Updated: May 1, 2022
I've recently had two experiences that exemplify how profoundly and directly we can be affected by the energies of those around us. While horses demonstrate this phenomenon quite clearly, we humans are often unconscious of it. This awareness points to the importance of keeping ourselves balanced, peaceful, and happy, as our our internal states have effects that carry far beyond ourselves. It also points to the importance of being selective about those you spend time with, as their energies will affect you. My mare, Tiara, is a sensitive girl and gives me lots of learning opportunities. The stress of cold weather has brought an increase in her usual sensitivity, as well as suspected ulcers, and she has been more agitated, impatient, crabby, dominant and reactive than usual. Monica, my sweet mild-mannered mare, has always been "low man" in the herd, but this has become exaggerated in response to Tiara's increased intensity. Monica has been more wary and on guard, wisely distancing herself from Tiara and often positioning herself with a fence between them. Josh, my third herd member, isn't as strongly offended by Tiara's intense energy, but is clearly annoyed with Monica's insecurity and so drives her away. The past 3 days, I began some dietary adjustments and supplements for Tiara, to soothe her stomach and calm her nerves. Additionally, I've been more diligent about using flower essences for each of my horses: Tiara currently gets Transform Anger, Calm Child, and Male Support (which contains Impatiens, excellent for easing impatience). Monica is on Courage and Athlete's Spirit (both help with confidence and a stronger sense of self, and Athlete's Spirit is particularly good for strength, energy, and a grounded, embodied physical presence). Josh gets Athlete's Spirit as well as Cleansing Fire (to help clear past patterns and engage him in a more grounded way with his body). I am amazed at what I'm witnessing just 3 days into this. Not only is Tiara calmer and more content, but the whole herd dynamic has shifted. Tiara has stopped running Monica off the hay piles and they are actually nibbling hay side by side! Monica is engaging with the other two more than usual, hanging out or napping in a close knit group, sometimes even playing with obstacles together (normally Tiara would greedily possess these too, running Monica away). Instead of being insecure, wary, and hanging back, Monica now comes right up and confidently takes her place among the others. Even Josh seems more content and peaceful; his own dominant tendencies have settled and he is being friendly with Monica. The herd is more integrated and balanced, and each individual is more at ease.
"Make yourself so happy that when others are near you they become happy too." ~ Yogi Bhajan
Now for my other recent experience. I was working with a horse at Horse Protection of Florida last week. This horse, I'll call M, had a history of abuse, ulcers, and a lot of things being forced on her that caused her pain. Morgan, who runs HPAF, says this horse has been harder to keep weight on than any horse she's ever dealt with (which is saying a lot, since Morgan has successfully rescued hundreds of horses from starvation and turned them into healthy, thriving individuals.) Morgan's goals for my sessions with M are to make her more comfortable and reduce stress, in hopes of helping her better maintain weight. I've worked with M a few times before, and she often prefers off-body work and Reiki to a more hands-on approach. Giving her space, rather than insisting on physical contact, lets her know her boundaries are understood and lets her be in charge of determining the level of our interaction. As I entered M's stall this time, she was napping in the back corner and immediately put her ears back at me (very common for her, given her history)- she made it clear she did not want her peace disturbed by anyone “doing” anything to her. I decided to simply focus on centering myself and see if/how M wanted to take things from there. Staying at the door of her stall, I worked on myself, creating a space in which she could let her guard down, choose to interact or not, free to take from my internal workings whatever she might find useful. This session was the ultimate “doing FOR the horse, vs. doing TO the horse," and she LOVED it! More valuable than engaging with her, was giving her the experience of a human honoring her boundaries, honoring her desire to have space and to NOT engage. As I began, she took a deep breath and began to relax. As I tuned inward and focused on grounding, M squared up all four feet (rebalanced her body posture), passed gas, and did lots of licking (all signs of relaxation and ease in her body and nervous system). A short while later, she repositioned herself to face me directly, deeply relaxing and licking some more. As I ran my energetic spirals, she arched her entire spine into a huge “giraffe stretch," then squared up again, doing more licking, going into deeper relaxation. Just as rewarding to me as M's response to my inner work was that the entire barn became peaceful, quiet and calm during the session. The horse in the next stall stayed close on the other side of the wall, deeply relaxing as well; the horse on M's other side who constantly wind-sucks (chronic habit associated with nervousness, stress, and pain) ceased doing so and became quiet; the horse across the aisle who had been incessantly and impatiently pawing, stopped and settled into stillness. Throughout the barn, I heard the sounds of relaxed, peaceful horses: lots of licking, blowing, and deep sighs.
(Follow up February 2, 2021: The way M greeted me today, my first time back since the session noted above, reiterated how impactful that last session had been for her: instead of displaying her usual guarded, disinterested demeanor as I opened her stall door, she was very eager to interact and engage with me! She came right to me and put her nose on my head and shoulder as I made my initial observations and intake notes. When I asked her “How can I best serve you today?” she positioned her left hip near me and began licking and relaxing. A horse never lies…) Horses are very sensitive. They feel the internal states of those around them as if they were their own states. People, too, feel and respond to these things - albeit often unconsciously. Taking a lesson from what my herd and M demonstrated, we are reminded of the importance of tending to our own inner states - not only for the well-being of ourselves, but for everyone with whom we come in contact, and for the wider world as well. This is where our power lies. The shift we want to see in the outer world begins within each one of us.
Self Care Suggestion: Spend 5 minutes each day in meditation. Set a timer, find a comfortable place to sit, and focus on your breath. Breathing in, imagine peace and happiness filling your entire being. Breathing out, relax, let go, and make space for the next in breath.