My friend got married Sunday, outdoors in front of a happy gathering of masked, socially distanced friends and family. As part of the ceremony, the couple released butterflies from a beautifully decorated box.
At first the butterflies clung to the inside of the box, not willing to be set free. Then slowly, gingerly one flew out, then another and another, until all were ready to escape their temporary prison to embrace the next part of their journey. Sort of like people.
There has been a common theme in my healing practice over the last several weeks: I keep seeing squashed, deflated or walled-off heart chakras. And lots of turbulent “head” energy. It’s not surprising with all that’s going on. It’s also not surprising because that’s the way we are conditioned to be.
Most of us are taught to live from our heads, encouraged to work hard and smart, to succeed, to achieve. And, of course, I agree we should be intelligent and capable. But living from the head can also teach us to live from the ego, from separation. I’m good; you’re evil. She’s right; he’s wrong. They’re sick; we’re healthy. And on and on. With a winners/losers mentality, it’s no wonder our world is in the state it’s in, and it leaves little hope for real change.
Maybe we should consider living from the heart, the kind of existence that recognizes, supports and celebrates interdependence, connection. Where we understand that the vitality of the individual depends upon the strength of the collective. Day after day, we are shown examples of this in nature, and of course, our lack of respecting interconnection is a huge reason why our environment is in the state that it is in. It’s also why we humans are in the state we are in.
As a whole, this simple idea seems so overwhelming. Impossible, really. But I’m willing to inch a little bit out of the butterfly box to begin with myself. I’ll start with noticing when I’m in ego-based thinking then pausing to return to my heart. The pause, for me, always includes attuning to my breath.
Here’s a quick breathing exercise I learned in circle leader training through the Wild Woman Project: Inhale, bringing your awareness up to your head, the center of intelligence. Exhale your awareness down into your heart, the center of intuition. Inhale your awareness up to your head, the center of judgement. Exhale your awareness into your heart, the center of compassion.
This moment of slowing down allows me to remember that I always have a choice. I can act from my separation place or I can act from my connection place.
When the butterflies finally escaped from their walled environment, they first gravitated toward the children in the audience. They headed straight to those open little beings who have yet to be fully driven from their hearts to their heads. Perhaps the butterflies felt safest there.