Last night as I was getting ready for an online somatic breathwork session a small Redback Spider ran across my yoga mat and hid next to my water bottle. As a long term arachnaphobe, with an extreme irrational fear of spiders since I was a young child, I felt the terror rise within me. A spider of any kind or size can trigger my sympathetic nervous system immediately into overdrive; such a poisonous one as a Redback Spider can take it to a ridiculous level. Extreme fear. Therefore, it probably wasn't surprising that my first instinct was to find something to squash the spider. To kill him. To protect myself and be rid of this thing that I perceived could hurt me.
As I started to reach for my shoe, I paused. I asked myself, 'Why should this spider die, because you are scared of him?' 'What gives you the right to take another's life?' I looked around the studio and found what I needed. A glass dome candle holder. Removing the tea light candle, I turned the dome over and gently placed it over the spider so he was trapped, but unharmed, and then slowly and carefully I guided the dome and spider to the door along the floor. As I opened the door, I could feel the cold air on my face. Releasing the spider from under the dome I watched him cross the deck until he reached a place he felt hidden and secure. I felt warmth in my heart.
As I went back inside and sat on my mat, I reflected on what had just happened. I realised that my first instinct is often how we treat all the things we feel are a threat. We want to obliterate them, kill them. This is the basis of broken relationships, historical wars, senseless hate crime and atrocities humans have inflicted on each other over the centuries.
But what for the grace of fear? What if, instead of listening to this initial instinct we showed our threats some compassion and care. To find a way not to harm what we perceive to be 'the other'. What if, we took it a step further, acknowledging that we are all one, and what threatens us is actually a part of us, and how we treat it, is how we treat ourselves.
I do not want to be squashed by a giant shoe; I want to be gently carried somewhere safe. I would like to be shown the grace of fear; its goodwill and courtesy.
So, how do we foster the grace of fear?
We begin by showing this grace to ourselves and then to every living being around us: human, animal and plant, and even perhaps the diseases within us. All of nature deserves our goodwill and courtesy.
We begin by showing every sentient being love and compassion. We begin, by pausing and stepping back, by giving what threatens us space, and if needed we move it, or ourselves, away, to somewhere safe.
As these realisations washed over me, I felt deep in my bones that there is so much we can gather into our hearts from every interaction we have, no matter how big or small. With that, I closed my eyes for a moment and sent deep gratitude and love to the Redback Spider outside, and wished him a long and happy life.
Upon I stumbled with a huge spider, a wise woman told me “changes are coming”. Such a beautiful change in you this red back spider gifted you!! 💚🙏🏽 Loved it thank you!