Let me share with you one of the most powerful moments of my life.
I'll never forget the moment when Karen asked, 'Aren't you excited that you get to overcome your fear of spiders?' The sun had just gone down and it was my first time in the thick dense Amazon jungle. If you've ever been to the jungle you know that thousands of different species of every type of insect and creepy crawly come alive at night. Attracted to the light they swarm the windows and doors eventually filling in any gaps that you once could since. I've never really been afraid of bugs or snakes but for some reason I was holding on to this irrational fear of spiders and really anything with eight legs - even crabs!
After a week in the jungle I managed to avoid seeing any tarantulas as I hurriedly ran from one building to the next every evening, making sure not to glance too long in the shadows. Keeping my head and limbs wrapped in a shawl at all times my magical invisibility cloak kept me safe - or so I thought. I woke one morning in the myloka after ceremony, with my head on a pile of gathered blankets. I collected my sacred journey tools as the others in the room started waking up. I began folding the blankets that I just spent the night on when I startlingly discovered the absolute worst possible thing I could ever imagine. I grasped stunned, frozen in my tracks. Cozy in the blankets was a massive eight legged hairy beast. Next to my head. All night. It probably crawled on my face! I slept with a tarantula! Trembling and shaking I couldn't even find the words to express my absolute terror. The tarantula - startled by my waking her - scurried out in the creepiest way possible. Completely devastated I felt like life was playing a horrible trick on me, like the worst possible nightmare that I so desperately needed to wake up from. There was no way in any reality - dreaming or otherwise - that I was going to get over this fear. This just made things worse.
Just before lunch I found Nancy in the lodge. I wasn’t wearing my glasses and so I didn't quite know what her big grin was all about but she seemed to know something I didn't. As I got closer I saw she was holding a long eight-legged furry monster! So many emotions rose up inside of me. The heat in my chest rising up from my churning gut was so intense. I was nauseous, terrified and felt complete hopelessness. I knew everything I wanted was on the other side of this fear. I knew so much expansion and growth was waiting for me to simply let go. Nancy told me about how they are really nice and only bite if you show fear. GREAT. That didn't help AT ALL. How the hell am I supposed to stop being afraid before getting over my fear??? A craze of thoughts and emotions swirled around in my head and I could feel every cell in my entire body spinning. I'm going to vomit. I can't do this. But I have to. There's only one way through this and it's right in front of me now. I lean in. Place my hand out next to the giant spidery beast. Two inches away. The pressure in my head builds - It's about to explode. I can't do this! I pull back. I don't care. I'm not going to do this. There's no freaking way. I'll do it some other time. Next time when I'm more calm, I need more time to prepare for this. Yes. More time. I'll do it in a couple of days. Or the next time I come back to the jungle. I can't do it now. Absolutely NO way.
I sit down on the couch, across from Nancy who is now putting the tarantula ON HER FACE!! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK>I am literally experiencing physical pain in every part of my body as I watch her. This is crazy. How can I let the IDEA of something ruin my life so much to the point of actual physical pain? This is absolutely insane! I have to do it. I have to get over this! I must hold the tarantula. Mind racing. Heart beating out of my chest. As I reach forward it feels like someone is strangling me, I can't breathe. My head is a balloon. Every fear I've ever had about anything ever is all completely present in my face, in my body, in my mind. My heart aches for all the suffering I've ever experienced all rolled into one single moment. This has nothing to do with the tarantula. Just when I felt the furthest away from ever getting over the single most debilitating and irrational fear I've ever experienced I remembered Who I Am. I teach and coach others through this very thing and, wearing a different hat, I guide and facilitate the art of surrender. I gave up, I let go of my monkey mind. I decided to take my own medicine and let go, surrender and trust. As soon as the first hairy leg touched my hand hundreds of lifetimes worth of mental, emotional pain and fear transmuted into a deep sense of peace, serenity and love.