Giving our horses the time they need

Friday 2 November

Often, I think, our horses need us to give them more time and space than we realise.

An example of this came up just this morning.  I was poo picking in the fields and I noticed that Rika was yawning.  She seems to have been finding the transition to Wales more challenging than Dax; but then more of this has been new to her than to him, since she has also left her people, as well as her herd and her place.  I hoped that the yawns might mean she was releasing and starting to relax a little more into her new home.

I’d been spending some time scratching Dax and Rika had approached us, so I thought I would offer her some scratches too.  At first she seemed uncertain, so I stepped back to get a clearer idea of what she was trying to tell me.  I sensed that she was just a little unsure but still open, so I gently took a step forward again.  She accepted this so I continued with scratches and a bit of massage.  I heard some long, loud gut sounds and it seemed that she was relaxing a little into my touch.  I decided to offer some rebalancing of her energies along her bladder meridian.  As soon as I started her eyes began to blink, long and slow and I could see that she was working through some stuff.  I only got about half way along her neck when she walked away, putting some distance between us.  She didn’t stop until she had crossed the gateway into the next field.  She stood there for some time, just processing whatever had come up for her.

Part of me would have liked to continue encouraging her to release, and trying to build a bond with her, but I think that to have done so would actually have pushed her further away and perhaps have caused her to shut me out.  I knew that my desire to carry on in that moment was coming more from my need than from ‘Rika’s – my need to connect with her and for her to be happy here.  A part of me wanted this to happen straight away, rather than allowing ‘Rika to find this balance in her own time.  I had to remind myself that horses, like humans, need time to adjust to change.  Everything here is new to her – the place, the people, the food, the grass, the ‘herd’ – so it’s a lot to take in.  Horses can take up to a year, or even more, to fully settle into a new environment and to really feel comfortable enough to ‘be themselves’.  ‘Rika has only been here 3 weeks so I need to be patient and proceed at her pace.

In our human world we are so conditioned to expecting instant results.  So many things are at the touch of our fingertips: news, information, entertainment, even food.  I’ve been made very aware of our dependence on this due to our lack of internet access following our move, and the remoteness of our new location, which is taking us back to slower ways of being.

Horses live to a different timescale from ours.  They tend to be thoughtful beings, weighing things up and exploring them from all angles before deciding what action to take (except of course in the case of instinctive responses to potential threats).  Because of this, they are generally better at being in the present moment – with more of an awareness of the wholeness of their being – and they are less ‘in their heads’ than we tend to be.  We often want them to respond within our timescales, and with the exact movement, or whatever, that we’re asking for.  If this doesn’t happen, we ask again and again until it does, often increasing the volume or adding more energy.  How must this appear to these gentle, slower-paced animals…?  In fact, when we work with horses, it’s often a case of ‘less is more’ – the quieter and more subtle our signals, the more responsive the horse becomes.

There is much that we can learn from horses in this.  Spending time with them and sharing their energy can help us to take on that slower pace, allowing us to let go of the stresses and pressures of our everyday lives in order to find greater grounding and balance.  This has huge benefits for our wellbeing.

 

 

Saturday 3 November

This morning I went up to give the horses their hay as usual.  Dax is always the first to push in for a mouthful, whereas ‘Rika hangs back, knowing that he will move her away if she comes too close.  I dropped a few leaves from the bale in one of the feeding spots then, while Dax tucked in, I called ‘Rika to follow me to where I would place some more hay.  I left her happily munching while I put out the rest of the hay, then came back to check in with each of them, as I do every morning.  ‘Rika was nearest, so I approached her first.  Normally she adopts a very defensive stance when I come up to her when she’s eating.  On previous days she would tense, become very watchful, put her ears back and sometimes block me with her hindquarters, but today there was none of this.  Her ears stayed forward, or tuned in to me, she appeared relaxed and she even turned to say hello.  Shortly after this she approached me and accepted some gentle stroking.  This is a big change in her behaviour.  Nothing earth-shattering maybe, but she definitely appears to be a more settled and engaged horse this morning.  I believe that listening to her request for space yesterday, and allowing her to take the time she needed, has helped to build more trust and respect between us.  She is such a big-hearted girl and beautiful soul and hopefully she will find contentment here in this wonderful place with us.

