Becoming Caterpillar Soup

monarch butterfly on flower

Ferris Jabr writes in Scientific American, “If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out.” That is because, in order to become a butterfly, the caterpillar must first become completely liquid to reorganize itself to become a butterfly. Apparently, everything needed to create a butterfly is already in the caterpillar. In the soup that is the dissolved caterpillar, the ‘imaginal discs’ that contain the information about each butterfly body part become activated.

Fortunately, as human beings we do not have to completely dissolve our physical bodies in order to transform. However, we do need to become like caterpillar soup in the act of surrender to something greater. It is in this process of letting go of what we previously thought of as solid and permanent that we open the way for newness to emerge.

Similar to the caterpillar, everything we need is already within us, but we must dissolve the old mental structures to create the environment for transformation to occur.

One thing we can learn from the caterpillar is to let the body experience fluidity, to feel ourselves letting go by relaxing and opening the body, perhaps by practicing yoga or other mindful movement. If we truly have let go and are surrendered, we will feel it in the body. As a former yoga teacher of mine used to instruct – “loosen your jaw.” Yes, when we are holding on mentally, it also shows up as tightness in the body or shallowness in the breath. The same yoga teacher once asked me if I thought someone was going to punch me in the stomach because I was holding so tightly in the abdomen area.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007 published the following about prayer: “We are creatures of body as well as spirit, so our prayer is not confined to our minds and hearts. It is expressed by our bodies as well. When our bodies are engaged in our prayer, we pray with our whole person.”

Somehow we must become liquid in order to create the greatest opening for transformation. This is with our mentalities and our physical bodies together, as each are reflections of the other.

To go along with creating opening and space in the physical body, here are seven mental conditions that create the fluidity conducive to transformation:

  1. I am willing to let go of limiting beliefs and behaviors.
  2. I am willing to be wrong (in some cases, very wrong) about what I have previously believed.
  3. I am open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
  4. I am open to considering new ways of doing things.
  5. I am willing to be uncomfortable if that means I am transforming into something greater.
  6. I am willing to look silly (in some cases, really silly).
  7. I am willing to spread my wings and soar to new heights.

As you read these mental conditions, watch your body’s reactions. Do you feel any resistance when you read any one of them, or all of them? Do you feel excited? Does your body expand or contract? What you’re feeling provides feedback as to how fully you are currently embracing these mental conditions so that you know where you might want to adjust and dissolve a little.

The invitation today is to become the fluid, surrendered vessel through which great good can flow into your life and into the world.

Enjoy the journey.


  1. Christ in us is the new creation of the new covenant that requires a death of all we were conditioned to believe in Adam. But the past is truly passed away and the new has come when we are in Christ, “Christ in you” Colossians 1:27

  2. Pingback: Becoming Caterpillar Soup | Servant Leadership

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