It’s just as important to flow with our ‘good feeling’ emotions as it is with our ‘not so good’ feeling emotions and to know if we are feeling excitement. Horses show us that we can move freely from one emotional state to another if we allow ourselves to ‘feel’ them.
In Way of the Horse; Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery, Linda Kohanov writes: “The ego knows that intensely ecstatic experiences are just as likely to burn out of control and so it struggles to keep everything at a nice, safe even keel” and “It’s no small task to stay present during intense outbursts of power.”
However, Linda goes on to say that “The opposite of evading experience is deceptively simple; staying fully present to whatever happens.”
If we try to suppress or hide our excitement or we become addicted to it, it persists and even escalates. This can cause all sorts of problems or unhelpful outcomes. I can still remember a time when, trying to hide my excitement during a conversation when out to dinner, I reached across the table to help myself to some vegetables and knocked my drink all over the table!
Some months ago, I facilitated a session with Bramble which so clearly demonstrated how we can become addicted to excitement. It was an interaction to help my client learn how to increase and decrease energy and to experience how her internal energy impacts those around her, and on this occasion my pony Bramble. The client (who I will call Jo) began moving Bramble, in walk, around the arena very smoothly. The aim was for Jo to bring her energy up and invite Bramble to trot for a circuit and then bring her energy down and encourage Bramble to return to walk. After Bramble had trotted a couple of circuits in trot I noticed that Jo was smiling and seemed to be making no attempt to slow Bramble down. I reminded her to connect with her body feelings and to breathe out. After two further circuits Bramble began to slow down to a walk and both Bramble and Jo visibly relaxed and they walked towards each other to connect before completing the exercise. I was intrigued and asked Jo to share her experience. She said that whilst Bramble was trotting she became excited, but had wanted to keep calm and suppress her feelings. So, by the time she wanted Bramble to slow down her excitement was escalating and she felt her breathing and heart rate increase. Jo said that the irony was that Bramble only began to slow down when she gave up trying and allowed herself to notice her internal feelings!
I know that I can quite easily become addicted to excitement or busy-ness. I can feel my body tingle when I get a call from a potential new client or a new opportunity comes my way and instead of feeling the appreciation in the moment, I become addicted, and aim to prolong the ‘feel good’ feeling and I go looking for more clients and opportunities.
From observing Jo, I was reminded that when I suppress my excitement or become addicted to it the heightened energy continues and after a while I get exhausted and burn out. When I can feel and enjoy the bursts of excitement and flow between my emotional states. I can find the balance between times of rest, peace and calm and times of excitement and exhilaration and sustain longer periods of fulfilment.
Horses teach us that no emotion is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it simply provides information. They flow with and respond to their emotions as they arise and then return to a natural state of calm and mindfulness. They remain calm, but alert to their surroundings and ready to respond to the next emotion as it arises.
The beauty of interacting with horses is that they bring our unconscious patterns into awareness, so simply! This gives us the opportunity to let go of old patterns, to respond differently and to change so that we can lead a more balanced and harmonious life.
This was the realisation of another client (who I will call John). John had a similar challenge with the energy exercise on a workshop at Treetops Farm. Despite John’s desire to slow the horse down it kept trotting. Although looking super calm on the outside John became quite distressed internally, determined to control his emotions and slow the horse down. Eventually, when I asked John for the third time, to acknowledge how he was feeling he told me that he had initially felt excited, but it had turned into anxiety when he couldn’t control his feelings. As he spoke his feelings aloud the horse moved gracefully from a trot to a walk and turned to face him. It was a ‘light bulb’ moment for John.
Afterwards he became quite emotional as he recounted to the group many times in his life when he had walked away from opportunities because he couldn’t cope with his heightened state of excitement and anxiety. He couldn’t believe that the solution was as simple as honouring how he was feeling in the moment.
“Becoming aware of an experience, exactly the way it presents itself is like lighting a match and efficiently burning through what would otherwise become an unconscious block” Linda Kohanov
So, my question is; Can you stay present and focused during moments of intense joy? Can you dance with excitement without becoming addicted to it? And, if the next moment offers frustration, sadness or disappointment can you dance with that too?
If not then, the next time you feel excited follow this process:
1. Notice your body feelings and sensations
2. Notice your thoughts (in particular, any which might encourage you to suppress your true feelings)
3. Observe the natural flow from one emotional state into another
If you want to find out how horses can help you to become aware of old patterns and dance with your excitement, then do get in touch.