A short consideration of compassion

This week I wanted to write something around the topic of compassion; something that I cannot really claim to have significantly engaged with for most of my adult life.

IMG_0710   And yes I want to talk horses too. Horses have connected me with my own compassion in a deep and profound way; a way that no human could ever have shown me. In travelling my own personal equine experiential journey, from a rider, to an owner; then on to the EFL arena, and now in the healer’s space I have found myself (what I can only call) magically re-attuned to this emotion.

With hindsight, I would claim to have always been an empath, even though for nearly 50 years I did not really understand the word or what it represented – what I did though was engage with it as an egotistic self-defensive position. My, how things have changed.

To quote Daniel Goleman author of “Emotional Intelligence”: “True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.” So suddenly we are almost called to arms, this is not just about seeing it, calling and acknowledging, it is about relief as well. How often do we really see such behaviour I wonder?

So then I stop and think about the unpleasantness with which we often choose to treat each other, the spite, the bullying and socially ostracized – activities made all the more the effective in cyberspace where we do not have to engage with the scars of the vitriol that we hurl back and forth. What is wrong? I am someone who chooses to engage with the NLP presupposition that roughly states “every action carried out is motivated by positive intent” I really find myself completely dumb-founded; but it is a challenge that offer to the universe.

Words and intentions carry energy – be careful what you give out – energies can reflect. The lack of compassion with our fellow humans, in words, actions and deeds, can be brutal. How might we feel with such brutality reflected?  If we were to accept the potential of reflection, how might we act?

IMG_0710   We often show more to our animals, or do we? Is what we offer actually just a slightly condescending compassion-lite package, offering some consideration to a lowly beast. No individual acknowledgement, no actual recognition. An empty and gentle pat on a silent head.

Over the recent months I have been truly amazed by the actual healing effect of compassion alone, and included within that, I mean acknowledging the individual and the recognition of their on emotional state(s). Suddenly giving them a voice, a voice they are so often denied. It can be like a champagne cork.

Compassion is actually what one might call a karmic emotion, what we give is returned to us. Bless and be blessed if you like. Until I found myself actually able to be so, I cannot say that I ever felt it. I think at first I tried to give it without real awareness; it worked well enough, but it was only when it was returned that I really understood it. Horses carry such benevolence and a will to forgive in their hearts, that when they return the compassion it can be intoxicating.

Please find time with your horses just “to be”. Just because they do not share a vocabulary it really does not mean that they are not speaking to us. The herd animal is the consummate social being, forever engaging with those around them (or trying to!), the very act of recognizing that can be itself be massively compassionate in a context where such expressions are at best misunderstood, at worst ignored.

And that is just the start ….. go play dear reader! Give a soul a chance.

Finally let us just say that yes, compassion can be targeted inwards too: that same acknowledging and recognition can be truly cathartic for the soul. Traditional shaman observe that we can only heal ourselves; without that real personal comfort with the self how can we share comfort with others. Compassion offered from a position self-denial is no healing at all, it is the shakiest of all foundations. So go on, celebrate yourself, in fact you owe it others. You can love yourself, it is ok. In loving yourself, you can truly love others.



(c) The Mindful Horse 2014


One thought on “A short consideration of compassion

  1. A short article that gives rise to a great deal of introspection about the nature of compassion and its relationship to our involvement with horses. About Soul and Spirit, about Self and Other, about Being. As a rider in some form or another for nearly 50 years one of the struggles that is bound to come up when looking at this question is about how riding actually fits in. If I believe my horses is a sentient, creature capable of so much more than we are used to thinking (as I do) then how do I maintain a compassionate regard for them at the same time “using” them not just for my own gratification as a riding horse, but also bringing them into the EFL world where they are subject to a range of human emotions and angst that is upsetting to their equilibrium. I recently read an article about horses in this field and healing animals in general. When do our desires to “heal” people (or at least in the case of EFL open people to possibilities) again lose sight of the horses.

    My conclusion at the moment is 1) a bit of self compassion – do not make this something else to beat yourself up about 2) accept that the world is not a world that can be supported by lotus eaters.

    We do have jobs to do. All of us. We might not like all of those jobs. Even if you are following your passion and love what you do, there will be aspects of that job that are not to your liking. Likewise we cannot give our horses a life that is completely free of all negatives. An ideal wild life is not free of negatives. What we can do is be compassionate in the way we interact with our own species and with others. Most of all to be open to all learning, where ever it comes from.

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