As you begin to practice absolution and forgiveness, you will be able to go with the flow, become defenseless in your position, and extend gratitude for every experience and interaction. I have always followed the mantra “everything happens for a reason” and I believe to my core that it is true, even if we have a hard time noticing or accepting the gifts we receive. When we are busy judging, we may see the gift of freedom as a threat to our happiness or the gift of autonomy as a threat to our safety.
Who are we to judge what is happening or what others are doing? We cannot see the entire picture. We misunderstand the gifts in life as attacks on our wellbeing. With such upside down thinking, we must learn to trust – trust ourselves and trust that everything is working in our favor to our benefit. Sometimes it feels as though we are out of control or that things are falling apart. Those are the times that we are being carried to higher levels of consciousness and the universe is helping us to make the change that we would have been too scared to make on our own. We must learn to trust, look for the good, and go with the flow.
The more we resist change the harder it will be. If, instead, we can be grateful – truly grateful – for everything that is coming our way, we can learn to revel in the miraculous nature of life. It is not enough to simply state “everything happens for a reason.” We must fully embrace our circumstances and interactions so that we can extend gratitude. As long as you defend your perspective, opinion, and judgments, you will be unable to shift to a state of gratitude. As long as you are convinced that you are right, you will remain resistant to your experience which cultivates pain and fear. If you can embrace your experience, you will be able to hear the message contained within and move through the pain and fear to a state of acceptance and gratitude.
When we work with horses it is important to maintain boundaries for our physical safety, yet consider what would happen if you chose to extend gratitude to your horse. Think of a scenario in which you are certain that your position, or way of doing things, is the right way and any opposition from your horse is perceived as a threat, or attack, on your authority and position of leadership. There are dozens of examples ranging from a pushy pony who drags you to the edge of the driveway to get a bite of grass to a horse who aggressively turns his hind end to kick out at you when you enter his stall. We encounter these threats to our authority every day with horses.
What would happen if you chose, within the boundaries of maintaining safety for you and the horse, to go with the flow rather than prove your authority? Does that idea threaten you? Do you think that you would lose control? Are you afraid that you will not be respected?
Are you willing to consider that the horse may have more respect for you if you do not fight against him to prove your authority and worth? Are you willing to be defenseless in your position and see the situation through the eyes of your horse? Are you willing to acknowledge that your perspective may not be the whole truth? Are you willing to be grateful that your horse is communicating his needs and emotions honestly? Are you willing take that opportunity to grow your own power, courage, and integrity by responding with empathy and compassion?
The pony who dives for a bite of grass is fulfilling his instinctual physical need. It is our interpretation that he is rude and bratty. We feel that we have to teach the pony manners but what does that mean to the pony? Are you willing to consider that, from another perspective, your desire to drag him away from the grass and to the barn is equally rude and bratty? Can you view his behavior with empathy and work with him to meet your need to continue walking down the driveway? Can you find the inner strength to help lead him to a desired outcome rather than exerting your desires onto him? Can you be grateful that he is teaching you how to communicate your needs in an authentic manner and teaching you how to find the internal resolve to mediate a conflict of interest?
The horse who turns his hind end toward you when you enter the stall is reacting based on his emotional tension and apprehension. Are you willing to consider that the horse is not bad or mean? We feel that such horses need to be punished and that we have to teach them respect. Perhaps we are the ones that must learn respect. Can you see that the horse may feel threatened? Can you empathize with the fact that he is trapped in a stall and cannot get away? Can you respect that he is scared and trying to protect himself the only way he knows how? If you were scared and trapped, would it help for someone to enter your space with a whip to teach you to be respectful? Can you sense that both of you are experiencing the same emotional response – a fear of getting hurt that results in defending yourself or trying to control the other with your body? Can you be grateful that your horse is giving you an opportunity to be more empathetic and to learn how to listen to the needs of others?
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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. Please join me on A Journey through the Heart with Horses and awaken to the life of your dreams.