By Natalie Amsden
When a caterpillar approaches its time of transformation, it begins to eat ravenously, consuming everything in sight. The caterpillar outgrows its own skin many times, until it is too bloated to move. It turns its world on its head as it attaches itself upside-down to a branch and forms a chrysalis. This gentle encasing limits its freedom and protects it during the duration of the metamorphosis.
I can totally relate to this process. At one point in my life, I began ravenously consuming every inspirational book in sight. I felt heavy and as if I’d outgrown my life, yet I couldn’t move. My world turned upside down. I felt like I was in a prison. Unbeknown to me, I was preparing for a period of personal transformation.
I had been living a stagnant life for a decade, dwelling in my comfort zone of detachment and security.
Everything was as I had always known it. Life was relatively easy. Simple. No drama. I’d been tolerating what was labeled as “chronic fatigue syndrome” for more than 10 years, so low energy was my norm. If you had asked me at the time I would have said I was happy, but isolation within my family, self-sheltering, and denial can create that effect.
Don’t get me wrong, I had some amazing times, a fantastic best friend who kept me sane, and I spent a lot of time with family. Yet I woke up every morning to my alarm clock and contemplated all the evil things I would be willing to do if I would NEVER have to hear that damn thing again.
Even though I liked my coworkers and didn’t mind my job, I loathed the whole working process. I felt like a voluntary slave. I had always told myself it was what I HAD to do—everyone else had to work too, after all. I had an empty, almost non-existent marriage, yet I was totally oblivious to it. I had convinced myself that feeling unfulfilled, lonely, and unloved was pretty “normal” and that having no conflict meant I was doing better than average.
My conscious mind had submitted to a life of servitude and mediocrity, but my unconscious mind and my Soul knew deeply that I was so much more.
My true self was conspiring to shift my reality. I didn’t know what would come of me, but I stopped resisting and followed my internal guidance, letting go and embraced my impending chrysalis and my fate. Little did I know just how quickly metamorphosis takes place.
Once inside the cocoon, the caterpillar does not reorganize its parts and sprout wings. It disintegrates into a puddle of ooze. If we were to open the cocoon halfway through the process, we would not find a caterpillar-butterfly hybrid, instead there would be a blob of goo. A common misperception is that the cells of the caterpillar rearrange into the butterfly; however, recent discoveries have unveiled the mind-boggling truth. Within this ooze, a new type of cells that scientists refer to as “imaginal cells” begin to form, as if from thin air. They resonate at a different frequency and are so totally different from the caterpillar cells that its immune system thinks they are enemies and gobbles them up!
Eventually the imaginal cells become so numerous that the caterpillar’s immune system cannot destroy them fast enough. Like attracts like, and so the imaginal cells are drawn together and begin forming clumps that then cluster together and feed off the caterpillar soup in which they are developing. As if by magic, one day the imaginal cells collectively become conscious of the what they are creating—an entirely new organism—and so they begin taking on different roles and creating the intricate workings of a butterfly.
During my metamorphosis, my life disintegrated completely. Everything that no longer served me (which was nearly everything) began to fall away, rapidly. It was sticky and messy and at times I felt like I was being torn apart, but at the same time I felt as if evolution had taken me over and I knew with every fiber of my being that I was on the right path. Within six months there was no trace of anything that had been in my life before. I walked away from my job. I sold my house. I ended my marriage. I disconnected from people who drained me of life. I sold my belongings. I found a new home for my dog. I was unrecognizable and identity-less. I was neither bloated caterpillar nor emerging butterfly, just a blob of primordial ooze, ripe with infinite possibilities!
Each new spark of imagination, inspiration, and divine guidance ignited a flame of knowing within me, an awareness that I was changing. As my vibration continued to increase, non-serving circumstances shifted away with greater speed, and I was drawn to live in alignment with my true self, my passions, my talents, and my longings with greater intensity.
When the butterfly has matured, the chrysalis becomes transparent. The need for restriction has been outgrown. The butterfly emerges upside down and holds onto the empty shell with such reverence, as if to say “thank you” to where it came from.
Suddenly things became clear to me. I was ready, and so I emerged back into the world, totally transformed. For a while I dangled uncomfortably, in shock at what had happened and who I had become. I felt vulnerable, crinkled, and damp after breaking free from my womb of change.
I clung to the remnants for a little while as I took deep breaths and learned to stretch my wings.
I was in awe and appreciation for all that I’d been through—the emptiness, the depression, the numbness, the inspiration, the transmutation, and the reemerging.
I didn’t know what to do next but trusted that when it was time, the wind would gently nudge me to let go and ride the currents of my new life. I was not afraid—nothing had ever felt so right.
I was authentically, totally, and emphatically ME for the first time in my life.
I took one last look back at all that I had been and then released it completely. I was blown away at how effortless it is to fly when you allow yourself to be who you truly are. Instantaneously everything I needed for my new life was drawn to me, one after another. A relationship that fulfilled my longing for true love and acted as a catalyst for my expansion entered my life, as did living environments within which I could get acquainted with my new self. As I came into alignment with ME, I became aware that there was a larger transformation taking place. There were countless others experiencing similar episodes of metamorphosis, and somehow I “knew” that we were all part of something much greater.
The awakening of consciousness happens first in individuals.
I became aware that I was like an imaginal cell within the chrysalis of our transforming world. I felt myself drawn to other imaginal cells who vibrate at the same frequency. I found that many of us had felt alone and isolated after experiencing our Great Change. Yes, as those of like mind unite they are strengthened, empowered, and vibrate at an even higher frequency. As we organize and come together, we become centers of awakening for a human society that is evolving into a new existence.
As an imaginal cell you have a job to do—to follow what it is you feel most drawn to do and encourage others to do the same. Help yourself and others by practicing and sharing spiritual practices and insights that inspire, such as yoga, meditation, counseling, workshops, information about our changing world, or any of the many pathways that lead us away from our trance of consumption towards a new reality, ripe with meaning and purpose and in alignment with All That Is.
Themes from this article are inspired by the book Butterfly, by Norie Huddle.
Natalie, Publisher of Transformation Magazine, has worked with thousands of people seeking to live a life of purpose and genuine relationship with their true selves, others, and their world. She is the former Director of a counseling center for teenagers and their parents. She is also a public speaker and leads workshops and retreats on Practical Spirituality, Finding Joy, Discovering Your Purpose, and Enlightened Relationships. www.transformationservices.org