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The Parable of the Butterfly

Updated: Oct 12, 2020



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 oxy