THE BUTTERFLY AS SPIRITUAL METAPHOR

Have you ever noticed the fleeting beauty of a butterfly as it floats by? Butterflies have a magical quality to them. They appear so ethereal and fragile, much like fairies dancing on air. These beautiful creatures do more than just look pretty and pollinate flowers. They can serve as wonderful spiritual messengers—both literally and figuratively.

THE BUTTERFLY AS SPIRITUAL METAPHOR

When you think about the butterfly and its life cycle, it contains a great deal of spiritual meaning. Starting out as an egg, it hatches into a caterpillar. Then it enters the next stage where it becomes a cocoon or pupa. Finally, the magnificent butterfly emerges in all its winged glory.

When you think about the butterfly and its life cycle, it contains a great deal of spiritual meaning.

In many ways, the butterfly serves as a metaphor for the soul’s spiritual journey. Its metamorphosis represents our own spiritual transformation. We start out as a simple being and learn to function in the world, much like the caterpillar. We crawl along through life in our day-to-day activities but search for deeper meaning. Eventually, we go on that inner journey to get in touch with our inner selves, much like wrapping ourselves in a cocoon. We meditate, pray, read and study spiritual truths. We turn our focus inwards. At some point, we are ready to emerge and share our true essence with the world. Much like the butterfly, we spread our wings and fly.

Butterflies have relatively short life spans, most live for only a week or two. Some species like the Monarch can live up to six months. Even so, that is not much time in the scheme of things. This too serves as a reminder for us. Although we live much longer than the butterfly, life is fleeting and time moves quickly. Sometimes we don’t realize it and all of a sudden, the years just slipped away. Butterflies teach us to enjoy the present moment and make the most of our existence here on earth. They also remind us that death is just another transformation—we will just spread our wings and fly in another dimension.

BUTTERFLIES AS POWER ANIMALS

Power animals are highly revered in many shamanic cultures, especially among Native Americans. Each power animal has specific qualities and strengths that can teach us. Butterflies represent joy, freedom, creativity, and change. Their transformative powers also symbolize shape shifting and soul evolution.

When you see a butterfly in your dreams or in reality, it can be considered a power animal message. Stop for a moment and take a look at what’s going on in your life. Is it time to make some changes? Or maybe you’re already undergoing a life transformation. If so, this power animal will give you the strength to move on. This creature also reminds you to enjoy freedom and creativity and not to take life too seriously. Likewise, groups butterflies indicate the same messages, only more urgent and prominent.

BUTTERFLIES AS SPIRITUAL MESSENGERS

In addition to power animal messages, butterflies convey other spiritual tidings. Angels often communicate with us through butterflies. When a butterfly appears in your midst, it could be your guardian angel or spirit guide sending you a signal. It is difficult to ignore a butterfly’s presence, so consider it an important communiqué.

Departed loved ones can also speak to us through butterflies. Many people report seeing butterflies shortly after a loved one’s death. Some see the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection, while others consider it to be the essence of the deceased’s soul. In fact, there is an old Irish saying, “Butterflies are souls of the dead waiting to pass through purgatory.” Either way, butterflies do serve as important spiritual messengers. It is often up to the interpreter to decide the true meaning.

So the next time a butterfly crosses your path, take heed from this spiritual messenger. You are obviously meant to receive a message of great importance!

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Doodling Your Way To Happiness

Are you a chronic doodler? Do your notes from meetings have a border of puppy faces, three-dimensional cubes, or some other artwork in the margins? Don’t be embarrassed by your proclivity to draw, color, or simply move your pen around the page making designs everywhere. In fact, and hold onto your hats for this, new research suggests that even a little time spent engaging your inner Picasso can influence your brain to give you a more positive outlook.

The study, which took place at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, found that coloring, drawing, and doodling make us feel more relaxed because they activate the reward centers in the brain. A pool of 26 adults was recruited by the investigators. Eight of the subjects identified themselves as artists, and the remainder had no specific artistic background.

All of the subjects wore headbands equipped with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technology that measured blood flow in various parts of the brain. With the headbands on, the participants were provided paper and markers and given three sessions of three minutes each for artistry. They had breaks in between, during which time they were told to rest their hands. In the first session, the volunteers were instructed to color in a mandala; in the second, they were permitted to doodle within or around a pre-marked circle; and in the third, they were given free reign to draw. Their headbands remained on throughout the sessions as well as the break periods.

During each of the artistic activities—in just three minutes’ time—blood flow increased in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. In contrast, during the rest periods, the blood flow returned to its normal rate. The prefrontal cortex helps control the brain’s reward pathways and contributes to our emotions, decision-making capabilities, and motivation. Therefore, an increase in blood to the region indicates that we would feel rewarded by the activity that prompts it.

Interestingly, doodling around the circle resulted in the greatest average increase in blood flow, followed by freestyle drawing, and coloring offered the least. But the differences between them were small enough to not be statistically significant. However, when the self-described artists were separated out from the others for analysis, there was an anomaly noted. While the artists were affected in similar ways to the non-artists by doodling and drawing, the artists actually had a decrease in blood flow from the coloring activity. It might have been due to the limitations presented to their creativity or frustration at the lack of time to complete the task in its entirety, but their brains reacted differently.

