on…the arc of transformation and the butterfly
Each life has a beginning, a middle, and an end; it is a cycle. Or to use a Yoga term, a vinyasa. As in our asana classes, within each life there are multiple vinyasas: our education, career, growing up, child-rearing, even marriages and relationships are all stages, yes, but each stage has its own cyclical arc.
We are always in the process of evolving, expanding and growing; we are always in the process of becoming. The Sanskrit word for this is Bhagavate. (Thomas Ashley Farrand). Hopefully we are ever becoming that which we came into this Life to be. Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
As we view the arc of our experience during this incarnation, it helps for us to be aware whether we are in the initial, growth, or final stages of any given cycle. Some life cycles and stages are more pleasant than others; regardless, the full arc of every experience is necessary in order to glean whatever knowledge, lesson or joy is embedded within it. The fullness and presence we bring to each stage helps it to become an effective stepping stone on the path of our growth. Most of us have had at least one situation in our lives (perhaps jobs, relationships, even homes) where we overstayed the proverbial welcome (clinging because we resist change) or fled without proper resolution or completion (usually occurrin from unconsciousness, fear, or a combination of both). When we cling, we don’t grow, when we flee, the lesson we missed will surely be revisited at another time, in another form. Inevitably, what we resist will persist. If we had been present enough or aware enough to move more slowly, perhaps a better less encumbered result may have ensued. Less “karmic collateral”, if you would.
The butterfly is a clear example of this cyclical nature of evolution and growth. Its first stage of growth is as a caterpillar. Its form is dense; its method of locomotion low to the ground. Even its form of nourishment is solid: leaves that need to be masticated in order to be ingested. Then begins a period of transformation, patiently taking place within the protection of a cocoon. There is nothing hurried or pressured about the process. At the perfect moment the butterfly sheds he cocoon and emerges, having made a transformation from a being of density to a being of elegant lightness. When we think of a butterfly, not one thought of darkness comes to mind. The final stage of its life is one of only delicacy and beauty. His body has completely changed, his method of locomotion, his wings, now lift him to the sky…even his delicate nourishment, nectar, has an elevated inference and meaning in our yogic paradigm. Amrita.
Might we compare ourselves to the butterfly? Like the butterfly, the first stage of our journey begins close to the ground; our first form of locomotion is, of course, crawling. We mature biologically as a natural part of the human process, but with patience, dedication, and the support of practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness, we can transform metaphysically as well. We can elevate ourselves away from a gross level of material existence to the something more spiritual and ethereal. As we learn to release what does not serve us, as the butterfly sheds its chrysalis, our consciousness rises and we become “lighter” as well. Like the butterfly, we can transform ourselves and ultimately emerge as beings of lightness, so our lives, too, will beautiful, joyful and light.