 

Alice Griffin, writing in a recent edition of Horsemanship Magazine (Issue 109), about her time on a horseback tour of the Alentejo region of Portugal, says:

“In this increasingly busy world there are few places that offer a true sense of peace; where roads are empty, passersby rare and where we can truly find a way to switch off and be submerged in nature.”

She noticed that the Alentejan people are

“… often teased for their lackadaisical approach to life, but I can’t help thinking they are all the smarter for refusing to get rushed along by expectation, instead choosing to soak up every moment with deepened relish”

I too, think there is something very special about being able to slow down and reconnect – both with ourselves, and with the animals and nature all around us – and to be able to appreciate the richness and wonder of it all.

Alice goes on to say that:

“Somehow animals – unlike humans – have not lost their ability to be at one with the earth, remaining unchanged in their effortless navigation of rivers, rocks, hills and valleys despite the centuries that may have passed.”

If Portugal isn’t for you at this time, you can still experience a little of this magic of Nature and horses for yourself here in the UK.  I offer mindfulness and wellbeing sessions here at our wonderful retreat space in rural Wales, not far from Abergavenny, Wales (map) Just get in touch to find out more:

Or take a look at my website: www.equenergy.com

   

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6 further tips for when life feels a bit crazy!

Last week I started sharing some of the things that I’ve found helpful when I start to slip into stress and overwhelm.

Below are some further thoughts on this:

  1. Having trained in a range of energy therapies I am very fortunate to be able to draw on these when I feel triggered and emotionally raw.  Two of these techniques are:
    Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT / Tapping) which helps to lower the intensity of my feelings, again helping to keep me from slipping into overwhelm and allowing me to keep a better sense of perspective.
    Reiki which helps to restore balance and to bring my body back into ‘rest and repair’.  This supports me in several ways:
    • breathing, digestion and circulation function more effectively so that my body is able to stay healthy
    • I sleep better, meaning that I feel less tired and can think more clearly
    • I feel more grounded
    • it supports other therapies, such as the EFT mentioned above, meaning that they are then even more effective
  1. Using these therapies on myself is obviously good, but sometimes, when I’m tired, my resources are at a low ebb and I’m feeling overwhelmed and loosing the ability to be objective, I need to turn to others for help.  This is ok!  It’s not a sign of ‘weakness’ or ‘failure’, but rather a sign of strength and the wisdom of recognising that we can’t do everything on our own – nor are we expected to.  This help can come from friends and family, and also from professionals.  There are many wonderful therapists out there, offering a wide range of approaches.  It’s good to ask for recommendations and to have an initial chat to see if you feel they would be a good fit for you.  Remember that this is about you.  It’s ok to put yourself first and to be ‘fussy’ on who you choose to work with.  Don’t worry about hurting the therapist’s feelings if you decide not to work with them.  They too will want you to find the person and the therapy that is going to be the most effective for you.

