Today I went to the barn. I had an exercise I had to do for a course I am taking with Kathy Pike. The class is called “One With Horse.” The activity is designed to help people to reflect on what Kathy calls “your inner landscape.” When I signed up for this class, I had decided that I would work on my relationship with Theo. He is the horse I have started to ride more lately. I had initially begun riding Frankie, an open-hearted outgoing horse who is easy to fall in love with and develop a relationship. Theo is harder to figure out, and I feel that it will make our riding work better if we form a bond.
Today all I had to do was to be with Theo, and in this case, it was Theo and Frankie because they share a paddock. While I was just hanging out, not doing anything, I had to check in with what was going on inside me. As I stood in the snowy paddock, I marveled at the blue sky and how the sun warmed my face even though it was cold out. I listened to the wind whistling through the bare branches of the trees and calls of birds as they soared through the air. When I checked with what was going on inside me, I found that I was at peace. I was happy with just being with my horse friends. I realized that I had learned so much from them.
A few months ago, I would have had my feelings hurt that Theo didn’t come right over to me and say hi. I would have wrapped my self-worth up in the actions of a horse. Pretty silly to say out loud, but I would have felt that if he didn’t come to see me, he didn’t like me. If he didn’t like me, there must be something wrong with me. The work that I have been doing with the horses has helped me to be able to check in with my thoughts and feelings and edit what wasn’t working for me. When I checked in with my inner landscape, I was calm and accepting. I was able to watch the horses and know that they were behaving as they should. I was able to feel a strong sense of connection with them by just sharing the space without expectation. When Theo did turn his attention to me and come over to me to interact, my heart was full. He was with me because he wanted to be there, not because I was trying to make him do something. He also pushed me to set boundaries and claim the space I needed to feel comfortable and not let him walk over me.
In doing this exercise, I allowed myself to have the space to examine my inner landscape. I focused on what was happening in my body. I looked at my thoughts and emotions, as well as being aware of how I was breathing. By doing this, I could see how I responded to what was going on with the horses. I wasn’t taking things personally. Everything wasn’t about me; it “just was.” I was able to find a place of ease.
I highly recommend taking the time to allow yourself to observe, just observe what is going on around you. Then, periodically check in with yourself, examine what you are feeling and thinking, notice what is going on in your body, and look at your breathing. Take note of what is happening without judgment. Be open to what you observe and see if there are any messages for you. This exercise can be a powerful way to see how some of your automatic patterns of thinking could be causing you stress.