This morning I noticed a small pile of dirt walking. Curious, I approached. It turns out this small pile of dirt was actually a caterpillar building a cocoon, or perhaps emerging from one.
I was reminded of a visual dialogue I’ve been having with the environment around me since I arrived in Bali several weeks ago.
During my first week of mysore with Prem and Rada, I was greeted by a caterpillar. Emerging from savasana, I rolled on to my side and sat up. A caterpillar was resting on my mat in the same place my body had been laying.
Through the dreamy energy of savasana I didn’t question how the caterpillar managed to avoid being squished. Instead, I felt deeply, the shamanic message of the visit… Transformation is coming.
Over the next several weeks, in different environments, I saw single tiny caterpillars dangling from trees. They seemed unphased by the fact that they were precariously hanging from the end of a long piece of silk. Focused on the project of building their cocoon, these small little creatures were hard at work and completely engaged with the moment.
Butterflies dance all over Bali and grace exquisite moments with a touch of magic. The same can be said of the people of Bali. No moment is left without a touch of grace. Even as you drive down a wild street on your motorbike, a woman can be seen placing an offering box full of flowers and rice in the center of a busy intersection to protect the drivers.
I’ve felt my outer shell softening during my stay in Bali. But the softening has only been possible because I’ve wrestled with uncomfortability and gained strength. Bali is a jungle, chaotic and wild. It is a kingdom of ants and the people must fight to maintain control over their physical space. Energetically, there are tons of distractions and spiritual “obligations” and it can be difficult at times to stay on task. It requires extreme perseverance to accomplish things here and you learn fortuitiveness and strength of will around things you really care about.
The metaphor of the caterpillar, guarded with spikes, but oh so soft and vulnerable, emerging as a Goddess creature, winged and free, speaks to me. I’ve wrestled with uncomfortable emotions here. I’ve had to learn to stick to my path despite others wanting me to follow theirs. I’ve wrestled with the environment, demanding the ants and other insects provide, at least, a small sanctuary to rest my head. And through this, I have gotten stronger. I feel like soon, perhaps as I write, I will be emerging as a Self, capable of flight, no longer needing spikes to feel safe. Instead, I will be able to rest in the emanation of beauty to protect me. I will be able to fly free and dance.
Ashtanga Practice: Staying intensely present in the moment is the key to yoga. Contained on your mat, wrestling and breathing with a posture, focused on the mission at hand, it is possible to emerge transformed.
My morning mysore practice, here in Bali, has helped maintain structure while I’m undergoing great change. Ashtanga doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other forms of yoga, but it allows you to churn through chaotic spaces with control. The gift of flight at the end of practice allows you to see the ground you covered, but the journey itself is all about the moment.
Lesson Learned: Allow the challenges of your life, both on and off the mat to strengthen you so that you may remove your protective barriers from the world. Emerge in flight, full of beauty, protected by the awe of those around you.
I feel like I’m resting in my cocoon, waiting to emerge a fully empowered butterfly.