The three centers (minds/processes/modes of consciousness/perceptive lenses) in the Work are intellectual center, emotional center and moving/instinctive (body) center – simply stated: our thoughts, our emotions and our bodily sensations or movements. The Work teaches that each of these centers also has three parts or inner processes: outer parts of centers (which take in impressions in a superficial or mechanical way so that they are not usually retained in memory), middle parts of centers (connected with attracted attention), and inner parts of centers (connected with directed attention). As middle and inner parts of centers are developed in us, we become available to influences coming from what the Work calls “higher parts of centers,” which we can also think of as receptors for the Conscious Circle of Humanity or even the Holy Spirit.
The idea of inner parts of centers conveys the human experience of inwardness and depth, but the ideas of centers and inner centers does not mean that there are literally different compartments in us. One should think of these centers and inner parts of centers as operational processes that could occur in in greater harmony with one another, i.e. peak-experiences, or intense focus/attention. Neurobiology is an especially helpful way of updating and interpreting these mid-20th century Work ideas.
“At Dorton [one of Beryl Pogson’s Workhouses] there is a chance to rest from Mr. A (oneself). This is true relaxation. And the relaxing of the outer ‘I’s is followed by physical relaxation. Then ‘I’s in the middle parts of centers, which have potential, can develop. These ‘I’s use attracted attention. They are ‘I’s that feel wonder at the beautiful, delight in new discoveries, reverence for the higher. They can look upward and inward as well as outward. All the new activities at Dorton are designed to feed these ‘I’s, for instance, painting the flower patterns, or trying to hear new sounds that are usually shut out. These ‘I’s, when they become strong and developed, will nourish essence.
“Mr. Nicoll used to talk a great deal about the journey through ourselves, about how new truth, when it is established in memory, will help memory to travel to the inner divisions of centers. Outer ‘I’s have only poor memory. New truth falls on the middle parts of centers; it connects with Work memory. As memory moves inward it develops and becomes stronger. This is one way of preparing the lower centers for higher centers.
“Q: When they are developed, can these ‘I’s in the middle parts of centers look both ways?
“A: Yes. The middle parts of centers are emotional. Here it is possible to see and hear and do new things. Until your attention is attracted, it is in small ‘I’s which do not hear very much, but wander off into associative thinking. …
“Do you realize that you are not present at a meeting until you are at least in attracted attention?”
– Beryl Pogson, The Work Life, pp. 198-199
August 16, 1959
“We began by discussing outer man. We have to discover, first of all, our outermost man and the things of which we are most unconscious. Then we worked inward, discussing the middle parts of centers and the awakening of inner ‘I’s, which can feel wonder. We tried listening and looking more from the middle parts of centers. Here is the place of reversal, of turning around. Then we talked about attention, its importance, and the methods of giving attention. Directed attention takes us into the inner parts of centers. Then we spoke about Self-remembering. In this way, we have gone through the center.
“All this has to do with moving about in ourselves. Have you begun a little to have a taste of this?”
– Beryl Pogson, The Work Life, p. 219