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Posted in Journey to Joy, Life | 25 comments

How to be kind to your Butterfly Mind

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.

Butterfly mind - Pathdoc - Shutterstock

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.

Straight and curly

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 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’?

Linking up with Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mummy, PoCoLo at Verily Victoria Vocalises, All About You at Mama and More

Butterfly image: Pathdoc /


  1. Such a beautiful post, thought provoking and as you say, a gentler approach to the monkey mind view. As you know this is very much my cup of tea – I think that it is indicative of the seeking to be kind to yourself and taking the space to breathe and meditate is so crucial. Thanks darling for linking to #AllAboutYou x
    Mama and More aka Zaz recently posted…Silent Sunday

  2. My brother is amazing at meditation. He puts time aside for it and really puts a lot of effort into creating mental and physical space for it. He’s a mental health nurse and really does know and see the benefits of this practice. I’ve been interested in teaching my kids about mindfulness for some time, but have’t dedicated myself to it yet. I can totally see how beneficial this practice would be, but as always, I never put the time aside to meditate myself, and I think I could really do with it. As ever, life becomes so hectic and time becomes so short, and actually, we’re talking about 15 minutes in the day to just stop and take stock.

    Your butterfly analogy for thoughts it beautiful. My thoughts sometimes feel like a swarm, and I cope with them by writing them all down instead of batting them away (not that I’d ever bat a butterfly away). Thanks for writing such a lovely, mindful post. I am going to try and take more care time over my thoughts and my mind. It needs to be done! x
    Fiona @ Free Range Chick recently posted…My Top 5 Dream Jobs

    • Oh Fiona thank you so much for this wonderful comment and your kind words – your brother sounds truly inspirational! I write to free my thoughts too – it was actually part of my therapy for PND to write and how this blog was born – and it’s a great way to declutter your mind x

  3. What a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading this. I’m really struggling with meditation since I’ve had my children. The little monkeys just seem to contribute to the chattering of the monkey mind 😉 it’s difficult to find some time as well in peace and quiet but as with everything you just have to make some time! I know it’s noy strictly mesitation but I like listening to guided meditation audios which help me to get into it better. 10-15 minutes a day makes such a difference! Xx

    • I loved guided meditation audios too – and I think that still counts! Meditation is as meditation does I think and anything that quiets the mind is so beneficial, even for a short time as you say x

  4. I barely even get the chance to complete the word me-di-tate let alone find the time to practise it, and I only have one! Oh dear. Better find some tricks to fit some more me time in. Good luck with the move. It can be incredibly stressful but I practise breathing techniques at nighttime and find that helps :)
    Polly Mixtures recently posted…Review: Sassy Bloom

  5. Good luck with the move it looks like you’ve got the perfect plan to keep your stress levels in check #allaboutyou
    Ali recently posted…All About You – the one about shoes

  6. I used to use hypnotherapy CDs for helping tame my ‘monkey mind’ which most days is probably a slightly better description of my brain although I much prefer your idea of a butterfly mind which sounds much more gentle. These days I don’t have a lot of time to try the hypnotherapy CDs but I like the idea of allowing a few minutes a day just observing my monkey/butterfly mind and seeing where it goes.
    Louise recently posted…From the mouths of babes #12

  7. Wow! Just reading this post calms the mind.

    It’s rare I need to de-stress, but when I do, I just use a simple breathing technique.

    I have found that by identifying, and coming to understand all of my negative feelings, (anger, envy etc.), I have been able to squash them underfoot, and keep them in control, leading more room for the positive emotions to flourish, and my life to become relatively stree free.
    Dawn of the Dad recently posted…Dough Boy

  8. What a beautiful post – I love the imagine of a butterfly mind!

    I don’t meditate, but I do an awful lot of thinking and this year have tried to make an effort to “pray more” (which for me, is more about making time to sit, be still, reflect on what is going on and ask for guidance so perhaps more akin to meditation than traditional prayer, I don’t know?!) I find that the times when I need to do this the most are the times I fight against it with excuses of all the other things I need to be “busy” with.

