Meditation with the herd

DozingThe past couple of mornings it’s been lovely and cool—very unusual for Missouri in August. It’s been wonderful being out in the pasture with my horses again!

Yesterday I hung out with Galahad and the herd for the best part of an hour, doing nothing but observing and meditating. It was really interesting, learning how to be very relaxed and in-the-moment while remaining observant and attentive to what’s going on around me—the state the horses enjoy by their very nature.

I needed to do that yesterday: The herd were standing by the west fence of the winter pasture, napping and drooling clover juice. I was against the fence on the south side of Galahad, who was dozing with his chin on the cable. Beside him to my right, nose to flank, was “Degas,” Galahad’s best buddy. On the other side of Galahad, maybe five feet away and facing the fence, was “Hans,” the herd leader. Well beyond Hans to the north was “Chuckie,” former herd leader and forever dominant gelding, cropping grass between snoozes. (More on the relationship between these two geldings in a later post.)

My position was not a particularly safe one. I couldn’t really see either Chuckie or Hans from where I stood. Chuckie in particular is prone to sudden, threatening movements that make the entire herd jump to attention. As soon as I realized this (not being a horse, it took me a few minutes), I moved away from Galahad so that if he spun, I wouldn’t be knocked over and trampled. Still, I needed to keep an eye on Chuckie just in case.

What a lovely state of awareness! The horses are all dozing, and it’s so incredibly peaceful. Cloudy and cool, with a bit of a breeze. Birdsong; horses whinnying; the occasional drift of a conversation from over near the barn. Chuckie moves closer; Hans shifts position slightly. The energy stays low and tranquil, and Hans’s head drops again, drool spilling from his slack lips. Galahad flicks an ear; Degas doesn’t even move. We all drift off again, but awareness remains.

It is blissful. It just … IS.

I came out of this altered state some time later, when my stomach started to growl. A couple of quick videos (knowing I’d be doing this blog post) and I was off to feed Nevada and Midnight and grab a snack for myself. The herd stayed where they were for another half an hour, dozing companionably.

I feel so blessed to be able to share this time with them…and maybe to convey some of it to you, my readers. It’s not often that we humans get to experience this!

Galahad and the White Dog

2014-06-03_17-41-12_601Part One: My Horse

[Note: the first White Dog post is here, on my other blog. This one will make more sense if you read that one first.]

Let’s start with a video made a couple of weeks ago for an online class. The task involved getting my horse to come to me, instead of going immediately to a pile of goodies placed in the center of the arena. When he comes to me, I take him to the goodies and he gets to eat. Galahad knows this game from past classes, and he likes it. He’s so good at it that he doesn’t even LOOK at the pile of treats—he just comes right over to me.

This time, for some reason, I interpreted the exercise differently, and decided it was about keeping the horse away from the pile. I wanted him to stop and wait and still not try to get to the treats. Why did I change the rules? I’m honestly not sure. It seemed clear to me at the time….

So poor Galahad circled me, round and round, very slowly, stopping occasionally to ask if he could come over to me so that I’d take him in for a treat. Every time he’d stop and ask, I’d send him off again. I just stood there, not even looking at him, policing the pile of goodies, keeping him away and refusing to let him come to me when he asked.

After 15 minutes, Galahad did stop. He stood there, looking pretty sullen, and did not attempt to go to the pile. Then, in utter frustration, he threw a very quiet hissy fit. I’ve NEVER seen him behave this way. At the time, I was almost happy that I’d gotten that reaction. Why? Dunno….

Eventually, I decided he’d been good long enough, and I called him over to me and took him to get the treats. He came, but he wasn’t happy with me; he wasn’t enjoying this game at all.

But I was so pleased with the video! I had kept my horse away from the treats and gotten him to stop and stand still! Yay!

On the conference call, my friend the instructor pointed out another way of viewing the situation—from Galahad’s perspective. Oh. Well. That looks quite a bit different. I was pretty shocked at this new viewpoint.

Had I been aware in the moment of the “game,” I would have seen the significance of Galahad’s “hissy fit”: He was NOT having fun doing what was supposed to be a fun exercise. But as usual, I wasn’t in the moment with my horse. Nope. I was in “trainer’s mind,” working to MAKE him stop and stand still. Furthermore, he had to stop without my influence—so I wasn’t even allowing him to get my attention when he asked for it. No wonder he had a fit! He must have been SO confused and frustrated—I had suddenly completely changed the rules of a game he knew well and really enjoyed.

