A little girl holding a compass in her hand. She's exploring nature in the forest on a warm autumn day, learning how to use the compass for direction. The compass works because of the Earth's magnetic poles and has a magnetic needle that gets turned by Earth's magnetic field. This way, the needle always points in one direction - north-south - no matter how the compass is turned.
If we want to highlight just one inner tool, then we would point to inner sensitivity, because this tool acts as the connecting link among all others. It serves as a constant guide or compass, helping us know whether our inner state is improving through the practice we are engaging in at the moment.
In many parts of the book, inner sensitivity is discussed as a fundamental internal tool that each of us possesses. We’ll start with some explanations about what it involves.
In the sense we’re using in this discussion, it encompasses everything happening inside us that we notice or feel as changes. A lot of things happen within us, many of which we might never notice or feel. There are also things we easily notice, like sensations in various parts of the body, such as comfort or discomfort.
Other internal processes related to the book’s content include what emotions and feelings we experience at a given moment, what thoughts are running through our head, what we’re talking to ourselves or pondering in our mind, what kind of melody is playing in our head, and what we visualize using our imagination. It also involves distinguishing between desires, conclusions, and decisions coming from intuition and those from prejudices, which is not easy at all, unlike sensing a specific bodily sensation.
All the examples mentioned about what inner sensitivity involves are covered in other chapters of the book. Let’s focus here on bodily sensations. They’re an extremely important part of inner sensitivity because we perceive them directly and have no doubts about them.
Doubts often arise, for instance, when we use inner sensitivity to discern whether a certain desire, conclusion, or decision comes from intuition or from prejudices or deep-seated beliefs that each of us has. Of course, these doubts decrease with practice and training.
Unlike things that create doubt, sensations are perceived directly, much like what we see or hear. This is information that goes directly to the brain from the body’s sensors through the nervous system. Rarely would we have doubts about what we perceive as bodily sensations.
And to dispel any doubts about the importance of the body, we see, hear, and sense because we exist, and we exist thanks to the body. Our entire consciousness, as we know it, exists in this form thanks to the body. It’s influenced by it and, at the same time, is its operator or manager. It’s a fascinating symbiosis between all the body’s cells, including nerve cells, which perform fundamentally different functions.
When we can’t detect other changes in our inner world, we can rely on bodily sensations because they provide a solid foundation for good orientation.