I was recently reviewing my journal and I found some notes that I had made several months ago. These are all concepts and ideas that I have learned through my own personal development and, as I have integrated them, have made a profound effect on my life. I realise that some of these concepts are now part of my everyday life – but others require a lot more practise! Many of these ideas will not be new to you – but maybe they will be a friendly reminder – to help you live a more fulfilling and authentic life.
1. Accept your feelings as they are
Don’t resist your feelings, try to accept them as they are. Eg. If you are feeling stressed, consciously accept the feeling. What do you notice? You may feel that your chest is tight, your breathing is irregular, your shoulders are tense. Bring full attention to these areas. Sometimes you may receive information e.g. to take a break or ask for help and the feeling will ease, at other times the body sensation eases as you bring awareness to it. Either way your body has a chance to calm down which then enables you to take action in a more calm way.
2. Use your emotions as information
When you feel an emotion, listen to what it is trying to tell you. Eg. If you feel frustrated notice what is causing the frustration, what can you try differently? If you have explored all your options who can you ask for help?
3. Listen to your heart and your head
Before making decisions pause for a moment and check to notice if it’s what you really (truthfully) want. Making balanced decisions comes from balancing both head and heart wisdom.
4. Allow the ideas/inspiration to come
Bring your awareness to a specific task or goal that you want to achieve and then immerse yourself in something practical eg. Walking the dog, baking a cake, gardening, grooming your horse or even making the bed and be aware of the ideas and inspirations that come; creative ways in which you might approach or achieve your goal.
Keep a notebook with you at all times! How often do you get a great idea and yet you’ve talked yourself out of it by the time you get home or by the time you’ve discussed it with friends and they’ve turned their noses up at the idea. We often have ideas of what we want to do or how we want to do things which are negated by our ‘ego’ minds. Write them down, or draw them, elaborate on them later if you choose.
6. Listen to the natural rhythms of your body
In this busy world many of us switch off to our senses in order to keep going, survive, pay the bills, succeed and yet end up being less effective as we become tired, tense, run down and ill. Notice what your body is telling you and respond. If you feel tired take 5 minutes out and do something that re-energises you, go for a walk, phone a friend, have an early night, turn some music on, organise a social evening, go for a swim or a walk in the forest. We are all different. Notice that what you choose to re-energise yourself might be quite different from your partner, spouse, family or best friend!
7. Nourish yourself
Eat good quality food – a balanced diet – and listen to what your body is telling you. Some people can eat all foods without resistance or allergy, even though they may feel more energised when they eat fresh fruit and vegetables and drink more water. However, other people need to avoid certain foods because their bodies simply do not tolerate them and they feel more healthy on specific diets.
8. Get to know your personal space
Bring awareness to your needs for personal space and learn to set healthy boundaries. Recognise that these may vary depending on the company you are in, the experience you are a part of, your levels of energy, the time of day etc. Try to notice the very first inclination that you have that someone is stepping over a boundary and into your personal space. What do you notice? How do you set a boundary? Learning to set healthy boundaries is simply a form of self-respect.
9. Time to be still
Mindfulness as a way of meditation can be a revelation. Have you struggled with meditation because you are trying to ‘clear your mind’? Have you noticed that you never stop thinking? Then try the idea of noticing your thoughts, becoming aware of them, acknowledge them, and then let them be just as they are. Mindfulness is the key to a still mind!
10. Changing limiting beliefs
The idea of simply changing an old limiting belief for a new more positive one doesn’t’ work if you can’t feel or believe the new belief that you have chosen! Here’s another way to help yourself through old survival patterns and beliefs.
a) The mindful approach – observe your thoughts and if you find yourself thinking a negative and debilitating thought, accept it and recognise that it is simply a thought and then let it be, without resistance and then it can pass, like a cloud in the sky
b) The body approach – Sometimes you may notice a physical sensation in your body as you become aware of a negative belief. For example a pain in my shoulders. Ask yourself what this might mean. It could be that you believe that you have to “carry the burden on your own”. Is this really true? It may have been true in the past, or at certain times in your life, but is it true now? What behaviour are you repeating as you hold this belief? Perhaps you continually ‘manage on your own’! A more healthy belief in this case could be that you can “ask for help”. Notice how your physical sensation changes as you hold this new, more empowering belief.
11. Be present
Horses are great teachers of being present ‘in the moment’. How much time have you spent daydreaming, wishing you were further ahead or somewhere else and not really present with your friends, family or colleagues. If you are not present, in the company of a horse you are likely to get trodden on! There is also a connection between personal space and the ability to stay present, the body needs a certain amount of space for the mind to stay present. If you intend to listen to a conversation and yet feel unable to fully concentrate check to see if you need to take a few steps away and see if that helps your ability to focus.
12 .Celebrate or ground your achievements
This is often easier than it sounds if you are a person who is hard wired to move on to climb the next mountain as soon as you have achieved something. Celebrating success or sitting with your own achievements can then be a challenge. So, the next time you are pleased with achieving a personal or profession goal, firstly acknowledge the effort and hard work that you have put into achieving this goal. Then acknowledge all the support that you have had to achieve this goal – family, friends, horses, colleagues etc etc. Finally, ground your achievement by celebrating it in some way. It could be as simple as having a luxurious bath, a meal out with your partner, sharing your success story with a mentor or friend or having a party. How do you celebrate your achievements?
If you want to find out how Horses as Teachers can help you integrate these skills then do get in touch.