One of my goals for 2012 is to develop my mindfulness - my ability to be aware in the moment, without that distracting internal chatter that can interfere with the connection and ability to communicate with the horse. To that end, I've started two new practices, in addition to trying to do some daily meditation. Also, on my daily walk, I try to practice mindfulness, bringing my attention back gently, without judgment, to the landscape and what I observe every time (and there are many, many times) when the internal chatter/commentary/thinking/list-making/remembering process starts up. Just being aware of that internal static going on is a big deal for me.
First, I've started taking classes in t'ai chi chih again - I took a few classes a number of years ago but didn't keep it up, but remembered how good it was - now why do we stop doing things that are/feel good? Who knows? I certainly don't. Anyway, I'm doing it again, and with the same instructor as last time. She's very calm and very focussed and very good. T'ai chi chih is a series of 19 movements and one pose - it's not a martial art, and can be done standing or sitting by people in any physical condition - it's been used with success even in nursing homes. It's all about attention, breathing, balance, and movement, directing and not blocking energy, and flow, and coordination of legs, arms and body in a way that produces a feeling of relaxation and beauty. Does that sound like anything else to you? That's just what I want to bring to my riding. I think these classes, and the practice of t'ai chi chih, will be very good for my riding, and are enjoyable and good for my life in general.
I've also taken up drawing again, and I'm taking a class that meets once a week, with an instructor I've taken classes with before. I have a particular interest in still life and botanical drawing, including a fondness for trees and their forms and shapes, and we'll see where that takes me. Drawing is another practice that is fun in itself - if you can take away the judging mind - and I think it's also very good for developing mindfulness and the practice of being in the moment.
Horses are about life, and life is about horses . . .