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Beware _ Manure happens by ktylerconk.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

Charles R Swindoll

Today I went to 6 a.m. morning meditation–yes, I went even though as of Sunday I am a Yoga Teacher NOT a trainee and it is NOT mandatory.  My yoga teacher discussed with great enthusiasm the manure that had been delivered in his driveway this week; leaving him plenty of rich and vitamin-dense poops (for lack of a better term) with which to create fertile soil and grow his garden to a lush jungle paradise.  It got me thinking about “crap” and growth.  Yes, I can find a metaphor anywhere!

This week has been one of the most professionally surreal and personally taxing week of my life in ways I could never have anticipated.  I thought, quite mistakenly, that the conclusion of yoga school would leave ample room to breathe, family time, and some reprieve before the next journey.  Apparently, God, the universe, and karma thought I needed a slap in the face and a real test of my dedication to my path towards complementary therapies, integrative mental health, and bringing education on the matter wherever I can.  I came to a professional crossroads of sorts.  I am having one of those life ultimatums that everyone would be propelled to say (and they have been saying), “Looks like someone is sending you a sign.”  Hmmm.

Everything happens for a reason?  I am still conflicted on this point, but there is something inside of me that tells me what everyone else has been, there is a decision I am being forced to make to follow what I believe in or let it die.   I am not willing to let it die.  So, I find myself on the precipice of a journey, jump started by life and circumstances, into something unknown, wonderful, and frightening.

With that I reveal the newest addition (upcoming) to my website which will be my “PRIVATE PRACTICE” section with all of the treatment modalities I focus on and the unique, creative, and eclectic approach to finding healing and wellness in issues of trauma and emotional distress in others.  I am launching my private practice this month and beginning to work towards what I know to be the path I was intended to be on.

So sometimes we walk out our door to find a pile o’ “crap” has been delivered at our doorstep and realize that much grows in manure–often richer and more lush than it would have in simple dirt.  Hence my metaphor-ing on the matter.  This week I was given some “crap” and found some inspiration for growth.

I have also been given a blessing far beyond anything I could have imagined.  In a moment of flux and uncertainty I found the beauty of being surrounded by caring, self-less souls, who are impassioned about my passion, supportive of my journey and believe strongly in this path I am on.  I have been rewarded with the riches of love beyond my imagining; in finding conflict I also found that in my brief time in Florida I have been given so many kindred spirits who are giving me their ears, their resources, their ideas, and their comfort–what more riches could anyone ask for.

So what began as a somewhat traumatic Monday morning has, with time and perspective, become a rich opportunity for growth in even the most stinky of piles.  As my yoga teacher stated when I told him of my turn of life events, “How lucky you are! What a blessing! God must really love you!”  I am going to try to continue on a path of enthusiasm and optimism and put everything I have into working towards bringing wellness–mind, body, and spirit–to as large a community of persons as possible!

CHECK OUT MY NEW PROFILE ON THE PSYCHOLOGY TODAY WEBSITE!

Om & Blessings!

 
“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.”
 
 Gerald Raferty
 
 
Monday mornings at work are always a swirl of mystery, magic, and surprises.  I suppose this is bound to be the case in beginning my work week at a Therapeutic Riding Center.  The facility I run my Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy group out of is a quiet nook of the world on a sandy dirt road edging a canal ravine.  I don’t know if anyone else does this on this particular stretch of street but I find myself glancing down at the murky green waters waiting to see round, black alligator eyes peering up at me.  The center itself is vast acreage lined with white wooden fences and a crisp white barn that houses 16 or so horses.  Monday mornings are reserved just for my group and the cleaning crew, inmates from a local prison facility.  It is an interesting mix of life–horses in stables, convicts driving small tractors, and my little group of trauma survivors working with their equine counterparts.  In its surreality it is quite freeing and outside of social norms and constructs.  We are dancing a dance that is part magic, part illusion, and yet more real than most that life has to offer.  Something in horses brings real to the surface and pushes out all the tedium and strife that are found outside stable gates.  Horses, like yoga, strip life away to its naked essence and allow for us to breathe in the moment and leave everything else behind. 
 
