Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mystical Body Worker: The Horse

Have you met a horse that's a body worker yet?

I have, let me share my adventure with you.

From the time I arrived at the Buffalo Women Ranch, in SW Colorado, I was intrigued by one horse in particular. A big-boned black horse with a mysterious eye- she was the embodiment of Presence & Power.

I knew we were supposed to do some work together, because where ever I went, I felt her stare follow me. And whenever I came close enough, she wanted to touch me.

When our round pen session came, I was expecting fireworks- perhaps emotional floodgates being opened to cleanse ancient wounds. I don't know.

Instead, I got a healing of a different sort.

Loose in the pen, Star came directly to me. And she began working me over. Mostly with her muzzle, she'd rub those huge, powerful lips all over my body. She started on my back, worked over my head, continued down the stomach, all the way to the feet.

It was a bit disconcerting, having to trust this large-mouthed new friend, as she worked tirelessly, for more than 45 minutes! But holding so much chronic pain in my body, I was willing to receive help however it came!

At the time, I didn't know WHAT on earth she was doing. But I knew it was important work, because she took it very seriously and never took a break- she was focused and on task the entire time!

Which, if you ask any horse person, is a highly unusual level of focus for a horse, especially given it's freedom!

When she was finally satisfied that her work was complete, she took her leave of me and stood over by the gate, signaling it was time for a snack.

Amazed and in awe at what just happened, I chatted with Robbie and Charlie, the lovely leaders of the ranch- who informed me that Star is their master body worker and energy healer. Though, even they had to confide that they had never seen her quite to intensely focused and for so long!

The effects weren't immediate and I went to bed wondering what on earth to expect from such horse service.

The next day, I drove the long 10 hour drive back to Denver, with a horse trailer in tow.

It was exhausting, but when I got out of the truck after our epic adventure- I was amazed to notice that I strode away standing taller and straighter than I had in years! And, standing like that took NO EFFORT at ALL.

Usually I'd have to man-handle my body into such a posture and the muscles would become so tired from their effort they'd completely refuse after a short time.

I smiled an enormous smile of gratitude, "Ah, sweet friend Star, this was the gift you bestowed upon me yesterday!"

No doubt, she also released emotional wounds that went along with those physical pains.

I found the change remarkable and my eyes were forever opened onto a new vista of how Horses are Natural Healers- here to help give us back to our selves- in full health, happiness, and vitality.

Thank you Star for opening my heart and mind and showing me one of the many ways horses have come to heal us!

Readers: Have you met a Body Worker masquerading as Horse? Share your experience!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Charm’s Antidote for Jumping Fears: Shining Your Calm, Confident Sun

"At its finest, horse & rider are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being."
- Author Unknown

I’d like to share with you one of my own healing journeys, as a rider.

Let’s put it this way, my previous horse- a spooky, athletic guy who thought the bogey man was hidden beneath every jump- left me a bit of a basket case. Why I bought Charm, a 3 year-old, barely broke mare as his replacement when my nerves were shot, I’ll never know!

Teaching Charm to jump was mostly a joy, except for the background fear that kept creeping in, and sometimes felt overwhelming. She never did anything to provoke it- it was just fear left over in my head, heart, and body from the past.

Not really fair to her, I knew it got in the way of giving her the confident ride that a green horse deserves.

Fast forward to Charm’s first cross country jumping lesson this spring. Charm acted like she’d never seen a jump before. As a result, my fear crept up till I finally asked our new instructor to have a sit on Charm to give us both some confidence.

Boy, when I got back on Charm, she let me know she had not been pleased with my decision. Worse, back at home, she didn’t want to “talk” to me for 3 days! Repeatedly, she ignored my overtures for affection.

By the 4th day, I knew it wasn’t just a mare mood she was in. She was upset about something. It felt to me that she was mad that I didn’t “trust” her. She seemed to say, “Why didn’t you trust me? I’ve never really done anything! You need to get over yourself!”

She was right of course. So, I decided to make amends. I stood looking at her in the paddock, wondering what gesture would signify to her that I indeed was willing to extend my trust to her.

It only took a moment for me to know what I had to do: Ride her bareback. Charm often watches over the fence as I take one of our other 2 mares for bareback rides- something I do comfortably because I trust them implicitly.

I strode over to her and informed her of my plan. She stood in silent agreement as I awkwardly got on her in the paddock (It’s not easy lifting yourself up onto the naked back of a 16.2 hand, sensitive horse!).

Before taking her for a ride, I decided to work on healing this issue of trust and fear by taking myself through the Equestrian Harmonics Exercise called Body Wisdom Method.

Sitting atop Charm, I tuned into where in my body I felt that familiar fear. Immediately I knew it lived in my upper chest, around the heart area. As I focused in on that space, and felt the tight sensations- the image of a closed, restricted fist came to me.

Believe me, riding with that kind of constriction doesn't help you or your horse!

I engaged in the Dialogue process, discovering how to release this pent up fear that was lodged in my body. Soon, I saw that closed fist in my chest opening and relaxing.

Taking the Dialogue further, I wondered what healing image I could replace the fist with. Suddenly the image of a warm, powerful, but relaxed sun came to me.

It was clear that I was to reclaim my power by allowing the symbol of the warmth of the sun to reside in my chest and radiate calm, confident strength all through my body and outward.

Next I wondered out loud to Charm how I could remember this image when I was out riding and I got the idea, “Just look up at the sky.” Indeed- that would be simple enough!

I wrapped up by questioning how Charm herself could help when I became fearful in the future. The thought came to me, “Remember all of the fun we had together!”

