Friday, 21 August 2015

for those who suffer silently. . .

to stand like a tree and bend gently in the wind without breaking

to flow like the sea, accepting waves of discomfort but welcoming relief with open heart

to shine like the sun, finding the light within-- even in the midst of the most brutal storm

to be grounded in sound earth feeling the energy of those that have walked before and who walk with you now

to feel fire within you when the chill of life overtakes and energy wanes

to listen deeply to yourself and hear your needs when no others are there to hear to your voice 

to hold yourself so very gently and rock away everything within you that feels less than whole

to be one with all that is light and love and know deep within yourself that you are worthy

and to feel the love that you have given so freely to others knowing without question you are love and that love is the essence of life

and may it be so

Thursday, 20 August 2015

If I Could Talk to the Animals: healing & learning through animal connection

Animal connection to facilitate establishing trust requires a deep centring; getting the words in our head out of the way.  

It is an area I have tried to intuitively practice with my horses, but have now started on a learning path that I'm feeling so pleased to have found.

The bare bones of that practice is actually a foundation that I was inherently practicing-- with a relative degree of success. 

Now I'm hoping with the skills I am learning, I can get this down to more of an accurate understanding of their needs and connection with the horses that will enhance the therapeutic experience I can give my clients.

For fifteen years I've held a 2nd degree Reiki attunement, with another first degree attunement from an additional teacher, that I've never put on a practice shingle or a resume or my linked in profile; it is something I have incorporated into my everyday life. I've used it with family and myself, but most regularly on my horses.  

So when I discovered this gentle teacher and his methodology, I was pleased to see that Reiki had something to do with his fundamental connection with animals as well. 

You know that "coming home" feeling you get when you've been wanting some answers and you sit with the right person and the just-right information flows as if it is making a direct connection to your heart and soul?  

That's what the message of his work does for me.

Lately I've been working on my communication with my horses more intently and my husband has observed a couple of times when the horses have been in one of the large paddocks, spread out, and I'm trying to get them to a specific gate to go to another area.  

Calming myself, I basically will them to go where I want them to go.  And to my surprise-- as much as his-- they have taken off in a gallop exactly where I want them, led by my horse, Yorkie. 

It was a difficult task to keep my mouth from falling open as my husband asked me, "how did you do that?"  

Granted, it hasn't always been so simple to gather the herd, in fact it has been hard work at times, and I'm sure it will not always work with such ease.  

But when it does . . . it is magical.

Last night they followed my intuitive direction again, and my 11 year old son observed.  I heard him running into the house saying to his dad, "Mom is doing magic with the horses."

I've always known I wanted to incorporate the horses in my work with people if the opportunity presented itself. 

Not in a riding way. I'm not a riding expert. I ride for connection and pleasure. "Real" riders have a hay-day with my riding methodology I'm sure.

My horses are about relationship.  

The teacher has stated that at one point he had to stop riding his horses because he didn't feel like it was respectful of them anymore-- and I totally get that.

And each of our horses gives us a different kind of relationship and communication style and love. 

At the very least, I've known that Ringo, the miniature horse we have had since he was around six months old, would provide an opportunity for connection and love. 

Miniature horses are just that: horses.  

They still hold all of the characteristics of their bigger relatives which is why Ringo is such a little miracle. 

Ringo is brave and bold, yet sweet and kind. 

The first time he got on a float (horse trailer) he walked right on without missing a beat, which isn't average horse behaviour. 

Ringo comes right up for big love and is a huge communicator. I don't think I've ever seen him startle. And it's a pleasure to watch him work on his relationship with the bigger horses. 

There is so much learning and joy and healing available just in our little wee Ringo.

Yesterday I went out and had three different (what I call) "centring sessions" with the horses, but I did it a bit differently than I ever had, trying to completely clear my mind and becoming totally heart centred.

Each time my Yorkie came over to me.  

And each time we just stood together.  

And each time, he took this mouth and placed in on top of my head and rubbed me repeatedly. 

No teeth, no roughness, extremely gentle loving caresses. 

He was giving back some what I give him--and call me crazy-- I could feel the love. (consider: he doesn't have anything but hooves to work with-- using his mouth to rub me was his way of caressing me as I do him-- and I'm tearing up just writing this)

This week one of my clients was leaving and all the horses were gathered up by the fence as if to say good-bye as I walked down to open the gate for her. She stopped, turned her car off and got out.

I pointed to the corner of the upper paddock and told my client of an experience the horses had that is testimony to how deeply they feel and how deeply they think:

Wire is apparent on Shania's right side. And note little Ringo helping
One day, my son and I were pulling out of the driveway to get him to his school bus and we noticed that all of the horses were standing in a corner of the paddock at our entry gate.  He and I were in awe-- oh look, how sweet that they are there as a family.  When I returned about twenty minutes later, they were still there. Initially I again thought, how sweet (and took this photo).  But then I thought, hmm, I better go check.  I found that Shania, who was in the very corner, had somehow gotten the top wire-- the electrical wire, that wasn't on-- off and wrapped over her head and neck. This was a thin wire that could have decapitated her had she become spooked. And Shania is a Paso Fino, a breed known for their "brio," their spirit. Seeing her previous reactions when she's felt trapped or the time the feed bucket caught to her halter, I know full well her reaction would have been to completely freak-- running to get away. But my Yorkie knows her too and was calmly standing right behind her to block her in so she wouldn't hurt herself. I'm absolutely positive that his intention was to save her.  Ends up when I spoke with my husband, they had been in that corner long before when he'd left for work. No telling how long Yorkie had held Shania there. He saved her life. 

