To live with grace is to rejoice in the perfect love of God within you and to extend that love to the hearts and minds of every living being. How peaceful would you feel if you could attain inner stillness? How alive would you feel if you could see the light of God shining in your heart? How comforted would you feel to know that your essence is divine love? If you could really find that state, you would find yourself in a state of grace. Upon finding this state, how could you possibly want to keep it from anyone? How joyous would it feel to share your peace, light, and love?
The only way to grace is to practice absolution, or the formal release of guilt, obligation, or punishment, toward yourself and others. How can you know love, bliss, and peace if you are filled with turmoil, judgments, and grievances about yourself? How can you possibly extend love, bliss, and peace if you condemn others?
You can find grace in the barn by practicing absolution and forgiveness with your horse. Your horse can teach you a lot about the power of non-judgment because the horse does not judge. We categorize our entire world based around right and wrong, good and bad, should and shouldn’t. This is not the horse’s reality because they do not have a system of morality through which to judge. They have a strong sense of self-preservation and instinct but no social constructs stating that certain behavior is good or bad or other’s actions are right or wrong.
The horse does not feel guilt for testing your leadership skills. The horse does not condemn you as a bad person for tugging too hard on the bit. He has a very good memory and will recall the pain that was caused when the bit hit him in the mouth. That memory is an observation of cause and effect rather than a judgment about good or bad.
Try the following as you work with your horse:
- Spend time observing your horse’s behavior without judgment. Rather than judging that your horse is acting spooky, note the observation that when the flag by the arena flapped in the wind your horse propped and snorted.
- Work without assumptions about your horse’s behavior. Rather than assuming your horse is testing you or misbehaving, note that your horse is fidgeting when you go to get on from the mounting block.
- Practice patience instead of emotional reactivity. Rather than allowing your judgments and assumptions to cause an emotional reaction and attachment within you, observe the horse as you remain aware of your own emotions and needs which are separate from his.
As you begin to release your attachment to your judgments and your desire to be right or to win, you can release your attachment to the outcome of your horse’s behavior. If you hold onto your emotional attachment, you will continue to hold grievances which will prevent you from living in a state of grace.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
This post is part of a year-long series of heart reflections based on the book Soulful Horsemanship, A Path to Emotional Freedom for the Horse and Human. Soulful Horsemanship is a spiritual approach to working with horses with the goal of developing empowerment, authenticity, and inner peace for the horse and human alike. The entire collection of heart opening essays is available as a book – check it out.