At the tender age of 14, my client had been raped. Now in her 50's she had begun experiencing memories being triggered, stinging, painful memories she had not been aware of before. As a result, she found herself swirling in such incredible shame she just wanted to stay in bed and hide. Forever.
When I received the phone call from my client, requesting another personal session with horse, she said the horse of her youth had come to her in a dream and reminded her that she wasn't alone. She felt hopeful receiving this message, and trusted that just as the horses had nurtured her when she was young; they were calling her to trust them again to receive the energy to move forward.
How do we begin to heal our inner wounds? How is it possible to begin to feel the pain of the past without falling into overwhelm? How do we hold onto hope? When our hurt was created interpersonally; our healing must be also. For that, we can receive the supportive gifts of presence and wisdom from horses.
"Before moving to the arena, I learned the Opportunity Course had six stations set up, which would represent aspects of my life journey. I numbered on a piece of paper six parts of what my younger self had revealed to me needed support to be faced, or developed: 1) Frozen, 2) Fear, 3) Shame, 4) Doubt, 5) Self-protection, 6) Self-confidence, I folded the paper, and tucked it into my back pocket, setting my intention on the subconscious level.
Gloria supported me to get really clear about my intention, which was to consciously stay present with my younger self and horse, while mindfully noticing any subtle sensations of energy in my body. This would allow me to experience compassionate accompaniment to invite each part to integrate into the wholeness that is me. The Authentic Voice to support and empower me was "I am present, accompanied and whole now."
Stepping into the arena I took a moment to mindfully breathe, giving my lungs room to expand and time to stand still. As I smiled and nodded my readiness, the horse handler handed me the lead. I looked into my horses' eyes and shared with him my intention, asking him if he would be willing to accompany me. Surprisingly he began yawning with his mouth opening wide and his eyes rolled back in his head at the same time, he did this repeatedly! I felt tension in my lower belly unravel as his nose drew close to my root chakra (survival). He breathed deep and snorted. Next, his nose rested at my second chakra, (unconscious creativity), shifted to my third chakra, (personal power), before moving to my heart space (love). I felt a huge shift as my whole sense of self relaxed and softened into trust, being seen, acknowledged and understood completely; again, he yawned, rolled his eyes and ended with a long snort.
As we moved through the stations Gloria checked in with me; where was I in my body, what was I feeling, what was I telling myself, and would invite me to take a breath. At each station there were incredible revelations - which continue to unfold even now.
Standing with my horse in the last station, the square, I paused to reflect on my journey with Horse accompanying me. I pulled out the paper from my back pocket (to identify which station represented which aspect) and felt a tingle of awe course through my body as I deepened into understanding my experience at each of the stations with Horse.
A jump - "Frozen" my horse deliberately used his hoof to remove the pole - he took out the barrier - there is no barrier any longer! I felt surprise and delight in my belly
Cones to weave through - "Doubt" half-way through I paused with my horse and named that my knees had started to tremble, and a spike of panic zinged up the back of my neck/head. Needing trust, support and presence. I was immersed in calm. I expressed gratitude to my horse for his companionship.
Tarp to walk over - "Self-confidence" my horse nosed the tarp and then used his hoof to paw at it - I felt curious, open in my heart, and wondered what was unfolding - as he moved the tarp to expose some grass underneath I was inspired to perceive the tarp as emotions, when I stay curious and present to the sensations/emotions within me, they reveal the beauty of the needs that lay underneath them and I am empowered to move through them.
A jump - "Shame" my horse stopped in front of the jump, with one swift movement he pulled the pole down with his hoof, he kept his hoof on the pole, moving it to be perpendicular between the two posts. As I witnessed this I felt the profound relief of lightness in my temples - the pole between the two posts symbolized reorganization of the hemispheres (Shame can only thrive in hiding)
Big ball - "Self-protection" I invited my horse to move the ball, which he did with his nose, following the ball I invited more movement and felt playful bubbles of delight move up from my belly all the way to my face! He moved it with his nose, and then he began using his hoof! He kicked it up against the square (Fear), then pushed it with his nose and it moved far over across the tarp (Self-confidence) to rest on the other side of it. When I can play - I know I am safe and open to discovery - Self-protection.
Big square - "Fear" Standing beside my horse we turned to face each direction, E, N, W, S, I felt confident, open-hearted and complete awe. (No Fear!)
During my de-brief I noticed wasps buzzing around, I had noticed a few of them moving through the course too, and I wondered who they represented. In an instant I recognized them as the "others" in my life that used to terrify me with their ability to sting me - to inflict their painful venom into my body. I also recognized they no longer hold that power over me. As I am moving through this life and I sense the subtle sensations of fear, shame, or doubt begin to emerge, I will remember Horse accompanies me, I will remember I am not alone, I have self-protection, and I am empowered with self-confidence to be who I am - Me! I noticed my heart expanded with warmth and my eyes took in the environment with more color and hue. My horse snorted (in agreement).
Life shows up differently as I discover how to listen to my heart - Life is for me - Life is me!"
Through ongoing non-verbal connection with horses, and the accompaniment of somatic empathy, we can begin to regain trust and restore our whole sense of self. When we learn to listen to the involuntary physical responses which contain our body's wisdom in its earliest stage, we can begin to experience all emotions as energy in motion. We can receive these visceral signals as the energy and information flow that they are and begin laying down new neural pathways to peace. This opens up the possibility of restoring our ability to remain open, interested and curious about anything and everything once again.