A snake or the rope.

Fear and anxiety can be crippling. Living a life ruled by fear is suffering. Most of what we fear is just an illusion and what we fear never eventuates. At the time the fears seem so real. How can we differentiate whether the fear is valid? A really good way of looking at this is the rope or the snake analogy.

You are walking down a bush track and you think that you see a snake, and you become petrified and panic. It may well be a snake, but the following day you walk along the same track and you see a coiled rope on the path, and you realized that in the dark, you mistook the rope for a snake. It really looked like a snake and your entire being went into overdrive preparing to deal with the situation. If you stop, take a breath and just listen and look, you will see that it is just a rope. It was the illusion and the thoughts created by the illusion that caused the distress and suffering.

This same process is happening continually throughout the day. We form opinions, judgements and ideas around just about everything. We live life ruled by our habitual patterns, the same thoughts and habits just repeating themselves over and over again. This is the real “ground hog day”. Our identities are forged out of these patterns, but we are all just castles built in the sand.

We grip our identity with all our strength, but what is it really? Just a hotchpotch of random thoughts that try to give us a foot on firm ground.  How much of our energy is taken up daily believing that the rope is a snake and our thoughts are the truth and they are serving our best interests? Have you ever followed a thought with your awareness? Tried to see where the thought has come from and where it goes? You will soon come to realize that they are totally random and when under observation they just disappear without a trace.

The illusion can be very powerful. I know, as I was in its grip most of my life. Being so busy that I never had anytime to just stop and be. I lived on adrenaline and I was stressed. It was very easy for me to bang elbows with people, but I just burrowed my had in and kept pushing. Life then caught up with me and I changed. The first sign was, there became a softness to my training. A giving, not forcing. I also stopped trying to predict every outcome and started to let things take their natural course.

I was able to feel and discover what was real for me and I settled down into living with a clear purpose. My blood pressure went right down, and the underlying anxiety disappeared, and I was able to clearly see the rope and not the snake.

Andy Dickinson.

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