  2. Through my healing journey, learning and practice, I have realised that we really are all doing the best that we can do with the resources that we have access to.  Also, that our perception is a very subjective thing which is deeply coloured by our past experiences.  This has given me a greater capacity for compassion, both for those around me, and for myself.
  3. I’ve also learnt the importance of having a sense of humour!  The ability to not take myself too seriously has been of such an enormous benefit to my wellbeing.  That’s not to say that I can always laugh at things, but generally I can catch myself and gently remind myself that everything will be ok and that things are not nearly as serious as my fears would have me believe.
  4. Another important lesson, which might seem to be almost the opposite of the one above, is that’s it’s ok to be ok with not being ok.  In other words, it’s ok to feel sad / angry / guilty / anxious / depressed / etc, I just need to remember that these are only ‘e-motions’.  That is, they are energy-in-motion.  They bring me valuable information about my needs in a situation and when I tune in and listen I can address these needs, allowing the feeling to process and be released.  It’s when I suppress my emotions, holding on to them or resisting them, that they cause me the most pain, and can even lead to illness.
  5. I’ve also needed to pay attention to my self talk.  We can tend to be our own worst critic and when we’re triggered into stress, it brings out the most negative inner voices.  Often these are voices from people who have been significant in our lives, such as parents, teachers and peers.  When our confidence levels are low it’s all too easy to accept – and continue – this critical voice, but it doesn’t serve us.  There is a saying: ‘Take the thought to court!’  Look at the evidence.  Is your inner voice telling you the truth?  We can probably find evidence to both support and contradict the voice, so why, then, is it so much easier to listen and believe, rather than to laugh it off?  There will be several reasons for this:
    • we’ve been listening for so long that our neural pathways around this are very strong.
    • we are evolutionarily geared to look for the negatives (see Our Brain’s Negative Bias)
    • we trusted the people whose voices we’re repeating

So what can we do?

    • we can choose to remember to look for the evidence that proves that we are actually thoughtful, competent, skilled, caring, intelligent, capable, beautiful etc
    • we can choose to believe this evidence and to hold it up every time our inner critic raises its head
    • we can recognise the fact of our negative bias and understand that this is just our ego’s way of protecting us.  We can then thank the ego, and let it know that: ‘It’s ok, I’ve got this covered!’
    • We can use techniques (such as EFT and other energy work) which help to support the breaking of old habits – by releasing the beliefs and emotions behind them – and the creation of more helpful ones.

Remember to be gentle with yourself.  Old habits have taken time to form, and will take time to change, but each step along the way will bring greater insight and move you closer to greater balance and wellbeing.  Also, even small changes can have a huge impact on how you feel.  The important thing is to approach this with an open mind, with curiosity, lightness and a sense of humour!

6 practices for when life feels like a roller coaster!

Last week I talked about some of the challenges that I’ve been facing after taking on the care of ‘Dakota Horse’.  If you’ve read some of my other recent posts you might remember that we’re currently also in the middle of selling up and moving house!  This is not only about our home, but also about my business and my vision of how it might develop in the future – so no pressure there then!!  All of this has meant that life is feeling a bit crazy at the moment.

At times like this it’s all too easy to slip into old patterns of overwhelm and the consequent unhelpful behaviours and thought cycles.  I am therefore doing my best to remember to practice good self-care.  I’m far from perfect, and still very much a work-in-progress, but they say that practice-makes-perfect, and it’s certainly giving me insight and a lot of food for thought.

I promised to share some of the things that I’ve found helpful in the hope that it will be of use to others to:

  1. The first and most important thing is remembering to breathe!  Yes, perhaps a rather obvious one, but when I feel stressed I know that my muscles tighten and my breathing becomes more shallow.  This means that my body feels more tense, and gets less oxygen, which becomes a negative spiral, feeding my anxiety.  On the other hand, when I remember to pay attention to my breath, and to breathing deeply and evenly, it helps me to relax.
    To help with this I recommend doing a body scan several times throughout the day.  This enables you to spot areas of tension in the body, and to see when breathing is shallow, allowing you to then breathe into the tight areas, inviting them to release and relax.
  2. This in turn helps me to take a step back and to have better objectivity, which allows me to see more clearly and rationally.  It helps me to keep a greater sense of proportion and not to spiral into overwhelm and feeling out of control.
  3. Breathing properly and being objective also help me in evaluating the reality of the situation and carefully considering my options.  If I slip into panic this is much more difficult to do – if not impossible.  It’s known as ‘blind panic’ for good reason!  Being able to think things through like this, usually allows me to see that there are lots of things I can try, and people I can ask for advice and / or support.
  4. Another thing that helps me in this is to get moving.  Going for a walk helps to break the sensation of being ‘stuck’ and powerless and helps my brain to function more effectively.
  5. I also find being outside in Nature very soothing.  I love the energy of being surrounded by trees and wildlife and find it very grounding.  It helps to restore my sense of perspective too.

