Wisdom of the Heart ~ Through the Way of the Horse
There is a place...a listening field, where knowing shines us into being. In our "lived relationships", it is where we weave the deeper threads of our existence to guide us to truth. In the listening field, the horses show us how to abide by the present, to understand what is and to find the perspective that has lived within our pulses. Attuning us to our heart-minds, these four-legged Buddha's invite awareness of all that has come before us as they offer the depth of our own reflections.
Horses align us with the practices of personal responsibility, emotional intelligence and non-verbal communication, while creating a mindfulness around awareness, compassion and forgiveness.
Teaching us how to begin a conversation where we listen more openly and more honestly, horses are straightforward in their interactions, representing congruency and authenticity in its purest form.
Your heart guides you in this listening field, while the horses show you how to return to a state of grace, acceptance and love.
A new study by the HeartMath Institute describes "The earth's magnetic field acts as a carrier of biologically relevant patterned information..measuring the heart rhythms and brain waves of the earth. We have the potential to transfer the energy of information between human hearts and brains to the earth field itself. Studies show we are synchronizing globally and we are in the midst of that shift in consciousness now. The shift is where the mind-based consciousness is now integrated with a larger self, through the heart."
People have sought out relationships with horses since we first laid eyes on each other. Although riding horses can be exhilarating, there’s something even more profound that draws us together.
Research has confirmed the effectiveness of equine therapy, showing that it lowers blood pressure and heart rate, alleviates stress, and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. Equine therapy also helps people develop the following skills for healthy living ~
#1 Identifying and Coping with Feelings
Equine therapy is a powerful way to get in touch with thoughts and feelings. Instead of using their minds to address problems, which often leads to denial, blaming others or intellectualizing their way around the problem, they use their bodies and hearts to feel and react in the moment.
Horses have a unique ability to sense emotions and react accordingly. If someone is angry or aggressive, the horse may become obstinate. If the person is anxious, the horse may get skittish. But when approached by someone who is open and calm, the horse is more likely to respond in kind. Witnessing the horse’s response promotes self-awareness and can help people see themselves in a more realistic way.
#2 Communication Skills
Through working with horses, people recognize their conscious and unconscious patterns of interacting with others. Horses are excellent communicators. Learning to understand horse behavior can help people learn how others function in the world and the way their behavior impacts others. Exercises as simple as haltering, leading and grooming teach people how to approach others with respect and awareness.
In equine therapy, people talk about what they see and experience. Through the horse’s responses and the facilitator's guidance, they begin to recognize the ways in which their perceptions are accurate or misguided, and the ways they may be projecting their own issues onto others.
#3 Setting Boundaries
Working with a horse can quickly expose a person’s thought and behavior patterns. In an equine therapy session, one may draw metaphors between the client’s interaction with the horse and the patterns in their own lives, addressing such issues as enmeshment and detachment in the family system. Lessons may be as simple as how much physical space the horse needs to feel comfortable.
Without any words at all, horses make clear when someone has crossed their boundaries. Trying to control or dominate will not work with a horse. Similarly, being extremely detached or passive can make it difficult to lead a horse and will deter the horse from complying with a request.
#4 Overcoming Fears
Horses are large animals, which can bring up unmet needs, fears, past trauma, and feelings of inadequacy or lack of control. Regardless of the horse, people commonly fear that the horse won’t like them, won’t pick them, or could hurt them physically or emotionally. Rather than giving in to their usual reaction – to escape or get defensive – people learn to understand and see the message behind the emotion.
In a safe environment, clients learn to face their fears and build confidence in their ability to overcome challenges. People who are intimidated and nervous at first may be surprised to discover how quickly they can process those feelings and find comfort in their relationship with the horse. Empowered by the experience, people may develop the confidence to address other fears and transfer these lessons to day-to-day life.
Horses are soothing, gentle animals. They are straightforward in their interactions without lying or manipulating. They do not judge or blame. Their presence alone can be immensely healing. When people open themselves up, they grow in their ability to build relationships and to ask for help when needed.
Excerpt from an article by Meghan Vivo, www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com