 
This particular Monday morning I was absurdly alert and reflective, still lingering on my 5am wake up, 6am meditation and the lack of television, radio, and all superfluous noise in my life.  My mind was paradoxically more quiet and more active than it normally is on any given Monday.  In that I mean that my brain had omitted a lot of the white noise from conscious thought and in its place was an awakened clarity and sharpness that I guess is the result of having been up for hours and having meditated to start my day.
 
 
Suddenly, I heard a loud thunk and vocal commotion and turned around the side of the barn to see a white mare galloping off through the back of the stalls.  I see a correctional officer, the guardian of the inmates, standing baffled and amused holding the chain latch of the horse’s stall.  “I can’t believe it, she chewed through the damn thing again.  That is the second time she has done that,” he said and kept repeating it as if he could not imagine such tenaciousness in a horse.  An older inmate standing next to me, and dressed in his working blue cotton uniform, looked in my eyes and said, “She just wants that freedom, you can see it in how she’s running.”  He stared after her, mesmerized, as the last bit of her white mane disappeared around the corner and I looked over at him wondering if he knew how profoundly metaphoric his statement had just been.
 
 
Here stood a man who was living in a world that was predominantly caged and in the one place in his week where he was given freedom, space, clean country air, and equine surroundings.  And as he watched this white mare’s dedicated effort to break free of her cage I could feel, in my proximity to him, his understanding of her yearning.  And in them both I saw a moment of magic–connection between human and horse and metaphor from the stables into the world.  It was one of those moments you want to bottle both miraculous, soulful, joyful, and sorrowful.  The smile on the inmate’s face lingered as he turned from the horse and went back to his shovel, back to his work, and back into the mind of a man who understood the yearning to be free. 
 
 
In that moment I shared with both of them, before the white mare was brought back to her stall, I saw a sliver of that man and a glimmer of that horse, and both of their natural longing to be free in the world–the way they once were.  Some days, especially lately, juggling worlds upon worlds, I feel like maybe I am overloaded and completely insane in my juggling efforts.  On days like Monday I am grateful for the world I live in, the life I have, and the honor I feel in being able to work in a way that facilitates moments like these–spontaneous and amazing. 
 

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I have had one of those weeks that has been enlightening, invigorating, and inspiring on every human level possible.  From the human to the equine I have heard the journeys of survivors, thrivers, and those who have a story to tell that is so profound it wells tears and lapses breathe just in having heard it. 

 

In the Rumpus (yes I saw Where The Wild Things Are last weekend) of it all I found synapses blasting and neural paths sparking with a realization of how much all of my work, all of my passions, and all of my life seemed to have been leading to this point of alignment (not to be too dramatic about it) in some way.  If someone had told me before this moment that I would be in a position to both love and align yoga, horses, and psychotherapy together I would have laughed at the incredulousness of the idea.  Today I will say that nothing makes more sense or is more clear to me than how these three worlds collide and echo with sound bites and fragments of each other.

 

I spent last week (Wednesday to Saturday) at the NARHA Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.  I learned about “Prey Psychology” and the corollaries between Winnicottian Theory and Self-Psychology and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.  I found an entire world that had blended so many of the ideas and passions I had been working with into a body of therapeutic work that had been alive for 10-20 years without my even being aware of it.  I was invigorated by the passion of the people in this profession and the well-thought academics behind their practices.  It wasn’t just teaching horsemanship to people in hopes of effecting change in some emotional way it was a full basis of therapeutic practices working with horses as partners in effecting change in people’s lives.  One woman even referred to her equine counterparts as “colleagues” in a context that made it seem absolutely an apt description. 

