MINDFULNESS WITH HORSES… WHAT IS THAT?
Being mindful is being open to any experience, any moment – staying in them, but not disappearing into them. You pause and:
- You look at you
- You listen to you
- You notice your feelings
- You notice your breath
- You notice your thoughts
- You notice your body
You give yourself that safe space of holding yourself and whatever goes on with you without judging, drawing conclusions, analyzing, valuing, censoring – any of it. You stay with the experience, without holding on to it – you let it pass, leave and stay open to the next moment that is arriving. You are in you – at the same time as you are observing yourself – in dual attention, with conscious awareness.
At times it is easier to start with focusing on the outside, asking yourself questions like:
- What do I perceive (see, hear, smell, feel when I touch, taste) of everything that is around me?
- Can Identify the sensations I receive? Can I name them?
- Can I notice what is in my surroundings? The weather? The colors? Other beings?
- Can I notice my body, without going inside of it? Just notice where it is – in regard to the ground? The sky? Do I feel my feet, my hands, my head?
At times we need to go slower in this way – and start with noticing our surroundings, what is on the outside. That too is to be mindful.
For me – it is always easier to practice mindfulness outdoors, in nature. And I very much appreciate practicing mindfulness with my horses.
Then I get company. At times they take part, being curious at what I do (sometimes I do mindfulness in movement), they give me ideas, they give me feedback, they give me other perspectives, they witness me – and at times they totally ignore me… which is fine too, of course 😊
Being in nature practicing mindfulness is so much easier for me because nature always provides input. There is always some kind of weather going on, there are colors, beings, sounds, things to find, textures and temperatures to feel, things to smell, a ground to go barefoot on or to lay down on.
For me – doing mindfulness in nature and focusing on my surroundings becomes a gateway to proceed to look inside of me. In nature, and surrounded by horses, I find it much easier to go inside and sit with whatever shows up inside of me – without holding on to it, but not running away from it either – just let it come – and pass. I feel much less inclined to judge it, to feel a need to perform anything in particular. I also find it much easier to follow my breath – and notice my feelings. I feel safer outside, in nature.
At times mindfulness is very relaxing, it helps you to focus and to pay attention. If you lose it for a moment – you just redirect it back again.
At times things show up when you are mindful that does not feel so good – then you train yourself to be with that too, not run away from the uncomfortable, but not hold on to it either. Just to accept it.
At times you notice bodily pain – then you can pay some extra attention to that spot in your body – see if it changes anything – and then leave it and come back – as it fits you.
Mindfulness invites me to pay attention to what is, to not judge – just to let it be. But it also helps me make conscious decisions. What I find out in mindfulness practices, I can reflect upon.I
follow this mindfulness model:
SOAR/L - Stop, Observe, Accept, Respond (let go)
Mindfulness also invites me to play with it a bit. With my thoughts, my feelings, my breath, my sensations.
There is no contradiction between being with what is – and inviting fantasy. Fantasy are thoughts too, just a different kind.
Maybe you have a tree that grows inside of you – that makes you strong – with steady roots down into the ground and branches that stretch up into the air and the sun? Then, that is what is – right then. In the next moment – it might have gone away again; some other picture might present itself. Mindfulness helps you train your ability to recognize your thoughts, to affect them, to change them. In the same way, as it can train you to recognize and change your feelings. But only by stopping, observing them, accepting them, and then choosing, you can decide how to respond – to take action, or to let go.
You are not your thoughts, or your feelings, you are not your pain, your illness, your life history. You can invite a closer look at anything – and let it go again. It is your decision.
Mindfulness helps you develop compassion, with yourself, and others. It invites a choice of response - you also help yourself break old patterns (not overnight, but by time and with practice).
In the beginning, when you practice mindfulness – you can feel invaded and caught by feelings and thoughts you were not prepared to experience. To sense yourself can feel hard, even provocative.
Then you go back to the simpler practices again – what do you see, hear, smell, feel when you touch, taste…? So, you ground yourself. Mindfulness is never meant to leave you in a state that is worse than where you were before you started your mindfulness session. Mindfulness is a tool for you – to discover yourself – to pay attention to yourself, to become aware of yourself. To help you make conscious decisions. But it is important to practice that in a pace and rhythm that fits you. At the same time -what you practice, you get better at.
There are many different ways of doing mindfulness, even if the basics always are the same – and we in MiMer invite you to a weekend to try it out – or to take your practice further. We work in nature, with horses present (but maybe not engaged), and we will invite you to both more basic mindfulness practices as well as mindfulness in movement, and simple forms of mindful yoga. Mindfulness with horses is a great way to combine experiences with reflective time, the base in all experiential learning.
To make the weekend a great experience – we are holding the workshop in Italy! In a beautiful place, approx. 1 hour outside Rome – in May (23-24) – when nature has awakened, but the weather still is not too hot. Up in the mountains – with splendid views, good vegan food and plenty of moments for mindful explorations.
Join us for a special experience!
Katarina, Kate, Sonja and Francesca at MiMer
And Gianluca and Flor from Horse's Land - The Sustainability Farm, in Abruzzo, Italy.
Read more about the location where the workshop takes place: https://www.mimercentre.org/index.php/education/equine-centers-worldwide/italy
Sign up here: https://www.mimercentre.org/index.php/our-services/mindfulness/equine-assisted-mindfulness-meditation-eam-workshop-in-italy/online-registration-for-eam-workshop-23-24-may-2020-at-horse-s-land-in-civita-d-antino-aq-italy
Help us spread the workshop and read more in the fb event: https://www.facebook.com/events/460935127858978/
PS. Our mindfulness workshop is trauma-sensitive and aware, but not trauma-focused. It is not a therapy opportunity either. If you experience difficulties with practicing mindfulness and/or yoga during the weekend - we will guide you to safe practices.