“When we get into a mindfulness state of the present moment, we are not thought-less but we are not engaged in those thoughts. We are not generating thinking which produces feelings. We are very neutral, still, peaceful.” –James French, Horse Trainer and Vlogger
Mr. French goes on to say in his riding instructional video that we can share that feeling of peace with our horse, and in return, we can listen to what she wants to share. It’s the ultimate in non-verbal communication and connection, at which the horse is an expert.
He reminded me that I need to constantly remind myself: Don’t let emotions hijack your energy. Instead, do a body scan – are your toes flat? I previously had no idea how much I displayed internal tension by physically curling my toes. Are your ankles locked into the down position or fluid and flexible as they should be, along with the rest of your body? Are your shoulders down and back?
Almost every time I thought to do a self-check throughout my ride this past weekend the answers were negative and so was my attitude, tensely braced for what might happen instead of enjoying the moment. Tara must have felt like she was carrying a cinder block on her back. I was so stiff.
So I started loosening myself up with a long breath in. Every trail rider knows the glorious smell of the sweetness of spring in the air. Why wouldn’t I want to breathe it all in, gulping greedily and deeply from my diaphragm, rather than merely sipping with shallow breaths.
Even worse, at one point I caught myself holding my breath completely because we were riding past a wind turbine that was whirring faster and more loudly than what Tara was accustomed to. Shallow breathing may keep me alive physically but deep breathing enlivens me mentally which leaves me more equipped to handle the things that I can’t anticipate.
I knew I was finally getting it right when Tara glanced back at me with a soft eye and a slow blink, her walking pace relaxing in tandem with my reined-in thoughts.