Cocooning

Creative Cocooning: A Process for Successful Change and Transition

by Pat McGuire

caterpillar

A cocoon is a safe place for dramatic change. Cultivating the courage to change is the purpose of cocooning. Personal losses, fears, and brokenness can then be used as catalysts for metamorphosis and growth. The concept of “cocooning” is important throughout the life cycle during times of transition: divorce, job change, entering/leaving the military, death, illness, mid-life changes, identity crises, aging, etc.

To achieve pervasive peace, we have to learn how to successfully navigate these changes — how to grow into deeper dimensions of ourselves so that we can accommodate new demands. These times of transition can be fraught with resistance and turmoil. Learning how to navigate transitions so we can let go of who we are and open up to who we are capable of becoming is invaluable. We call this process “cocooning.”

We spend much of our daily lives like caterpillars: mindlessly crawling along feeding habits that give us comfort, power, and security. Then, something (divorce, job change, death, illness, general disgruntlement, mid-life changes, identity crises, aging, etc.) interrupts our crawl, causing us to look beyond our horizons and long for butterflyness – a yearning that completes the destiny we were born to fulfill. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is largely ignored and avoided in the “feel good” culture that we live in. Yet, my experience has led me to realize that, paradoxically, the cocoon holds the secrets of healing. It is in the cocoon where successful transformation occurs.

Sadly, society feeds on false images that convince us that we can become butterflies without having to become cocooned. Advertisements and other cultural influences promote one of two approaches:

  • Continued caterpillaredness (“You don’t have to change anything. Keep doing what you’re doing. Just buy our product or do what we tell you.”)
  • Become a butterfly (“Buy our product and do what we tell you and you will magically transform without having to make any adjustments.”)

Neither of these approaches produces effective change. They only create frustration due to the repeated disappointment and guilt that is created! Thus, we don’t learn the cocooning process.

Yet, cocoons have much to teach us…
A crawling caterpillar spends most of its life devouring its food source, but when it is time to become an adult, it wanders away from food. It finds a sheltered, safe place to PUPATE, or transform, into an adult. It sheds its skin, revealing a protective shell known as a chrysalis, which protects the caterpillar while it transforms.

During this metamorphosis, much of the caterpillar’s body is broken down. It actually LIQUIFIES! During this liquified state, the cells are called IMAGINAL CELLS; they are like stem cells in humans. These cells become undifferentiated, developing the potential to become any type of needed cell. This transformation process is known as holometabolism and takes about two weeks for most species.

Thus, the “cocooning” process is a safe place for dramatic change. Change requires that we:

  • Shed our skin and liquefy old habits and attitudes that keep us stuck in “same.” This means letting go of something we’re grasping (attitude, belief, relationship, habit, expectation, or even life itself). This invokes fear and resistance because it takes us away from our comfort zones. And,
  • Build wing structures by listening to the Grace of our Being calling us into Butterflyness where we can redeem our destiny. This means opening up to something different, new, uncomfortable, uncertain. This, too, invokes fear and resistance because it takes us away from our comfort zones.
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