Jun 082013
 

clouds

Finding mindfulness for self-care

From the minute I wake up in the morning my mind starts racing; what do I need to do today, what things have I missed doing yesterday and now need to do today, reading the world news, and the world condition just seems to worsen, feed the dogs, clean the paddock, grocery store, and on and on it goes. This all takes it toll on my ability to take that first step in the morning and to find a space to be that does not require my mind and my body to race around seemingly in circles. I reach to coffee, then another cup, a good stimulant to awaken the brain. But that’s not the answer because now my brain is going even faster, racing along with my heart to decide what to do first. And sometimes that means sitting in this turmoil doing absolutely nothing, stuck in the endless cycle of thinking.

Mindfulness as a practice of self care
A simple way toward inner peace, a way to turn down the noise, stop the circles of thought, is to find our space in the moment. Some people call this mindfulness; being mindful of the present moment. Here’s a practice that can help you find mindfulness, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. This can take only a minute, or as long as you like, yet it all starts with simply practicing listening to your breath.

  • Start by observing your breathing. Listen to your breath, feel where it is going in your body, sense the air moving in and out as you simply breath. Focus. If a thought comes by (and it will) let it go and go back to observing your breath. Sounds simple, and it can be with practice. So close your eyes if you like, and focus on this luscious feeling of life-giving breath moving in, and out, for just 3 refreshing deep breaths. Rest in the feeling of relaxation it has given you.
  • As you practice observing your breath, you will notice thoughts intrude taking you away from your focus on your breathing. When this happens, label your breath. Give your breath meaning. Simply recite IN as you inhale, OUT as you exhale. Deep, yet comfortable inhales, IN, long soft exhales, OUT. Notice how thoughts have difficulty intruding when you are labeling your breath. You are actively pushing the thoughts away as they arrive so that you can focus on your breathing. This step effectively trains your mind, setting down new neural pathways for finding inner peace. It is a practice that can be taken anywhere, no tools necessary but for your awareness on observing and labeling your breath.
  • The final step is accepting. Being aware of these thoughts, even as we push them away allows us to begin accepting our thoughts for what they are. Ever present imaginings coming from our amazing, almost magical organ, our brain. We learn by accepting that they will be with us for as long as we live. We accept them, and through mindfulness practice, we let them in and allow them to pass on through, breathing them in, exhaling them out, like clouds in the sky gently gliding along with the gentle nudging of a soft breeze.

Enjoy this practice of self-care, and remember it is a practice that can be with you wherever and whenever you find yourself in need of turning off the thought.

Dec 312012
 

…the more mindfulness we have, the less compelling sense-objects seem, until at last we lose all desire for them.
- Cynthia Thatcher, “What’s so Great About Now” in Tricycle Magazine

I know that losing my desire to hold on to aversive sense-objects (anything in my world that catches my attention in a negative way) offers me great potential for practicing self-understanding, worldly awareness along with my ability to accept change. But how do I practice that in the real world?

Last night, getting ready for bed, as I turned on the kitchen faucet for a glass of water, the water only trickles in. This means that there is no water in our 2500-gallon water tank, with a fairly significant leak somewhere outside the house. In this midnight hour it is freezing, snow and ice blanket the ground and my aversion to “no-water” (my sense-object) is especially felt. Losing the pull of my “desire” to hold on to “no-water” and its resultant sense of creating worry, concern and yes, fear in my mind, is a difficult challenge and one that could keep me awake for hours, ruminating on the what-if possibilities – unless I can let the aversive thoughts go.

How do I do this? With mindfulness; being mindful of the moment and letting go of my desire to hold on to my aversion. Being mindful of “no-water” gives me pause to find a space where I don’t need to dwell or to put my focus on “no-water” as a problem. Being mindful allows the thought of “no-water” to glide through my mind as clouds glide through the sky. My mind can rest along with my body as my head hits the pillow sending these thoughts out and away from consciousness.

