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Friday, February 18, 2011

Fixated on Form

This week I have been fixated on the body, which has been in pain. Last week it was emotional pain. As I discovered there’s no difference really. Both are very visceral experiences actually.

I tweaked my back on Sunday and by Wednesday I was unable to find a comfortable position. Laying on my left side for 24 hours seemed to bring the most temporary relief. I felt like a wounded animal in survival mode, needing to find a safe place to heal. In the pain it was noticed that both emotionally and physically I felt a sense of “disconnect” from my “core” – by that I mean that I felt unable to be in the “core” of Self. I became fixated on the pain – both emotionally and physically. Although I was conscious that I didn’t want to wallow in the experience of pain, admittedly I got sucked in by the vortex of pain and there was “suffering.” No real drama, no spiraling out of control, just an experience of pain and suffering – in form.

Yesterday I found respite sitting in my “meditation chair” in “the Cave” (my meditation space). It is a small, old swivel-rocker chair that I can tilt back with the help of a foot stool, which allows my back to be fully supported so that the muscles can relax. Ahhhh – sweet relief. This became my healing space yesterday and today – my “womb cave” while I was held captive by my predicament of pain.

As I deeply relaxed, an “opening” occurred in body, mind and spirit, and it became apparent that in both cases – with emotional pain and physical pain – there was a fixation on form; especially with physical pain. The emotional pain was able to slip through this realization last week. But they are both the same really. When there is pain of any kind it is difficult to be aware of anything else. The mind fixates, awareness fixates on the pain, the discomfort, and needs to find relief, which is obviously part of the body-mind mechanism. But I was surprised at how quickly I lost awareness of the context of Spaciousness and became narrowly fixated on form; how easily I began to feel separate from the Space of Awareness (the “core”). And in *feeling* separate I fixated more on the pain, the body, the feeling, etc., which kept me solidified in a separate sense of self – hurt and wounded.

As I sat there, my back fully supported by the chair, hot pack at my back, I found myself experiencing a sense of fluidity, a sense of the “liquidity” of Life: every sound I heard was liquid, every thought and feeling were liquid-like vibrations – ripples of liquid; even the pain and the body had become quivery liquid gel. And no, I was not taking pain medication. :) In a sense, once the *fixation* with pain, with form, had subsided, I could remember that this life, this experience of pain is just an occurrence *within* the Liquid Pool of Existence; that Liquid Life morphs itself into these forms we call body-minds with its pains and frustrations, physically, mentally and emotionally. This sense of me is really Liquid Life from which I cannot separate. This “me” arises as a liquid story that occurs in the Liquid Womb of The Beloved. We arise, have form, and melt back into Liquid Life again and again… Our thoughts and feelings and pain are liquid as well – gelatinous “mutations” if you will, suspended in a Womb of Living Liquid… Yet we take ownership of the thoughts, the feelings, the lives that we live and fixate on them as if they exist independently of the Liquid Life from which they arise – but from which they can never be “disconnected…”

And in this liquid story the pain becomes a messenger. Like the little brown duck in the photo above, pain comes and disturbs our idea of what form is supposed to look like and how we are supposed to experience it, reminding us not to fall back to sleep in form. In her own way, pain wakes us up from our fixations on form and calls us back to the fluid liquidness of Life…

In deep gratitude to the “pain ducks"…



  1. Dearest Christine...Thank you for this sweet post on pain....I think it's one of your best yet. Space and the meditation cushion are all great but they can go on ad infinitum unless there is a direct experiencing of the real nature of the forms that seem to take one back into suffering. It has been my tendency to renounce painful thoughts, think they shouldn't be there or ignore them which does not lead to a smoother or emotionally balanced life. And renouncing, quite honestly, did not serve my children.
    "In deep gratitude to the “pain ducks"..." -- Oh yes...there is a flock here.

  2. Dear Leslie ~ Thank you as always. Yes, I'm discovering that pain is like "the elephant in the room" syndrome. Ultimately it cannot be ignored, because it's just there. So we sit with the elephant, or in this case the ducks, and "experience the real nature of the forms (pain)" as you say. Love that phrase btw. Quack :)
    Heart Hugs...

  3. Saw this amazing documentary on Bar Headed Geese...they are the highest altitude fliers of any bird... roaming the sky, high above the peaks in Tibet, pushing the boundaries of pain. I figured they must be enlightened Geese as they can't breathe...or don't need to. :)
    Right after I wrote that statement about my children I thought they were, and are, taken care of in a bizzillion ways that I could never even fathom. As we all are. Whether we 'like' it or not...LOL.

  4. Leslie - The documentary sounds interesting... Happy Geese! :) Would it be on PBS channels?

    Isn't it delightful actually that we're all Liquid Life! - somehow "suspended in" (?) the larger-than-life womb of "the Beloved", whether we realize it or not - no matter what experience we are having. Amazing... Goose bumps :)LOL

  5. I think it was PBS...
    Definitely Goose bumps and hair standing on end :)LOL

  6. Ah, yes pain. It wakes us up and makes us pay attention. It can also be exhausting. The teacher I am sitting with now offers an interesting way to explore pain. Explore it around the edges of the painful place where it doesn't hurt and then move inward (or just stay on the edges if that's helpful) It is difficult practice, that's for sure but at some point in this human life we're all going to have to know how to work with pain.

    Much metta to you and glad to hear you are more comfortable right now.

  7. Thank you ZDS... John Welwood, a Buddhist psychotherapist, says something similar to your teacher about coming to the edge of our experience/pain and and looking into the heart of pain - its true nature. I found it works!

    Thank you for the metta... Am no longer in pain as of last night! Yippee!

  8. How beautifully you describe this! I love how you write "this experience of pain is just an occurrence *within* the Liquid Pool of Existence" . . . your writing evoked an image for me of those 70's lava lamps in a way I could not have imagined before. Wonderful imagery. Deep thanks for sharing.

  9. I found this very interesting. The "Liquid Life" could be "That which is Unknown" but of whom we are part and to whom we will ultimately return. Knowing that helps me deal with fear and obsessive thinking when it occurs but I have to quietly work at this alternate consciousness. It has not always been easy but then I think of myself simply as a pilgrim on the dusty road, always accompanied (when I am mindful) of the Divine Presence. It is indeed difficult at times but there is enough light to keep me on the road :)

    The language and understanding are both different but I feel a resonance with what yo describe.

    Thank you for your lovely blog.

  10. Thank you Darla ~ I'm getting some different imagery these days. Hadn't thought of the Lava lamp image! :) Essentially the imagery is pointing to the larger context of "spacious Awareness" in which everything occurs. I think both Adya and Pema Chodron say this - maybe not in the same words :) LOL

  11. Hi lightsnaps... Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    Yes, language doesn't always convey the same for everyone, I know... The "Liquid Life" is "That which is Unknown", as you say - and it also points to the realization that we *are* that "Liquid Life." Another image that has been used in Buddhism and Non-Dual teachings is that of the wave on the Ocean. The wave is ultimately the Ocean itself; it is not different - no separation. The wave and the Ocean are one and the same. It's all water. :) It's all one Consciousness, one Essence. It's all the Divine Presence - no boundaries.

    Hope that clarifies the imagery... Christine

  12. Oh Ow! So sorry you are going through this. Pain is a frequent flyer on my wings. I love the Liquid imagery and it really fits with melting into the sensations, letting go of labels. As ZDS wrote, finding the edge between pain and no-pain, taking refuge in it, turning into the skid...

    Hope you're finding that edge of wellness.

  13. Thank you Genju :) Yes, "pain" has subsided... It actually gave me the opportunity to deeply relax and discover this "liquidity" in it all, which amazingly led to a profound peace... Who knew - pain and peace all at the same time :)


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