.…

External Considering: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

Recently, a question was raised in this space about the relationship between “going within” and external considering. Gurdjieff talked about external considering, as “adaptation towards people, to their understanding, to their requirements” [1] . As recounted by Ouspensky,  “External considering requires a knowledge of men, an understanding of their tastes, habits, and prejudices. At the…

Finding in ourselves what we criticize in another

A suggestion for this week’s practice comes from Elizabeth O’Connor, Our Many Selves: A Handbook for Self-Discovery, “From Judgment to Empathy: Exercise Four”, page 71: “What you criticize in another, try to find in yourself. We want to discover our dark selves, not in order that they may be blamed and banished out of sight,…

Habits: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

Last week’s task was related to seeing our resistance, to becoming more aware of what “being against” feels like in our body.  This week I invite you to explore the question of becoming more open, more receptive to accept what is. Whatever ‘what is’ is.  I experience the movement of becoming more open in polarity…

Inner relaxation and outer perception

From an inner work practice suggested by Cynthia in a recent Wisdom School: “See what you can discover for yourself about the relationship between inner relaxation and outer perception. As you move through your day, whenever you notice yourself tightening inside (either from a situation that causes you specific distress or simply from a mounting…

Inner Work Friday: Week Eight of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

During these last 7 weeks we’ve worked with creating a sturdy foundation to return to through inviting sensation in the lower regions of the body, including learning to wield eros in the undercarriage of the body to transmute our afflictive emotions, not allowing our attention to rise too quickly into storytelling. We’ve connected to presence…

Inner Work Friday: Week Five of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

What does it mean to have integrity? And I don’t mean just in the sense of keeping your word (though I don’t not mean that). But more in aligning with truth in such a way that the beacon of the heart begins to coincide with a larger movement. Both in and around you and among…

Inner Work Friday: Week Four of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

To dance with the energy of immediacy is to begin to learn to walk straight into the equanimity of the heart- beyond like and dislike, beyond drama and its sibling, ‘clinging,’ and, therefore, beyond success or failure. The smallest of kenotic gestures grounded in the life force of sensation and harnessing of eros (as we’ve…

Inner Work Friday: Week One of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

Hi, my name is Jonathan Steele, and I will be posting the Friday Inner-Tasks over the next 8-weeks (this will by far be the longest post of the series as I’m including a brief introduction of myself along with a bit of context setting for the practices). I come to the Wisdom Work as a former Christian…

Inner Work Friday: Week Seven of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity I want to talk about a topic that we can easily hoodwink ourselves into believing we know something about. In the work it is referred to as external considering. Its misunderstandings are, I think, compacted by our western cultural milieu’s tendency to affirm and believe that we know what’s…

Inner Work Friday: Week Six of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

There is a possibility of sensation-based presence that can reconcile our being and our doing. Where roles can be played free of identification for the sake of a common good and perhaps even a higher good. The energy of immediacy recognizes that not everything can be or should be done but that anything worth doing…

Inner Work Friday: Week Three of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

This week we’re going to work with a different kind of breathing as we begin to consciously sync up the emotional center with a poised moving center grounded in sensation. Remember, we are working to wean ourselves off of the energy of urgency in moving towards learning to stand in and work from the energy…

Inner Work Friday: Week Two of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

Hopefully after having made contact with the sturdiness of the foundation of our physical bodies this week, through moving sensation into the hips, legs, and feet with the attention, and, noticing the relaxation that ensues in the upper body, we have begun to get a sense of safety that we can create for the holding…

Keeping a constant inner body sensation

Our aim this week is to have a constant inner body sensation of ourselves. Throughout the day, try to keep an organic sensation of the body. Sense your body again and again, continually without interrupting your ordinary activity. This Fourth Way morning exercise might help: This exercise is designed to collect your attention. It takes…

Liking What We Dislike

We have a walnut tree in our back yard, and about this time of year walnuts come crashing to the ground all day and all night. One of my daily chores this time of year is picking up the walnuts. I do not like picking up the walnuts. Whatever walnuts I picked up yesterday return…

