Unlocking your true essence with creativity, colour and the unity and movement of yoga.
There are moments in life when you find yourself truly at a crossroads or traffic lights… with a big red STOP ahead of you and you just feel like if I don’t change now, if I don’t follow that nudge or perhaps in your case a shove - in another direction, life will unfold and STOP it all in front of you. I myself have been stood at that crossroads many a time and have found my own salvation, direction and purpose through the metamorphosis of creativity and yoga.
I USE THE WORD ‘METAMORPHOSIS’ AS THAT PERFECTLY DESCRIBES THE PROCESS, JUST LIKE THAT OF A CATERPILLAR TO CHRYSALIS EMERGES INTO A BUTTERFLY, THE COCOON AND TIME OF REFLECTION IS EXACTLY HOW OUR OWN TRANSFORMATION BEGINS WITH REST, REFLECTION AND RESTART.
Let’s look to the tiny Caterpillar and how it goes through these changes…
Feeling the call from nature, the little Caterpillar starts eating everything in sight! Consuming at a fast rate and filling it’s boots, then when it's nice and fat, it finds a quiet, shady spot where it hangs itself upside down and forms a chrysalis. Once inside it’s protective casing, the caterpillar’s organs evolve, giving birth to the nymph. To start that process the caterpillar completely digests itself, literally becoming a liquid essence of itself, only certain groups of cells survive and form the base of the new butterfly.
These groups of cells called “imaginal discs,” which had previously been dormant, wake up! They begin acting as a creative force, organizing the the essential elements of the once-caterpillar into something else, something made from the same ingredients and yet altogether different. From this alchemy, an entirely new creature emerges: the butterfly! Nature is such astounding.
At the beginning of 2021, I wrote atop my wall calendar in large letters, ‘FLOW’ and underneath in pencil, ‘with the stream’ and at moments like this with our changing circumstances and when the world is going through it’s own shifts, you too may find yourself at a crossroads in your own life, an echo of vibration through the world. I have often glanced at those words atop my calendar, repeat them to myself and take comfort from them.
When the elements of our life and practice start transforming into something entirely new, this can show up as a feeling that our outer lives don’t reflect our inner landscape, or that what had been working, just isn’t working anymore. However it shows up, it is a message from the deepest part of ourselves, calling for change and you must listen, ignore the niggle for too long and it will show up in various forms and STOP the flow!
If you are feeling a pull toward transformation, like many following the pandemic, you may be in the middle of this process even, a new career, a new relationship, huge life transformation, or simply just feel you need to find and connect to the real you again… I hope these few pointers will be helpful, as a reminder that this process, like the transformation of the caterpillar to the butterfly, is both natural and miraculous.
It can take days, months or years, just like the caterpillar, you must take the time to rest, reflect, re-look and restart. I had my on metamorphosis, it was over a few years and it’s still very much in process. I left the country I was living in and started completely again, new career, new relationship with my Self and worked through this whole process with love, patience, creative painting and drawing whilst growing my yoga practice and meditation, which was my guiding light.
Your new beginning and creative metamorphosis starts with surrender…
When you have gone through traumatic events, energetically stressful times or demanding work, taking the time out to rest is essential. Rest can take many forms from sleep, slow movement, walking, meditation, being gentle and kind to yourself, clearing the clutter as you start to take off the baggage, emotional and otherwise of what you have been through and carrying around with you and start to unpack and release these feelings.
Although it sounds simple, this can often be the hardest step, because it requires surrender rather than action. Our culture tends to be amazingly rest-averse, sometimes the simple act of allowing yourself to rest is, in itself, revolutionary! If you struggle with rest, be gentle and know that you're not alone.
This is a great time to start a gentle yoga practice, yin yoga or meditation, start slow and make sure it is just for you. Not to show off, not for social media, not because you want to do a handstand or be the best at meditation there ever was, just as a gentle time to take for yourself and begin to connect to your body and truly… REST.
In my journey I turned to meditation, practicing on my own, trying different types with mantras, music and guided. I met Steve Nobel at a group meditation and found the experience very powerful, his guided meditations are deep and long, which during this time was needed. You can find Steve’s guided meditations The Soul Matrix on YouTube here.
