Mindfulness and Humility.

I had the perfect start to my day yesterday. I was able to breathe the crisp, cool air on a farm…riding horse. Before work, before chaos of the day, before everything. Man, if only I could start every day like that. Fresh and pure. My friend gave me a new horse to ride, a “steady ride, she’ll be good for you.” I was game. I went to meet her and she was totally consumed in her breakfast, not exactly pumped to leave it behind for a ride. But I got her, we introduced ourselves, and she walked with me. I tied her up and began grooming her. All this time (little bit so far, but many connection moments) I was floating in my body somewhere between where I used to be with horses, and where I want to be, coming from more of a “I’m superior to you” (even though that always felt a bit fake), to “let’s be a team, I can be your leader and I’ll keep you safe…let’s work together.” Trying to be a unit, to have a relationship, I tried to follow her lead. She liked certain areas I brushed, I could tell because she began rubbing against me. Okay girl, you can have my chest, go for it, feels good huh? As I progressed with the grooming, she moved around a bit, slightly annoying, but oh well, we’re a team right? I can go where you go. No, there’s a time and a place, and I wasn’t as clear as I could have been with that. As I saddled her, she must have looked a bit tense as a cinched her. My friend came to help, I backed up. The horse went from being fresh and antsy to standing still. Why? She tried to nuzzle my friend too, and she would have none of it. She tried prancing, and my friend moved to stop her. She took the bridle with, not so much grace, but rather with a bit of skepticism. “hmm, this is not like her…she’s usually more steady.” She didn’t demonstrate herself as a horse that could be totally trusted, so her halter stayed on under her bridle, she wasn’t allowed to freedom of it off. Standing back to watch this was a new experience for me. In my past as someone who taught kids to ride for two summers, I was always the one that rushed in. But here, I had something to learn. Why was she so different? Of course, she knows my friend more, but she’s not her main rider. Maybe it was the cool air, maybe it was her growling belly begging to finish breakfast. Or maybe it was me? I walked her to the arena to get on, and…struggled. She was dancing, not standing still, on high alert to her surroundings, and not very aware of me. I walked her around, tried standing her in the corner of the arena, tried this…conscious and careful not to “look exasperated…I can do this!” I finally got on, but she hadn’t calmed. She was a nervous ball of energy, scared of barrels outside the arena, skittish with the dog, smelling something in the air. I fought her some for control, feeling like we were tripping all over each other’s toes. Then my friend joined with her horse. “Follow me. Try this…hold her…relax…are you okay?…try that…this is why…and it went on like for a good 10 minutes before we exited the arena. During that time, my friend reflected to me that she saw me go from 0 -10 with my reins…totally loose, to too tight. There was no in between. I worked it, eventually landed in the middle. It immediately began to feel more comfortable. We were beginning to communicate. Outside of the arena, she still startled by the dog, saw some chickens and almost ran for her life…of course there had to be a tyranosaurus rex on the road too, oh I mean an old twin mattress someone was too lazy to dispose of properly. Man, don’t you hate those? They really can reach out and bite someone! My horse thought so, I was conscious of remaining calm, trying to send her my confidence that we were going to be okay. We made it…she was jittery…but gradually calmed. As I got the feel of “holding” her rather than going from totally loose to totally tight in a second, her neck relaxed and I had to loosen my reins significantly. She did occassionally startle at things, but it got noticeably better, we relaxed. Despite our start, we had a beautiful ride. I liked her, her story, her energy, her eyes. I want to try again and see if I can work to alter our start. And despite our start, I loved every single moment of it.

Now to analyze…why did this happen? A horse that is typically so “steady,” so responsive…why was she so flighty with me? We’ve never met…I suppose I was a bit nervous, and I suppose she sensed it. Horses can smell what’s going on inside of you sometimes long before you even realize something is there. I think I was “going too fast.” I woke up early, got ready in a flash to be able to “get out there and ride.” I helped the kids and Justin as much as I could before leaving so as to eliminate any guilt I had for leaving my husband alone to get the kids off to school. Payton of course was slow to wake up as usual, and “slow to let go of me.” Or was it “responsive to my anxiety to leave,” which perpetuated her desire to cling? I drove off minus two loaves of bread I wanted to gift that day, and a check I needed to deposit. My head wasn’t on. I got there and reported to being “great!” And dug right in. When maybe I should have breathed deep…slowed down my morning, soaked up the moments a bit more and didn’t focus on the clock. That would require me to chill with my anxiety of leaving on time, and give permission to go with the flow. Maybe how my horse responded to me is how my kids feel when I get moving too fast at home? Maybe that’s why we can ignite like wildfire sometimes, why we get into “sloppy dances.” Maybe I go from 0 to 10 too fast with them too and need to rest more in the middle. Horses, kids too, need to know you’re there, rather than feel the extremes. It’s the comfort of structure, the peace that comes from knowing what to expect and when to expect it, the trust knowing that you won’t hurt them, nor will you startle them (on purpose at least). When the peace is there, the willingness to comply is as well. When the teamwork is present, progress is made, the relationship is strengthened. We need to make ourselves so intriguing that the horse, our kids, WANT to follow us, they want to listen, and they want to respect. Because they feel safe doing so, and they choose to. Because in doing that, it’s easier, it’s more fun. My arms won’t be sore from pulling, my spirit won’t be tired from trying endlessly to control something that is just not controllable. We need to rest, and be.

I also experienced the lesson of humility in standing back. I was reminded how difficult it can be to learn, to say to yourself and in a sense aloud, “I guess I don’t know everything, help me, you know something I don’t.” That doesn’t mean anything bad about me, I am not inept or inadequate, but strong, and wise for standing back and learning from another. I am thankful I was able to do that. I have a lot to learn, and I’m meeting people that have a lot to teach.

Humility and mindfulness. Those are my two goals for the week. Knowing, being aware, and responding to all that I feel inside…and then watching what transpires as a result. I’m thankful for the transformation that is occuring in me right now. I’m thankful for the discomfort, for without that, I may not have been motivated to push forth, to open up and work to understand God’s call in my life. I’m thankful for the energy I feel for something that truly makes me feel alive. I pray for the chance to see it to fruition, and be open enough to know it may not be exactly how I like, AND to trust enough that it will be God’s will. I love where I am at (still working on the patience).

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2 Comments on “Mindfulness and Humility.”

  1. darla lindquist says:

    Thanks Anna, the article is great. And a good reminder of Hendrix’s – with his wife now acknowledged as co-author – important work. The book is great and worth re-reading. Love you.

  2. Julie says:

    Thanks, Anna … I remember that day, remember watching you and feeling the familiarity of struggle, or rushing, of realizing the need to work on mindfulness and managing myself. Thanks for sharing yourself so transparently, I learned from you today. I think humility and mindfulness are mighty awesome gifts! 🙂


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