Like caterpillars spinning our own chrysalis, on the journey of personal transformation and spiritual awakening we are each engaged in the work of “becoming butterflies”. When a caterpillar wraps itself in the safety of its cocoon, it initiates an automatic and instinctual process by which it literally digests its old body down to the “imaginal cells” hidden deep within. Once revealed, these cells, which carry the butterfly blueprint are activated and the caterpillar creates itself anew.
Likewise, in our own process of transformation we at times may find ourselves in the throes of digesting our old self by distilling our own “imaginal cells” in order to embody more of our Soul. Only when we make contact with and get to know our Soul, can we truly “re-imagine” ourselves to thrive. Were the caterpillar aware of what its own metamorphosis requires, perhaps it might choose to stay a caterpillar forever. Yet many of us choose to bring our self into this amazing but at times harrowing process- consciously and deliberately.
To navigate this journey, it is essential we learn how to hold safe and sacred space for our self in order to transform through the challenges of our life to become more empowered and resilient. This sacred space we create is our container for the crucible of transformation-it is our chrysalis and it must be safe and strong.
The essential capacities we must cultivate within our self from which the golden threads of this chrysalis are spun are:
- To feel an internal sense of safety and the ability to self soothe and self-regulate our emotions
- To observe/witness our thoughts, feelings, behaviors
- To feel our true feelings, to see the truth about ourselves and tell the truth of our experience to others
- To hold ourselves with compassion
- To hold ourselves with esteem
OUR SHARED HUMAN EXPERIENCE
We humans are by nature social creatures. We are interdependent for our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. These essential capacities that help us transform and thrive as adults develop primarily through our relationships with others. The foundation for these capacities are laid in the automatic programming of our subconscious mind during early childhood.
This happens naturally if we have primary caregivers to whom we feel securely attached and with whom we feel safe. Such caregivers provide us with a consistency of love and care, are attuned to our physical and emotional needs, understand us and reflect this understanding back to us. They also provide us with enough safe space to explore, experiment and “be ourselves”. These trusted primary caregivers act as external containers for our early growth and over time we unconsciously “internalize” them in our psyche. The subconscious or “implicit” memory of their love and caring becomes an internal and invisible container of safety -a chrysalis we can unconsciously and automatically call on as we grow into adults to hold us through difficult experiences and times of uncertainty and change. This “ideal” of course, is not the normal human experience and most of us grow into adulthood with many of our basic needs unmet and an internal container of safety that is either partially intact or absent.
WE ARE RESILIENT
Fortunately, we have a built-in capacity to work with whatever circumstances we come from. The brain and nervous system is in a dynamic state throughout life which invites us into shifting and shaping our plastic brains and retraining our emotions and thoughts. It is never too late to have new experiences and to find support to finally meet these needs and to re-wire our subconscious mind with healthier patterns and beliefs rooted in safety, trust, worthiness and love.
At some point on our journey we may find the hidden gifts in our suffering and our less than “perfect” upbringing. Through our conscious efforts to empower our self to shift out of the past and heal our wounds, we gain wisdom and grow inner strength and compassion for our self and others. And through this journey, there is often a sweet gratitude that emerges for our new-found sense of self and Soul and for our ever more steady feelings of inner peace, freedom, self love and self efficacy. For we remember well what it is like to be without them.