“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

Winston Churchill

Well said Mr. Churchill, although my feminist self would add, “…or the inside of a female.”  Either way it speaks to the profound experience found alongside a horse–stroking their mane, rubbing their flank, staring them in the eyes as you nuzzle their cheek.  There is indeed some silent profundity in a moment like that and something that is intrinsically good for the soul. 

Alongside a horse and face-to-face I have found some of the most challenging moments in creating an authentic self, finding my present-centered mindset, and really being in the now with myself and with the horse.  This is the thing, much as a wise meditative sage, a horse knows when you are lying even about being present in the moment.  People seek far and wide for a yogic guru to guide them to better them, a higher level of conciousness, a more aware state of existence but I would venture to say that I have met no greater teacher than the horses I have encountered.  Nor have I met a stricter teacher than the most wise yogic equus. 

Today I was privileged enough to teach Standing and Seated Mountain Pose (Tadasana) to the most attuned and earnest of students–trauma survivors.  It was a very simple lesson in being present in the moment, being both “calm” and “assertive” at the same time and they were excellent pupils–both in a psychotherapeutic and a yogic context.  They learned how standing could be powerful, strong, and energized.  They saw how being this way would make them more healthfully alert in life and more present both alongside and on the back of their horses. 

Experiencing this moment with them was enriching for me beyond imagination.  My dream of blending these two complementary therapies together was coming to fruition and blossoming fruit and metaphor that I could not have imagined.  My clients are constantly astounding me with their investment in their own healing, their insight into their own souls and the pain therein, and their ability to soak up the tools that can help them.  This is why every session I can I end groups and individual treatment with relaxation and breath (prana). 

I softly whisper to the seated and closed-eyed participants, “Breathe in through your nose all the cool air, breathe out through your nose all the hot air and tension.”  My first meditation teacher, a trained circus clown (no, seriously) turned Buddhist nun taught me this phrase and I found it so beautiful and visual I love to use it.  Please feel free to do this for yourself any time you get a chance, it is a lovely practice to come back to our breath, finding our center–this translates on and off the saddle, on the mat and into the world. 

TO BE CONTINUED IN YOGIC EQUUS PART 2:  Finding the Metaphors

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