I looked back at my client and there were tears streaming down her face.

I said, "Aw, the horses have touched you and we haven't really even interacted with them yet."

Her response, "They are just such majestic beings."

And they are.  

And it is a privilege to be in their presence. 

And the least I can do is calm myself, honour their presence and really listen to them. 

And I reckon we might as well try that with each other as well, aye?

                           James French

Monday, 10 August 2015

good morning dark, good morning light

Here I am at day 1 of 40 after the Habit Hacking workshop with Kara-Leah Grant that I attended on Saturday.  

It's not the writing every day for 40 days that I am actually practicing as my habit-- it is getting out of bed by 6:30 every morning to have time for myself to practice some self-care. 

Of course while pondering what habit I would choose for my project, during our workshop, I first went to  . . . I want to start being able to get my yoga and exercise and writing and meditation in every day (ahem, reach for the sky), but when I peeled those layers back in the workshop, the main thing was that I get into the routine of getting up in time to accomplish some self-care before the rest of my day takes off with me.  

Any self-care.  

I actually want to be up at 5:30 am, but to be gentle on myself I have stated by 6:30 am as my "official" goal.  Then 6:30 am can actually feel like sleeping in on the mornings that it is really difficult to get out of bed (wink, wink).

I had my alarm set for 5:45 am this morning, morning #1, and I was awake of my own accord at 5:27 am. 

And here I am.  

Last night I had draped my robe over the heated towel rack, because being chilly is a reason that I might keep myself in bed longer-- even if I am awake.  It is winter in New Zealand.  I'm in the the Northland which is the "winterless North" but the chill can still settle in very deeply in the mornings.

As I start this habit, I've actually put no concrete expectation out for the exercise portion.  It is there if I find I have the time and want to do it-- and yes-- I would love that to be an outcome of this daily practice, but for now?  I'm pampering myself on these early adventures. 

Right now I am sitting under the toasty heat pump, a warm cup of java by my side with a three-wick candle glowing just beyond the top of my computer screen and low mood lighting whispering, "hey, you are special enough to use electricity even before the sun is up and we have to actually pay for it vs being solar generated" (long story, that's my inner extremely frugal child speaking-- but suffice it to say, and Kiwis will get it, paying for my electricity is a pamper) as I'm wrapped up in my warm robe with a thick pair of wool socks on.  

It's as if I've received myself into loving mother-arms for getting out of bed early.

Rewarded with what I love to do, but haven't made much time for-- free writing. All is feeling really well right at this moment.

As I find myself writing "out of bed" I want to remind myself, this goal isn't in response to the fact that I have been a righteous lazy goose. 

Since the move into our new bedroom which is totally open to the outdoors, I generally do awaken with the sunrise.  It is the act of getting out of bed as soon as I awaken that I want to add to the process. 

Most mornings I do a meditative welcoming of the day and intention setting and then look at emails and FaceBook to see if my U.S. family, who have been up half the day already, have any news for me (or cute photos to look at). 

As I really unfolded my reasoning about my reluctance to hop out of bed first thing in the morning while in the workshop process, I realised that as a child, being in my bed and controlling the time I could get out of it (when I was able to) was a great source of autonomy for me-- an act that probably helped me develop a sense of self. On my bed I would read and write stories and letters-- some of the primary forms of escape for me-- that is the time and place I read Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird ad nauseam in my pre-teen years. 

So I believe there was an inherent underlying belief that having some sacred time "in my bed" as often as possible was a supplement act of self-care.

And that is beautiful.  And I honour that I have continued to subconsciously take care of myself in that way.  But now I want to develop a new way that feels more in line with where I am now and what I want my self-care to look like.

I think it is important to acknowledge that when "self-care" starts leaving you with feelings of guilt, it isn't really the optimal way to be caring for yourself, you have your cue to further explore if the act is actually meeting your self-care needs. (ahem, that extra glass of wine and other indulgences could fall into that column)

So here I go . . . this is feeling really good.  My husband just woke up-- it is 6:20 am now and said, "Hmmm, what are you doing up?"  "Writing."  "Oh, nice."

One pattern I am mindfully breaking here is announcing that I am doing this to get up and exercise as he sees a need for him to be doing that as well and soon, a less than mature competition or prodding can start to ensue-- cue sarcastic tone here-- "well I didn't see you on the elliptical this morning" returned with same tone, "yeah, well I'll get on after you . . ."  


That well-intentioned, supposedly light-hearted teasing game has never felt good to me. And, I realised it could trigger me to self sabotage in an effort of, "I'm doing this or NOT doing this for me, not you."

Proactive vs reactive is something I have always tried to preach to clients and myself. And by keeping that an overarching guiding principal when choosing my habit to begin, it led me to carefully pull back the layers to make more room for this practice to be surrounded by warmth and self-compassion.

And just now?  

Here comes the sun, barely showing the first hint of its waking self. 

Thank you friend.

              *     *     *     *     *   *

Highly recommend:
Kara-Leah Grant's Habit Hacking Workshop. Check out her work. She's an excellent presenter, full of knowledge and heart. This blog post is to honour her & the work she is putting into the Universe to facilitate meaningful change in people's lives. You can find her here at Yoga Lunchbox.  

Mind you this isn't (necessarily) about yoga, Kara has packaged the "secrets" of mental and emotional shifts and wellbeing into her workshop.  And stay tuned for when it comes out as a book!

Addendum: This didn't start out to be a blog post-- just free writing, but here I am at 7:00 am and posting this.  I think I'm going to like this new habit.