Butterflies

To wake at dawn with a winged heart;

To rest at noon hour and meditate on love’s ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with …a song of praise upon your lips.

Khalil Gibran

 

In the midst of the current human and natural disasters, it seems almost naïve to be optimistic about our collective future. Yet, around the planet there are daily miracles and feats not only by people, but also by some of the smallest life forms.

Butterflies, for example, have been around for an estimated 50 million years. These beautiful insects exhibit the capacity for change more than another living creature. They crawl as caterpillars, cocoon, and then, lightly float away with delicate and colorful wings. Species, such as the Monarch, can travel several thousand miles. They are pollinators for some plants, and indicators of healthy ecosystems, as well as controllers of aphids and other pests.

Across cultures, butterflies represent beauty, renewal, simplicity, keen vision, peace, playfulness, and the interdependence of all life.  They represent individual transcendence from the societal pull toward gossip and dissatisfaction to a mind immersed in humble gratitude, kindness, and joy.

This metamorphosis takes personal effort. There is an ancient story of a butterfly that died when a person, intending compassion, tried to free a butterfly from its pupa by cutting it open.   But, unfortunately, the person disrupted the natural cycle of the butterfly, which needed to build its wings by freeing itself from the cocoon.  Transformation happens from the inside out.

Innately, all of us are butterflies.   We are at different stages in our life cycles. Some of us are enveloped in furthering anger and blame, and others have freed themselves of these patterns. The 19th century poet, Khalil Gibran, offers a sweet reminder that each moment of the day is filled with the grace of unseen love.   For the coming weeks, I will choose to follow the wisdom of Gibran.  I hope you will join me.

Practice

This simple practice brings awareness of the rhythmic nature of your breath. Like the emergence of wings of a butterfly, first there is a symbolic release and then gentle flight.

  • Prepare –
    • Set the intention to go offline for five to ten minutes. Clear your environment of digital and audio distractions, e.g., turn your digital gadgets to airplane mode, remove your wrist watch.
    • Find a comfortable seated position – either on the floor or in a chair – and gently settle into the earthly support beneath you. Your eyes can be closed or open with a soft gaze.
    • Allow the backs of your hands to rest on your thighs.
    • Wrap the fingers of your right hand around your right thumb.
      • While continuing to hold the right thumb, do the same with the left hand. (If you are left handed, begin with the left and then add the right hand.)
      • Lovingly hold both thumbs and breath for a few breaths.
  • Practice –
    • Move your thumb and individual fingers in sync with the breath:
      • Inhale –
        • Gently open your palms, thumbs, and fingers to relax into a soft and open hand.
          • Return to this hand position with each subsequent inhalation.
      • Exhale –
        • Three exhales for each finger, lightly touch the tip of your thumb (simultaneously on both hands).
          • With the tip of your index finger.
          • With the tip of your middle finger;
          • With the tip of your ring finger; and,
          • With the tip of your little finger.
    • Move your entire hand in sync with your breath:
      • Smooth Inhale and Exhale – 
        • With minimal effort, allow your entire hand to gently open with each inhale and relax inward with each exhale.
          • Imagine that your inhales flutter outward from the deepest core of your heart to every cell in your torso, limbs, digits & skull.   Imagine that your exhales quietly settle back into your heart center.
          • Continue for as long as is comfortable.
  • Transition back into your day –
    • Stretch through your palms. Open your eyes if they were closed.  Stretch out through your arms. Return to your day.

This poem is from Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt, page 55 , and published by New World Library.

 

 

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