We are not thinking machines that feel, rather, we are feeling sentient beings who think.
~ Antonio Demasio, Neuro Scientist and Professor
We are often very self-critical on those days we are not feeling all love and light. It’s a ‘New Age’ requirement that we are continually radiant. Every era has their own tyranny when it comes to this. I grew up as a Flower Child and the rule was ‘don’t bring the vibe down’. Put on a happy face. The ‘unexpected visitors’ of our psyche get short shrift.
The generation previous said, ‘mustn’t grumble.’ It’s been a societal and spiritual duty and a courtesy to answer the question, How are you? with, Great, how are you? If we’re not so great and tell the truth, our friend’s eyes are likely to glaze over.
This shoving down of emotions is what wreaks havoc on our health, our minds and our lives. We become pressure cookers likely to scald ourselves and others when triggered. We can NLP paste over and affirm positively until the cows come home but we also need to do the inner work that releases submerged emotions so the full spectrum of human feelings can flow freely. When we are ‘stuck’ is when we sound like a broken record from the very first utterance. We become incongruent and inauthentic.
This being human is a guesthouse. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture. Still, treat each guest honourably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Sun Tui, based in England, is one of the first Equine-Assisted Human Development Facilitators. I had the pleasure of learning from her and her herd of free, un-hooved unbridled horses who had become master therapists on several occasions. Horses have a huge limbic field. 60 feet. They can tell immediately if you are being false and will start to play up. If you have no boundaries they won’t respect you and will knock right into you. I gained an important piece in my study of the effects of suppressed trauma and emotion from Sun and her horses.
At that juncture, I was disembodied from trauma in my youth. This causes very weak boundaries. I am also an empath so life was an overstimulating deluge of my own cauldron of emotions and those of others I could easily pick up. I recall Sun Tui and her teacher and colleague, co-founder of Equine Facilitated Learning, Kathleen Berry Ingram calling out, Don’t use your third eye to create a boundary, use your solar plexus! It was like being at Hogwarts but the teachers were human and equine. Sun Tui, a vibrant totally embodied human being, could move the horses around the circle just by gesturing with her hip!
Sun has further evolved the method which has become very valuable for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and she has made a lot of headway with soldiers, groups and individuals. The horses help us know what we are suppressing. I came to think of them as geniuses in their field! Sun Tui and Kathleen are pretty cool as well! The vitality and presence gained from being free emotionally and fully embodied are wonderful.
When inward tenderness finds the secret hurt, pain itself will crack the rock and AH! let the soul emerge.
We are taught to be quiet and tow the line, especially women, I believe, but really all of us. Not only does this shove us into repetitive behaviour and comfort seeking through self-medication (drinking, shopping, smoking, obsessive relationship seeking, etc.) it decimates our discernment. How is it we have yet another boy/girlfriend with all the same issues as our last one when it all seemed so perfect at first? 1) Your discernment is overridden just as your suppressed emotions are. 2) Until you clear out your baggage the Law of Attraction will draw to you what is unresolved within you. It’s actual Love in Action, but tough love.
The fact is our emotions fuel our lives. When they are free-flowing they can be applied to our dreams with intention and changes start to occur in our lives. How do we clear them if we’re not near a herd of equine facilitators?
Check in with your body. Stop, listen. Feel your feet on the ground and your bottom on the chair. Don’t blame, project, or drop into ‘story’. Just feel it. Stay there. Let the pain or anger or grief or frustration or anxiety just be. If you can, like Rumi, laugh and welcome it. It’s a lost child of your psyche. You can start to feel your power there. Anger becomes passion which becomes compassion. Grief deepens the well. Anxiety disappears when we are being congruent.
When you feel you’ve really made a connection, dance it! Sing it! Get paints out and overalls on and make a mess expressing it. Honour it. Own it. Maybe have a good cry. Surprisingly Gratitude may come. Next time a friend says, How are you? Tell the truth. If you do it without self-pity and fully honouring the full spectrum of who you are, their eyes won’t glaze over. And you’ll give them the permission to be honest as well.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
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Here’s Sun Tui in a 12-minute video on Horse Powered Learning
For more about Equine Facilitated Human Development
Thanks to Sophia Tara for the post that inspired this article. Sophia is Wellington-based ukelele player, soul-preneur, poet, organiser of workshops and public speaker on Non-Violent Communication, Compassion, Death and more.