 

I heard people discussing the importance of mindfulness, self-soothing techniques, and even horseback yoga as a means of creating emotional wellness not just through the client’s relationship with the horse but also their body, mind, and emotional awareness of themselves.  It was a wonderful experience to be amid people in a world of therapy, present centered living, and holistic treatment for people in emotional distress that I never before knew existed.  I found myself hoping with more earnestness and a real sense that  it was possible for a world of therapy that broke down the four walls of a therapy room and can, will, take people’s healing to creative and intuitive new heights. 

 

I heard one particular horse trainer describe the horse as a very “present oriented” being stating that as an animal of prey a horse is instinctually imbedded in the present moment, needing to focus on those things that bring them safety, security, and comfort and make them feel wholly well.  I was instantly drawn to consider the two parallels of that–trauma and yoga.  The horse is a great balancer in that it represents a healthy reflection of the traumatized person–it manages its present centered quest for survival while the traumatized person cannot moderate their “prey” experience and feels overwhelmed with their survival needs and unable to find the comfort in the present moment.  I thought also of how the horse is such an excellent metaphor for the perfect yogi/ni.  The horse is able to look at the now, live in the now, and be comforted by what they are given that helps maintain their sense of balance–rejecting that, that does not help them maintain that homeostasis.  They are the perfect mirror to the traumatized person of both what they are and what they want/need to be.  I was fascinated by this beautiful parallel and how the horse is the bridge between emotional disarray and yogic, spiritual centeredness. 

 

I feel on the precipice of breaking through my own glass ceiling of sorts–personally, professionally, philosophically.  Ever moment I turn around I find a new bread crumb, rich metaphor, deep symbology of this shift–in the good, the bad, and the ugly in my life.  I am grateful for this journey and excited for the next bread crumb that will lead to the next discovery. 

 

In the world of wordless connection I see horses as the symbol of something ancient, mystical, beautiful, and simple all in one.  As Linda Kohanov states so eloquently in her book The Tao of Equus speaking about her young new horse, “She was standing in a box stall smelling of pine shavings, and she spoke to me more eloquently in silence than anyone ever had in words.”  This is the kind of connection I could only hope for all of us to have–in life, in healing, in growth of self. 

 

“The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.”             Arabian Proverb

 

I am now entering the final stage of pre-deployment, as it were. While moving to the beach along the southern Florida coastline is by no means a military deployment preparation from the known to the unknown involves similar preparatory work: saying goodbyes being the most difficult and taxing even when compared with packing and unpacking. Goodbyes are laden with a semblance of uncertainty because strong ties hold through time and space but the weaker tend to fall by the wayside & assessing our lives, relationships, and human connections for staying power is a loaded element of relocation.

Packing and unpacking also had a metaphoric and symbolic weight that exceeds cardboard boxes and packing tape. We pack our lives, ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, our habits, and personal histories with us wherever we go. This fact was of great shock to me when, at 20 years of age, I sought, for various reasons, to escape my life, my memories, my patterns of behavior, and ultimately my self in its entirety in Colorado.

I learned the hard way, as was my nature during that time, that there is no such “relocation cure” and with time and some pain I was forced to come to terms and confront myself and am forever grateful for the lesson learned. I retain a great affinity for Colorado with it’s great expansive fields, neverending skies, and crisp white jagged peaks for being (maybe by happenstance) a place of resolution between me & my inner self.

I was watching the movie “Finding Neverland” the other night which illustrates the plight of one man–the creator of Peter Pan, as played by Johnny Depp–searching for his happiness and he does so through imagination and a return childlike world view. I think a universal human plight is for inner peace and a sense of happiness: moments and glimmer may glisten in our lives, in the right light it may even glow, but living in the chaos of the world it is difficult to retain.

Finding neverland is fleeting, keeping neverland is the real work and I believe for even the most contemplative mind and open heart it is a lifetime’s journey.

I am constantly working, as a contemplative neophite, just to find the momentary rays of bright white light and hang on for the brief moment to the peace it can bring to be in a true state of calm.

As a moving meditation yoga is a dance with this light. It is a learned practice to help facilitate communication with the self: mind, body, heart, soul. And if nothing else, moving to a new place or stage pf life having packed all the parts of ourselves from strengths to weaknesses if we have a contemplative practice or a yogic practice it is a lifevest we can unpack & use to stay afloat as we shift through change and the uncertain.

