A few weeks ago I was walking through my neighborhood with my friend’s daughter when a butterfly landed on my skirt. It did not budge, even as I took a few steps believing it had merely brushed the flower on my skirt, not actually landed there. My little buddy and I watched the butterfly as it flapped its wings while perched on my skirt. We were both mesmerized. After quite some time the butterfly finally decided to be on its way. I didn’t really think too much about that experience. Last week a butterfly flew into the subway car I was riding. It fluttered about the car then landed on the poster directly over my head. Those who had noticed its presence watched intently. A butterfly on the subway? How could this be? After several stops the butterfly left its perch above my head and the day went on as usual. I took note of my two butterfly experiences but still did not linger on them (apparently my regular meditation practice is finally paying off)…until my experience today. I was just about to start teaching a yoga class when a butterfly flew through the open window. It circled around the room then landed on the floor in one of the back corners. It just sort of hung out while I started class. Suddenly these three experiences felt like more than just isolated occurrences. The butterflies stuck around in all three instances, I mean really stayed put, each time getting a little further away from me, but staying nonetheless.
When I got home after teaching this afternoon I took my animal spirits cards off the bookshelf and riffled through them until I found the butterfly card. I slowly read the back of the card: “SYMBOLOGY: transformation, joy, lightness, rebirth.” Butterflies embody physical and spiritual transformations. Change, joy, bliss, new life after death, these are all things attributed to the butterfly. “The butterfly lighting upon the flower is the very essence of joy, beauty, and freedom.”
I was visited by a butterfly in my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, on a commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan (on my way to take a workshop with a yoga teacher who moved last summer and was visiting the city briefly), and as I was about to start teaching a yoga class at the studio where I have regularly practiced since moving to New York, completed my teach training, and now teach weekly. Lots of transformations. Lots of blossoming new beginnings. As I reflect on these encounters it seems as if those butterflies were saying, “You can do it. If I can make the huge transformation from caterpillar to butterfly you can handle a big move, finding new teachers who inspire and guide you, and a new career.” Perhaps the last year of doubt, confusion, and emotional messiness was simply my time within my chrysalis. Were the butterflies visiting me to remind me that I can be one of them now if I choose to be?