Sitting With the Wolf in Stillness

Every morning, I spend an hour in meditation followed by an hour that includes exercise, shower, and breakfast preparation. It is this mind-body connection that begins my day. While I will revisit physical exercise and food preparation, no day opens without meditation.

Empty yourself of everything. Let the mind become still. The ten thousand things rise and fall, while the Self watches their return. They grow and flourish and then Return to the Source. Returning to the Source is stillness, which is the Way of Nature.”
~ Lao Tsu ~
Tao Te Ching

During my recent lupus flare, it was meditation that allowed me to empty and renew myself for the rise and fall of the ten thousand things. It was meditation that allowed me to explore the energy underlying every form of discomfort, the internal investigation as Devaji refers to it.

Tadpoles Waverly 0613

When there is internal investigation as opposed to following the external movement,
it is possible to recognize that every form of
discomfort, every problem that is experienced, is happening inside of you.
If you do not have a problem inside, you do not have a problem. The mind will say that it is due to something out there, but where you experience the problem is inside

It is a familiar pattern of mine this looking to the outside for what may only be discovered on the inside. I have done it for almost all of my life but this past year of daily meditation has been a discovery of stillness, which is not to say the mind is ever quiet.

In meditation, which many teachers referred to as “taming of the mind,” there is no effort to reshape or redefine any of our thoughts. In meditation, we observe our thoughts, allowing them to bubble up and away from us without interference, without creating yet another thought.

Rather, we go into the stillness, to the energy producing our thoughts. Always, in meditation there is “light emphasis” on the breath (Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche) to sustain us as we sit in the stillness of our internal investigation, emptying ourselves.

As I understand mindfulness, it is bringing this technique to our day-to-day lives as they play out among the ten thousand things. For me, that means letting one storyline after another blow right past for I am interested in the energy supporting those thoughts. I am seeking the source.

Tadpole Free 0613

In this lupus flare, rather than pursuing my usual cause-effect-solution approach—another way of describing this is replacing one storyline with another, albeit a new and untried solution—I sought the source, the stillness, with my breath.

Stillness or “nowness” is placing our awareness on our breath as the thoughts bubble up. The breath is no more manipulated than are the thoughts. The more the breath and mind are observed, the more there is just being, no judgment, just stillness.

Internally investigating my lupus flare allowed me to sit in the energy of the ten thousand things of which my life is just one.  Rather than trying to starve or manipulate the lupus–the wolf–that is also of the ten thousand things, I just sat down with it in relationship.

Flares are never without their gifts nor is it surprising that those flares that burn brightest are always the most generous. This time, the gift of sitting meditation with the wolf has opened the door to a lifetime exploration of the rise and fall of the ten thousand things from the inside out.

Thanks to all of you for your generosity and kindness during this recent flare.

20 thoughts on “Sitting With the Wolf in Stillness

  1. I too start my days that way. We are referring to it as re-sourcing here in our household, and in our professional work that we are developing, it is a central piece of our stress and trauma relief training. It’s been discovered that just 20 minutes a day of focused meditation actually creates a genetic change. The Harvard scientist who has been researching this since the 70s said the report will be published this month.

    Thanks for the post KM!



  2. Sounds like this last flare was extremely generous, KM. Wow, that is a rigorous schedule of two hours of practice in the morning. Do you find that sometimes your unsettled mind produces writings, visions, and wisdom or are you focusing on emptiness? I have been “thinking a lot” during my meditation lately, but it has produced a lot of writing and insight. Just curious what your daily experiences are, my friend.
    {{{hugs}}} to you for surviving the flare and looking inside. Love, Kozo


    1. The short answer to your question is I don’t focus other than on my breath, or that’s where I begin, and I think that is what you are asking. Overall, sitting in these moments with energy minus storylines feeds my writing, as you say, although it may be days before I see it on the page in either the novel or in a blog post. I would say that meditation has helped me clarify the belief system in the novel but mostly, meditation assists me throughout each day by getting less caught up in emotion, I like to think my physical reaction to any stress is less, and I do think it is but I am in no danger of reaching enlightenment in this incarnation. *howls* And, as you say, meditation just provides alternative perspectives so that overall, one’s approach is less frantic and more thoughtful. I find that meditation settles me for my day, although I have plenty of moments that are anything but mindful!!! Thanks so much, Kozo!