  6. Mindfulness, meditation and journaling have helped me to develop more emotional intelligence and self-awareness.  This has allowed me to let go of some of the things that were no longer serving me, and to reconnect with my inner stillness, allowing me to relax more effectively.  This is so important for moving out of ‘fight or flight’ and into ‘rest and repair’ which is essential for our wellbeing.

 

Next week I’ll share some further techniques and insights that I’ve learnt along my journey.

Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 1 of 5

“Only by being in harmony with our inner nature,

 and the Nature all around us, 

can we truly experience wellbeing and flow”

Robyn Harris

It almost seems that ‘busy’ is the new black!  In our culture it appears that this is the way we measure success, or value, but when we put pressure on ourselves to maintain an unnatural level of busy-ness it can lead to overwhelm, burnout and dis-ease.  So what can we do to look after ourselves and keep ourselves healthy, happy and productive?

The first step, I believe, is awareness.  Often we are so focused on just getting through our busy days that we don’t take the time to tune in to how we’re feeling and what’s really going on in our bodies.  We’ve become used to ignoring the little niggles in order to keep going and get through our list of daily tasks.  Unfortunately this will probably only be a temporary solution, because these gentle alerts from your body that something isn’t working could just increase in volume until you have no choice but to listen.  This is when we find ourselves suffering from conditions such as adrenal burnout, fibromyalgia or chronic back pain.  If, however, we could pay attention to the earlier signals, then we could take action before things reach a crisis point.

One way to develop this awareness is to do a regular body scan.  You can do this while standing, sitting or lying down.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Take a few moments to fully tune in to your body.  Feel the parts of you that are in contact with the floor, chair or bed and imagine roots growing from here into the earth, grounding you.

Gently feel your attention sinking down, from your headspace, into your body.  And just check in with how you’re feeling.  What emotions are you experiencing?  They generally fall under one of six broad categories as shown in the centre of this diagram:

Try not to judge the feelings, but just to notice them.  They are not right or wrong, good or bad.  They just are.  They are there to give you information which can then help you to find ways to move closer to how you want to feel.

You might also notice that your emotions can be multi-layered and even, apparently, contradictory, in that it is possible to feel both happy and sad, or angry at someone, and yet at the same time be proud of them.   Emotions can be complex and this can mean that, if we’re not aware of how we’re feeling, we can tend to react to situations rather than taking the time to choose how to respond.  This is why ‘Emotional Intelligence’ is such an important tool in helping us to keep balanced and conscious in our actions.

Now, slowly working down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes notice the physical sensations that you can feel in your body.

Doing this exercise helps you to become more aware of what being stressed feels like for you.  For example you might feel tense, closed, anxious, uptight, overwhelmed, unable to cope, drained, or on edge.  You might also experience pain somewhere in your body.  When you check in regularly and notice these sensations, you can become aware of what makes you feel this way.  If you do this several times throughout the day, you will be able to catch these signs at an early stage so that you can then take steps before the stress builds any further.

Scanning can also help you to identify what being relaxed feels like for you.  For example you might feel open, chilled, happy, content, expansive, empowered, in the zone, or in control.  In contrast to stress, you might also notice a lightness or a lessening of pain.  Again by increasing your awareness you can notice what helps you to feel this way, so that you can then find ways to bring more of this into your life in order to reduce stress.

Next week I’ll look at emotions and what is happening when we feel pushed into overwhelm.

 

(You can read the full article here)

What is ‘META-Health’ and how can it help me get well? (Part 5)

So, having looked at the process of META-Health, and a personal example from my own life, how can this help you in your healing journey?

