When she transformed into a butterfly,
the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty,
but of her weirdness.

They wanted her to change back into
what she always had been.

But she had wings.

                                –Dean Jackson

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word, transformation, this week.  The recent hurricanes devastated the islands of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, both U.S. territories.    As I watched the CNN reports, I saw what was once a lush, green, romantic locale transformed into mud, stripped trees, and the rubble of wrecked homes.  People’s lives and nature’s glory transformed overnight.

While all this was going on, the war of words between Trump and Kim Jong-un was escalating, both leaders seemingly oblivious to how a nuclear war could transform the Earth.
On the other hand, a happy transformation is occurring right in my own backyard.  When I went to my herb garden the other day to harvest some parsley,  I saw that a family of Swallowtail caterpillars, in various stages of transformation, had taken up residence in my garden.  I am grateful to have the privilege of observing nature renewed in such a miraculous way.
The dictionary’s definition of Transformation is:
  • a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; as in “its landscape has undergone a radical transformation”;
  • metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal;
  • in physics – the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another by a nuclear process.

What about spiritual transformation? Raymond Paloutzian says that “spiritual transformation constitutes a change in the system that a person holds as a basis for self-definition, the interpretation of life, and overarching purposes and ultimate concerns.” I liken the meditation experience to one that has the potential to bring about such transformation.

RAIN is a useful acronym for the four key principles of mindful transformation, especially in time of mental/emotional difficulties. RAIN stands for Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation, and Nonidentification.    I’ve discussed the RAIN formula in previous posts, and I believe it may well be how we can transform ourselves and maybe, even the world.

RRecognize What’s Going On

“Recognizing means consciously acknowledging, in any given moment, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are affecting us. Like awakening from a dream, the first step out of the trance of unworthiness is simply to recognize that we are stuck, subject to painfully constricting beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations. Common signs of the trance include a critical inner voice, feelings of shame or fear, the squeeze of anxiety or the weight of depression in the body. “(Tara Brach,, 2016)

A–Acceptance – Let It Be.

“Acceptance is a willing movement of the heart to include whatever is before it. In individual transformation, we have to acknowledge the reality of our own suffering. For social transformation we have to start with the reality of collective suffering, of injustice, racism, greed, and hate. We can transform the world just as we learn to transform ourselves. As Carl Jung comments, “Perhaps I myself am the enemy who must be loved.” (Jack Kornfield,

I–Investigation – Investigate With Kindness.

“Investigation means the desire to know truth—and directing a more focused attention to your present experience. Simply pausing to ask, “What is happening inside me?” might initiate recognition, but with investigation, you engage in a more active and pointed kind of inquiry. You might ask yourself, “What most wants attention?” or “How am I experiencing this in my body?” or “What does this feeling want from me?” You might contact sensations of hollowness or shakiness and then find a sense of unworthiness or shame buried in these feelings. Unless they are brought into consciousness, these beliefs and emotions will control your experience and perpetuate your identification with a limited, deficient sense of self. For investigation  to be healing and freeing, we need to approach our experience with an intimate quality of attention. We need to offer a gentle welcome to whatever surfaces. ” (Tara Brach, http://www.yogajournal, 2013)

N–Non-Identification – Natural, Loving Awareness

“N stands for not identifying. There’s no need to identify a “me’” in what just happened. It was just a passing mental and emotional event, like watching a scene in a movie or the clouds as they move through the sky. We don’t have to build and rebuild a “me” on the passing content of the body-mind. Instead, we can stand as the observer. This not-identifying is tricky, but when the first change of identity shifts from the content of mind to the observer, we can see that the content is not who we are. This is the first real shift of freedom. Eventually identification as “the observer” drops away as well, but to simply make the shift is a good place to start.” (Teah Strozer,, 2015)

As you can see from this discussion, I’ve been reading a lot about the RAIN formula.  For me, it’s a launching pad for personal transformation.  Then, maybe we can start the world’s transformation from suffering to love.  In the meantime, I’m going out to see if Fred, the Swallowtail caterpillar, has left me any parsley!

Changes by David Bowie

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes — Turn and face the stranger
Ch-ch-Changes — Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes — Turn and face the stranger
Ch-ch-Changes — Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me — But I can’t trace time

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware
of what they’re going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes — Turn and face the stranger
Ch-ch-Changes — Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes — Turn and face the stranger
Ch-ch-Changes — Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older
Time may change me — But I can’t trace time





  1. Beautiful! Thank you for another helpful, insightful blog!

    On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 4:31 PM, Cindy’s Mindful Retirement wrote:

    > Cindy posted: “BUTTERFLY When she transformed into a butterfly, the > caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her > to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings. > –Dean Jackson I’ve been ” >


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