In a Free Fall Flare

My regular Thursday and Sunday posts have been rather irregular for I remain in a free fall flare or the state of still falling apart, which is not to say it is not enlightening for it is.

As a dear friend pointed out, a flare is a flash of light, and this recent lupus flare is full of light for me. It is not so much a matter of physical or emotional discomfort but more a matter of “nowness” as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche calls it:

“The way to relax, or rest the mind in nowness, is through the practice of meditation.

“In meditation you take an unbiased approach.

You let things be as they are, without judgment, and in that way you yourself learn to be.”
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

nowness 0513

I, myself, learning to be is what this flare feels like, if not quite a true free fall at least in constant motion. Sometimes, the flare feels like a game of pinball, silver-steeled balls bumping up against this teaching only to zip over to that tradition and back up to yet another healing alternative–all disappearing only to re-emerge.

No doubt that sounds rather scattered and perhaps unpleasant but it does not feel that way. Frankly, it feels like heightened awareness for unlike the game of pinball, I am allowed to sit in the energy of each moment and explore it through the practice of meditation.

“Sitting meditation opens us to each and every moment of our life. Each moment is totally unique and unknown….

“This very moment, free of conceptual overlay, is completely unique. It is absolutely unknown.

“We’ve never experienced this very moment before, and the next moment will not be the same as the one we are in now.

“Meditation teaches us how to relate to life directly, so that we can truly experience the present moment, free from conceptual overlay.”
(Pema Chödrön, How to Meditate: A Practical Guide)

Eyes Open 0513

In the eyes open meditation that Pema Chödrön is describing, we separate the storyline or thoughts–the conceptual overlay– from the energy of the emotion or sensation we are feeling. In essence, we are open to it.

I am new to the eyes open meditation that Pema Chödrön advocates and first tried it during the online retreat offered by the Omega Institute. In eyes open meditation, the gaze is downward but the head is erect and one is constantly aware of what is occurring in the present moment.

“Open the eyes, because it furthers this idea of wakefulness. We are not meditating in hopes of going further into sleep, so to speak.

“We are not internalizing. This isn’t a transcendental type of meditation where you’re trying to go to special states of consciousness.

“Rather, we meditate to become completely open to life— and to all the qualities of life or anything that might come along”
(Pema Chödrön, How to Medicate: A Practical Guide).

Relating to life directly 0513

Meditating with my eyes open was not as difficult as I thought it might be, even the first time, but then, I have the advantage of being in a flare, of being in a flash of light. In a flare, it is obvious that the gift of any moment of discomfort is present moment awareness.

Beyond the flare, practicing this wakeful kind of meditation at the start of my day prepares me for the post-meditation moments. Sitting meditation isn’t always comfortable and neither is life but meditation helps us sit down into the shifting emotional energy that flows through our daily lives.

We learn to go deep, beneath the conceptual overlay or storyline, to the energy of our emotions, of our pain. When we sit within the energy of our pain, we see into the state of us. There, we begin to heal—to suffer less—for we accept the alternating pain and pleasure that is the nature of our human condition, part and parcel. We, ourselves, learn to be.

Thank you for reading my blog. It matters a great deal to me that you do.

49 thoughts on “In a Free Fall Flare

  1. Oh my dear friend, I’m so sorry to hear you are dealing with this flare! I’ve stopped by several times, but life (or Internet connection) seem to always distract me before I leave a note. You continue to be an inspiration to me. You are so good at working with and through whatever life deals you. I’m glad ER is there with you, she is such a cutie, and looks so happy to have you as her human! I pray all starts going better for you in a minute. With love, Dona

    Like

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Dona! This flare seems to be ebbing a bit, and as you say, ER is so wonderful. She really does enjoy our morning meditation sessions, although that may have more to do with the occasional rabbit and ever present squirrels outside our window. Morning is their time, too. As you know, I always learn something from these flares. Take care!
      KM

      Like

  2. I am not too good at meditation practice myself, but I’ve found the eye-open form a bit easier and more relaxing. Cats are a good model of all kinds of meditation practice!

    So sorry to hear you are still moving through some tough times physically. You are developing a coping method, and that’s so necessary and profound. Inspirational.

    Like

    1. EmmaRose really does enjoy our morning meditation and as you say, she is such a model. Appreciate your thoughts and words, Ann, as perhaps, this flare is finally fading. I am a bit reluctant to make any “permanent” statements. Thanks, Ann!

      Oh, and I agree that the open-eyed meditation is more relaxing. I was able to extend my meditation time, which I had wanted to do for sometime but found it difficult with my eyes closed. For the last year, meditation has been a regular part of each day, and it has made quite a difference.
      KM

      Like

  3. In the rawness of the moment…staying with it takes courage. Courage to push through the chaos of order…thanks for sharing!! And, the kitty too:-)

    Like

  4. Karen, your light analogy works for your writing, too. It’s a flash of insight, a flash of inspiration. That a lot of people, including myself, deeply appreciate. Sure hope that your flare has reached it’s brightest point and is now fading back to lay in remission for a long while.

