We all get hypnotized by life. Through families, culture, schooling—all of our experiences hypnotize us in some ways into a conditioned thinking.  This thinking can recirculate in the background of our entire life experience. 

In fact, author Deepak Chopra says, “…most of your thoughts are not your own.  They are left over from the past or imposed on you by the world, recycling unconsciously through your mind.”  (Uh oh.) 

The messages we internalized can lead to all kinds of unfortunate beliefs and behaviors.  Perhaps there were times when we were abused, unseen, abandoned, or unacknowledged and came away telling ourselves we were “less than”.  Maybe we grew up surrounded by poverty and believed, “everyone in my family ends up poor.”

We could have been acculturated to believe that another race, sexual preference, sex, or religion was to be despised, attacked, or at least belittled.  We could have been taught to live in fear around a myriad of things:  money, love, work, mission, our feelings, hopes, and even freedom.  These limiting thoughts and beliefs make up what the mystic Rumi called, “…your personal prison.” 

In the movie The Matrix, Neo, the protagonist, is told by his mentor, Morpheus, to choose between the Red pill and the Blue pill.  The Blue pill symbolizes a choice to stay asleep to his past conditioning—a choice most people make.  If he does this he will agree to sleep walk, to not be challenged, and to stay safely numb in “the Matrix”—a societal construct built by the top few people in a society to benefit them and control the rest of the population (think the current political debate around one percent of the population controlling the wealth and pulling the strings of American society). 

More practically speaking, taking the Blue pill means that I may stay in a belief that I am powerless in life, that others get all the breaks, that my race, religion, family, or geography determines the outcome of my life. I am essentially on autopilot, trying to do whatever I can to remain safe in an “unsafe world” controlled by others.

Taking the Red pill symbolizes Neo’s choice to break out, take risks, and live his authentic life. This choice is fraught with challenges, dangers, and adventures that the safe path of the Blue pill never approaches.  It is important to recognize that when he does take the path of the Red pill, his life is anything but easy.  He walks through tremendous fear on his way to freedom.  He lives a sparse, difficult existence for a time.  All his past, deeply ingrained beliefs have to be challenged and released. 

Taking the Red pill can mean different things to different people.  The key is that it wakes us up into our authentic life.  It leads us to the path of fulfillment and joy that has been waiting for us, but that we have been resisting through fear. 

Taking the Red pill may mean starting therapy, quitting a safe job, investing in a business, hiring a life coach, going into 12-step recovery for an addiction, learning to meditate, starting an alkaline diet, leaving a toxic relationship, taking up a political or environmental cause, challenging the one percent, committing to a relationship, having children, moving.  The Red pill symbolizes the only true path to freedom in life.  Deepak Chopra, Rembrandt, Bill Gates, Harvey Milk, Father Greg Boyle, Marie Curie, teacher Albert Cullum, Joni Mitchell, JK Rowling, and the people protesting the oil pipeline at Standing Rock are among our heroes who took the Red pill in a major way. 

The choice between the Red and Blue pill is just that, a choice.  We make this choice every day in small or large ways.  If you are choosing to stay asleep in different ways, be compassionate with yourself.  You probably have also chosen to take the Red pill in some ways.  Perhaps you are in a dead end job but are a weekend artist.  Maybe you are in a toxic relationship but active in the environmental movement.  You could be a writer who isn’t writing but is parenting in a beautiful way.  Can the times you have chosen the Red pill be expanded?  Are there bigger ways you can wake up to your life? 

Below Neo makes his fateful decision. 

Take a look: