Preferred Perception

to create reality is life's purpose – lessons from Nowheim

Butterflies and Bats

I used to think that meditation means emptying the head of all thoughts and activity. Of course, I learned quickly that this is not possible. The best the brain can do is focus on one thing solely. It may be a thought or a sound or an object or a mantra.

There are times when the mantra method works best for me and other times when staring at a candle works better. Sometimes – though rarely – I can hold my focus for an astounding 45 minutes, especially when I sit with other meditators and preferably in the atmosphere of a meditation center or at least in a quiet environment. Most of the time, I catch my mind wandering after only a few minutes. Chastising myself makes it worse. It’s a normal occurrence. Thinking about not thinking is counterproductive. In mindful meditation, it is recommended to just kindly acknowledge a thought that pops up, let it pass without following it and return to the meditation. That is very helpful advise. But sometimes, it’s not just one thought that sneaks in. It’s a whole barrage of thoughts, and I go crazy trying to herd them towards the exit. I decided to picture them as butterflies. I don’t try to catch them, I don’t swing a net. I tell them they are free to fly out into the world. They usually do, and I can quickly return to my meditation. They are not my enemies. They are lively, colorful, little creatures lost in my head. I don’t know where they come from or where they go. But sometimes, I notice that there is still something that won’t leave me alone. It’s just there. It’s quiet. It’s dark. Bats, hanging there – upside down. I normally don’t see them and don’t hear them. Fears and negativity sneak in unnoticed and just hang there, hiding in the dark. When I can relax enough to send the butterflies on their way, open my ears to silence and my eyes to complete blackness and release the tension in my muscles, I can float up and recognize the bats. They are not my enemies. They are curious, little creatures. I tell them they are free to fly out into the world and return to my meditation.

Of course, I am still not alone, never am. I embrace love’s company and feel the oneness with all that is.


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