The Value of Centering Continued

We will see positive results with all our relationships if part of our daily routine includes policing our thoughts and being mindful of our emotions. It’s helpful to remember that horses are non judgmental. Since they don’t make subjective decisions about our character or what we look like, anything they do is not to be taken personally. It is second nature for humans to make assumptions about whether or not a horse likes them but their feelings towards us are neutral. They may choose not to be with us by walking away or not wanting to be caught, but it’s still not personal. Although they can do certain things based on past memories and habit, they remain tuned into our emotional energy, accurately reflecting any changes we make with emotional thinking and body language .When we master the stillness within, we become centred and our horse will naturally feel comfortable in our company. The biggest compliment a horse can pay us it to do nothing. Horses connect with us most when nothing much is happening. We can think of non-doing as the place of potential. Watch horses in a field and you will see they are happy just being not necessarily doing.

Making it a part of our daily routine to police our thoughts and to work on our emotions is definitely worth it. Horses are our mirror as we are for them. Our interaction, whether based on calmness or a level of stress, affects the quality of not only our relationship but other areas of our lives as well. Horses have a hard time finding a clear signal to communicate with among the ‘noise’ of our undirected mental chatter. A congested neural highway is not an inviting proposition for a horse to adjust to. We know how effectively uninvited thoughts can affect a ride:

Centering is the foundation for all martial arts like Tai – Chi where they teach something called witnessing. They say do whatever you have to but remain conscious of the centre at the navel. If you are walking, be conscious of the centre at the navel. If you are eating, be conscious of the centre at the navel. Whatever you are doing, remain conscious of one thing: you’ve guessed it, that you stay centred in the navel. If you are conscious of the navel, you can’t think. The moment you begin to think, you won’t be conscious of the navel.

You may want to re-read the above to better understand the slightly cryptic message inherent in Chinese philosophy. In the West particularly, we tend to over think and when we are busy thinking, there is the possibility of sabotaging our ride and even our relationship with uninvited thoughts common to most of us:

“I hope he doesn’t shy at that hedge again today. If he does, I might fall off this time.”
“I hope we don’t meet Mad M on the way round, her horse always winds mine up.”
“I don’t really want to ride today but I know I should. I need to stop being so silly.”
“I think I’ll turn left down this path so Spookus doesn’t see the big barking dog. I’m worried he might run off and
I won’t be able to stop.”

Horses have a hard time finding a clear signal with when our heads are full of undirected mental chatter. A congested neural highway is not an inviting proposition for a horse to communicate with.
When groundwork and riding is undertaken with clarity and calmness, it allows us to stand at the doorway to centering. We may not be quite ready to go through but it’s wonderful to experience even a little as we work on nurturing our internal peace. Let’s all promise to improve as a witness!

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