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“A lovely horse is always an experience…. It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words.”

Beryl Markham (British born Kenyan Horse Trainer)

  

In the realm of wordless moving arts, therapy with the aid of horses adds a rich additional component–relationship.  And through that relationship there are an infinite number of metaphors that can be found, cultivated, and mined when being able to work with these mystical creatures in the aid of healing trauma and emotional pain in people’s lives, hearts, and souls. 

There is a deep rupture to the self that trauma induces–we are hesitant to trust the world and the people in it when we have been traumatized.  Our natural fight or flight mechanism is ignited and our impulse is to avoid, isolate, distance from human connection. 

This is why the horse is a powerful ally in rebuilding the capacity for relationship in those who have lost faith in the capacity for the unconditional nature of love and have forgone trusting relationships with others.  A horse does not judge or betray it just is–and as I discussed in the prior post YOGIC EQUUS PART 1 the horse is able to be in the moment and present with us in the most yogic of ways. 

At the same time, if we are not present, honest, true, and confident in the present of our equine companions then we lose the connection between human and horse and we lose our place in the horse’s present moment.  That is to say if we the human cannot be calm and assertive, present and attentive, then the horse will respond by not responding to us.  And in this connection and connection lost is an amazing metaphor for someone, in a therapeutic way, to find where they falter in their relationships, connections, and ability to stay present, conscious, and grounded in life.

The findings of this may be painful, frustrating, angering, and more but in the rich well of emotions and behavioral responses one has to finding a break in their human-horse connection a person might learn more than they ever thought possible about how they relate to the world and the humans in it.  And in the context of human-horse (in a land without judgement or betrayal) a person may learn to heal their wounds, mend the ruptures, and break the patterns that plague their human-human life. 

In a brief amount of time I have learned an unimaginable amount about the human self from people’s interactions in a therapeutic relationship with their horse.  I have learned so much about myself as a person, as a therapist, and as a yogini–about where I am and where I want to go.  I cannot wait to explore further into this rich metaphor of the horse and find where, on the wings of pegasus’ decendents, humans can find new layers of healing–body, mind, and soul. 

  

 

New Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickrNew Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickr

 

In case you are trying to discern if you heard me correctly, you did.  I did say ROOF RATS.  Along with various discoveries by land and by sea I have been making in my new home and various acquiescence to local wildlife in my shower, in my guestroom, and elsewhere I do not think I properly equipped myself emotionally for roof rats.  And I am not sure that one can. 

 

I am in a bit of a city rat, country rat dilemma–of my own creation.  I expect to see rats in downtown Manhattan.  I did not plan on finding them hopping and tight rope walking from fruit-filled palms to electrical wires like very large very ratty-type squirrels in my backyard. 

 

I called my husband in a bit of a panic last night to relay my crisis, after reviewing the nature of the Floridian roof rat to shack up in fruit trees (yeah in my backyard) and then use electrical wiring to get into homes’ crawl spaces and such.  He began to tell me a story about a possum in his grandparents pool–he has a tendency to try to trump my issue of vermin with larger vermin stories to normalize a place that is rife with vermin.  I know his intentions are good but the results are always inducing a double shot of chills and paranoia into my system. 

 

Last night I spent jumping at every scuffle on the roof or scratchy noise above, certain with every fiber of my irrational being that roof rats were clawing their way through my roof, about to fall on my face at any moment.  I was also fairly certain that my tiny dog, who had been playing in the brush below the fruit tree that evening, had contracted some form of roof rat rabies when she began acting spastically before bedtime. 

 

These are the things that happen these days.  Induced by spending too much time in a house alone, down a dirt road, in a sort of isolation in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by nothing but amphibians, roof rats, various bugs of varying sizes, and dogs.  And lots of mysterious noises.

 

I am a therapist but this by no means makes me immune to human fallibility, human weakness, human fear, and sometimes even a tinge of solo living paranoia.  I say this although it may seem (especially after reading this blog) like a kind of “duh” statement, but often I have experienced in the therapist’s chair this sense from my clients that I am mental health perfection, somehow by profession carrying some kind of automatic immunity to any life issues, emotional struggles, or points of imperfection. 

 

In the earlier moments of my career I felt that I had to be all of those things as some sort of indebtedness to all of the people who seek my help:  I had to be above reproach, emotionally.  I quickly learned that not only is that an impossibility but it is also a disservice to my clients to attempt that or attempt to convey that to them.  I am human and the humanity and the similarities we all have with each other due to our humanness is what bonds us and allows us to work together–in life and in therapy. 

 

I will be someone who panics at the sight of roof rats and dwell on it far too long into the night.  Even if I can dissect my emotions in the morning and rationalize myself out of complete and utter rodent-induced insomnia it does not mean it won’t be a weak point.  I mean, ROOF RATS, really?  Can you blame me?

 

Occasionally I envy the relationship that is easily attained between yoga teacher or yoga therapist and client.  It lacks the barriers of formalities and often overly restrictive professionality of a psychotherapeutic relationship and allows the relationship to build from the start as one of equality, humanity, and trust.  And through the body-oriented nature of the work allows an innate ability to tap into emotion without worrying about 5 page assessments and protocols that often get in the way of the point of things–which is helping people to feel and heal. 

 

So,a big thank you to this time of humbleness and humility that reminds me of how truly human I am.  Thank you to roof rats and lizards and palmetto bugs.  Although I will continue to scour the electrical wires at sunset for the silhouettes of roof rats attempting to launch a full-house assault.  I’m no city rat fool.

 

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Thomas Merton (Trappist Monk)

 

Bansky Rat Mural on Canal Street by caruba on flickr

 

May 2020
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