OUCH.

Part Two: The Pain, Again

The last seven weeks have been a nightmare much of the time. The pain in my jaw and tongue returned on the third of March. Why? This time, I know the answer.

In February I started paying attention to the “Law of Attraction,” which in its simplest form just means that “like attracts like.” For years, I’ve known that people, things, and events show up in my life because of what I’ve always called “resonance.” People in our lives are there because there’s something in our experience or in our energy that is similar. We attract those whose life stories reflect our own in some way, or have similar themes. The Law of Attraction.

No problem with this—it’s just the way the world works. But enter Abraham-Hicks (Esther Hicks and the entity who call themselves Abraham), who specialize in large-scale events at which they share their patented inspirational messages on how to create our own reality.

Abraham-Hicks and their version of message has a pretty militant sound to it. Abraham, channeled by Esther Hicks, is a brilliant and inspirational speaker with a kind of take-no-prisoners approach. Control your thoughts; choose the best and highest thought in order to get “into the vortex” and manifest! Feel joy! That’s why you’re here—to experience joy! It’s up to you! The tone sounds just like my dad.

So I started controlling my thoughts, all right. I felt great! I felt joy! I monitored my thoughts at every moment and made sure I was feeling JOY! If anyone could get into the Vortex, I could—because I could monitor my thoughts!

Can you imagine someone hearing, “Be joyful!” and interpreting it as a command, with dire consequences for failure? No? Well, that’s exactly what I did. I drove myself nuts, policing my joy. But really, it’s not so surprising. That’s how I was raised. That’s how Arthur, my father, taught me. My dad was always DOING something, and it had to be perfect. No sitting around for him! Sitting around (and, presumably, experiencing joy) was a sign of sloth. And so we kids learned that we had to be busy. And oh, did I mention perfect, too? Yup. One “B” marring a report card full of “A’s” rated a scolding. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean.

So a few days into my “you will feel joy!” episode, I woke up in excruciating pain…again. It has gone on for nearly seven weeks now, and it’s just beginning to let up. A few days into it, I no longer cared about feeling joy. In fact, I couldn’t even imagine joy any more. All I could manage was to survive from one day to another. Once again, I found myself unable to eat, sleep, or talk. Anything creative was completely out of the question.

Part Three: Putting It All Together

Journal entry, April 15th:

Wow. The conference call last night was tough. I was so wrong about that video—I can really see that, now. But it fits a pattern, doesn’t it? It’s Kay-as-Arthur again, the Arthur who’s now living inside my head, the Arthur who taught me what the world was like and how to behave there. Arthur the Perfectionist, Arthur the Drill Sergeant, Arthur the Enforcer.

I still can’t get rid of the image of the White Dog. I’m certain that the dog has something to do with all this….

OMG: just now, a really scary understanding—that innocent, playful pup crushed beneath the wheels of my car; my own playful innocence also crushed. But what does the car represent?

And besides the white dog…. The pain this time began just as I was working—WORKING!— with the Abraham-Hicks stuff. Constantly policing myself, policing my joy, for Pete’s sake!

“Policing my joy”…. That image is the same one that was captured in the video of me and Galahad doing that exercise the other day. It could not be clearer.

There in the video is my poor Galahad responding as I probably did when I was a kid, when nothing I ever did was good enough for Dad…. And I just realized that Dad, if he ever thought about it (and he might not have ever done so until after he crossed over), would have been so sad to realize that the relationship between us wasn’t working the way he wanted; but he had no idea how to do it differently, or even that any different way existed….

The White Dog, crushed under the wheels of my car. My car—my way of moving through life. The dog, that happy innocence, crushed under the wheels of my way of being-in-the-world, which I inherited from Arthur, and he from his mother Anna, and she from (I suspect) a parent or grandparent. The saying in my family is, “There’s one in every generation.”

And me, little Kay, crushed under the weight of my father’s expectations. Wow.

That way of life, the way I was taught by my father, is relentless. “Relentless” is an excellent word for it. It never, EVER relents. There’s no relaxation, no peace, certainly no “let it be, let it unfold.”