    Like

    1. Ah, thanks, Lynette, and I apologize for being so tardy in my response to your kind words. Today, the flare is not as bright. Your thoughts and words are much appreciated.
      KM

      Like

  5. Karen, Your blog comes to me on Mondays and I usually read it on my phone before I get up. This time I had to respond. Just wanted to say what souldoula above says: Thank you for writing. It matters to me.

    Like

    1. Yes, EmmaRose (ER) is of a certain age. She came to live with me almost three years ago along with Cooper, her lifelong canine companion. Cooper died this past New Year’s Eve. I work with an animal sanctuary that takes in older and medically needy animals, and while Cooper had medical issues, ER seems just fine but like me, is in the “older” category. Thanks for asking!
      KM

      Like

      1. The reason I ask is because cats help me meditate and calm down. I have two cats. I call Maurice “buddha” because nothing fazes him out.

        Thank you for sharing the story of ER and Cooper. 🐱

        Like

  6. KM, You are a spiritual warrior carrying a “flare” to light the way for all of us. Thank you for your courage, insight, and wisdom. At first I was concerned for your physical health, but after reading your post I am in awe of your enlightened view of the human condition. You seem to be experiencing quantum leaps of insight that few ever realize. I know deep down you are grateful for this experience, as we are for your sharing it with us.

    I love the meditation quotes you posted, but my favorite is “meditation helps us sit down into the shifting emotional energy that flows through our daily lives.” I hope you don’t mind if I use that quote and credit it to you. 🙂

    {{{Hugs}}} to you, my dear friend. Love, Kozo

    Like

    1. Hey, Kozo!
      Wow! What an honor that you wish to quote me. That makes my day! Truly, this is a significant flare but all that it is revealing to me is quite intriguing for it is as if the discomfort is constantly tempered with awareness so I am able to view what is happening through another lens. Some moments are more difficult than others but if I will immerse myself into what is occurring, I will receive what is in the moment. There is such incredible energy in that. As always, my friend, thank you for the support you provide this blog, as well as your kind words. I look forward to that Skype call.
      KM

      Like

    1. Hi, August!
      As you can see, EmmaRose (ER) also enjoys meditation. She really does meditate with me more than not, and I am quite taken with that. Always great to have you stop by, and thanks for all the support, August.
      KM

      Like

  7. I wait for your now to include a glass of iced tea here at my crazy house. Please tell your Lupus you need a break so that you can come here, see the Front Porch Library, find a comfortable spot to sit, and talk as we always do about everything important in this strange journey called life. Feel better Karen.

    Like

    1. Ah, Adrian, I am so looking forward to that visit for I really enjoy our talks. The visit is part of my meditation practice, I assure you. Thanks for being such a constant reader and supporter of this blog.
      KM

      Like

  8. I am so sorry to hear about your flare-up. I hope things settle soon. Meditation is, I think, a wonderful way of helping get there – I had not heard of the open-eye meditation before. A way of blending the outside world with the inner calm, as opposed to reflecting inwardly?

    All positive thoughts for you from this side of the world!

    Like

    1. Hi, Matthew!
      My understanding is that open-eye meditation focuses on the breath, much like closed-eye, but in open-eyed meditation, one separates the energy of emotion from the thoughts (storyline, drama, etc) and sits with that energy. In particular, Pema Chodron teaches that our emotions can become great tools of support for us if we can separate our thoughts from their energy. Of course, it is easy to become distracted from the breath but I find that merely sitting practice every day helps me through moments for I am less reactive and more responsive. Meditation, open or closed eyed, has always provided me another lens for viewing. Thanks for all the support and kind words, Matthew.
      KM

      Like

  9. That kitty is so sweet Karen and I bet, great company. Besides meditation, our animals can be a true source of comfort and healing. They sense our internal needs. You have been on my mind lately. I am sorry to hear of your flare up. I have a dear friend who has lupus. It is challenging to say the least. I love your attitude. That and your meditation will carry you through. And your writing, if you feel up to it. I’m sending you a hug and hope that you are feeling better real soon! {{Hugs!}} 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi, Karen!
      Thanks for stopping by; it’s always great to see you here. You have been my mind as well but then two Karens with great minds…. EmmaRose (ER) is a feline of a certain age; Cooper was her lifelong friend. As you can see, she’s an open-eyed meditation natural, and she has a unique take on the posture. I assure you I follow her lead. Thanks for the kind words and support.
      KM

      Like

  10. You always matter to me and it’s always a pleasure and a privledge to see your talent. Hang in there and stay strong you’ve done it for years. Love you! Your bro!

