What You Can Learn From Butterflies About Surrender

BY Parvati

Because the mind tends to only know two ways of thinking, to move towards something it likes or to move away something it doesn’t, the tendency is to push at what it no longer wants. But pushing or pulling at life is like trying to move mountains. Sooner or later you end up exhausted and come to recognize a force in life that is much greater than your limited ego or will. Whether you end up flat on your back with a broken heart, a massive cold, a lost job or just plain wrung out from too much effortful living, the wise words “let go” or “surrender” start to come to mind.
The notion of surrender can be bewildering. We may associate it with “throwing in the towel”, giving in or even becoming roadkill as someone else’s will rides roughshod all over us. From your ego’s point of view, surrender may seem like giving up and somehow taking a loss. But when you look deeper, you see that nothing could be further from the truth.


The Yoga Sutras speak of sthira-sukha, a balanced yogic state that is neither just relaxed nor just alert, but a union of the two. Artists, dancers, athletes and business people find that state in peak performances. In that flow, you tap into a much greater whole. There is no defensive holding on to the ego. You have surrendered to a force greater than you.
When you are stressed, your field of perception narrows. This is a remnant of your past need to run for your life when chased by a lion in the jungle. This focus serves your need to survive. But when it becomes a habitual, day-to-day stress response, you can miss a lot.
By allowing yourself to let go of the fear of the proverbial jungle lion (be it your boss, your partner, your parents or whatever you fear), your field of vision expands and you see more fully. In so doing, you tap into a greater field of possibility and flow within a greater whole. In this way, you have access to more options, more choice, more power.
As you learn to let go, you may find that the phone call you had anxiously been waiting for suddenly happens, or cash for an outstanding bill arrives at your door. You may see the broken step on the stairs, and avoid a painful tumble. As you let go, you get out of your own way and learn to receive the support that inherently exists within each moment.


Look at nature. Does the pupa in a chrysalis doubt, angst and stress over the process of transforming into a butterfly? Or is the creature in a surrendered state held perfectly within an intelligent whole? When the flower springs from the soil, is it thinking “gotta get it right” or “gotta work harder”? Or is it simply being, expressing a flow within the whole? The same goes for the budding leaves on the tree branches, the thawing ice, the animals awakening. Can you imagine the hibernating bear coming out in a rush from its cave with the thought, “Man! I gotta hurry. I am going to be late again”?
Yet how many of us wake up every day feeling stressed and with a sense of already having somehow failed, instead of feeling refreshed and ready to meet what the day brings? That is the baggage we carry. That is the story we place over our lives. It is not our natural self, but an identity we have taken on in a distorted cry for love we perceive not to be there.
We tend to hold on to stress, fearing the jungle lion even when it exists only in our imagination. This fear exists because deep down we don’t feel love or loved.
But is there truly no love? Do you need to rely on that story of rush, push and pull to make you feel better? Does your push and pull habit not ultimately make you suffer? Remember the butterfly pupa perfectly cradled. Would nature take such perfect care of that chrysalis and abandon you? Or have you somehow, somewhere along your life path, let go of your connection to nature instead?
We believe our own distorted perceptions and take off running because a coiled rope looks like a cobra to our dulled eyes. Nature is not doing that “to” us. We do it to ourselves. We place the disconnected story on each perfect moment. But think of the beautiful butterfly that does not have the busy mind we do, that surrenders to its magnificent transformation and flies free! For nature, life just is. Resting into this “isness” is surrender.
Surrender is gentle, quiet, powerful, active, alive and vital, because it relies on a state of feeling interconnected and a part of it all. You are constantly cradled in a perfect life-force chrysalis, completely loved, fully supported and totally cared for. Your mind may be attached to distortions that tell you otherwise, but that does not change the fact that the love is here, if you are willing to let go and receive.


Part of your human journey is the return to that One state, that flow, that sense of being rooted, vital and expansive within the whole. You may see yourself as separate, either by expressing wanting through cravings or aversions, or by feeling fundamentally disconnected and alienated from all that is. As you move through life, you learn to meet the moment as an opportunity to purify your perceptions and eventually transcend the trickiness of your ego so that you may rest in the fullness of who you are. And who are you anyway, if not ultimately one with all that is, a playful expression of the divine?
The next time you feel the impulse to rush to your next meeting, or you feel a feisty urge to make yourself right and others wrong, or you want to push through to the next to-do item on your agenda without really meeting the task at hand, remember that in every moment, you are cradled by an immense love that fully supports you through whatever life process you are experiencing. That love is always available, 24/7, unconditionally. It is your human birthright. If you could be a bit more like the trees, rivers, butterflies and flowers, you might find yourself feeling a lot healthier, happier and wiser.

Thank you for reading! All my music, yoga and words are dedicated to MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. MAPS is an urgently needed global intervention to protect the polar ice that keeps our planet cool and weather stable. The ice caps ensure we have the food and water we all need to survive. Please support MAPS at for the sake of all life on Earth. From my heart to yours, it literally means the world.