    Good luck with the move and I do hope the meditation and yoga help to keep you balanced amongst it all x
    Amanda recently posted…It’s All About Community – Celebrating the Heart and Soul of the Online World

  9. This is a beautiful way of viewing meditation. I have a very “flitty” (hubsters words not mine!) mind, but with children, I sometimes think it’s a necessity in order to keep all the plates spinning all (most) of the time. But you’re right. We do need to take moments for ourselves. To stop and look. Thank you for reminding me I don’t need to be a walking filofax all the time xx

  10. I keep giving meditation a tentative try but am really struggling with it. Even when I’m doing yoga my mind is wandering. I try, I really do, maybe I try too hard, it seems to be something I just can’t do.
    Mrs TeePot recently posted…Silent Sunday

  11. I love the analogy of a butterfly mind. I absolutely love to meditate and sometimes do so with crystals. Since I’ve been attuned to reiki 1, my meditation has stepped up a massive notch and I definitely find that at least 10 minutes a day helps with mindfulness. I plan to do a reiki 2 attunement in a couple of months too, so we will see where that takes me :) #brilliantblogposts
    Carol Cameleon recently posted…‘The Glass and the Pearls’ ~ Flash Fiction for #WonderfulWorldofWriting

  12. I’ve just come back from a 10 min meditation, at work on a random sofa lol. Sometimes it’s so important to just clear your mind and embrace stillness.
    I’m a little extroverted and can be very hyper, my mind running 50mph so I think letting my thoughts run free, meditation, being still can be very beneficial.
    After reading Oprah’s What I know for Sure, I try to be still and meditate before bed.
    Tin recently posted…The one when your 6 year old talks boyfriends

  13. I love this post Michelle! Lots of modern mums can relate to it, I’m sure, but right now it feels particularly poignant to me. We’ve just received some great news, but it does mean some huge changes are going to happen. As a result I honestly feel as though my mind is doing a Tasmanian Devil on me, never mind a monkey or a butterfly! You’ve reminded me I would do well to try to meditate too, or at the very least to stop and remember to be kind to myself in this crazy time. x
    Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork recently posted…{The Ordinary Moments} #31 – The end of an era

  14. Hi Michelle, I have times when I try to meditate every day, and times when I don’t meditate for months on end. I like it better when I can meditate regularly, it slows me down a bit. I really like the idea of a butterfly going from flower to flower rather than the images of a wild monkey or what I have of a busy street and cars whizzing past me.
    Thank you for the wonderful post and for reminding me to take a few moments to quiet and get mindful of this moment in my busy, stressful day.

  15. what a great reminder to take time out to rebalance. I often have too many things whizzing round in my head which can result in some pretty avid dreams so I’m going to try meditating before bed instead of checking emails! thanks for the tip. x
    Ali recently posted…My breastfeeding to bottle feeding kit

  16. I’m sat here feeding the baby catching up on blog stuff, so it’s a rather poignant post for me to read. It’s so beautifully written that it’s done wonders for calming my own butterfly mind! Life really does get so hectic, taking a few minutes out is essential but often gets overlooked. Very best of luck with your move xxx
    renee @ mummy tries recently posted…Inspirational Enough for a Blogging Award?

  17. I meditate every morning before I start my day. Initially I thought I’d struggle with this, but by using Headspace and seeing it as a treat, it’s now become a wonderful git to myself before the mayhem of the school run. I’ve worked through a few Headspace packs now and love how each one has taught me something new about myself.
    Clementine Buttercup recently posted…

    • Oh that’s wonderful and what a lovely idea to see it as a gift to yourself each morning before the day begins. I’m trying to do the same but with the Insight Timer as it has a reminder function that ‘bongs’ gently at the same time every day.

  18. Lovely post! I myself use listening to music or playing my cello as a form of mediation – it instantly irons out all the worries and stresses! x

    • I can really see how that can be calming Cie! Sometimes turning to the things we find peace and joy in is enough to still our ‘butterfly minds’ isn’t it xx

  19. Such a wonderful post and reminder for us all to take time and to consider our thoughts. Often trying to stop a thought doesn’t work so letting it glide over you and appreciating we cannot always be happy or relaxed and that’s OK is healthy. I love that you call it a butterfly and not a monkey mind, modern life is stressful but being more mindful and also kinder to ourselves (especially at stressful times, for example for me it’s that one PMT day I know I need to be alone where possible) can make a huge difference. Good luck with the next exciting chapter darling, love your gorgeous pics too x
    HonestMum recently posted…Vanilla Custard in Filo Pastry

    • Thank you Vicki for such a lovely comment and your kind words. So pleased it resonated with you – and I’m SO the same on my PMT day! xx



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