I grew up with an intense hatred of bees. Whenever they stung me, I would get a large welt. As soon as a bee came near, I’d panic…
I’d try and swat it away…
I’d jump in a pool…
Whatever it took to avoid being stung, I’d do it.
I even remember one day I was eating lunch and minding my own business. Out of the blue, a bee randomly stung me on the back of my neck. That’s when I knew that “bees are evil.” My already existing fear had intensified into anger and hatred. I would have been more than happy never coming across another bee again.
Then my heart opened a little bit. And a little bit more. After a few years of opening my heart, strange things started to happen.
As I’ve mentioned before, when a spider is trapped inside I’d trap it, take it outside, and release it. I couldn’t kill spiders anymore. I didn’t want to kill bees either, but I was scared of them. I was allergic to them, and their stings would hurt.
Then one day I was faced with a difficult decision.
I was about to swim in a salt water pool (I love those!) and there was a bee struggling on the surface. At first I felt some fear, then I had an idea. I went and got a flip-flop (sandal), put it under the water, and lifted the bee out of the water. I placed the flip-flop on the concrete and went away. The bee dried itself off and flew away.
One of the reasons I remember that experience is because it indicated to me how much my heart had opened.
That was only the beginning though…
A week later, ANOTHER bee was in the pool while I was swimming. After the previous experience, I didn’t feel as scared. In fact, I wasn’t scared at all. I wanted to help it.
Only one problem: I was already in the water. By the time I went to get a sandal, came back, and lifted the bee, it would probably be too late. Then a bit of courage kicked in with a new idea.
What if — instead of using a sandal — I used my hand?
Part of me was scared now. I remembered all my previous bee stings, including the one I “didn’t even deserve.” I wondered if the new bee would sting me again.
It didn’t matter. I had to try and save its life.
I put my hand under the water and slowly lifted it up from under the bee. The bee seemed calm, and I moved my hand slowly over to the concrete where I set my hand down.
The bee was on its last moments before dying, but it seemed determined to live. Slowly it shook its wings. Then it started to walk around a little bit. It shook its wings some more. Then after about 10 minutes, it flew away.
We’ve all been “stung” before in our lives.. and in our hearts.
Sometimes we hold back in relationships to avoid being stung.
(I know I do.)
Sometimes we sting others first to try and avoid being stung.
(I know I have.)
In a way, we’re all like those little bees.
The bees didn’t really want to sting me. They were just afraid of me… probably even more than I was afraid of them.
Next time somebody hurts you, or you hurt somebody, consider that underneath that experience is a fearful person. Somebody just like you who is trying to avoid being “stung” worse than they were before.
And consider the possibility that compassion and an act of love sometimes has the power to transform a fearful situation into a heartful one.
Sometimes though, the key to transcending fear is not to work with compassion or love, but simply to be present. To see the situation for what it is rather than through the lenses of our past conditioning.
This became more fully evident to me almost a year after saving that bee from the pool. I was at a spiritual retreat. We were doing an inquiry practice outside in the warm weather. Specifically, the retreat was on the topic of…
Wait for it…
And it just so happened that there was a bee flying around two of the students in my group. Which two students? Us, of course.
The kind of inner spiritual work we were doing was to explore the ways in which we feel, experience, and express hatred. In a nutshell, by acknowledging and doing work on our hatred, we can transform this negative human emotion into inner freedom and greater personal power.
So it’s not exactly “fun” work. Hatred. NOT FUN.
It is rewarding though. Personal power. VERY FUN.
Anyway, while we’re inquiring into our hatred it’s blazing hot outside and my fellow student and I take our shoes and socks off. The bee starts getting closer. And closer. Then it lands on my foot and starts crawling around.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared. It kind of tickled actually, and I figured the bee would fly away soon.
Here we are, doing inquiry for a half an hour on the topic of hatred… and the bee keeps walking around on my foot. I don’t know if the actual temperature outside increased, but I felt much MUCH hotter.
That’s when the person I was inquiring with took his shirt off. I wanted to too, but my Inner Critic has fears that I’ll be judged for my body. Understandably so, since I was criticized for my physical appearance for the first quarter century of my life.
I guess in a way you could say part of me (the Inner Critic) was expressing hatred towards me. I was hot though, and tired of my Inner Critic pushing me around so I took my shirt off regardless of my fear of being judged.
It felt right, and it was freeing. After all, the kind of spiritual work we were doing is all about removing blockages within so that we can experience more peace, joy, and freedom. What a great metaphor to remove my shirt (a ‘garment’).
I was NOT prepared for what happened next though…
The bee landed on my belt. Then it started crawling around on my belly. All while I’m looking inward and exploring the blockages I have to understanding my hatred.
Part of me panicked. I’d never let a bee this close to me before and definitely not for this long!
I felt helpless. I felt powerless. And that’s ironic since, as I mentioned above, understanding our hatred is one of the doorways to developing true personal power. And here I am… feeling powerless.
That’s when I did the only thing I could: I sent love to the bee and trusted that all would unfold for the highest good.
Nevermind that the bee had been in contact with me for almost an hour. A bee that, years ago, I would have killed as quickly as possible.
This wasn’t about death, though. It was about life. Specifically it was about MY LIFE. About freedom. About opening my heart.
And as I reflect back on that experience, it becomes clear to me that the bee was an angel in disguise. That bee was there to teach me that it’s okay to let people get close. Yes, it may be scary. And it’s okay to be scared.
More importantly, it was a test. Had I truly learned the lessons from before? Or was it just a lucky fluke?
In the previous experience I shared (about saving the bee from the pool), the bee was near death. Subconsciously, part of me recognized that in its weakened state I was probably safe even if it did want to hurt me. I also genuinely wanted to save its life. Both of those things helped subdue my fear.
But this time was different. The fear was greater because I recognized that it was in its optimal state and capable of stinging me at any time.
Wherever there is fear, there is an opportunity for courage.
In fact, those two are directly related. The more fear the greater the opportunity.
And with the massive amount of fear that most people have around opening their hearts fully, that’s a LOT of opportunity in our world. So out of curiosity…
How will you take advantage of this opportunity?
Your Partner In Transformation,
Getting Things Changed
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