The Parable of the Butterfly
Updated: Oct 12
Teachers and religious leaders often share "The Parable of the Butterfly" and its important message about patience. At Holly's Pilates Village, we think the parable also relates to the temptation to rush the process of transformation.
In the parable, a person finds a butterfly cocoon and notices how much the insect is struggling to emerge from its tiny hole. With good intentions, the person decides to help the insect by snipping off the remaining part of the cocoon. Although this action quickly sets the butterfly free, it stunts the insect’s growth. The butterfly emerges with a swollen body and small, shriveled wings that are incapable of flying. It dies without ever reaching its potential.
As Virend Singh writes, "before a butterfly can emerge out of its cocoon, it has to go through a struggle. Each time it lunges to break out of its cocoon, acids are removed from its wings. In prematurely breaking open the cocoon, the butterfly could die from those acids.
Similarly, “we cannot escape the challenges that life dishes out to us as we move towards our goals. They are there to teach us important lessons and strengthen us in some way. To make progress, we must face life's challenges and overcome them. Trying to short circuit the learning process can have harmful consequences.”
Sometimes new students come to Holly's Pilates Village with high expectations that they will experience immediate and permanent change. Accustomed to gym routines or diets that urge them to push to exhaustion and eliminate multiple food groups, they can become impatient with the initially slower pace and precision required to master the Pilates repertoire. They might leave after only a few sessions, trying something else in their quest for a quick fix.
Fortunately, most people who come to our studio do recognize the importance and the benefits of learning the fundamentals of Pilates. Often, they’ve been referred by doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists or knowledgeable personal trainers who understand that a body out of alignment can lead to injuries and illnesses.
It might be helpful to review the nine core principles that Joseph Pilates describes in his book, Return to Life Through Contrology include:
Core -- learning to engage the muscles that act as stabilizers for the rest of the body.
Breathing -- understanding how to oxygenate the body to enable effective muscle function.
Alignment -- recognizing postural imbalances and restoring the natural posture that we are intended to have.
Form/Precision -- understanding the intention and attention required to move with control rather than simply performing a task.
Balance -- learning to center the body through concentration and coordination.
Stamina -- attaining the muscle control and strength to flow through the Pilates exercises briskly.
Relaxation -- learning to apply the deep breath work and controlled movements that lead to greater energy, rather than exhaustion.
Mind/Body Conditioning -- being able to feel, move, and control your body through regular practice of the Pilates exercise system.
Flow -- focusing on grace and fluidity through dynamic movements that work the entire body.
Learning how to apply these nine principles when moving correctly through the Pilates repertoire takes a great deal of practice and the assistance of a highly trained Pilates teacher.
"There is so much to remember," says Beth W. who has been taking twice-weekly virtual sessions with Studio Owner Holly Holland for the past six months. Beth reports that she has so much more energy because of Pilates and that for the first time in her life she looks forward to her exercise workouts. She used to take Advil many times a week to help with sciatic pain, but now rarely needs to do so because her body rarely hurts.
Lisa L., a former dancer who has been practicing Pilates twice a week for about eight months, says she wishes that she had discovered the system years ago so she could have avoided injuries.
"I love it," she says.
Although Lisa’s doctor initially encouraged her to come to Holly’s Pilates Village because of the success of our program, Bone Strong Pilates for Osteoporosis, Lisa says the work has affected her on a deeper level.
“I feel it in my energy and in my spirit,” she says. “I feel it in the moment, and then it carries me throughout my day.”
It’s true that performing Pilates well requires patience. But as Beth and Lisa and many others can attest, the benefits are life-affirming.
How high can your butterfly soar?