Morning Exercise

This inner exercise was taught by Deborah Longo at one of the Wisdom Schools held at Claymont Seminars. It involves in depth directing of ones attention to facilitate 3-centered awareness and relaxation in each center. When the centers are relaxed and fully present in ones awareness, along with conscious relaxed breathing, we make space inside…

Planning: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

It is Week 8 and this is my final post for Inner Task Friday series. My deepest gratitude to everyone who pondered upon questions raised or tried any tasks. I am reminded that in the Work – it is only our sincere efforts and attention that count. That is the real currency and true payment…

Seeing yourself through another’s eyes

Our task this week comes from Maurice Nicoll’s Commentaries (Vol. 1, pp. 265-268): “Now suppose you have to live with a person called yourself. I once read a story of a man who died and went into the next world where he met numbers of people some of whom he knew and liked and some…

Self-Remembering, Self-Observation & Observing the Centers: Part I

In this three-part series, Heather Ruce invites us to work with a cycle of eight Inner Tasks. These exercises were originally designed to be used sequentially over the course of eight weeks in conjunction with daily life. Bringing one of these exercises each week into moments of the day invites us into a deeper visceral…

Self-Remembering, Self-Observation & Observing the Centers: Part II

In this three-part series of Breaking Ground posts, Heather Ruce invites us to work with a cycle of eight Inner Tasks. These exercises were originally designed to be used sequentially over the course of eight weeks in conjunction with daily life. Bringing one of these exercises each week into moments of the day invites us…

Self-Remembering, Self-Observation & Observing the Centers: Part III

In this three-part series of Breaking Ground posts, Heather Ruce invites us to work with a cycle of eight Inner Tasks. These exercises were originally designed to be used sequentially over the course of eight weeks in conjunction with daily life. Bringing one of these exercises each week into moments of the day invites us…

Sensation: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

I am sitting here within my body. It is my dwelling place. For a large part of my life, I took my physical body for granted. It was something that took me from place to place, as my mind was busy solving ‘complex problems’, my emotions busy erupting in reactions. Dance or sports were not…

Singing our inner secret songs

We all have our own “sad songs” that we sing to ourselves. This week, let’s try to observe the typical songs we sing, especially the ones we sing when we are alone—our inner secret songs. What are your singing habits? What songs do you sing to yourself? This week’s inner work exercise comes from Maurice…

The Hineni Practice

I am in the New Mexico desert with Bill Plotkin, Richard Rohr and 300 men. One of the exercises taught to us last night was called the Hineni practice. When you go through the day, and realize that you have been taken and are on auto-pilot, come back to yourself by simply saying Hineni, “Here…

The Wisdom Jesus Book Circle: Inner Task Month I

Our work with inner tasks is about our relationship with attention. It is the ‘mindfulness practice’ of our Wisdom lineage, our connecting with conscious attention, our invitation to see our conditioning and release it into greater awareness. It is part of our Wisdom School rhythm, from the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. Inner tasks are intended…

The Wisdom Jesus Book Circle: Inner Task Month II

Here is another important inner task from Cynthia as we learn to be present to both our own inner rhythm as well as the rhythms around us. These words from Etty Hillesum speak to our work: “First and foremost, you must listen to your own rhythm, and try to live in accordance with it. Be…

The Wisdom Jesus Book Circle: Inner Task Month III

As we gather for our third Wisdom Jesus book circle, we find ourselves in Lent, with Holy Week on the horizon. Cynthia has reminded us in her current Lenten e-course on “Spiritual Gifts from the Imaginal Realm,” that this season is not about giving something up but about “calling you back into awareness” and reminding…

What Am I Against: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

Last week several of us who are reading Gebser’s Ever Present Origin together, shared the difficulties we encountered while reading through the description of mental structure of consciousness, specifically while reading about its exaggerated deficient form that is dominant in today’s world. For context, some of the characteristics of this structure’s deficient form include our…

Wish: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

In one of the previous tasks, I wrote that the overall aim of the tasks is to prepare the vessel, all parts of it, such that it can participate more fully in the cosmic exchange.  And the question arose – how do I participate within the larger whole? What is needed? What is it that…