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.