How to be kind to your Butterfly Mind
When we lived in China, struggling to conceive our daughter with the equivalent of IVF (read more about our infertility struggles) I took a bit of a spiritual journey, learning about different religions including Buddhism.
It led me to take some baby steps towards meditation and I loved the notion of a monkey mind; that primitive part of our brains that still deals with the most base of our emotions – fear, joy, jealousy – and how it can take over our more rational side in times of worry and stress.
Quieting my monkey mind through stillness and meditation is a practice that I’ve lost since our two little ones came along. But part of my Journey to Joy this year, realising the importance of awareness and living in the moment, has brought me back full circle to that practice, alongside weekly yoga sessions (inspired by the fabuous Zaz over at Mama and More), albeit in a slightly different way.
One morning last week as I drove home from dropping the eldest at school and the Little Man at nursery, listening to Chris Evans and his brilliant guests on Radio 2 and simultaneously thinking about everything that needs to be done before we move house in two weeks time, I stopped for a moment and watched my thoughts.
As they turned from one subject to the next I was reminded of a butterfly. A butterfly that flits from flower to flower, sipping thoughts from each area of my life before moving on. And I decided that butterfly mind was a much kinder label than monkey mind with its connotations of wildness – even aggression – that has to be tamed.
I didn’t try to steer my butterfly mind in any particular direction that morning, I just watched it float about and noticed where it perched, which thoughts made it fly more erratically, which it lingered on, which it avoided completely. And how each of these visits made me feel inside, what emotions arouse.
I tried to picture these thoughts as flowers swaying in a cool breeze, constantly moving like clouds across the sky, but, importantly, rooted in who I was right at THAT MOMENT.
Not who I was yesterday or who I will be tomorrow.
It was a brief pause in an otherwise busy day but it reminded me how refreshing it can be to be still and present, even if there isn’t the time or place to get out some candles, a comfy cushion and some gently meditation music! (Incidentally if you’re interested in getting started with meditation take a look at Headspace.com or Insight Timer.)
With a very hectic and no doubt stressful couple of weeks ahead of us I’m going to try and find 10 minutes in every day to just breathe and watch my butterfly mind. After all, when all our bits and pieces are packed away in boxes and our house is empty, I know my mind will still be full.
Do you practice meditation? What techniques do you use? How do you integrate it into your day and do you find it helps to calm your ‘wildmind’?
Butterfly image: Pathdoc / Shutterstock.com