We Are Not Snakes, We Are Mountains

In a few of his books, Jack Kornfield talks about the myth of a snake and a beautiful young princess. The princess is to be wed to the snake prince, unwillingly, so she goes to see an old witch who advises her to wear 13 wedding gowns and every time the snake prince asks her to take off a dress she is to ask him to take a layer off too. After painfully removing layer of skin after layer of skin a handsome prince finally emerges.

I have been thinking quite a lot about this story and how it relates to self-development. I can identify with the pain and agony of personal growth and shedding layer after layer of the self, and though I am far from the last layer, I would still like to share my thoughts.

From my experience, where this story falls short is that personal growth is not a one-off thing. Growth is not linear. It is human and messy.

I recently saw a beautiful picture of the colourful mountains in Peru, and it struck me that a topic I had always found boring was actually nature’s way of showing us what personal growth looks like. Each layer of the earth is mixing with a different layer during significant events such as earthquakes and landslides. Ancient earth containing precious fossils and clues to the earth’s history suddenly becomes apparent after years of being hidden, sometimes creating new land to be explored. And, at times, new earth being taken down to the underworld, being buried deep under the earth’s mantle close to the core, bringing with it elements as big mountains.

We can think about the landslides and earthquakes as the significant events in our lives that transform and change us—maybe allowing us to remove a layer of skin, exposing an old layer that still needs to be worked on and addressed, or both. Vibrant layers will suddenly reappear, forgotten stories come back to haunt and daunt us, to allow us to learn and grow from them again. Even if these experiences are quickly forgotten, they will have created a new layer of colour deep in us, transforming the overall structure and shades of our mountain.

Stephany is a coach and yoga instructor based in Switzerland. More of her wisdom can be found on her blog.

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