I am compelled to share a reflection on the last 12 months.
On the world’s stage 2016 will be remembered for many things – and I fear that few of them will be reflected on as positive. My own journey has in many ways been one without precedent, but in this case, one that is incredibly positive and enriching.
As I was writing my recent reflection blog (on the winter solstice) I knew there was an emerging message for me about bringing together the last year, acknowledging all that it has brought forth and celebrating it. Drumming and dragons. Shamanism and mindfulness. And a wiser and well-positioned return to professional coaching practice.
I had been searching for a framework for a few days around which to build that reflection and finally two days before the New Year it dawned on me. Jon Kabat-Zinn the father of modern mindfulness – and a man I have spent much of the year quoting – created the attitudes of mindful meditation as a guide for us in our practice. It suddenly fell into place, this was a perfect structure from which to explore this year, and a wonderful way to bring my practice into life.
And so dear readers, I present you with “A year in seven attitudes.”
I have learned to call this “Freedom from the prison of my judgement”. Freedom from the constraints that we so often (consciously and unconsciously) impose on ourselves through our judgements; the barriers that we establish or the roads we refuse to travel, all because we make an arbitrary decision that is often unfounded or biased.
Most importantly for me this has opened me to others, and how I have grown richer for whatever it is we share. In releasing the ego position “I am” I have moved into a “we are” space and in that space I recognise how with the partnership and support of others I learn and I move forward.
I set out on the 2016 journey with as aspiration to explore myself and my work through partnerships – be it co-facilitation or stable/location co-hosting. Release from the tendency to judge opens me to the value and power in others – in everyone, not just those I see as safe or familiar. Not every partnership is a sustainable one, not every one is career changing, but from every one I learn and have grown stronger.
I am richer for every open encounter.
Knowing that if we keep the faith and belief things will happen – easy to say! For me, this is about the long-standing presence within that has quietly been waiting to be acknowledged. For the first time I have started to give space.
I have been learning all my life, as have we all – storing away bits of information – gathering experiences and connections – garnering a few facts. Sometimes it is easy to wonder “what it is all for”. Over recent years for me it is like so many of these things have been waiting patiently for me “wake up”.
Horses that look at me as if it say “aha, you finally get it”; guides and mentors that step forward and say, “Ok, so now you are ready to learn”. The universe waits patiently for us to open up and to listen, think that phrase about “the teacher appearing when the student is ready”. We are so busy with our agendas and our projects, we forget to be patient with ourselves and others (particularly in this age immediacy). We forget to give space to the moment.
Our lives are about three-score-years-and-ten, not the day, or this week. We will learn what we need to learn and achieve whenever we need to, but for this to happen we need to create the space. In meditation it is about having the patience to continue the learning, realising that we will not find every solution immediately – realising that the mind will not rest everyday, and accepting without judgement that this is our experience of this moment.
This year I have seen things reborn in me. Things I could easily have stifled without the care of the patience within which they had been held until now.
I was writing an outline for a potential course in the New Year and I found myself sitting with the statement “Healing is in its practice a mindful gift”. Most directly I considered that statement in the context of a compassionate offering, however as I started to explore that deeper and realised how much of the work I have developed falls into this Beginner’s mind space.
I have spent a lot of time sitting in stables and fields with my drum this year. As much as possible I try to work without agenda, particularly when I am with horses at liberty. I may be drumming, but I do it for them, and so if I can I let them write the script.
I create a space where I am nothing – just a channel – just another vibration. Every time that I sit down, it is like the first time that I have done. Every soulful eye that stares into mine, penetrates my soul for the first time, and shares a fresh tenderness or insight.
With every horse I meet it is a new beginning, a new opening, a new friend. It is in this context that the connection opens – whether they seek me or seek to be away from me – that connection establishes the communication and thereafter I am open to education.
The child within me (the beginners mind) grows wiser with every encounter – be it flora or fauna – please let me forever greet the world with this openness – let my lungs forever breathe life into that child.
Every healing is a beginning.
