I am obsessed with snakes. I like the way they travel, low to the ground, undulating in waves of movement. I find their scale patterns and colors beautiful. The long, forked tongue is a sensory agent helping to determine where to go, what to eat, and where to rest.
They are dry and hard, and if you have ever had the pleasure of a snake on your body, the feeling is both grounding and sensual, with a little hint of danger. Every time I work with snakes in a workshop or during a photography session, I have an erotic dream of some sort. Owen, my reptile handler, says most adults experience the same thing.
Since the dawn of (biblical) time, the serpent was portrayed as the devil cast down to live on his belly for eternity. He tempted Eve to taste the forbidden fruit. Thus, the fall of mankind, and the awakening of shame.
Shame is a lofty topic that we can end up dissecting for ages. Best selling author and professor, Brené Brown, has made it her main topic of research. In energetic terms, shame has the lowest vibration of any other emotion. When people are riddled with shame, they can be withdrawn, needy, despondent, depressed, or rebellious, aggressive, disgusted by others. In extreme cases, they can be suicidal.
Some of us can also be highly functional keepers and bestowers of shame. My own upbringing provided me with ample experiences of shame at such a young age, that I didn't even know I was living with it still. But I am, and possibly you are too.
Shame shows up in the way we see ourselves. Are we pretty or sexy enough to attract and keep a lover? Smart enough to get that promotion? Worthy enough for abundance, deep friendships, or unconditional love?
How many times has a similar thought crept into your mind and held you back? How many times have you judged someone else in order to hide your own shame based insecurities?
I recently noticed a lifelong habit of holding my breath due to unprocessed shameful experiences. Breath holding served me once when I was young. I could move around unnoticed and safe. When I hold my breath now, I tense up my muscular structure (subconsciously to avoid pain, but also avoiding pleasure). And when I tense up my body, I only let in a limited amount of feeling. And when I only let a small amount of feeling flow through me, I limit my capacity to love and be loved. Heavy stuff, but it explains so much.
Our reptilian, or primal, brains (the amygdala) is linked to fear and pleasure. It has not yet caught up with the advancements of our time. It still works on our behalf as the fight or flight stress response, except we aren't running away from saber-toothed tigers.
When we have traumatic experiences as young children, our bodies and minds can react to more subtle stimuli that makes us feel unsafe in the same way. It doesn't matter if you were excluded, ridiculed, abused, surrounded by rage, or worse. As an adult, even the slightest criticism can spark those pain protectors to start firing. If your brain is constantly in the fight, flight or frozen mode, it is not in its pleasure mode.
I've been studying the body, the mind, the soul, and the integration process of becoming "whole" with many amazing teachers. I find integrating and aligning the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the energetic creates vitality, purpose, healing and self-love.
Let's get back to the snake. When I have a snake on my body, I let go of my many inhibitions. I feel its scaly skin on my smooth skin. I allow myself to breath into the rhythm of the snake's movement. I allow a stirring of vibration to occur deep from within my body. I don't care what anyone else is saying or doing because I have a big python on my body! And it feels spiritual.
I don't recommend picking up a snake in the backyard, and letting it slither all over your body. But I do believe that we must change our body responses from fear to pleasure in order for our system to create a new response and new experience in the body.
You can do this by facing your fears with curiosity. When I last worked with snakes, all the women in my workshop feared them in some way. Yet they all surrendered to my kundalini exercise as I placed a slithering snake into their palms.
It was beautiful to watch as they settled into their bodies and moved with the rhythm of the snake. We noticed how the snake used the least amount of effort in movement. We were told how the snake waits for things/desires/meals to come to it. The bible calls this lazy, I call it efficiency with grace. Some of the women, who have never been naked in front of other women or a camera, were bold enough to be photographed with a python on their naked bodies. It was an amazing first experience where they faced a fear and felt a pleasure.
Clearly I prefer the representation of the serpent in eastern philosophy as kundalini (or vital energy); the awakening of our inner power. It is said that the stirring of our "coiled snake," which sits at the base of our spine, finally awakens with the merging of our feminine and masculine energies.
In modern society, most women have been taught to suppress their feminine energy, which is fluid, nurturing, emotional, intuitive, sensual, and compassionate in nature when they are outside the home. Often we reserve only some of these talents for our young children. Most men have never been taught how to express their feminine sides, I don't believe the general population could imagine what that might look like. Is this done because we have been shamed by it in some way?
The merging of the feminine/masculine energies, plus the alignment of mind, body, spirit (or emotions, muscles, energy) creates a being that is truly at ease in the world, who has the power to manifest all that is desired, and more importantly, knows how to use the power for the highest good. They embody sexuality and sensuality, they both create and experience, they are givers and takers, they lead and follow, they hold space and move graciously through space, they live at their highest potential.
OUR HIGHEST POTENTIAL
Let's learn from the snake to continue to grow into the best versions of us. Each time the snake grows, molting occurs. Molting is the process of releasing the skin that doesn't fit anymore. As we grow as individuals, this teaches us to remove layers of conditioning, attitudes, prejudices, pain that no longer serve us, or our potential. If the snake did not molt, it would literally be stuck in skin too small for its body.
Molting leaves us vulnerable. Our skin is brand new at this point, and we must honor that change and growth can leave us raw until our new skin catches up to us. This process is ongoing, which is something I still have a hard time with (I would like to expand to 100% of my potential already, but that is not how nature works).
You've heard it many times before, "life is a process."
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