Inner Work Friday: Week Six of Eight Week Series by Thomas Telhiard

October 1: Inner Task Week Six – SEEING AS SENSATION

Inner work, as we all have experienced, is always one step forward, two steps back and then repeat, repeat, repeat. In the last

several weeks, we have looked again at a significant piece of our first inner task together in this series – i.e., the need to constantly surrender our tensions that affect our seeing and vision; to intentionally notice that which we may pass over in our daily encounters; and then last week, we did a task within a task so to speak moving toward inner seeing by discovering when we are and when we are not present by catching ourselves identifying with what we observer rather than THAT we observe!

Interestingly enough sensation can be another form of inner seeing. When sensation arises in our physical body, it can function as a receiver. Here, you may want to think of the welcoming prayer, which Cynthia has talked about often. In the welcoming prayer, recall that one of the steps is to allow whatever emotion (not circumstance) you are experiencing to sink in to the body and to allow it to be embodied. This is a way of avoiding reactivity, or in the language that Jonathan gave us several weeks back, this is a way of engaging the energy of immediacy rather than the reactive energy of urgency. And it is from this receptivity through embodiment that sometimes a subtle kenotic gesture can be sensed.

Sensitivity, then can be seen as a way of seeing and perceiving that simultaneously becomes a receiver that surrenders or opens us up to a more full encounter. A simple test of the utter availability of sensation is to sit or stand still and place your attention on a part of your body. For example, the right hand. Without thinking about the hand, simply place your attention upon your right hand and see what happens. Within a short time, you should feel a sensation energy in that hand. It comes alive!

The next piece of this sensation in the body is the receptivity and openness that it affords. This receptivity and openness results when we place concentrated attention on two or more locales. This is something like dividing your attention; however, it might better be viewed as simultaneous attention. If you have ever worked with the Second Assisting Exercise as presented by Joseph Azize in Gurdjieff: Mysticims, Contemplation, and Exercises (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), then you may have some understanding of this in terms of inner work. However, this task is applicable to everyday life.

While engaged in daily activities, the task is to place your attention on a part of your body, for example, the foot. Concentrate your attention on the foot (right or left, it matters note), while still engaged in the activity. This can be done with menial tasks such as cooking or gardening, or even more interactive activities such as conversations. I would not recommend this task during activities that a loss of attention could result in danger or harm.

Whatever you choose, intentionally place your attention on your foot, while continuing the activity.

This is not meant to be a distraction, but rather a more full engagement. Notice what happens when you become aware of the sensation growing in your foot and how this interphases with your chosen activity. What shifts, if anything? What arises? We are not looking for results but paying attention to the centers (moving, emotional, and mind).

This is the task for the week.

  1. While performing a daily chore, task (cooking, cleaning, working, conversing, watching TV, etc.), place your attention on your one of your feet – don’t THINK about the foot but place your attention there.
  2. Try to sense or feel (not think about) what shifts, changes, or arises as you continue this activity with your attention on the sensation in your foot.
  3. Now place half of your attention on your breathing, so that half of your attention is on your foot, half is on your breathing, and continue with the activity. Use common sense in what you choose as your daily activity to employ this task. Try several ones if possible.

We are attempting to see as sensation.