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March 23, 2004
The Grace of Motion
This morning, while cleaning the barn, I thought about a recent
interaction I had with someone where I left the interaction filled
with self-condemnation and judgment. I had wanted one thing and they
another. They had made choices that affected me and I had frozen. I
had pulled back on the reins and said "no," with no idea what I
really wanted, abandoning my presence and forfeiting mobility. All
the while, I felt my old wounds around being "rigid, strict, stuffy,
uptight and weird" pouring over me like hot oil. Suddenly, it
occurred to me that my body was, as usual, trying to tell me
something and I was not listening very well. I realized that the
rigidity, both in body and mind, was a strong message.
When I see a student who has frozen on the horse, whether by
grasping a handful of mane or saddle and holding on or by gathering
the reins up in their fists and pulling back saying whoa!, I try to
bring them back to life by asking what they want. With the patience
of the horse and gentle coaching, slowly the frozen state thaws. The
student begins to contemplate what they want, to regain their vision
for the moment and the dreams that move them. The better they get at
identifying what they want, the quicker they can come out of the
motionless state. Eventually, the student is able to simply move
from one choice to another without rigidity. It is when we say "no"
that we put the VCR of life on hold and our picture gets stuck.
That doesn't mean the horse's picture gets stuck, though. The horse
continues to make choices about what to do next. This is when we can
become victims. Every horse, every life situation, is different.
When we say no, we pause inside and the motion we had in conjunction
with the horse, or whatever life situation we are involved in,
suddenly no longer matches. Our inner motion is stuck and the
outside world begins to pummel us. It pummels us, not because we
have been bad or are wrong or deserve to be punished, but because we
are not moving when everything else is moving. The only recourse is
to decide what we want. It can be anything; to allow the events
surrounding us to move us, to change direction and influence the
outcome, to move away from the current events, the choices are
endless, but the point is to make a choice! Put very simply, you can
choose to be the mover or you can choose to be moved, but making a
choice puts you back in power.
So, when I decide to follow my dreams, I encouraged healthy change.
I come out of my resistant state and immediately have room to move.
Being frozen is a tough place to be, because it is hard to see what
I want when I am motionless. Usually, rigidity is a learned response
to stress or overwhelm. Looking at how to recognize the warnings is
important, too. In most cases, there is ample warning and oft
repeated steps to getting to the frozen state. Learning to look for
these steps is a proactive way to changing that pattern. If I can
identify what I want in any given moment and then evaluate how close
I am to achieving that goal, whatever it is, I will notice sooner
and sooner when I am on the path to freezing. There are no benefits
to following that path, no matter how comfy that path may feel due
to the familiarity of the well-worn pathway. It leads to the same
dead-end every time!
We are all on a journey that is just ours, no one else can travel
our path or help us move. When a student rides a horse through a
difficult section of a trail or over a jump or through a gate or
around a corner, they must not interfere with the horse's movement
or the grace of that motion is lost. Each and every one of us must
be allowed to move independent of others, even as we learn how to
dance with each other! Our independence rides on our ability to
remain present and mobile. We are but a part of the larger wheel
called life, both following and leading, which when looked at under
the microscope are one and the same. We cannot follow without
knowing how to lead and we cannot lead without knowing how to
follow. Whether caring for ourselves or for others, this simple rule
is inescapable. We must be able to join the wheel or be thrown off.