Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Mindful hedge-cutting!

Work in progress
One Sunday morning I decided to put away the electric clippers and get out the hand shears to clip my hedge. This was partly out of respect for my neighbours (it was only 9am) but also because I quite fancied slowing the pace of life down after a busy week. Here are some advantages to 'mindful shearing':
  1. My stripey housemate stayed with me rather than dashing off in horror when the electric clippers fire up.
  2. It's safer particularly when balanced precariously on a step ladder - no electric lead to snip through (and yes, dear reader, I have done it!) or trip over.
  3. I didn't have to waste time trying to unravel said electric lead because we all know that however carefully you put it away, some nasty 'flex goblin' ties it in knots when you're not looking!
  4. You save money on electricity (you can take the girl out of the North.....).
  5. I could actually hear the birds chirping and even enjoyed the organ playing hymns in the baptist chapel across the road.
  6. I didn't spook any horses going past.
  7. It was better for my back as the hand shears are much lighter BUT it was still a good work out for the bingo wings, which, as I get older, are more determined than ever to help me become airborne!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Relationships on a long rein - part 2

My coaches

Following on from Relationships on a long rein, Part 1, how did what Pam and I discussed translate when we worked with the horses?

We worked with Kid, a mare I’ve worked with before. Pam asked me to go over to Kid and approach her like I had approached the spirit horse in my meditation. I approached her in the paddock, fully aware, thanks to our earlier coaching sessions, to respect her personal space and be vigilant for any signals to say she didn't want me close. I felt I could get close enough to her for her to sniff my held out hand in greeting and then she walked away to the far corner of the field. In earlier sessions I would have taken this as a rejection, but this time I felt she was saying ‘come over here with me’. As if, like the spirit horse, she had taken me up on my invitation to fly. So I did, and we stood apart but companionably as she grazed. Every now and again she would lift her head to acknowledge me. I smiled as I realised this situation was mirroring exactly what I had described to Pam earlier about the shift in my relationship with Henry and my friends! It felt as if the relationship between me and Kid in this session was playful – as if that need for company or to be liked, that I had felt in previous coaching, had melted away. This coaching never ceases to amaze me and there is certainly no hiding your emotions - however deep - when horses are around!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Spirit Horse Meditation

Here I describe the story that unfolded in my head during the guided meditation with Pam of Equest Ltd (see my blog, 'Relationships on a long rein?') based on the illustrated card I picked from a selection she offered. All were of an equine theme, and one stood out in particular which initiated the story behind the meditation.

I walked towards Moose who stood in the field in Tring where I felt he had been at his most happy and healthy. The Moose who stood before me wasn’t of solid flesh although his body wasn’t transparent either - it was made up of sweeping lines of different colours -  oranges and yellows and white. The lines seemed to be transient, moving and shimmering in the sunlight. This was the spirit of Moose, he had come to take me on a journey. I knew that. 

As I walked towards him, he  reached out to me with his nose and I felt the warmth of his breath on the palm of my hand which I held out to him. I stroked his long beautiful arched neck. His coat was soft beneath my fingers, his body warm and comforting. He lowered his head towards the grass and I was suddenly flipped onto his back so I was sitting in the natural dip between his withers and quarters. I held onto a wisp of mane, the strands silky but strong. He started to walk. Each footfall taking us further up the hill, rhythmical and steady. Then, he moved into canter, a controlled collected canter and we moved as one as he rose up into the air. It was the most fabulous feeling – we were flying and instinctively he knew where I wanted to go. The air was flowing past us, gently brushing against my face as we moved towards our destination…..the bluebell woods. 

Gently we landed in a small clearing amongst tall trees which seemed to welcome us with their cloaks of waving green leaves. The vividness of the colours took my breath away – the striking bluebells amongst the green lush grass.  I slipped to the ground, landing on the springy woodland floor and then sat down. As I did so,  faces from my past, of people I knew both living and dead, encircled me as if I was in the middle of a large revolving cylinder. The faces changed and moved as the images flowed around me. They came in and out of focus, pure white lines, dancing and playing as if they were made out of smoke. My maternal grandma and granddad were amongst them,  long dead, but I have always felt their spirits with me. Other faces I didn’t recognise morphed into my vision, but I knew they were all there in this special place for me. Their love flowed over me as I sat there.  Emotions welled up inside and tears rolled slowly down my cheeks, but I felt calm, contented and loved. When it was time to leave, I put my arms around Moose's neck and inhaled the familiar, sweet smell of this darling horse. 'Thank you', I murmered into his long silken mane. As we flew back to his field, and the distance between us and that special place increased, I knew I would be back, that Moose would take me there whenever I felt the need for that love and support. 

Relationships on a long rein?

I am back in my favourite Wiltshire retreat and relaxing after a fabulous coaching session with Pam of Equest Ltd who, over the past year, has helped me explore my feelings and let go of some of the anguish I have stored about the events of 2008. This evening, despite the rain outside, my gin and tonic is poured and I am feeling warm and content. Today we did a guided meditation session based on an illustrated card I had picked from an equine-themed selection. The meditation was emotional and enjoyable and you can read more about it in my blog Spirit Horse Meditation which accompanies this.

 Spirit Horse card
Prior to the meditation, I explained how I felt I was in transition both in life generally and in my business. I felt I was moving forward into a new phase where I felt more settled as a person; more capable of dealing with life's challenges and less needy of other people's support or company. And, although I had experienced feelings of loneliness at times over the past month, which isn't unusual particularly when you work from home as a freelancer, I noted that the feelings weren't as painful as they had been previously. 

I recalled a conversation I’d had with my partner Henry, not long after we had first met.  I remember he jokingly said something about me needing him - it was said in jest as he'd been helping me warm-up my horse Wilbur prior to a dressage competition. I turned to face him, and said, perhaps a bit too forcefully, ‘I don’t need you’. Not meaning to hurt his feelings, I explained, ‘I’m not with you because I need you. I’m with you because I want to be with you. I love having you in my life.’  His comment, for some reason, had clearly touched a nerve and I felt compelled to reassure him that I wasn’t with him out of desperation - I have always felt happy in my own company. 

That was almost 5 years ago now and looking back today, perhaps I was trying to convince myself rather than him. And, maybe at that time, I did need him more than I had liked to admit (note from Henry - read that as 'being stubborn'!). Keeping with the equestrian theme, I explained to Pam how in my head I visualised this as holding my friends and Henry on a very short lunge rein; frightened to let them go because I was scared of being on my own having been in a relationship for 18 years prior; I needed their reassurance. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn’t for Henry's patience, kindness and love and the support of my fabulous friends and colleagues. 
Photo courtesy of Fiona Scott-Maxwell Photography

Today, I feel much more confident about who I am and as a consequence I have let the lunge rein get  longer – not in the sense that I’m pushing people away, but in the sense that I am growing as a person and feel less needy. Of course, this change can impact the person on the other end of the rein too and either a relationship grows deeper as a consequence, which I feel is the case with Henry, or it may not survive the change.

Interestingly, when Pam and I went out to work with the horses as part of this coaching session, unwittingly, my actions reflected what we had spoken about. I'll explain more in the second installment coming soon.