After the accident with the dog, my Guides kept saying, “Some things cannot be prevented.” That’s true—on many levels. On this very personal level, it’s clear that with my current mindset, neither I nor Galahad (nor the unfortunate White Dog, for that matter) has any hope of anything changing. But now I can SEE what’s happening, and maybe, just maybe, I can make a change.

So anyway. Joy. Innocence. Trust. Three things that seem to have been lost to me as a child. Three things I want to retain and develop in my horses, and regain for myself. But that can’t be done by coercion, by policing, or by suddenly changing the rules.

I am so grateful for all the events that have helped me see and understand the full significance of the way I’ve always lived my life. If you don’t see something, you can’t change it.

So I’m going to change it…but calmly, quietly, by letting things flow.

Wow. What a funny place this life is, eh?

[Cross-posted on It’s an Alchemical Life.]

Galahad is my teacher

Galahad 1 by Aiming High PhotographyAn interesting late afternoon with the horses. I spent some time with Nevada, who’s just a sweetheart: she hangs out with us, content to just stand around if that’s what we’re doing, or to trot around or do groundwork or (especially) eat grass.

Galahad’s a harder one for me to understand, or so it sometimes seems. But I think it’s just that Galahad has so much to teach me, instead of the other way around. I need to learn from him, instead of beating myself up about it when things don’t go as I plan.

This afternoon I had him in the small indoor arena, supposedly just to hang out (I’m starting a Carolyn Resnick course this month). But I started out by trying to round-pen him in there, which Nevada does easily, probably because she thinks it’s fun. Galahad has been round-penned a lot, and it has NOT been fun, by and large, so he’s not as willing.

After a while I remembered that my original idea had been to just hang out with him. Oh. Yes. Forgot that part.

Galahad kind of wandered around the arena, checking out the “messages” left in the sand by other horses, hanging his head over the fence and watching horses and people outside. He did come over to me a couple of times, checking in. But not often enough to satisfy me, I guess.

He came by when I knelt down and started scratching the sand with my hand—he wanted to see what I was up to. Then he left, which was fine. I went over and sat on the mounting block for a while, and he came over once.

As I write this, I’m noticing that what actually happened was not what I initially remembered. The way I remembered it, he totally ignored me. Um no, it wasn’t like that.

I mean, really! What do I expect from him? Can we say, “unreasonable”?

I started walking around the arena, pretending to pay no attention to him, and he was standing looking out over the gate to the outside. I walked past him and away, with my back to him. Then I heard what I thought were a person’s footsteps, and I swung my head around to see who had dared to disturb our space.

The sound was actually Galahad’s footsteps, following me. But he stopped instantly when I swung around. The message I unintentionally sent, oh so clear in horse language, was “Stay back. Don’t bother me!” The equivalent of swinging my head with my ears pinned.

I was so disappointed with myself! That wasn’t at all what I had in mind! There was no way to take it back, of course. I kept walking, but he didn’t follow any more.

I immediately started beating myself up about it, and I know he felt that disappointment. Nevada can deal with me when I’m like that: she just lets it blow right on past.

But Galahad is the most sensitive soul I’ve ever encountered, and his ego really isn’t all that strong. Galahad isn’t like Nevada. He worries. If I’m disappointed, he worries that he’s done something wrong—he has no idea what, but he expects to be blamed.

That’s another remnant of his unfortunate experiences as a youngster before he was rescued. And even our first trainer, successful though he is, used methods that demand pretty much instant obedience, not thinking about building up the horse’s self-confidence.

And then there’s me: I took to those early training methods so well because they are exactly what my dad would have used. That’s how I was taught: obey instantly, or face the consequences. Dad’s love was conditional on my behaving in a way that he could approve of, and preferably in a way that made him look good. So I get it.

The hard part is realizing how much of that internalized, patriarchal, “Arthur” energy I still have inside me, and how far I still have to go to learn what it’s like to express unconditional love. I would love Galahad no matter what he did, but he has no way of knowing that, and until he does know that, we can’t have the kind of relationship I’m looking for.

So he’s shown me, once again, exactly what I need to learn. And I will learn—but it’s going to take a lot of time and patience. I’m hoping the new course will help me develop better habits and learn to be patient and loving not just with Galahad, but with myself, too.

The real student here is me, not my horse.

[Note: This lovely photograph is by my good friend Aimée at Aiming High Photography.]