Monarch Meditations on Butterfly Warriors

Rock and Hard place 1014

It is just dark, the morning darkness that precedes every dawn, the stillness before the splash of the sun that becomes the light of day. This is the pause—the moment of stillness—before the stirring begins yet again.

Most mornings I immerse myself into the stillness—my meditative state I call it—for when I do, there is a shimmer to the day that seems to rub off onto me as well.

Yet, there are days upon leaving my sleep state that I am aware of a mind-body consensus considering “what if we just rest today” and not really awaken. Mind knows that skipping meditation means body will not have to stretch itself with yoga.

There is a cascade of memories—perfect in their replaying of such lazy pleasure—of what past days of rest have meant: comfort food, marathon movie watching, binge reading.

It is the escape offered to the day at hand. Almost always, I decline the escape route. But every time I do, there is an acknowledged appreciation for what that escape once meant. It remains an old friend rarely visited.

Instead, I sit and remember the warrior monarch butterfly, a true bodhisattva and a welcome memory on the mornings I hesitate to meditate. The complete metamorphosis of the butterfly reminds me why I meet each day I am given.

It is the butterfly who gives up one way of life after another—each stage fraught with life-ending possibilities—for to fly is to know the freedom of walking on air. From the stillness of the larva the caterpillar stirs to its search for sustenance, consuming one leaf after another.

There is a reward for all this eating, and it is not one of rest but rather it is the spinning of a pupa—the chrysalis—a chamber of life as tissue, limbs, and organs of a body that once crawled become a body that now flies.

No new life emerges until the old is transformed into what is necessary for the life that awaits.

And for the monarch warriors, there is a 2,500-mile migration critical to its survival, a quest that relies not on individual warrior monarchs but on all monarch warriors living their lives to ensure the species.

Safety in Numbers 1014

The monarch warrior moves through one form of life after another without wondering about the ways of existence. Such consideration falls within the realm of the human species.

We yearn to be like the monarchs, warriors working together, not singularly, to ensure our species survival. We might ache for metamorphosis but we do not easily let go of our accumulated experiences, especially those that seem to require so much of us.

“We don’t want to go through that again,” we say, which we won’t, of course, not exactly. Perhaps the monarch warrior does know this.

We want to spread our wings without changing who we are. We are agreeable to making necessary changes—an adjustment of our very being—as long as we are allowed to keep what is most dear.

We may not be as fearless or as selfless as the warrior monarch but we are just as connected to existence. We are born with the capacity for complexity rather than the singularity of purpose of the warrior monarch.

I have to wonder just what the warrior monarch might know for it is my nature to wonder. And so I do. On most mornings in the stillness before the stirring begins yet again.

14 thoughts on “Monarch Meditations on Butterfly Warriors

  1. This is so beautifully put and touches my heart as I feel stirrings to release things. Emotional things and physical items. After all, a monarch can’t fly with weights, right? Right on, as usual. And as usual, thankful I read:).


    1. Exactly, Kay. Monarchs do not fly with excess baggage. I, too, am letting of quite a bit. Just yesterday I was telling a friend of how sitting among the monarchs is/was a life-changer for me. Thanks!


  2. it seems to me that we too, without particular attention or effort, morph as we age. We can invite change in many ways, but invited or not, it comes. As I get older I am more at peace, less urgent. Time and I are loafing along together; when I was younger one of us was always giving the other a shove. Maybe, like the monarch, the human life cycle has metamorphosis built into it.


    1. Actually, Adrian, I think you’re onto something here. In many ways, especially growing older, we do morph. We recognize the physical changes, of course, but I really like the idea of “loafing” with time, as if we get a little longer to appreciate the span of a life. Thanks, Adrian.


  3. I can relate to those need-for-stillness days. Interestingly, I probably longed for them many times in the past, but wasn’t still enough to recognize the need. 😉

    “We want to spread our wings without changing who we are.” Wow. Yes. Transformation takes more than wishing for the end result, without the work outside the comfort zone required to get there. I think we have to believe in ourselves and our potential, truly see, taste, smell and touch it, in our minds before we can hope to expand and live higher. When self-doubt crops up, we ought to acknowledge it, then let it go. Talk back to it. Stand taller. Believe.

    You’ve given me so much to think about, and as usual, it’s quite timely. Thanks for this post!


    1. As always, August, wise words. I had not considered using our senses, literally, to appreciate our potential and the unique human being that each of us is. Thanks for that, August, and for all your support.


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