I wanted to talk about The Path of The Mindful Horse, what is this?
Well it brings together my learning and personal practice over the last 10 years. I have talked about this path before, but with a little more breathing space I realise that this path is also my own path.
On reflection, my own mindfulness path has been a wandering one, whether it be one-to-one therapeutic support, coaching meditation skills, workplace education and support, extending into a practice of compassion and loving kindness, and even group drumming exercises.
Whichever, the mindful theme and implicit awareness therein has been a continuous and persisting theme.
Back to my roots
So, this lockdown situation has found me “going back to my roots” as Ritchie Havens sung. Back to the mind, or as it is for me more back to my body as mind. For me mindfulness is a deeply embodied practice, I am one of those people who include body within mind (My time with horses is much to blame for that).
In my being, and in my actions, I have found myself again endeavouring to honour those roots. Both personally and professionally. Finding time to study again, exploring new ways to share the benefit, and to support others.
I first considered the idea of The Path of The Mindful Horse a few years ago and its themes and foundations have found their way into my workshops ever since. The gift of this pause in life and space for reflection has helped me to reconsider that path, and in so doing crystallise it into five core elements.
This is an approach to life, no one particular part thereof or element therein. These elements are to be carried with us throughout our day.
I have to acknowledge the eponymous teachers credited in this model. Without my significant time around horses my learning might not have had such immediacy and meaning. They demand that we are in the moment. In their space we are no more than how we show up, no more than what we bring to their space. This straightforward and honest reflection of who we are and how we are offers insight into how each is might embody the mindful path.
But there are not always horses. And this time in particular has shone a light on that reality. When we set too many rules in place about how we act or work, we become brittle and compromise our innate resilience. That has been a big life lesson for me throughout my journey – both as an observer and our participant.
And so in my work I have strived to make that learning accessible to all, regardless of whether we are online, in a coffee shop or a board room. This can be done because in essence it is simply about us. It is about really recognising and owning who and how we are. Acting with meaningful self, and social awareness. It is about being present.
So as promised this article lays out that learning and I hope through subsequent writings to explore each of these elements. For now, let me introduce the foundations of The Path of The Mindful Horse.
Right here, right now
- Connect with our breath and anchor ourselves in the present moment.
- Engage with attention, clear intention and awareness. We are fully present
- Open yourself with judgement to a complete physical, mental and emotional awareness and alignment to the circumstance and situation around us
- Acknowledge the impermanence of the moment, we connect with the comings and goings of all things
- Recognise and acknowledge the behaviours that draw you out of the moment, free ourselves from the indulgences of rumination and contemplation
How am I the doing?
- In the moment, we connect with and become aware of our whole being
- Acknowledge how we feel and what arises
- Aware what is ours, and what is not ours, in the moment
- Recognise not just physical sensations, but our feelings and emotions as the present themselves around our body
- Responsible for who, and how we are. We are aware of what is ours and that which is not
- Own how we are
I see you
- Practice an empathetic and understanding openness towards others
- Our intuition opens to our curiosity enabling us to recognise the intention below behaviour
- Develop an awareness of others’ state and needs. Acknowledging the communications that occur beyond the spoken word
- Calibrate our own communication and behaviour to align with that which is most appropriate in the moment
- In our interactions we seek first to do no harm
My compassionate heart
- Nurture a loving kindness and a compassion connection for ourselves, for others and for all other living things
- Foster gratitude for that which we have and that which others bring to us
- Acknowledge positive intention in the actions of those with whom we interact
- Recognise and celebrate what it is that we share with all of life
I am enough for the now
- Honour yourself and calm that judgemental and critical voice
- You are not a project. Do not under value yourself or your experience. You have the resources that the moment demands
- Behave in congruence with who you are and what you value
- Change is one of the few certainties, accept it as it arises. Turn to face its challenge without emotion
- As a shift or change is needed in ourselves or our lives then we must look within with openness and kindness, we can only change that which we accept