The Body Knows

One of the things I love most about spending time at the barn is the calmness that blankets my mind and body. I brush my horse, undo out a few knots from her mane, and work her out in the arena. She sometimes tries to anticipate me in the arena and I will correct her and re-ask for what I want. It's a dance and it's different every time.

When I'm with a horse, my mind isn't racing with my list of daily tasks or worry about upcoming events. It's just focused on the moment with the horse. Nothing else exists. The stress I walked in with doesn't stay for long. I'm too focused on the connection and what is happening right now. I go to the barn for this very reason. It gets me out of my head and stops the hamster wheel spinning in my brain.

In the quiet, another voice pushes through. In those moments when I have expended myself, and my mind has stopped running, I hear my body telling me things my brain has tried very hard to ignore. Many times, I haven't even noticed the large amounts of energy I have spent trying to get my mind to suppress what my body knows to be true. It can be a hard thing to reconcile.

In my mind, I can push through my struggle if I just keep going. I'll make a schedule. I'll do tasks I deem as useful. I'll even change the narrative in my head to force the change that I want. I've even lied to myself, knowing that what I was telling myself was false, but not yet ready to confront the truth.

But my body knows. My body knows things aren't what my mind is telling it. The struggle is a tightness in my chest. Worry is a hole in the pit of my stomach. Stress is a tight jaw and tense shoulders. The amount of physical and mental energy I use to hold myself together eventually reaches a breaking point. For me, that's usually when I dissolve into tears. For someone else, it can be a panic attack or an outburst of anger. Our bodies can only take so much before the truth we've been trying to ignore screams out in an unpleasant experience.

Horses, it seems, know when our mind and our bodies are not being truthful with each other. They are very perceptive at picking up this struggle we have within ourselves. For a horse, this is an unbalanced state of being. In their world, mind and body must be in alignment for survival. Ignoring a threat gets you killed in the wild and the lone horse is an easy target. The herd finds safety in numbers. They find balance in interdependence. But most of all, a horse never lies to themselves or to others.

For the women that step into my arena, myself included, the horse is a truth speaker. They show us points where we are out of balance, uncover the stress we think we are hiding, and clearly see the anxiety our bodies battle. The trick is to truthfully acknowledge it. The only way to get an authentic connection with a horse is to be honest with yourself first. You will find that a horse is willing to forgive you your faults if you can admit them to yourself. They see the shift that happens in our bodies when we accept truth. We are allowed to cry, and many of us have. They don't mind the messy parts because it's honest and their willing to let us try again.

There is power in confronting the truth. It's there, deep down inside of us. There are just things that our bodies know, even if our minds fight against it. Our challenge is to listen to what our bodies are trying to get through to our minds and that can be hard, scary even. Once we've identified what is really happening, we then have to choose. Will we confront the truth or bury it again? The choice is up to each of us.

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