I hope that I can enact this for myself. I have a huge propensity towards confronting newness with frenetic paces: I tend to run a 50 yard dash & lose my stamina fast. I hope that I can learn from my life and my patterns and the lessons of my life.

Professionally and cerebrally I know the importance of self care–I tout it it coworkers and clients alike. Through meditative and yogic practices I know the soothing and healing nature of stillness and internal communication in silence. If I can take what I know cerebrally and what I’ve felt experientially I think it has profound potential to help me adapt: to give me a lifevest for strange new waters.

I just discovered a few days ago that although I am moving next Friday and my husband is coming with me due to some issues with transfer paperwork he will not be moving with me at present with an indefinite timeline for us ahead.

Adapting to change is what I need to do and I will take any lifevest available to me.

There are 3 books I am supposed to read before even beginning my first day of “class” which include:  Food Revolution by John Robbins (heir to the Baskin Robbins cone but fled that life to live one of health and promotion of green living and eating), Yoga Mind and Body by the Sivananda Yoga Centers, and The Sivananda Companion to Meditation. 

Following the pre-program protocols for reading I am meant to read only literature and materials that benefit and enhance my yogic lifestyle so I have begun compiling my own Fall Teacher Training Reading List.  It’s like Summer Reading in Elementary School and is giving me the reminscent tingles similar to those I had as a fledging book nerd in my formative years.  I was, I can proudly say, winner of “The Summer Reading” Award three years running which was awarded to the unsportsmanlike soul who spent their summer hours reading more books than any other child. 

Funnily enough I came across my poster card award certificates this past month when purging through old paperwork in my parents’ attic in anticipation of our Florida move.  I was, as a terminal literary geek, still as fluttery and proud even decades later looking at the brightly colored paper with the promises of my prize written on the front: “One ice cream cone from ‘Do Me a Flavor'”.  Those were the days.  But I digress. 

So I have begun cataloging my “TO Read” book list for the two months of my abstinence from the chaos and ADD-inducing elements of the world like television, music, and hormone-laden meats (oh meats, I love you so).  I have also broken them down into a few subcategories such as: Yoga, Contemplative Thought and Spirituality, and Body-Oriented Psychotherapy and Trauma (some may overlap in area of study).  My list so far follows accordingly :

Yoga:

Kundalini Yoga Meditation: Techniques Specific for Psychiatric Disorders, Couples Therapy, and Personal Growth by David Shannahoff-Khasla (an interesting read as it covers a yogic method but comes from a base of study, statistics, and empirical data)

Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Trancendence by Matthew Sanford (autobiography of a man paralyzed in his childhood who was reinvigorated in adulthood by a yoga teacher and led him to create a yoga methodology for disabilities)

Contemplative Thought and Spirituality:

Open Mind, Open Heart by Father Thomas Keating (on the reinvigoration of Christian Contemplative practice and a guide to the practice itself; I am rereading it for inspiration)

Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions by Wayne Teasdale (a book I have read in pieces but never comprehensively which universalizes the search for meaning and the root of contemplative practices in world faiths and includes references to yoga)

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn (about the contemplative traditions across two different faiths and their essence and universality; a book I am rereading)

Body-Oriented Psychotherapy and Trauma:

Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy by Pat Ogden and others (Pat Ogden is a well known body-oriented therapist who has worked for years in the space between mind and body, accessing both…a book I am very excited to explore)

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences by Peter Levine (another well known body-oriented therapist and a book I am interested to explore and contrast the approaches of himself and Pat Ogden)

As I go through this literary feast I plan to write on each of the books, both here and through more in-depth reviews on my website www.embodymentalheath.com.  I look forward to the endeavor and a return to my youth where I can give myself the time, freedom, and leisure of pouring over books, one after another, without any other form of distraction. 

*More books may be added as I go.  Dependent on my literary stamina.*

June 2020
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