My first step in working with a client is to ask for their ‘timeline’.  This is basically a chronological account of all the Significant Emotional Events in their life.  I personally like people to write this covering all the way from birth onwards as it can help me to detect repeating patterns and get a sense of the person, but in any case the timeline should go back to at least 3 years before symptoms appear.  I also need to know the person’s medical diagnosis, if they have one, and a list of any medications they’re taking, or have taken, for the issue.  It is also useful to know if they’ve tried other interventions and how helpful – or not – these were.

Once I know which tissue is affected I can work out which brain relay this relates to.  From this I can tell which stage they are at in the healing process:

It is then possible to work back to find the initial conflict (2).

Writing the timeline in itself can be very healing.  As one client said to me, it was amazing to put her life story down on paper and see it all in one place for the first time.  This was a kind of affirmation for her that she had, in fact, dealt with a lot in her life and that she was actually stronger than she had realised.  It can also be a very cathartic process to put down, in black and white, things that you might have been bottling up inside, or trying to push to the back of your mind.  This process helps you to look at things and to acknowledge them so that you can then start to process them in order to let go and to move on.

I often get the feeling that, in our society, we are encouraged to ‘move on’ before we’re ready.  As I said earlier, trauma is subjective, so other people might not appreciate the impact that an event has had on a person.  They might, with the best of intentions, want to encourage the person to ‘put it all behind them’ or to ‘think positively’ but this is not possible until the person has finished processing what happened.  Or perhaps it’s our own inner voice that is encouraging us to push everything under the carpet and carry on as if nothing has happened.  However, if we don’t listen to our inner needs, they will just start to get louder in order to be heard!

META-Health teaches great self compassion and understanding.  We can truly begin to see that we are doing the best we can with the resources available to us in a given situation.  Also, our bodies don’t make mistakes.  If we’re experiencing symptoms or discomfort, it’s just our body trying to let us know that something isn’t right, but if we listen and make some changes – meet the needs that are currently unmet – then the body will find its way back to balance and wellbeing again.

So, having identified the trauma, or ‘UDIN’, what next?  As part of a consultation I will look at all the layers of a the client’s life: physical, emotional, social and spiritual.  I will also consider their characteristics: do they tend to be primarily a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic person, for example.  Taking these things into consideration I then put together a suggested plan of action, to discuss with the client, to help them create the healthier, happier life they dream of.

This plan can draw on a range of different therapies depending on what is most appropriate for the person in their particular situation.  I personally offer a variety of energy therapies including Reiki / Energy Healing, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT / sometimes referred to as ‘tapping’) along with some nutrition, lifestyle and relaxation techniques and tips.  I am very happy to offer these as part of a client’s action plan and for them to continue to work with me if they choose.

In addition I have a wide network of colleagues offering other complementary holistic therapies that we can draw upon to create a full and rounded wellbeing package.

The steps to be taken and the time required to create a new and healthier life will depend on the person, their condition, the circumstances in which they find themselves and their level of commitment, however it doesn’t need to be ‘hard work’ and the journey is in itself something to enjoy and to learn from.  It is worth remembering that it has taken time for your body to get into dis-ease and it will take time to get back to wellbeing but at each step along the way you will see an improvement.  This process can also result in lasting change and a whole new perspective, helping you to better deal with any issues that you face in the future.

If you’d like to talk with me about anything I’ve mentioned above, please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

Alternatively you can see more about what I do on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

(This post was taken from my article on META-Health.  You can read the full text here)

What is ‘META-Health’ and how can it help me get well? (Part 4)

Previously I talked about my personal experience of how a trauma created digestive dis-ease in the form of IBS and food intolerances.