I enjoyed a peaceful slumber to awaken to a beautiful brisk sunny morning. Water is now coming through my house water pipes (which means the pump is still working), so “no-water” can wait for a cup of coffee and a perusal of my email. My mind is focused, not worried, not dwelling on the what-if of being without water on a cold winter morning.

As I leave my warm house to feed my horses in the crisp morning air, I stay mindful of each moment, enjoying my task while observing for any aspect of what might be creating “no-water”. As I make my morning rounds, I notice a large puddle of standing water in the arena, more than what was left over from our latest rain and snow, and it’s not frozen like the other puddles I encounter. I hear a hissing noise coming from under the insulation cap over the spigot feeding the arena hose. Ah ha! I left the water running in the arena! One full turn of the spigot and my water problem is solved.

Now, if I had not been mindful, had been thinking, ruminating and fretting over “no-water” (which is so often what I do), my mind would have led me into mind bending chaos, most likely still solving the problem, but with little sleep, and a great deal of suffering along the way. This practice of being mindful of letting go of my aversions has led me down a clear path to a greater sense of well-being. I hope for you to find mindfulness in your aversions so that you too can lose your desire to hold on to suffering.

 

Jul 052012
 

Awakening Dreams – from Consciousness to Canvas
An Equine Assisted Personal Development Workshop

Awaken body mind and spirit through accessing the inner meaning of your dreams;  messages from your unconscious that can transform your life.

In this workshop you will experience ways to understand and learn from dreams that are often fleeting and gone before you awaken to the new day. Bringing a dream to work with, you will explore your dream through body movement, meditative reflection, and creation of mandala as a sacred space to hold your dream image. And with Horse as your guide, discover aspects of your Self that have been hiding away awaiting attention.

Self-exploration through dream work can be profound and transforming. If you have intention to seek your dream messages and are looking to explore emotions, feeling, and ways of approaching life that are not working for you right now, this workshop will help open some of those hidden windows to let in some light.

Please click  for details on Awakening Dreams

 

Jul 052012
 

Transitions – Through the Rabbit Hole of Life

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar …
“I – I hardly know, Sir, just at present,” Alice replied rather shyly,
“at least I know who I was when I got up this morning,
but I think I must have changed several times since then.”

-       Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

A question to my reader, who are you? As Alice ponders with Caterpillar, who you are changes all the time.

Change means letting go of what was, moving into a state of confusion, and then starting anew.

-       There is a time of letting go of what was; I was a woman who put much to thinking and reflection, but offered little of her true self for fear of rejection.

-       There is a time of suffering with the confusion of the “in-betweenness”; I am doing but I doubt; sitting in confusion as I write, erase, start over…finding conviction, write, doubt … as I move between feelings of conviction and doubt.

-       And finally, a time of finding the strength to start a new beginning; I find my heart to reveal my Self through the alchemy of words and the joy and awe of the universe of possibilities that await me. I share of myself in service to others.

Letting go means diving into painful wounds that I’d rather let be. My struggles within the in-between time bring up doubts and indecisions, pulling me back from the change that is calling out to me. Envisioning the new beginning, realizing my doubts and wounds will always be a part of me, gives me the strength of Soul to continue on in this process of transition.

These struggles of transition and change are necessary to move within the progression of life. They bring aliveness to my life and awareness to my Soul. Now, who am I? Soul on a journey of discovery, a body and mind feeding experience to Soul, and who I am tomorrow will enjoy the fruits of the labor of which I engaged in today.

I’m jumping down the rabbit hole for a most exciting ride! Come join me!

Note: If you would like to learn more about making sense of life transitions, I suggest the book, “Transitions” by William Bridges. This book is the essential guide for coping with changes in life.

Jun 132012
 

In 2011 I completed a one-year facilitator study program with Cathryn Clerc of Hippocrene Spring’s The Art of Listening Within. Cathryn holds an MA in Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and is an Epona Approved Instructor who completed a two-year program with Linda Kohanov, founder of the Epona program. In addition to my training in psychology and the Epona study program with Cathryn, my resume includes

  • 15 years as a usability engineer with fortune 500 companies, independent consultant and web-site designer.
  • Horsemanship and riding instructor.
  • A student of the horse from the horses point of view (Harry Whitney, Shea Stewart).
  • Natural barefoot hoof trimmer and mentor/teacher for those interested in this field as a career.
  • Managing and running Silver Fiddle Ranch
  • Director positions in various community organizations in Amador County CA dedicated to human welfare and the conservation of resources in our beautiful county.