    Like

  11. Hi Karen,
    So happy to see your post come to my email today and also, ironic. I spent this week building my new website and I added a section of blogs I follow along with a description of each blogger. Next to yours I added, “someone who makes me think.” Your posts always have a way of reminding me to stay present, no matter what and once again you lead by example. Any free fall can be how you choose to deal with it because usually, it comes on whether we invite it or not. You have chosen to use the flash as a light shined on your daily perspective and continue to embrace the practice of meditation. Funny, I have always meditated with my eyes open so the first time I attempted it with my eyes closed, I found myself totally thrown. I’m so pleased that you have the practice to help you go through the current flare up and as always, I wish the best for you and your healing. Love the pictures of the cat. : )

    Steph

    Like

    1. Hi, Steph!
      As you say, free fall is its own energy–thanks for that–and meditation is such a guide through any free falling flare. I now have the same experience with closed eye meditation that you do, although when I first began closed-eye meditation, my eyes kept opening–such a hint that was. You are such a great supporter of this blog, and thanks to you, these posts are a regular part of the Twitterverse. I am honored to be on your blog roll and looking forward to your new website. Thanks so much, Steph. Oh, and EmmaRose (ER) is the kitty who lives with me. We’re both of a certain age.
      KM

      Like

  12. I have never tried meditation but I am fascinated by it. It certainly seems to work for you for which I am glad. I wondered how you were a few days ago so glad to hear from you! Take care, Diana

    Like

    1. Hi, Diana!
      Regardless of tradition or belief, meditation provides a unique perspective on the mind-body connection, whether the practice is open or closed eyed. Truly, I cannot imagine my life without meditation. Now that I am exploring a “wakeful” meditation practice–always the awareness is on the breath–it helps me explore the energy underlying discomfort, affording me yet another perspective. I suspect you would find it quite interesting. As always, thanks Diana.
      KM

      Like

  13. You, and your writing, mean a great deal to many, many of us, Karen, whether we comment each time or not. Like you, I continue to relapse physically, but unlike you, my fallback is to fight and rail, behaviors that are counterproductive to say the least. Today in particular, I am humbled by your courage.

    Like

    1. Oh, Leigh, sorry to hear about the relapses, and I assure you, I have my moments that are less than mindful. You guided yourself through a staggering illness recently , which takes courage and determination, two characteristics that always come to mind when I think of you. And then, there’s that wit of yours…. Thank you for being such a constant reader of this blog. I always know you are there.
      KM

      Like

  14. I’m just getting to know you & beginning my reading here & I’m very sorry to hear you have lupus. I admire your positive outlook.
    My mother had lupus & I lost her in 2005. I know how painful those flare ups can be.
    Meditation can be very helpful to both the body & mind.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Like

    1. Thank you for commenting, and I hope you stop by often. I appreciate knowing about your mom, and I am sorry she is no longer with you. I had a look around your blog, and you have some wonderful photography and art work; I am glad you are part of the blogosphere. Thanks for your words of encouragement.
      KM

      Like

  15. Thank YOU for writing and sharing yourself with us. I look forward to your posts. I hope your flare up eases soon, and I am inspired by your ability to learn from it and sit with it even as it is happening. Those flares (of whatever kind) in our lives can be so fruitful when we are able to see them in that spirit, but it is so hard to do! (At least, it is for me.) Blessings!

    Like

    1. Hey, Kenetha!
      A consistent meditation practice–open or closed eye–has really changed how I feel during a flare. Meditation practice helps me be more mindful of each moment, and like taking baby steps, if I will just stay in the moment for all that it is not only will the moment pass but the next moment is full of its own possibilities. More and more, I find comfort in the impermanence. There really is a kind of energy in it. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and kind words.
      KM

      Like

  16. I am so glad for you as you lift yourself to see this flare for what it is, an opportunity to “be completely open to life.” And Karen, thank you for writing your blog, it matters a great deal to us that you do! 🙂

    Like

    1. Hey, Deb!
      Thank you for being such a loyal reader; your comments have brightened many a moment for me and all readers of this blog. As this flare feels all-encompassing, it really is an opportunity to explore “the state of me” and thus, my curiosity guides me through some uncomfortable moments. Of course, meditation is wonderful companion, as you know. Thanks so much, Deb.
      KM

      Like

      1. Karen, I should have shared my first thought, which was sadness that you are in pain. Your strength is an inspiration. Growth and insight aside, I hope the flare subsides soon.

        Like

  17. You remind me to meditate. Thank you. I’ll stay with closed eyes for now, concentrating on breath, but I will think of you as you meditate in the “now” with open eyes, open heart, and kitty love nearby.

    Like

    1. Hey, Beth!
      I neglected to mention that breath awareness is the focus, and eyes open or closed, isn’t meditation an incredible tool? I find I am using the eyes closed for the evening, as sometime ago, I began to use meditation for sleep. I plan to write a post regarding “meditation cat” EmmaRose for meditation is one activity we do together, almost always. Thanks for thinking of me, Beth.
      KM

      Like

    1. The open-eye meditation practice frames my day, and I am now sitting meditation for an hour every morning. It feels as if my days are more present but mostly, it feels like I am exploring new territory. Congrats on the upcoming grand baby additions!
      KM

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s