We live our lives on autopilot. Our minds are noisy with thoughts about the past and worries about the future. We hardly see our present drifting through time, we certainly don’t stop long enough to notice it. The end of this is a constant stress on our minds and bodies. I for one can’t keep that up, so here is how to live like a butterfly:
FIRST – STOP! Butterflies are busy insects but every so often they have to stop buzzing about, and so they settle on a plant or flower and just stop. In July 2014 Timothy Wilson and colleagues at University of Virginia and Harvard University offered students 15 minutes of doing absolutely nothing but sitting still, with the option of self-administering an electric shock by pressing a button. The students all said they would be prepared to pay $5.00 to not have a shock, yet 67 percent of men self-administered shocks and 25 percent of women. One man gave himself over 160 shocks! We also struggle to stop and just let go of all the thoughts that buzz around our minds. In the 1970s Jon Kabat-Zinn a molecular biologist University of Massachusetts researched the eastern concepts of mindful meditation then created Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction describing Mindfulness as “… paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.” It works! In patients stress fell by 70% and associated physical symptoms by 44%. It is scientifically proven to lowers blood pressure and heart rate and cortisol, the nasty stress hormone.
Every day, whenever you can – STOP! Cease the noise in your head and listen instead to the feeling of your breathing. Nothing more, nothing less.
SECOND – SOAK! Butterflies need to keep at a constant temperature and they use the sun to warm themselves. Spreading their wings out as they face the sun they receive warmth from the sun. Instead of striving to come into God’s presence and struggling to get his attention periodically through the day, realise he is always present “The God who made the world and everything in it, … is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’…we are indeed his offspring.” David describes this as “I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Mother Teresa said “Each moment is all we need, not more.” Brother Lawrence said “…that his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of GOD, his soul being at that time insensible to everything but Divine love”
There is nothing hard or strenuous about coming into God’s presence – because we are always in it! Once stopped we simply soak up the presence of God by staying still and calmed like David. In Orthodox Christianity there is a practice called Hesychasm. It is “stillness, rest, quiet, silence”, a mystical tradition of prayer. Based on Christ’s injunction in the Gospel of Matthew that “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret“, hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, to achieve an experiential knowledge of God.
Spend time SOAKING God’s presence and love. The one thing we seek is what God has promised to give us – “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
FINALLY – SHINE! Butterflies don’t paint their own wings, they have them painted for them. Yet how wondrously beautiful they are! When we stop and soak up God’s present presence and live in his perspective, we can go back into our daily lives and display whatever pattern he has painted on our wings. Don’t wear a mask, be who God made you to be.
STOP – SOAK – SHINE