The butterfly jar

It is not easy staying in mindfulness at the moment. My mind is a turmoil past and present. I ride the rapids through the seeming obstacles seeking calmer internal waters.

I turn to my marked up books with thoughts written in margins as well as passages underlined. One of my notes catches my eye: “I am placing these as cocoons in my butterfly jar.” The section is on “Roadblocks to Trust” in a book called Heart Sense by Paula M. Reeves, Ph.D.

But what is a butterfly jar? It comes from a story of my own, a moment in my life when I came face to face with an old memory. It was a time of pain when I could not take the dichotomy of what I felt inside and what I felt I had to live on the outside.  At that place in my life, I did not feel the ability to leave the situation I was in. Yet, to be me within that situation was so painful I did not feel I could live with the tearing inside. I struck out at myself by destroying the box in which I had treasured most my writing from my youth as a symbolic way tried to stop being who I was in order to be able to exist. Others needed me to live and yet I was not at peace with my life.


Totems, LJ Andres, Acrylic

It was almost 20 years before I could look back and weep for that young mother and the pain that caused her to make the chose I made then. On that day a few years ago when I wept for her, my sense of imagery noticed a partially opened door within the house of my soul.

I allowed my imaged self to walk to the door and look within. Pressing back into the corner of the small darkened room with arms tightly wrapped around drawn up knees what that young woman me, head bowed, sorrowful. Surrounding her were many scraps of torn up paper. The coloured pencil flowers at the edge of some of the pieces told me what they were. One of the pages torn up that day long ago had been bordered with those flowers.

I walked into the room and reached my hand out to her. She looked up to me with hope and reached for my hand. As I lifted her to her feet the scattered pieces transformed into a myriad of white butterflies fluttering around our heads, some with the coloured markings of those long ago flowers. Healing tears flowed that day as forgiveness was extended to that part of me who had taken away so many of the mementoes of my youth.

For days when a problem would come, I would image it turning into another butterfly. But the time came when the problems didn’t fly away. I was discouraged until a whisper in my mind explained, “They are still in their cocoons.”

DSC09388bSo the butterfly jar was born. The personally decorated jar soon held several tightly rolled post-its as I would write my  self criticisms and roll them up into cocoons. Every now and then I would take the pieces out of the jar and sort them into piles. I would usually find I was saying a similar thing over several times. I would choose the one that best said what that was and roll it back up in the jar. Others I would find held healing and no longer were trapped in cocoons.

After reading the Heart Sense words that day, I bought a mirror and set it facing my butterfly jar as reminder. I will share some of her words with you here:

– Make a list of the ways in which you feel uncertain of yourself or ways in which you feel you can’t trust yourself.
– After you made your list, choose one of the items on it.
Take your mirror and look deeply in your own eyes and ask your heart, “Is this the truth about me?”
– If the answer is “Yes,” ask what you can do about making a change. Imagine that the answer is held within your heart. Go there, listen, and write down whatever you hear. Commit yourself to genuinely try to change. This is not a quick fix. All soulful change takes time, conscious commitment, and a willingness to believe in the outcome.
– If the answer is “No,” then write a commitment to yourself that each and every time you find yourself using that reason to not trust yourself you will stop, turn to your heart, and ask for the courage to remove the roadblock.  (Reeves, Heart Sense)

books that inpsirePerhaps this is a time for making another list and asking the questions I learned. I am thankful for those whose words add thoughtfulness into moments like this when mindful living seems more a practice to learn than a peace to experience.

Today my mindful gift is the books and memories that guide me to my next steps on my journey of mindful living.




2 thoughts on “The butterfly jar

    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      Thank you for sharing this. Will read more about the system you are talking about. I tend to be a person who uses art and symbolism as a part of healing.


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