Following a period of quiet and rest, you can begin to turn to contemplation. Taking notice of what you have been through, begin to piece together where you are right now, the good, the bad and the ugly. Not judging yourself or the situation but rather a taking stock and reflect. This could be a gentle nod or a deep life changing dig through your whole holistic being and way of life, thought patterns, spirituality, whatever the guiding reasons behind your transformation, just sit with them and acknowledge this time.
If you enjoy writing this can be a great time to just let the pen flow over the page, no judgement, no goal with your writing becoming a best selling novel or writing that winning blog post, just write for yourself, be in unity with your mind and free those inner feelings, how you felt, why those feelings came and how you are now feeling them to release and reflect upon your situation.
Painting is another great way to express feelings and emotions, from adult colouring books, paint by numbers, allows the mind to switch off so the ego can be dissolved even for a few minutes or you could freely paint, create your own composition or expression and express yourself. I started expressive painting many moons ago, but I still remember my first experiments upon the rooftop of my flat in Hong Kong. I had a hugely stressful but creative job, needing something other than my yoga practice that helped to relax, switch off and connect to a deeper level of myself. I went to the art shop, bought a set and started mark-making. Since then I have painted most days. When I was going through a transformation I just wanted to paint with red, to radiate and release those emotions in a deeply transitional time!
Reflecting is such an important part of the process and you must take time, in solitude and quiet. If you are someone that never stops and cannot switch off the chatter in your mind a guided meditation series would be a wonderful place to start, if you can take a few minutes each day to build upon a small moments practice, that is where you start.
When I have been through this period I found that quiet reflection was essential, to sit and just be turning off the ego and start reflecting, either through painting or musings or ideas in a sketchbook or a yoga practice that is gentle and supportive and a great way to connect to what your body is saying.
If you are grieving, this time can be used to reflect on your fondest memories, face your photos, re-look at your memories and create a special box or photo album of your loved one. This can take some time, but it helps to connect to the situation not turn away from it and work through those emotions.
This phase of re-evaluation is a time to get clear and incisive. If you love lists, this is your chance to go nuts! I love a list, I have lists scribbled all over the place and re-write the same lists into different notebooks, just to write them out again and to run them through my mind and out onto paper… crazy no!?
TAKING THE REAL TIME YOU NEED TO WORK THROUGH WHAT YOU ARE WANTING TO CHANGE CAN BE A BIG TASK AND SOME GUIDANCE DOESN’T GO AMISS...
When I realized how deeply unhappy and lonely I felt living in a big city, that I was going out too much and drinking to fill an emptiness in my work/life and that I was starting to move into the next stages of life… thinking … what of any purpose am I doing with my life!!?? I realised that I needed to be living among nature for my own mental health and at heart I was a countryside girl. I couldn’t live in the city anymore and that was a HUGE catalyst for change, I had to re-evaluate my entire life and purpose, having lived in cities from New York, London and Hong Kong for most of my adult life, as a designer, the only work opportunities are in cities unless you want to work in fast-fashion, which I really felt didn’t align with my values on the yogic path. It was during these re-look times that I deeply re-evaluated every single part of my life.
I happened to go to a talk by the founder of KIKKI-K, a lovely stationary shop and I found it totally inspiring, she was sharing ‘The Life Plan’ Simple strategies for a meaningful life and talking through her own journey, my best friend and I both picked up a copy of the book to start working through…
‘YOUR THOUGHTS CREATE YOUR WORLD’
Reads the first page of the book, here are a few questions you can start to ask yourself during this period of re-evaluation… to spark the imagination!
-What’s the story of your life so far?
-Who are you when your at your best? Really, who are you?
-What is your purpose in life? (I found this the hardest question, this really needs to be sat with, meditated, rested, reflected upon - some questions in the notes below to help you with that)
-What are your values? The key to you.
-What lessons have you learnt?
-What are your golden moments? The memories or moments you treasure, from star gazing in Australia, to noticing the first blossoms of spring, the sand between my toes at the beach, the wind blowing through the trees in the Summer…
-What is your definition of success?
