I awakened this morning at 5 a.m with a vague sense I was dreaming about horses. I’ve taught myself over time to drift around in this mysterious realm between sleeping, dreaming, and waking as long as possible to catch visions, insights, or indulge in magical mind play. This morning was different. I didn’t linger there or reach for my dream journal, instead I lay there, finding myself in the yoga pose sivasana, on my back, arms out to the side, palms up, in a gesture of surrender and receiving. I was fully awake and I heard a very loud and clear voice. It was MY voice. It said, “I am going to coach women entering their second half of life to find their voice through work with horses.” Simple sentence. Clear, loud, and as beautiful sounding as a village churchbell in France. Then, I repeated it out loud to my husband as he lay in bed next to me.
As I lay there, memories of my horse, Sailor, who died 4 years ago entered into my experience. It was awhile before I could even say his name without a contorted sob producing a torrent of tears. I was asked over and over when I would ride again. I really didn’t know, but my internal truth-teller kept telling me I would ride again and it would be very different. It would be slower, gentler, more present. It would be mindful. I wanted a deep friendship based on love and respect for horse, one in which we could enter that unique space between horse and rider where consciousness is expanded, where there is trust, a giving, a receiving, a healing. It would be consensual, as in sensing together. I did not have this with Sailor, who certainly would have been willing, as all horses are. Instead, I imposed on him my expectations of what I wanted him to do for me. I treated him like my extravagant toy, throwing a saddle on him without taking the time to really even talk to him, always in a hurry I was. I took him for granted, making him go over jumps when he was scared, older, and in pain, when he just wanted to be done with his jumping career. Yes, I used and abused him and wasn’t even present for him at the end of his life, a painful time for me too that he seemed to reflect. The pain of all this began to creep in again, but then shifted to the beauty of the teachings I receive today as he roams the heavenly realms.
As I was lying their “receiving,” I was connecting dots and each dot had a name. There was a dot for Sailor, Voice, Power, Honor of Self, Honor of Horse, Boundaries, Violation, and very importantly, Sexual Wounding.
Many women have been socially and culturally conditioned to nurture others, think of themselves last, submit, use their voices without emotion or volume, play and dream small. Women in particular who have had wounding and traumas to their center of sexuality, the second chakra, tend to stay in these cycles and patterns of disempowerment. I have lived this. This is my story, and the story of many others as clearly seen in this incredibly liberating #metoo moment that we are experiencing globally. This wound originates at the second chakra, but really plays out in our lives in the fifth chakra, our center of expression. It’s our voice, our truth, our launchpoint of creative spark. Out of this sexual wound we learn to silence. We feel shame about the stigma. We’re afraid we’ll be labeled weak, trashy, too sensitive, a troublemaker, a drama queen, selfish. So we learn to ignore it, push it away, and we certainly don’t want to talk about it. And sometimes, we even completely forget about it. But the body remembers everything. It lives on in our bones and blood and tissue. And throughout our lives, like a dormant volcano, it erupts without warning, wreaking havoc and destruction, having our way with us all over again.
The silencing of these wounds creates the pattern of silencing of what’s important, things like our dreams, our aspirations, and the important work we want to bring forth into the world, the possibiltiy of a unique and beautiful creation that will sustain us through our saging years, through pain, heartache, illness, and death, the events that seem to coincide with the second half of life.
When you enter a conscious relationship with a horse, the horse knows it. Internally, the horse is asking, “Okay, what’s it going to be?” He checks you out wondering if you’re going to communicate with mutual respect and honoring of the relationship. Or he wonders whether you are going to brush him off, throw a saddle on and command him around the arena, the jumps, the trails, the track, without regard to him, his history and sensitivities.
Horses are exquisite creatures of sense. When a horses’ head is in a certain position, they see 340 degrees out of 360. Not only are they seeing, but they are sensing, with their whole bodies, long distance information as well as close-in information about the herd. In the herd they are very much like a murmuration of starlings, intricately sensing complex information streams and adjusting, turning, and moving together, all within microseconds. When a horse is removed from the herd and is now partnered with a human for recreation or riding, the human and horse are now the herd, and horse responds just as sensitively and intuitively. He’s like a sentient biofeedback machine that senses fluctuations of the mind, emotions, motivations, as well as your heartrate, breath, and nervous system.
Here is the perfect opportunity for horse as teacher, as healer. We bring to the relationship what we have and oftentimes its disempowerment, uncertainty, mistrust, and anxiety. The horse accepts us as we are and responds to all the information that he is perceiving, constantly monitoring, mirroring and adjusting, as we learn to monitor, mirror and adjust.
We learn to ask for things; teaching us the importance of voice. We learn to say no; teaching us boundaries and safety. We learn to communicate and connect through the felt sensory awareness of our bodies as we observe how our horse reacts to us. And we learn to develop this. With this comes trust, trust in our bodies, trust that our voice matters and has power and importance. And there unfolds the healing, the yoking of body, mind, heart, and spirit, a beautiful yoga with horse.
“I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be one.”
Chief Crazy Horse