Looking for eagles, but finding butterflies
The story of how butterflies turned my attention in the direction of subtility in change processes and the question of what we are looking for when we evaluate the results of our process.
One day of the SPT Summer Retreat in Sweden 2021, as a part of the retreat process, we are walking to the top of one of the local mountains. The mountain is located within a national park, and it’s an area with a lot of wildlife it’s possible to meet moose, reindeer, bears or eagles on the hike.
As I know this is a possibility, I’m looking for it, hoping for it, directing my awareness in that direction.
On the hike we are walking in silence. As the day and the hike goes on there are no signs of any of these big animals. But the nature is generous with other creatures like mosquitoes and flies, a not very appreciated generosity. When we rest at the top of the mountain, drinking water and eating our refreshments and enjoy the spectacular view over the forest land below, the butterflies arrive. Big, beautiful butterflies (Papilio machaon), arriving in their chaotic and yet elegant way of flying – where are they coming from and what are they doing on the top of this mountain?
At that moment I realise that I’m not always open to what is. My eyes and attention get lazy when I’m looking for something specific, expecting or hoping for something specific to happen.
“Look for eagles but be open to find butterflies instead”
In a busy everyday life, it is easy to lose perspective on you situation. It is like you get a mole perspective, you often don’t really have an overview or a balcony perspective. Often things must be written in headlines to get through the noise of everyday life, with all its habits and important matters.
When you enter the retreat, you give yourself a pause, you just stop for a while, digest, slow down and get time to listen.
The retreat process is like making a kind of alchemical flask. The flask is built of limited communication, less input and distractions and is kept together with the daily routines and structures of the retreat.
The fire under the alchemic flask, which is pushing the process, is made of awareness, meditation and SPT exercises. The content in the alchemic retreat flask is yourself, with all your habits, traumas, wishes and hopes – all kind of conscious and unconscious material. It contains the very being that you have crystallized into through the process of life.
The heat and the pressure in the flask create the possibility for change. Habits are melting, material gets visible, and the melting process can have the potential to rearrange the material in a new and surprising way. In the end of the retreat when the alchemic retreat flask is opened again, things might crystallize in a new way, and change is then a reality.
Something has changed, but it’s subtle like a butterfly
According to our experience we often arrive at a retreat with our noisy daily life expectations. We are looking for headline change. A new job, a new partner, great consultant tools, better students in my classes, or whatever we are stuck in or wish for.
Sometimes when a retreat is over, we realize that nothing has happened, at least no great headlines. But yet… I feel different, something has changed, but it is very subtle. Like a butterfly compared to an eagle. I’m in my body in a different way, I’m more relaxed standing in front of people when teaching, uncertainty doesn’t disturb me so much. And then I might realize that the small things can also bring big changes in my life. The subtle changes can be hard to grasp, it has been written with tiny letters hardly possible to read, but if you pay attention, you know it is there.
In chaos theory there is the idea of the Butterfly Effect, that small things can have a nonlinear impact on a complex system. A butterfly on a mountain in Sweden can affect you half a year later.
As a practitioner or a SPT Teacher you often realize that you are in the zone of not knowing. There, in the not knowing, the outcome is unknown. When you evaluate you should be very open and investigate the details, otherwise you might miss important information and results.
By Anders Fabricius
Do you want to join one of our SPT retreats?
SPT Summer Retreat 2022, open for all practitioners both beginners and advanced, July 22-26 2022 in Sweden.
SPT Deep Dive retreat 2022, open for experienced or advanced practitioners who already are familiar with the basic SPT exercises, August 5-9, 2022 in Sweden.