Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Horses as a Spiritual Practice

Now there's a post title . . .

What is a spiritual practice?  This is my definition - yours might be different.  To me, a spiritual practice is something - a behavior, activity or  situation, deliberately undertaken or encountered, that deepens one's awareness of one's self in relation to everything else - what one might consider to be the deepest connection one might have to the fundamentals of what there is.  This might be religious or spiritual or just plain deep - those things mean about the same thing to me.  I've been thinking about some of these things recently, since I'm working through the series about developing a rule for your life, put out by the monks at the Society of St. John the Evangalist in Cambridge Massachusetts. This series of short videos - they run two or at most three minutes, and there are 49 of them - have some religious overtones, but there's a lot in them that would benefit people who consider themselves non-religious.  The purpose of the series is to assist you in developing your own rule of life - note this is a rule, not rules, although rules might be part of it.  Each short video poses a question for your consideration, and some of them are pretty challenging - they make you think a lot about where you are and where you're going, and what's important to you.

It's pretty clear to me that horses are a central aspect of my life.  And, for me, this is a reversion back to my younger years - my teens and early 20s - when horses were really central to me.  I suppose horses are in some sense a way for my to recapture the best parts of my youth and young adulthood, as I'm almost ready to turn 60.  I lost horses for a long while in my life, but they're very much back again - my children get the credit for leading me back to something I'd lost that was of great value.

Now why are horses such a central part of my life, and why are they a spiritual practice for me?  Horses, and horsemanship - in the good sense - have the potential to make me realize who I really am, right now, good and bad, and the possibility to give me a path to where I want to be, in terms of who I am with the horses and in the world.  This has almost nothing to do with particular achievements, activities or goals - it has to do with a state of being, a state of relationship between the deepest parts of my being and the horse.

There's a lot to this, for me.  It ranges from simple chores - picking a stall, grooming a horse - I love grooming and will never understand people who don't care for it - it's the most calming and centering activity I know - to interacting with another being, from another species, in a way that is calm, and centered and respectful.  Horses see me for who I really am, deep inside.  There's no artifice, no faking, no pretending - horses know exactly who I am.  This is an enormous incentive to me to improve - my kindness, my ability to listen, my clarity, my attention, my direction - directing another living being is a huge responsibility, not to be undertaken lightly or without care.  I have to reach beyond myself to become better than I am, to work with my horses - they require this of me, not in a demanding manner, but in a matter of fact way.  My riding is increasingly "alive" - there's a very strong current and connection between me and each of my horses, and I can only describe it as in some sense transcendent. My hope is that, over time, some of that experience with my horses - the spiritual experience - will benefit other areas of my life.

Now this is a very approximate way of saying what I mean, but maybe some of you who spend time with horses will understand what I'm trying to say . . .

21 comments:

  1. Your words definitely hit home with me. Well said, Kate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So, so true on so many levels.... Thanks for sharing! PS, I'm with you on grooming... Absolutely love it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us experience and/or strive toward.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That Was Intense. You Are Deep, And Yet, Translucent In Intention. Your Horses Can Trust You. People In Your Life, Can Too.

    Loved Every Part Of This. And I Do Get It. Being Apart Of A Horses Life, And Being Responsible For It's Life Is Very Spiritual. Right Down To "ReadingThe Stall In The Morning".

    The Not Too Subtle Language Of Horse, Has Refined Me More For Being Human. But...Sometimes I Prefer Horses.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, thank you for your post. I'm right there with you. Hope you don't mind if I share this on my blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea - thanks, that would be fine.

      Delete
  6. Without the presence of a horse in your life you don't function as well as you might....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes and yes! This is why I have a horse. It's my 'walking meditation' and my present moment and every time I leave the barn I am better for it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful! I cannot tell you how many times my horses have given me peace in times of trouble. They are truly spiritual beings and by sharing their lives I can enter that world with them.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Totally understand what you are saying! Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It looks like you hit a good spot with some of your readers. Betty and I were members of the Third Order of St. Francis for many years and lived by a rule of life - one key component being simplicity. That was before horses. I've found that having our horses keeps us grounded in a simple way of life.

    Good post.

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  11. I totally understood what you were saying and thought this was a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ineresting topic and one I think of alot. Well said.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, yes. I know exactly what you are talking about. I'm going to check out that website. Thanks-

    ReplyDelete
  14. I do understand what you are saying and agree with you. God post.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow! There's a very large smile on my face right now...and all I can really express to this post is AMEN sista!! Very truthfully, beautifully and eloquently put into words exactly how I feel as well. You really are a gifted writer, and horsewoman Kate!! Thank you for sharing your emotions with all of us who don't so easily express what many of us (I hope) feel when we're with our horses. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel that you are a sister - that's one of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much!

      Delete

Thank you for commenting - we appreciate it. No spam or marketing comments will be published.