Trust is an easy one. Trust is my intuition. Trust for me this year is about dragons. Trust is taking a risk.
I have written many times about dragons, but this year I have stood up before people and shared that passion – 3 times! And I already have some bookings for next year. I also travelled to Avebury this autumn to share World Dragon Day with kindred souls.
In the act of trusting in my passion I have seen the magic that can be shared with others. It does not have to be dragons, it is about the emotions within that passion and the contagion that such energies carry and share. In sharing out passion we share ourselves, most importantly we share ourselves openly and honestly.
Since I began my healing work with horses, dragons have presented themselves, it is this year that I have much more literally put my trust in them. Trusting in their energy as I step out and take their stories to eager audiences opens me to other rewards – be that some magic of the moment, the engagement on the face of audiences or simply some future invite to talk.
Without trust this love would have barely found its way down from the bookshelf.
So this year I knew it was going to happen, as for the first time I was actually became the boss of me. I accepted that I do not have to learn to be me – I am already me.
We are too often over encumbered by what we are not. Be it lack of skill, experience or knowledge. This denies us the value of ourselves. Instead of being able to celebrate who we are defined by what are not or, what we might be one day. And so we not just deny ourselves, but we deny the moment.
Well this year I have properly accepted who I am, and not only that, I have taken it on the road – the meditations, the drums, the healing. Surprisingly I have learned that there is no fear in standing before others when you are standing before them as yourself. When I think about the message or the content there is all manner of anxiety, but when I am me, and I am talking from the heart, there is not.
It is easy to say that one is not ready – but it is equally easy to never quite be ready. Sometimes we must accept where we are.
This is not to say that I am complete. Every experience enriches, every interaction educates, every time I sit down and drum with a horse they share something more of their collective gentleness and compassion. Yet without striving I still learn, I still move forward.
I do still have a plan for this journey but I do not allow that plan to subjugate the moment. It is the moments that make the journey – without them there is no journey.
At some point I had to discuss the incredible Drumming workshops that have been such as incredible element of this year. But why in “acceptance” as I have accepted the drum for a long time now?
We all expend a lot of effort – often against the natural flow – trying to create what we believe we want, striving for something, if you like. However, this year I learned to offer what was needed, not what just I thought was best, or what I wanted to do.
And for me that was drums. I realised that this is what was the world wanted of me. So I began to travel around the country with a car full of drums. I have even taken the experience abroad, to the Netherlands (where I hope to return). In so many ways in creating the Mindful drum experience I have simply opened my heart and shared my journey.
To all those who have joined me over a drum skin this year I hold a very meaningful and deep gratitude.
In accepting without judgement what is being asked of me, I have opened myself to the world and have been accepted. And in that acceptance I have finally found the acceptance of myself.
From that place I have learned to accept with grace what others have offered me and with those gifts lay down some incredible foundations for what lies ahead.
Interestingly this takes me right back to the beginning of the year. I made some very difficult decisions during the last the festive season, and in the end I really did have to LET-GO. I made the decision to pass on to safer hands a project that had been my three year inspiration – the reasons are not for discussion here. In so many ways it continues to support me and I am deeply grateful to it, but I realised that I had to accept that I was no longer that dream. I knew that I had to release it if I were to progress and I was to move forward. And I had to move forward.
In the middle of January I went to a Networking event in Kent at a friend’s farm and in the company of strangers and her beautiful horses I announced my step into this new world. ME. A very familiar yet also amazingly unexplored place. This was not to be the year of the projects and dreams of others, but of mine.
Without that monumental decision, without the courage to stand up last January and present myself (warts and all) as open for business I would simply not be where I am today. Letting go gave me space.
There are so many to whom I owe thanks for this journey – I cannot even start to name you all, for as soon as I do I will miss someone. However, if any of the above resonates with you, if any you came to any workshop, if I worked with your horse …… then this is dedicated to you.
Most importantly to those that have had to keep me, feed me and support me. None of this could have happened without you.
I thank everyone deeply and look ahead with excitement to what 2017 shall bring.
© the mindful horse