Another common feature with fears around survival are that the body retains water.  Its reasoning is that alone it is more difficult to find this life-sustaining resource and so it must hold on to as much as it can until it is reunited with the tribe.  When the body again feels it is safe it can release the water.  At its peak (6) this is often experienced as a migraine, and this is what happened for me.  It can also mean that you pee more than normal as your body pushes out the excess water.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was repeatedly being retriggered as contact with my Dad did not go smoothly and it often pushed me straight back into stress.  This is what is known as a ‘hanging healing’, where the body repeatedly cycles through the process, unable to break out of the pattern and complete the journey through regeneration and normalisation to wellbeing.

This pattern continued for many years for me, even after my Dad’s death, because by then other traumas had added their triggers and, as a consequence, my wellbeing suffered considerably.  In fact this is one of the factors that lead me to explore complementary therapies and ways that I could address the underlying cause of my dis-ease rather than just taking pills, which might help in the short term but never fully got rid of the problem.

Having studied META-Health I now have a greater understanding of what’s going on in my body and what my symptoms are telling me.  If I know which tissue is involved this tells me which brain relay has been triggered and therefore what the deeper issue is that I need to address.  For example, in my story above, I needed to let go of my fears for my survival and know that my needs would be met by those around me until I was an adult and able to fully care and provide for myself.

I now also know that any symptoms I experience will indicate where I am in the process so that I can know how best to work towards my recovery.

Through my energy work practice and creating a diet that is more appropriate for my needs, I have now been able to support my body to become healthier than it’s ever been.

In the next blog I will look at how the META-Health process can be used to help identify the root cause of any disease so that it can be addressed directly in order to clear it and allow the body to return to health and wellbeing.

If you’d like to talk with me about anything I’ve mentioned above, please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

Alternatively you can see more about what I do on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

(This post was taken from my article on META-Health.  You can read the full text here)

What is ‘META-Health’ and how can it help me get well? (Part 3)

In the last post I talked about the trauma I’d experienced at the announcement of my parents’ plan to get divorced.  This was my UDIN (Unexpected trauma that was Dramatic, Isolating and for which I had No coping strategy – point 2 in the diagram above).

Shortly after the announcement, Mum took us to her parents’ house for the weekend to give my Dad space to pack up and move out.  I remember ‘running’ around on my crutches and being a bit ‘hyper’ because the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, were pumping round my body as I went from the ‘freeze’ state of shock and into the ‘fight or flight’ state of the stress phase (3).

We then returned home and over the next few weeks life settled down into its new routine.  I began to realise that, actually, life was a lot calmer without my Dad around.  Also, contrary to the belief of my primitive brain, I had not been ‘cast out from my tribe’.  Instead I discovered that my Mum and I had a lot in common and were very close whereas my brother – now the only boy in the household and quite a different personality type – was becoming a bit of an outsider.  This realisation was a ‘shift’ for me (4).  (It wasn’t quite a resolution as there were still issues going on that continued to trigger my fears (around contact with my Dad) but it was enough to send me into the second phase (5, 6 & 7) ).

If you’ve been following this series of blogs, you might have already begun to suspect what kind of symptoms I then experienced.  Earlier I talked about my fears being related to survival and so this was a brain stem issue.  This relay relates to various tissues including those responsible for digestion.  I mentioned that ” my whole insides rebelled ” and ” I felt that all the stuffing had been knocked out of me”.  Also the news of my parents’ divorce came as a complete shock and I couldn’t digest it.  All this meant that the organ tissue which held the shock was my intestines and when I went in to regeneration this is where I experienced dis-ease.  I began to suffer from IBS and food intolerances as the tissues started to heal.

During the stress phase these tissues had added extra cells in order to better digest the trauma.  Now that there had been a shift these extra cells were no longer needed and so the body started to break them down and eliminate them, causing my symptoms of pain, nausea, cramping and diarrhoea.

In my next post, I’ll look at what happened next and how I was able to start the journey back to better health and wellbeing.

If you’d like to talk with me about anything I’ve mentioned above, please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

Alternatively you can see more about what I do on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

(This post was taken from my article on META-Health.  You can read the full text here)