Metamorphosis – By Doe Zantamata
On the journey between caterpillar to butterfly, the caterpillar encloses itself into a cocoon. Within that cocoon, the entire caterpillar is broken down into a soup-like mixture. Just about all of the major structures are broken down and then rebuilt, including the heart. Soon, the butterfly emerges. Hardly a trace of the caterpillar remains. The butterfly becomes free to fly. Personal transformation is much the same. Tired of just eating, working, existing, we go within and close off somewhat from the outside world. We re-examine all of our beliefs; what we were told, what we learned. The process takes much longer than a few days, but sooner or later, we rebuild. We replace false beliefs, held in our minds, with truths, held in our hearts. We shed the old, and begin to emerge anew.
Released from our limitations and negative beliefs, we become...free to fly.
In 2011 my passion for yoga was ignited when I took a yoga class to reduce stress. The teacher masterfully wove the yoga poses together with a theme about transformation, which is defined as "a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance." The teacher shared that a consistent yoga practice could transform one's life, so I decided to give it a try.
After a year of practicing and studying yoga, my life was transforming in a big way. I was stronger physically, my mind was calm, there was a new level of emotional resiliency, and I was able to connect with others in a more authentic way. As a professional coach, I knew that many of my clients were seeking these same benefits so I signed up for yoga teacher training to learn more.
After completing my training, I dedicated the next four years of my life to this exploration which included opening a yoga studio, bringing mindfulness activities to my corporate work, and using yoga as a tool to accelerate results for coaching clients. What I found surprising about this time is that not only did I have the opportunity to teach my clients, I had an even greater opportunity to learn. Everything I thought I knew about myself, leadership, teams, and relationships was put to the the test and it forced me to take a good hard look at myself. While the process of looking within and acknowledging my humanness has been unsettling and disorienting, it has also been wildly informative and transformational.
Dr. Jeff Alexander uses the analogy of a caterpillar's natural transition to a butterfly to illustrate how difficult transformation can be. In it's final few days as a caterpillar, a voracious appetite is developed and the caterpillar gorges to the point of excessive discomfort. To recover, the caterpillar finds a dark spot where they hang upside down while a cocoon is formed around it's bloated body. From outside the cocoon, it looks like nothing is happening. But within the cocoon there is a dynamic struggle occurring as the caterpillar's immune system (current self) sees the imaginal cells (potential self) as a threat. The caterpillar's system works to the point of burn-out trying to fight off the inevitable. Eventually the caterpillar's system stops fighting and the caterpillar's body is broken down into a nutritive soup that feeds the new cells that will ultimately create the butterfly.
As I reflect on my own transformation, it is easy to see the similarities between the caterpillar's journey and my own. In a desire to get the most out of every opportunity, I took on too much and was left feeling exhausted and uncomfortable in my own skin. So I pulled back from everything to find a quiet place to rest and reflect. And here I have been curled up in my cocoon fighting the transformation process for months, holding on for dear life to everything that I worked so hard to create. But today something in me shifted.
I recognize that it is time to let go completely, which means stepping back from teaching yoga. It is not easy to release this part of my life, but holding on is no longer an option. I have no idea what the next stage will be, but I do know that my cocoon is filled with rich experiences, wonderful memories, and deep sense of trust that whatever the next stage is, it will be absolutely magical.
Journal Reflection Questions
Are you in the midst of your own metamorphosis? If so, use the questions below to support your journey.
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…
- Rev. Safire Rose
Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is purest delight;
To honor it’s form — true devotion.
– Jennifer Welwood
So often we go through life just doing what is in front of us, rather than consciously choosing a path that supports our higher purpose. It feels easy to just “go with the flow” and not “make a fuss” about things. But as time goes by a dull pain shows up and we begin to feel unsatisfied. Then, this nagging feeling creeps in, whispering to us that something is not right. This inner voice is actually a calling from our true self telling us we are out of alignment. The longer we ignore this feeling, the further we get off track and the unhappier we become.
So, what can you do?
The first step is to get clear about what you value and who you want to be. Values anchor us in our true self so that as the winds of change blow and the environment shifts, we are able to navigate with our internal compass and stay grounded in who we really are.
What do you value most in life? The answers can immediately kick start your journey to accessing your true self. Select your personal values and then consider the reflection questions below:
Once you have reconnected with your values, it is important to be clear about why you are here. Often, we can get buffeted around by what other people want or expect us to be. At times it feels simpler to take on the expected roles, but the cost of that is that you are denying your true self. Take a few minutes now to create a metaphor that illustrates your true self. Don’t over-think it or sensor what comes up, just write it down.
I am the _________________ (metaphor) that ________________ (impact statement)!
Use your values and purpose statement daily to get back on track and stay in alignment.
Being vulnerable and showing who you really are takes clarity, courage and commitment. There is no one else in the world quite like you, so play with exuberance and creativity as you live the life you truly desire.
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart…. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung
Here is the funny thing about life, we move forward at the speed of
light only to find out that we are moving in circles. So we move faster,
work harder and take on more thinking that it will get us unstuck, when
in fact the exact opposite is true. When you are tempted to keep
pushing, slow down and reconnect with yourself before any further
action is taken. Getting into alignment will ease your way, calm your
mind and remove barriers that once seemed insurmountable. Below
are a few simple actions you can take today to get unstuck:
Pick the action that resonates with you and observe how it changes your internal and external environments in a positive way. If you feel so inspired, try all four. Changing your routine with any of these is a fresh start toward your best life. It is a great way to align your body, mind, spirit and relationships.