A little bit of life, love, and artisan jewelry but mostly the
Home of the Confused Muse..
Where you will find the meadering thoughts of an actively artistic brain - as well as my latest creations, events, soapboxes, dramas, crisis, blessings, and life in general.
This is also the home of "ChrissyMarie Jewelry and Accessories", named for my daughter! Twenty-Five Percent of all sales from this line are donated to B.I.T.S. aka "Better in the Saddle", a local non-profit Equine Assisted Therapy Program ....because we KNOW horses help make miracles!
June 29, 2010
A Quiet Mind...
Meet two of my Heroes. The big guy with four legs is "Boo", a Missouri Fox Trotter and Equine Assisted Therapy horse. The guy leading him is Pat, my Instructor. This duo has turned my life upside down over the last couple of weeks.
I had planned to post here every day while this experiment was in process but I never seem to have the time! Although it is not a long drive to the barn, the traffic has been horrific because the highway on my route is under construction. Damn those orange cones! It's a double edged sword, the highway definitely needed work but the idiot drivers out there sharing the road with the rest of us make it a truly unpleasant experience. I get really tense in heavy traffic especially when so many people ignore the "left lane ends ahead" sign and then cause a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere because they are trying to squeeze in at the last minute. I mean, really, if I can read the sign and follow the directions I would assume a "normal" person could do it better :)
The point is this: I have trouble figuring out how to schedule my time. I'm always running late. It takes a while for Chrissy and I to get ready to leave what with changing into blue jeans and boots, remembering to take ice water along, and covering all the miscellaneous details. I just can't seem to gauge how long it's going to take even though I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now. My inability to figure out what time we have to leave almost always gets us tied up in traffic. My anxiety level starts to rise, I get terribly impatient, and the STRESS sets in.
I would drive through flood waters to get to that barn and the white horse waiting for me there. He has become my friend and a source of relief from the physical pain and mental frustration I live with almost constantly. He is trustworthy and comforting and I am finally experiencing what I can only assume to be the equal of a "runner's high". Riding Boo provides me with a time and space of my own to leave my worries behind and turn down the volume in my head. Pat or Chrissy lead him so I don't really have to worry about where we're going. I've learned to relax enough that most of the time I do not have a tight grip on the saddle but allow my hands to rest on each side of the horn. "Relaxed but Ready!" is the mantra I hear from Pat's soft and soothing directions. I just sit and enjoy the gentle rocking of Boo's steady gait. I concentrate on breathing with his hoof steps and becoming tuned in to his natural rhythms.
When I first started riding it was hard to keep from conversing with Pat about all of the day to day "stuff". I'm a talker and always have been. It's the way I work things out in my head. Now... conversation is almost an intrusion in that "quiet place". I'm developing a quiet mind. Before this program began I can honestly say I had no idea what it felt like. My mind has always been this way. I have A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) and now with the brain injury it's like having "A.D.D. on Steroids"! My brain runs at high speed constantly, flitting from one subject to the next, seldom resting. My thoughts must look like a hummingbird in flight, zipping from one blossom to the next while batting it's wings like crazy just to stay aloft.
Riding has allowed me to experience for the first time in my life a kind of self-induced peacefulness. Can you say "Ohm"? Yes, I'm aware of the obvious facts...I'm sitting on top of a 1200 pound animal that could startle or stumble at any moment. Boo is after all, a prey animal. He is calm and easy going for the most part but he is always aware of his surroundings. He is not fond of the beeping car horns of friendly neighbors as they drive by. He is always on the look out for the "lion in the tall grass"...even if it's just one of the family dogs chasing a rabbit. He seems to know just when and where to adjust his step to avoid the slick spot that might cause him to lose his footing. I can feel him tense during those times just as he can feel the slightest stiffening of my muscles. Most of the time I get the feeling Boo is just as concerned for my safety as his own.
I am not afraid on the back of this horse. In fact, I am sometimes so relaxed that I "startle" just a little when he takes the occasional misstep, or responds to an unexpected noise or movement in the grass. Even so, I have learned to relax and trust his instincts and I am amazed at how easy this part of the journey has been. I am amazed at my own reactions! I have never felt a moment of panic when Boo spooks or is startled. Even my daughter (who has taken to "mothering" me") is impressed.
Yes, I do need the constant coaching of my daughter and my Instructor to gently guide me and remind me check my "center" and to watch for the first signs of pain, spasm, or aching. They have to remind me to get off this gentle ride before I get too tired. Do you have any idea how amazing it is that I am so unaware of my own pain that I must be reminded to check for it? I feel truly blessed to be involved in this experience, to have the loving guidance of people who are quietly cheering me on, and to have met this horse who never fails to show patience and compassion both during and after I ride. His soft nuzzles on my neck are better than any massage.
The extra bonus....my drive home, no matter how heavy the traffic, doesn't stress me out! I am sleeping deeply and for longer periods of time after I ride. I'm taking less medication and having less pain. My brain remains calmer and more centered for hours afterward. I am definitely feeling the benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy for Adults! The only drawback? I'm just too relaxed and calm to post to my blog every day. I don't want to think too hard...it might take away my "Zen" mood :)