Why the butterfly? Symbolically, it elegantly marries so many diverse philosophical threads into one image. We know that when we witness the beauty of a butterfly we are seeing what once was but a humble caterpillar. And we’ve seen caterpillars, unassuming and unaware of its own extraordinary potential, busy inching along…eating, sleeping, pooping, doing its thing…seemingly alone in facing the unpredictability of life.
And yet, there is a process that can, when the caterpillar surrenders into it, unlock its inherent and extraordinary potential, enabling an unfolding into a beauty and freedom that is perhaps impossible for the caterpillar to imagine.
This, of course, mirrors the process and purpose of yoga. It is a profound science of unfolding and metamorphosis. Through the practical, methodical, and systematic discipline of the eight limbs of yoga (the asanas, or postures we practice on the mat being only one of the limbs – more on that later!) we can open our awareness to the inherent potentials of the mind, body and soul. This allows us to unfold, like a butterfly, and express of our deepest nature.
That is to say the awareness that we are an expression of the infinite, which transcends the individual mind, and limited sense of self. All this, of course, requires a disciplined turning inward, not unlike the caterpillar.
One of the more acutely challenging aspects of this process is that the caterpillar, when prompted to move into the chrysalis phase, more than likely only sees the discomfort and potential “end” to things as it knows it.
There is no denying that whether you’re changing your mind or your body, transformation by its very nature can not be done from within the confines of your comfort zone. Trying on a new idea — changing your internal self-talk, or upgrading a belief, opening to a soul’s purpose — will feel strange, unfamiliar, daunting at the least and perhaps, at times even impossible. In fact, about the only thing you can count on through change is that it will feel uncomfortable.
Thankfully, for millennia yoga has offered us a guidebook for transforming amidst the confusion and stresses of our daily lives. It points the way – helping you to unfold and test the beauty and freedom of your butterfly wings – ultimately enabling you to gift your best, most authentic self to the world while navigating the precarious combination of vulnerable confrontation and strategic action.
The multi-limbed practice of yoga offers us a steady process for quieting the mind while cultivating the perfect harmony between breath and movement so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception.
In particular, the practice of the asanas help to purify the body, giving one awareness and control over our internal states and rendering it fit for meditation and daily use…with mindful attention on flow and alignment, our life and our practice become increasingly infused with vitality, freedom, gratitude and the capacity to choose love and peace.
And while we might see butterflies as delicate, ephemeral or simple creatures, monarchs, one of the more commonly known butterflies, provide us with significant evidence to the contrary.
They have managed for millennia to navigate their way, en masse for a distance of some 3000 miles (4800 kilometers) each fall from Canada to Mexico (and vice-versa in the spring) without losing their way.
Fascinatingly enough however, no one single individual butterfly ever completes the entire round trip; female monarchs lay eggs for the next generation during the northward migration and at least five generations are involved in the annual cycle.
There is a deep thread of infinite intelligence that runs through the very DNA of this expression of the universe known as the butterfly. That same thread runs within us. Look within and you will find the same truth in yourself…who knows where or what your soul is migrating toward but let the guiding principle of Kodawari Studios – wabi sabi (Nothing lasts, nothing’s finished, nothing’s perfect) and all that’s inherent in the logo of the butterfly guide you…it’s in the journey that the joy lives, not the perfection nor the destination.
I look forward to seeing you on the mat…Peace and strength of heart to you.