Mindfulness with horses
My horse is leading me to equinimity
When I am entering my horse's paddock, I am instantly aware, alert and in a mindful respectful awareness state. They are sensitive creatures, flight and flee is their more common response to any threat, like us it is their instinctual response for protection. Fight is another response for horses too, and I have noticed that comes with the fear of separation or they have been mistreated in some way. Horses are herd creatures they belong together. I have been coaching and teaching mindfulness and creative practices for many years now to people who are experiencing severe anxiety and loss of meaning due to difficulties in their life. Mindfulness practice is currently the recommended evidenced based primary self-care practice for people who have experienced extreme shock, trauma or have been witness to life threatening situations. (AHPRA-psychology) One of the ways to cope with these extreme events is to either fight or flee to split psychologically. Just like horses. So if you are someone dealing with anxiety, emotional reactivity or acting "as if" you are okay when everyone else knows you're really not, a horse can sense this incongruence immediately. The horse will appear restless to you and may reflect back like a mirror what is really going on inside you, your need to control, your expectations, your anxiety. Because the horse is so finely tuned and aware, it can tune into you energetically in a pure way. This physical response occurs as an adrenalin surge through your body and the horses, which is a good thing for you because you are awake and present, watchful of what will happen next. Mindfulness practice helps you to
notice what is occurring, what ever is being played out in the herd is a mirror of your own life and relationships, with practice you can remain with the physical tension, remain still, truly inhabit your body awareness with kindness and allow your relationship to grow into a mutually enjoyable experience.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to each event experienced in the present moment within your body and mind, emotion, with a non-judgmental, non-reactive and accepting attitude. Mindfulness is also about presence. I am learning from my time Being around my horse doing all manner of horse care, when he is tuned into me and when he is not. I take his presence with me when I drive home too. Presence of Being
When I brush my horses I am acutely aware of the body awareness radiating from my horse. He is awake and fully present. It is good for me. I am in a state of flow in relationship with my horse in a very beautiful outside paradise. As I am aware of his presence I am aware of my own presence, which at times I find soothing and calming on all levels of being.
Often though, I arrive to unexpected new comers in the paddock, or changes in the weather. (I agist my horses so I am not in control all the coming and going of other horses). The social interactions occurring in the paddock can change from one visit to the next and so I am awake to keep my self safe, especially when a dominant horse is blocking my path to my own horse. There are also the occasions when my new horse doesn't want to come with me, because really he is in paradise where he lives, a large paddock over 10 acres is way more appealing than me leading him somewhere else.
Mindfulness practice is all about observing these difficult and dangerous situations, being with an intense emotion with the quality of
Maybe today is not a day my horse wants to be ridden. There are new horses in the
paddock that have changed the dynamics, the next day the situation may change of
it's own making and I am able to ride my horse again, to enjoy a sunny afternoon
of pleasant exchanges with my horse. Isn't this just like life?
Sometimes we can trick ourselves that we are so relaxed and enlightened, saying "I am over all that stuff" but it is not so, we have not reached a deeper insight and acceptance, you may have developed a facade for others, when really, you are so vulnerable. The mind has a coping response of denial, distortion and dissociation which is beneficial, but can sometimes limit your life choices and relationships. There is a fatigue that comes after many years of energetically keeping that vulnerability out of sight out of mind. I have been caught out many times with this, and I have learned that through the regular practice of sitting meditation, practicing mindfulness in my everyday life, I do become more accepting of what is and what was, I know that I am not my thoughts, or my body sensation, or what people think or do to me. I am a soul naturally grateful and happy to be alive.
Mindfulness meditation - sitting practice
Silent retreats, and sitting meditation are important to support your practice of mindfulness in everyday life. Insight meditation is where the focus of your attention on a sensation, or on the breath, as you sit and notice your body sensations and the changes to those sensations, you notice and give attention to the myriad of thoughts that also arise into and out of your awareness.
Giving attention with a curious and caring way, not judgeing as right or wrong, developing more of an inquiring mind can lead to emotional equinimity. I do believe my horse is leading me to equinimity.
I teach what I need to learn - because it gives meaning to my life! I have been meditating for most of my life, as a young child with my mother and then later with different meditation ashrams and centres, I have sat with Spiritual Gurus and sought to be an authentic person. I have taught meditation to my own children, and many people through out my life.
My spiritual practice is my vocation working with others in a compassionate manner has led me to teach meditation and mindfulness practices to many people. The benefits are astounding and life transforming. You have an ongoing practice and a way of Being in the world that brings harmony and vitality to your life and those around you.
Mindfulness with horses is insightful and transformational
letting go of my expectations
I wanted to ride my horse
I wanted time to bond with my horse (it is a new horse)
attachment to the outcome -“I really had my heart set on riding today” poor me (victim mentality) or (I don’t have enough) I get to observe habitual responses that don't work for me
Letting go I have to let go of the expectations I had of riding my horse that day - even if I think they are reasonable expectations.
emotional flexibility – I am disappointed, possibly annoyed.. as I let go of my expectations I can relax more and see this new situation as a learning opportunity.
going with the flow – I love life and have more vitality when I accept what it is, rather than what I want it to be, or what it should be, or my dream illusions. I accept this is the situation, and it will change again.
Life is as it is – I can accept this new situation and adjust my expectations and behaviour and take each day as it comes. it is not predictable and the same. Life is always changing and so is my relationship with my horse. A wonderful practice at accepting life as it is.
Change is the only constant – I have equanimity when I trust this truth
I am alive and grateful to be so
Mindfulness Insight - my horse is leading me to equinimity.
I am excited to be sharing mindfulness with horses at my weekend and 12 day wellBeing Retreats www.bluemountainswellbeingretreats.com
©Simonette Vaja 2016 next retreat March 25th, 2016