Lessons from butterflies
A beautiful demonstration of the transformative journey
If you follow my social media channels Facebook and Instagram, you will know that an important part of my writing process involves taking lines of enquiry into nature. There is a beautiful, reliable synergy that occurs when I enter meditative walking or energy practice in the wild, with the intent to deepen my understanding or find the right words to express a topic. The wild always delivers in stunning and specific metaphors.
Not so long ago, I was organising my thoughts for a series of talks here in Singapore, on ‘Raising Resonance’, and took my ponderings outside to the pool. And right on cue, a very beautiful butterfly came to me and demonstrated some key points that became the headline topics for my talks.
Just when I was considering the top behaviours that drain our vital energy or resonant field, this little creature fluttered its way over the pool and dived from a great height into the water. My daughter, who amongst many other things is a passionate animal conservationist, swam to its rescue. The butterfly’s wings were firmly stuck to the water surface; its legs flailing. She extended her finger and it held on with tiny legs and she was able to lift it out of the water without touching the wings.
We popped it on a plant away from the pool and went back to our morning. As soon as the wings had dried, it fluttered out over the pool again and as if drawn by its magnetic field, flopped straight back into the water.
This happened over and over again. After many rescues, we began to wonder if indeed it was trying to end it all. But it fought so hard to free itself from the water surface that it seemed clear it wanted to live. On several occasions it managed to flap itself free and gain some altitude, showing enormous strength for such a fragile tiny creature, only to stop flapping and dive back down towards certain peril.
It seemed so deliberate that I couldn’t help wondering if there was a principle at hand being demonstrated; and indeed, upon consideration, I believe there was. In fact, this gorgeous fire-coloured butterfly demonstrated 5 key truths about meditation and the transformative journey and is, therefore, the star of this blog!
Butterfly Truth 1: Old thought/emotional patterns have a strong draw on the un-present mind.
Despite knowing that it doesn’t serve any purpose to rehash old hurts, pick the scab off old injuries, relive in our mind the best retorts to the one who we perceive has hurt us, and perhaps most commonly, reproach ourselves for not being or doing enough…there is a stickiness to repeated negative thought and emotional patterns.
Perhaps it’s the familiarity of the long-held pattern. Perhaps much of our identity and who we think we are, is built upon it. Perhaps we’re unsure of what would fill the space/silence if we turned off that looped tape inside. But unmindfully and repeatedly returning to old negative thought patterns is very destructive and is one of the quickest ways to deplete our resonance. Why?
As Dr Joe Dispenza, author of Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, puts it, “Because the body is the unconscious mind. It does not know the difference between an actual experience in life that creates an emotion or when an emotion is created by thought alone. As a result, the body can get knocked out of homeostasis just by thinking.”
Our systems react to the repeated thought-loops and emotional response patterns as if the event was playing out in real-time. By rehashing negative thought patterns we are only hurting ourselves, at many unseen levels. Heightened anxiety/stress/tension; a limited sense of self; and a non-presence that takes us away from the potential and delight of the present moment, are just a few examples.
Butterfly Truth 2: Meditation creates space and light to illuminate old repeated patterns.
We sat the butterfly on a sunny part of the tree and its wings fully dried. It seemed to gather energy as it remained very still in the sunlight.
Meditation creates a shift in our point of view to a still, detached centre from where we can see the patterns and loops occurring through the mind and system. Like letting in the sunshine, we are able to not only become aware of them and what triggers them, but also how they make us feel. Regular meditation creates the space to choose to jettison the well-honed reactions of victimhood, blame-laying and hurt, and it creates the energy for us to do so.
Butterfly Truth 3: To uproot and discard old habits, it takes a clear intent, a choice and regular effort.
It took no less than eight rescues of this butterfly before it chose life and could fly over the water without succumbing to its mesmerizing draw.
Old habitual thought/emotional patterns also take conscious work and repeated application to dig-up and remove from our psyches. They have an addictive quality to the un-present mind. The beautiful meditation practice of Metta (Brahmavihara Cultivation) is a powerful framework to use when releasing past hurts.
Many students in my courses find that they need to repeat the exercise until they can fully feel the unconditional forgiveness and release the blessings bring, especially when they are forgiving themselves. With intent, and choosing to practice Metta regularly, many also report a release from old patterns that they realized they had been carrying on their backs for many years.
Butterfly Truth 4: Gratitude cauterizes old habitual negativity.
The butterfly took flight once again to much applause from a crew of neighbourhood kids who had gathered in the pool and were ready to catch it again if it fell. It did a loop over the pool and seemed to swoop dangerously low. But with the sun’s energy in its wings, it changed tack and avoided the usual death plummet into the water. It had the strength to choose a different flight path. It flew back around the garden and then just for a moment it landed on my outstretched hand. I know I’m an old hippy, but I had the distinct impression that it was appreciative of being rescued, and stopped for a moment to say/flap ‘thanks’.
What I have observed in my own practice and in my courses is that just thinking you’re grateful doesn’t do much. It’s the feeling of heartfelt, unconditional gratitude that does everything. It heals old wounds; it creates a magnetic field that attracts more of what you’re grateful for; it opens up miraculous worlds hidden in the everyday; it makes you strong. Heart-centered gratitude meditations allow gratitude to fill the heart-space and radiate out into life.
Butterfly Truth 5: Seeking a higher perspective weakens the draw below.
Then, to a riotous cheer from the neighbourhood kids, the butterfly flew up to a high branch of a tree in the garden, safe and clear from danger. And shortly afterwards, it was met by another (very pretty looking) butterfly!
So often when we voice our negative thoughts/patterns/perceived hurts, they find the willing ears of well-meaning friends and family. So often, some relationships are based on the rehashing of negative patterns. So often we seek out dialogue and content that validates the old pattern, allowing it to take deeper root in our mind/body/energy system.
Meditation also throws light on our toxic relationships and content. This can be challenging sometimes, especially when it is family or long-held friendships. Seeking higher ground in what you read, the company you keep, your lifestyle choices, makes the draw to the old contracting patterns weaken and quickly fade. Seek higher ground and find your strength…and maybe another like-minded butterfly!
Meditation can help you ease emotional stress and return to a calm, balanced self. You can begin your transformative journey through my online meditation course, or sign up for my fortnightly meditation sessions and guided practice.
If you have any questions about meditation and mindfulness and how it can empower you in your transformative journey do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.