  3. “I just sat down with it in relationship.” Indeed. A vivid and useful metaphor for so much of what ails us. I’m reminded of my own mantra: it’s all about the relationship. Thank you for yet another graceful post.
    With affection,


    1. Hi, Janet! Relationship, yes, as a metaphor for most of our issues, just as you say. I saw it when I heard Pema Chodron say that we are always in relationship, even with the insect in the room. I thought I had an idea of oneness before but….Thanks for the kind words, Janet, and always great to see you here.


  4. With wolves who often howl just on the other side of our fence line, I understand how the howls can wear you down. You’re ability to live with the wolf and move through the discomfort of the nasty flares amaze me. Prayers for you my friend.


    1. Hey, Dona!
      Yes, I am sure you are quite familiar with the howls. I have to admit, I have never been exposed to constant howling but I really love wolves, as I explained to Diana. I know how much you love where you are and it’s so great that you share so many pictures with us. For me, living with the wolf is okay, really, for I always learn. Thanks so much for stopping by; I know the wilderness Internet connection is intermittent.


  5. Yet another beautiful and inspiring post from you. I particularly like your comment about meditation being a time of connecting with the energy that creates our thoughts. That’s a rich image for me to ponder. Thank you!

    I hope your flare is easing. I continue to send good thoughts your way!


    1. Thanks so much, Kenetha for your kind words and good thoughts. I am just beginning to connect with the energy minus the storyline or drama, and it is so clarifying. Really, if offers options I had not considered. For me, meditation is proving to be such a powerful tool.


  6. Excellent. This post reminded me of what it’s like to be caught in a rip tide. Fighting against it in panic is guaranteed to exhaust the swimmer. Co-existing for the present, breathing, is the way to peace. Continued good wishes. 🙂


  7. Another terrific post, Karen and I too love the imagery of the wolf; such powerful energy. Mediation is such an important part of my life as well although, I still struggle with the stillness. I tend to have the monkey mind in full swing but as you reminded, the importance is in the letting go and shifting attention gently back to the breath. Easier said than done sometimes, right?? LOL I really admire how you have taken the opportunity of your recent flare and worked it into your practice. I certainly wish you the best along with continued peace and healing.



    1. Oh, I hear you on monkey mind, Steph! What does seem more comfortable–maybe natural is a better word–is being so completely present in that moment of returning to the breath, as if all stops for less than a nanosecond. It’s hard to describe, as you know, but for me, it has become a way to help me center more. As I mentioned to Leigh, meditation has become such a tool for me, opening other ways for me to approach my life. Thanks for all the support, Steph; it means a lot. Maybe next week, I will get out on Twitter, again.


    1. Thanks, Leigh. You know, meditation is such an incredible tool for me. I tried various approaches but mostly, I just kept showing up to meditate. It has made all the difference, especially in this particular flare. More than anything, meditation has given me another perspective on my approach to nutrition, to writing, to exercise; it is as if I can peel back the layers of anything I am doing so I get to the essence of it, if that makes sense. It is no panacea but it is such a support. Again, congratulations on finishing that book!


  8. Another very positive post Karen! I love the use of the wolf image for your lupus – how did it come to be called that? I have a great admiration for wolves, so I can see something positive there too.


    1. For this disease, I believe the Latin word for wolf was chosen mainly because some people get a facial rash–across the bridge of the nose and cheeks–that is thought to resemble the pattern on a wolf’s face. The rash is also called the butterfly rash, which gives you a better idea of its physical shape. Fortunately, the rash has never been a major symptom for me. Mine is internal and systemic.

      Like you, I have great admiration for wolves and while living in the American Rocky Mountain West, where I grew up, I did my best to champion their cause but in Wyoming and Montana, the wolf issue can be quite contentious. If you are familiar with Yellowstone National Park, you will have some idea of the issue of wolves being able to be wolves as just another of the ongoing wildlife issues on this planet.

      As more Buddhist than anything else, I have a fundamental belief in the sentience of all beings and, frankly, all things, but the wolf, its relationships, its very way of life, has held appeal for me since childhood. Thanks for asking, Diana, and did you not have a post on wolves? Thanks so much.


      1. Thanks Karen – all very interesting. I may have mentioned wolves but not in any detail – maybe in the future! I am reading a book on Rewilding at present, where they feature of course.


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