And last but not least, completing my 2nd graduate degree in Counseling Psychology while offering personal growth experiential learning workshops at our beautiful facility.

I have dedicated the last 18 years working with mentors and teachers who have demonstrated pronounced horse-human communication abilities. Learning to communicate with the horse through the horse’s point of view has led me to deepen my awareness of the healing power of horses as it has led to my own personal healing and growth. The inspiration to create a personal growth program has come from my own healing through my horse’s wisdom and my desire to share this wisdom with others.

Horses have much to teach us, through their spirit, their emotions, and their intuitive minds, and if we listen carefully to them, they will speak to us.

 

Dec 112011
 

My afternoon contemplation as I watch out over my horses, sitting on a rock in their grassy pasture watching and waiting for what I will see and feel. I walk around to the top of the hillock in the pasture where 5 of my horses are calmly grazing, enjoying a late fall munch on the short grasses.

Mountain lions, bear, dear, wild turkeys, we cohabitate with them and a multitude of other wild mammals, birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles at our home in the forest along with our domestics; dogs, cats and of course horses, lots of pretty horses.  Sometimes the predators kill one of our own (I no longer keep goats). But that is life in nature and is that, which draws me close to the earth, close to the life that the earth sets forth, and the life the earth takes away. The horses know all about this by their instinct and their very nature, and I am witness to an adventure that takes place while I stand watching in contemplation over their domain.

My mustang Gracie is grazing at the bottom of the hill with 3 other horses, her daughter Isabella, Mikey and Prima my friends Peruvian Paso’s who live with my herd. I’m standing at the top of the hill in the pasture where the rest of the herd is calmly grazing. A feeling of peace engulfs me.

I am suddenly alerted as Gracie throw up her head and stares out into the forest in rapt attention. Her body is taut, ready for flight. She snorts; she stands in deep focus with all of her energy attending to a sound, a smell, or a spook that she saw in the forest. Mikey, Prima and Isabella become alert, as their heads pop up and they stare in the direction of Gracie’s focus. But, Gracie is the leader of this spook and they count on her to make a decision so they wait in anticipation for her direction.

My heart quickens, I catch my breath, my body goes taut like Gracie’s. Gracie’s emotional energy of fear is contagious. Her energy excites my alertness, my impulse is to take a solid stance and keep a safe distance, be ready for what will happen if they break into a gallop to flee. My thinking mind tells me there is no danger present, but the energy of a horse alerted is palpable, even 100 or more feet away as I am standing I sense its beauty and its power. My body feels alive, ready to run if needed, ready to jump away out of danger, eager to experience the rush of adrenaline.

Suddenly Mikey and Prima break to the right, moving quickly down the fence in their animated gait. Gracie rears and then lunges forward at full flight gallop pushing the Peruvian Paso’s with her speed up the hill to safety. Isabella takes flight following not far from her mothers flank, and in observing Isabella, the feelings coursing through my body move to pure joy, melding with Isabella’s as she powers her body gracefully up the hill. My body feels the raw energy coming from the horses as they gallop, the ground is shaking from their hooves hitting the ground. What a feeling of aliveness and adventure I am experiencing as the horses are running to where I are standing to offer them the safety of my presence and the presence of their herd mates.

Gracie comes to a sudden halt directly in front of me. She looks over my head, eyes down the hill toward the spook, still taut, still alert, breathing hard from fright not flight. I breathe …  deep breath … another … in through my nose, out through my nose and mouth … quiet inhalation taking in the fear … audible exhalation as I breath out peace. Our noses touch… our breath combines … Gracie settles, her breathing starts to match my slow calming breaths, she lowers her head, looks me in the eye, she softens, and I know she is now fine and she knows she is now safe.