Literally feel out your thoughts to bring clarity, follow your body and how it reacts to the thoughts that spring up - what brings you joy? Perhaps working in a busy hub surrounded by people and collaborating fills you with excitement and happiness or working in solitude in a peaceful studio surrounded my trees by the sea… feel out your thoughts, use the power of visualisation to help you literally feel each situation and how your body reacts. Which habits do you want to keep? Which do you want to let go of? Which relationships have run their course and what do you want to nurture? What ideas are calling to you, and which are you ready to let go of?
During this time your yoga practice may want to pick up, some early Vinyasa flows, break your normal, this is a great time to test out different types of yoga, kundalini, yin, vinyasa heat, hot yoga - explore yourself through your body and the connection, I found Yoga Glo was great for trying out different types at home, but there is always a huge resource of free classes on youtube.
The final phase of the metamorphosis, the restart! You get to create your new destiny as your thoughts create your world! It’s the exciting stage, but only to be taken once you have done the ground work and the other essential stages and really started to connect with who you are or who you are becoming. How has your experiences in the past changed you and have you found your butterfly wings? If the butterfly emerges too early it is doomed, it must take the time it needs to develop and grow.
It could be as simple as structuring your time so you have more freedom, or a financial system that helps you pay off debt and shift stress. Maybe it's a physical re-shuffle of your space, or a commitment to your mental health, meditation, fitness and yoga practice that brings so much comfort. It could be as big as leaving your job, leaving your home and taking more time to rest for yourself and go wandering for a bit, OR the decision to stop wandering and commit to a job and path you want, once you make the commitment, focus - things will start to open up and magic really starts to happen!
In my example, I left the city, left my job, my old life behind and begged my parents to move back home to my Chrysalis... which was so hard to do and let go of the ego, my independent spirit and life, but I knew it was time for a dramatic change. Rest, re-coup, re-evaluate, re-look, painting, hiding, re-finding myself and working through every element of who I am, the darker bits too - it wasn’t a quick job!
Finding myself through deep re-connection with the essence, the caterpillar of who I was. Firstly starting to reconnect with nature through long walks of mindfulness each morning, meditating for long times during restful energy, gaining weight and slowing my yoga practice. I re-discovered my sense of who I was, beyond the physical body which I felt no attachment too anymore, it was not mine. Eventually working through with my yoga and meditation practice always there to support, I found my spirit, my love for design wasn’t fickle or simply material, I love creating, moving, creativity, making beautiful things that make people happy, beautiful moments and singing the song of the artist! I am an artist!
Like so many artist, this quote connects deeply to what we do. Each tiny step I took on a new path, I reflected upon, asking - does what i’m doing feel good? then… ‘What is the next right step for me?’. I am slightly aghast that I have come full circle and still strive for work/life balance, but my energy came back (eventually), back into the gym, home studio, yoga studio, I was truly excited, the path started to clear and magical moments would start to happen.
Whatever it is, I hope that after going through this process, you're able to build some structures that support what's right for you, if your support isn’t at home, the yoga community is hugely supportive both online and in your local studio and help bring your voice into the world with strength, integrity, and joy.
FLY FREE !
After it has gone through metamorphosis and reformed into its new self, it takes one huge deep breath, and releases a push of energy, of drive, it bursts through it’s protective shell and flings open it’s wings for all to see. So when you've done the work, and it's time for you to break free from your chrysalis, you can do just the same: take one big breath, and get ready to spread your wings.
Your yoga practice can also help you through all these moments and changes to how your body is feeling. Use your practice to reflect all back to you, the time on your mat is for you to journey within or to the Other and reflect upon what you learn on each step along the way.
Keep a journal next to your mat to write some notes.
Questions that can help you find your own purpose…
-How do you want to be remembered when you pass? What steps today can you make to be that person?
-What messages do you want to give your children (or children of the world)?
-What difference will others say you made in this world?
-What do you want to achieve in this life?
-How do you want to feel as you move through each day?
-When you are your best possible self - who might you be?
-How can you serve others? With so many people on the planet - what can you do to serve other people?
*Be kind and grateful to yourself along the way.