Fear of Snakes
There is a basic course in psychotherapy that they've devised in Japan, it's called Marita therapy and it's based on Zen. It's a four-week thing, four to five, six weeks. First week, full in bed. No books, no nothing. They're just left alone in a room, and maybe the doctor will come around and maybe he won't. And you're left alone there. "Doctor, what do I do?" "Cope with your problem." And you stay in bed and face it.
One of the examples was of a Buddhist nun who was seeing snakes, so he said, "Get in your room and stay there." And she says, "What if the snakes come?" He says, "OK, well you get a good look at all the snakes. Count the number of snakes, tell me how big they are, what colour they are, what they do, how they act, how they look at you, what's your relationship with the snakes. Just give me a total report." So she's left alone for a week in the room with the snakes. And he comes in at the end of the week, and says, "Well how are the snakes?" And she says, "You know, after I got a good look at them, they disappeared."
--- Thomas Merton speaking to students at Gethsemane,
Reported by biographer Lawrence Cunningham