I wasn’t even sure what fun we were referring to! But the statement had a powerful emotional impact on me and I burst into tears, collapsing over her neck, crying away years of fear, doubt, and mistrust.

It was in that moment that our relationship was healed. And I FELT deep down for the first time that I could, that I should, trust her. That we had each other’s backs.

When the tears dried, I led her to the round pen, where I rode her bareback briefly before venturing around our unconfined yard. She was the perfect lady the entire time. We had begun rebuilding our trust.

Since then, we’ve had delightful bareback hacks around the property (Well, except for that prominent whither!) and have even done some saddle-free dressage. Always, she’s behaved lovely.

And our jumping has improved! I discovered that the sun image held profound power.

If I shone that relaxed, yet confident energy forth from my heart space, I could ride that energy up and over the jumps, allowing it to guide us both safely, with joy, over every obstacle!

THAT’s the healing power of heart-centered coaching with horses as your guide! In one 30-minute session I was able to melt old fear, rebuild trust, and increase a heart-felt sense of partnership with my horse that had long-lasting benefits.

I invite you to give your own version of a relaxed, confident sun a try the next time you ride!

Readers: Let me know how your sun, or other image, assists you to overcome obstacles!

Re-Mothered by a Black Horse: More Effective than Talk Therapy!

Let’s kick this blog off with some of my own healing adventures with horses!

In fact, let’s begin at my very first personal experience of equine-assisted coaching: It rocked my world.

Back when I was doing my post-doctoral fellowship in Rochester, NY, I went through a devastating breakup. The kind of persistent pain that caused me to seek out therapy to make sense of it all.

The therapist was brilliant in getting me to understand what the ferocity of this pain meant: It wasn’t about this boyfriend at all, it was really about my distant, childhood past.

I needed to really grieve not having my needs met as a child, she said.

Problem was, I didn’t have access to those memories OR the feelings- so I COULDN’T grieve.

I wanted to, but I my subconscious had neatly tucked away all of it to protect me. And try as I might, I didn’t seem to have a way to get in and make contact with the part of me that needed to heal.

So, therapy was a stalemate.

Sure, I walked away with greater insight into the situation, but insight is only the first part of healing. Insight alone doesn’t shift anything monumental.

Fast-forward several years to the first equine-facilitated learning workshop I attended.

I stood outside of a round pen, across from a jet black horse that I had selected to work with, because somehow, she felt “right” to me. And before I even stepped into the pen to begin my ‘session’- I was crying.

When I entered and stood next to this mare, I cried harder and harder. It went on forever and I didn’t even KNOW what the tears were about.

Then as I stood enveloped in her warmth, one word floated into my awareness: Nurture. In her own way, she was offering the mothering I had craved.

In a split second I realized that at last I had made contact with my wounded inner child, the child that had stubbornly remained hidden for 9 months of therapy years before. And now, a childhood of sadness was finally being grieved, finally being experienced.

But more than that, it was being released- from my body, my heart, and my mind.

After more than 30 minutes of full-on sobbing, the tears began to dry up. I stood next to this black mare, my arm over her whither. And as the sun came out from the clouds behind us, it illuminated a shadow before us: Of me and her, together.

Immediately I was struck with this idea:
I am never alone. Walking beside me is always the comforting force of Love. And together, we’ll make it through.

As that knowing flooded over me, a new wave of tears came down, this time refreshing my soul with comfort and relief.

In one instant, a new memory was installed in my body, heart, and mind: A memory that should have been part of my childhood, but was missing.

Now, I held it close to my heart and breathed in a new sense of wholeness. It was like a 100-pound weight was lifted, leaving me light and renewed.

What a beautiful healing gift this horse had given. Yet more was to come.

Later back at the hotel room, I laid down to rest. And I was startled to discover that something had changed in my body.

Suddenly for the first time, I was able to breathe all the way deep down into my stomach. Honestly, before that moment, I wasn’t even aware that I couldn’t do that! I didn’t know that I was holding a block there.

I was amazed to realize that a simple, yet profound 30-minute round pen session with a mysterious black horse was able to accomplish what 9 months of talk therapy could not!

A block that had probably been there since childhood had melted, leaving my body with a greater sense of wellness and energetic flow.

After this session, the trajectory of my life changed. I knew I was being called upon to combine my two life-long passions- love and horses- to help people experience this kind of awe-inspiring healing.

Thus began my own healing adventure with horses and a new passionate path opened before my eyes. A path I’d be honored to walk alongside of you at the Happily Ever After Holistic Healing Horse Ranch!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Welcome to the Healing Ranch!

Hello and welcome to the Happily Ever After Holistic Healing Horse Ranch, where we delight in being your guide on an amazing healing journey to the person you were always meant to be!

On this blog, we'll share with you some of the heart-warming, healing adventures taking place at the ranch, where 3 remarkable horses and I will be your co-healers.

You'll discover the powerful, transformative healing that can occur when you learn to access your own Inner Genius to melt away your mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual blocks to wellness and wholeness.

At the ranch, our mission is to lead you back to your Highest and Best Self so you can reclaim your Magnificence.

Or, if you are a rider, our passion is helping you uncover the healing gift of the Authentic Partnership that is waiting for you & your horse. With a bond like this, satisfaction & success with your horse comes naturally.

The horses have stepped forward to be our facilitators in this profound work. All you have to do is come with an curious mind, an open heart, and a willing spirit.

Together, we'll create the space for you to re-discover your Gem-ness. And recover all of your natural gifts and abilities!

Are you ready for an awe-inspiring adventure to the Center of You? Climb aboard for the Magic that is- Healing with Horses! Consider yourself personally invited!