Sometimes my blog posts are inspired by yoga science and philosophy; sometimes from my own personal experiences, or by insights or questions from my students, and sometimes they are inspired by the natural world. Just as the ancient sages were inspired by the natural world around them, as we see in the names of the yoga asanas and in the science of Ayurveda, I am inspired daily by the miracle of Nature.
This week’s post is inspired by the latter…only, it’s not the post I thought I was going to write. You see, I have been growing baby swallowtail caterpillars in my herb garden. It started when about 5 of them showed up one day, eating my parsley. I could see they would soon run out, so I transferred them to another healthier plant. At some point, 2 of them disappeared – I assume they were eaten. The other 3 remained and continued to eat and poop and get fat. I transplanted the rest of my parsley into the pot to continue feeding them. Then I went away for the weekend. I figured they had enough parsley to feed them until they were ready to cocoon. I planned to watch them transform into butterflies, record the event and blog about transformation.
However, when I returned from my trip, they had eaten ALL of the parsley and disappeared. Now, I know they can crawl pretty far to find a place to begin spinning their cocoon – and I looked everywhere around the parsley pot but I couldn’t find them!
Then, the next morning, while pulling some grass that had gotten really long where my herbs are, I found one of them – He had climbed a stalk of grass and was clearly beginning to attach himself and make his cocoon. I was so excited to have found this one little baby!
I watched him for a day – beginning to make the J shape as he started to cocoon himself. Then we had a rainstorm. The next day, I went out to find my caterpillar guy – still on the stalk, but a tiny spider that looked like a hermit crab had devoured his head.
I was so upset and angry. I could do nothing to save him. It was too late.
Later in the day, I came back outside and found tiny black ants eating the rest of his body.
So, my blog post is still about transformation – only instead of becoming a butterfly – My caterpillar became food for other insects. This experience is just one simple example of how everything in life is truly interconnected. The incredible magic of Nature and how she provides everything – as well as the fragility and delicateness of life. Each of us requires so much nurturing to blossom (transform) into kind, intelligent and compassionate beings. If we are not nourished along the way not just with food and shelter and healthcare, but also with love – we may grow up with psychological or physical problems, or we may simply fail to thrive at all. My caterpillars required an enormous amount of parsley to get to the stage where they were ready to cocoon. During the process of becoming a chrysalis until they hatch into butterflies – they are extremely vulnerable to predators. Their only defense is camouflage – blending in with the stalk of grass or whatever they have attached to so predators cannot see them. In the same way, all of life is vulnerable. Nature is so delicate and vulnerable. The true 8-limb PRACTICE of yoga requires us to live in harmony with our society – to have compassion, to live lightly – taking only what we need and not causing injury to others. What are you doing right now to nourish yourself and live in harmony with the world around you? How are you treading on the earth, our home?
This brings me to the fact that right now, we have vulnerable little children at our borders who have already experienced violence, lack, and poverty. Their lives are so fragile. My hope is that we will stand together as a nation and protect these beings – nurture them and reunite them with their families, so that they too can thrive. Namaste.