Week 1, Day 3: With My Full Strength
Last night I went to a horse therapy event at Unbridled Possibilities. Each month they have a women’s connection evening in which we meditate together and work with the horses. I had never been.
I’ve only been around horses twice before. One was on a college friend’s ranch, and I made the mistake of approaching the horse head on. Thankfully I was on the other side of the fence, but the horse’s great size and strength was not lost on me. About five years later, on a trip to Belize in my 20s with a friend, Cossie, I rode a horse.
Cos is the absolute master of vacation planning—she arranged a canoe trip down a river, several days on an island, and horse-back riding through the rain forest. The horses were well-trained. Well, mine was.
Initially I thought Cossie chose to break out in full stride after hitting the open road. I wanted to catch up! I squeezed my legs, pushing down and forward with my hips ( as the trainer had taught us) to urge my horse into stride. I was laughing wildly as I neared Cossie at the apex of a tall, windy dirt-road hill. I turned smiling to greet her, saw the look of horror on her face, and quickly realized it was her horse, not Cossie, who initiated the break away. The trainer came up behind us and brought Cos’ horse to heel. That day I once again felt in awe of the power of these great animals.
Last night, twenty years later, I was around horses for the third time in my life. The event was down in Annapolis at 7pm. To avoid traffic, I left at 4:30 and ate dinner in town. When I arrived later at the arena, the trainer let me know there was a large birthday party forming most of the group that night.
As introverted as I am, in a new place, doing a fairly new activity, this brought most of my mindfulness skills to bear.
The women in the party arrived gradually and were very welcoming. It was a true pleasure to sit in circle meditating and sharing as part of their warm and connected community.
The trainer taught us how horses communicate and then invited us into the arena in groups of three to interact with her. My group went third. We stood together at the far side of the fence and waited for the horse to invite us to have contact. She circled near us a couple of times, made contact with the woman to my right and some stomping gestures, then positioned herself in the center of the fenced circle. Was that it? Had we been horse-therapied?
The trainer then invited us to approach the horse, and we did. I was drawn to pet her shoulders and down her back. I was tentative at first; her weight and size—and my prior experiences—intimidated me. With each new stroke, though, the more I felt her strength and solidity, the more I felt my own. I leaned more deeply into each successive pet, feeling my own power more fully and being met and held by hers in return.
The horse stood in her strength so unapologetically, showing me how to do the same with mine. The experience made me strongly aware of how much of my day is spent attenuating what I have to offer. And how much I long to stop doing that.
In meditation last night, I offered the phrases of loving-kindness to loved ones with my full strength. I then opened fully to receive their love and kindness in return.
I invite you to try this as well.