After the final session was complete, the subjects were asked to report their state of mind, both in regard to their drawing activities and how they were feeling about themselves. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, with indications that they felt they had more good ideas and improved problem-solving abilities than they had before their art sessions. In fact, a number of participants expressed a desire for more time to be artistic.

Ultimately, even though the sample size of the study was too small to give us any definitive conclusions, the outcomes were clear enough to suggest that some time spent drawing, doodling, or coloring is not a waste. Stimulating the brain’s reward pathways can produce encouraging results in the way we think about ourselves and our capabilities. And let’s face it, doodling is a much better way to achieve this than by mindlessly watching TV, begging for likes on social media, using recreational drugs, or obsessively thinking about food.

So, it may be worthwhile to spend a few minutes here or there with a pencil and paper to potentially brighten our mood and get our synapses firing with ideas. Sometimes just that little shift in attitude can be enough to motivate you to success. For example, if you’re feeling a creative block or just not seeing the solution to a challenge, you might be better off putting it away and giving yourself five or 10 minutes to do nothing but doodle or draw. It might not appear to be the most productive way to spend your time, but that may just be the thing that gets you over the hurdle and across the finish line—you know, the one you just drew in your doodle.

Lavender & Lovage Seed Digestive Biscuits: Non-Gluten, Vegan and Good For The Tummy – The Yoga Apothecary

It’s no wonder the digestive biscuit is a long standing tradition. Its simple, gentle nature doesn’t make overt demands on the palate or the stomach, yet it is sweet and satisfying as an afte…

Source: Lavender & Lovage Seed Digestive Biscuits: Non-Gluten, Vegan and Good For The Tummy – The Yoga Apothecary

Japanese Rose

Names can be confusing especially in the world of plants. While the botanical or scientific names for plants are often difficult to remember, they are universally accepted and used. On the other hand, common names, while easier to pull from our memory and pronounce, can be a source of confusion. Take the word rose as an example. If you think of all the plants that we identify with the word rose as part of their common names you can see how messy name calling can get. Rose of Sharon, Christmas rose, desert rose, and moss rose are all called roses, however, none of these plants are actually roses. The Japanese rose is yet another example. It is an old fashioned shrub that many call a rose. In fact, it is actually Kerria japonica. The golden yellow form can be found blooming in gardens in early spring as far north as Zone 4. Several years ago I stumbled onto a variety that blooms white, a sharp contrast to the color and double blooms on the more common Kerria. The color of the white form, Kerria japonica ‘Alisa’, works better in my garden. It blends well with the late daffodils, tulips and other flowering shrubs like rhododendron and azaleas. The branches of kerria are delicate and graceful, and since the blooms appear just as it is beginning to leaf out, it is a choice plant for adding elegant lines and a sense of movement to early spring flower arrangements.

One of the outstanding characteristics of this shrub is that it will bloom heavily in full to partial shade. In fact, it prefers shelter from full sunlight. It will grow in any well-drained soil.

japanese rose white
Japanese Rose
Kerria japonica
Zone
4,5,6,7,8,9
Categories
shrubs
Bloom Time
early spring
Light
Partial Shade/Shade
Soil
moist, well-drained soil
Plant Height
3 to 6 feet

Cyclamen

COMMON NAME:  Cyclamen
GENUS:  Cyclamen
SPECIES, HYBRIDS, CULTIVARS:
C. purpurascens-pinks; blooms in fall. C. hederifolium-vigorous, easy to grow. C. coum-cultivated since 1596.
FAMILY: Primulaceae
BLOOMS: Winter
TYPE: Perennial
DESCRIPTION: Cyclamen has lovely pink-carmine-magenta nodding flowers, borne singly on stems that, on some species, coil downward. The foliage is also quite attractive, usually a dark, glossy green and sometimes mottled. With the necessary cultural conditions, cyclamen can be used as a lovely ground cover. The plants reach a height of only 4 to 6 inches.
CULTIVATION: Cyclamen is often grown indoors as a houseplant but is hardy in some southern areas and can be used effectively in rock gardens or in small clusters underneath trees and shrubs. The plants grow from corms, which should be planted 1 to 2 inches deep in late summer. They prefer rich, moist, shady areas. The corms do not multiply or divide so propagate by planting new corms or sowing seeds during the summer months. Be patient, though, for it may take as long as a year to get a bloom from seed.

The genus name Cyclamen is from the Greek word kyklos, meaning “circle.” Some say the name refers to the circular form of the corm; others say it is because of the spiral coil that the stalk makes after flowering. The common name sowbread comes from the fact that wild pigs grub for the roots. In some countries, the bulbs were at one time used for fodder.
Cyclamen was used as a medicinal herb long before it was known for its beauty. The bulbs contain a substance called cyclamin and are considered poisonous. Taken in small quantities, they can produce nervous tension and gastritis. In larger quantities, the symptoms become more severe, and cramps and paralysis can occur.

Roasting the corms destroys some of the toxicity, and they were sometimes beaten and made into small cakes. Eating these corms was thought to make one feel amorous and fall in love easily. The medicinal uses of the plant were varied. An ancient English remedy suggested: “In case that a man’s hair fall off, take this same wort, and put it into the nostrils.” It was also widely used in childbirth. The powers of the plant were thought to be so great that it was considered very dangerous for a woman even to step on this plant while she was pregnant, for fear she would have the baby early.