Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hello? Is anybody home?

How to Stay in the Present Moment in Everyday Life: 5 Simple Habits

Once again I'm sending my readers to one of my current favorite life coaches.  This time it's Henrik Edberg, whose Positivity Blog is a great place to spend a post-Snowpocalypse afternoon.  Take a moment to sign up for updates or an RSS feed to your news reader.  Sometimes you just need a hint of sunshine on a cloudy day (badoobadooba).
Just a tree.
Don't overthink it.

I chose this particular article for my horse  fiends friends because the mid-winter doldrums can easily overcome our best efforts at becoming one with our equines and offering teamwork instead of Epic Fail YouTube entries come spring show season.  This is the time to prepare mentally and physically for what's to come.  Let's all start the year with a better attitude, shall we?

I would start by suggesting that you log off all social media to that end, but that would defeat my own self-serving efforts, so instead I'll begin with asking that you unfollow (unlike, un-whatever it is on Twitter and LinkedIn and the other non-Facebook sites) anyone and any group that feels more like a drain on your brain than a boost to your caboose.  If you're going to be positive, you can't surround yourself with negativity.  You're not that tough.

And without a positive aura surrounding you, you are not going to be present in the moment.

Let's talk about being capital-p Present.  As you read this, I'll bet actual post-holiday pennies that your mind has already started to wander to one of several places.

1.  Shit.  I thought this was going to be about something interesting.
Animals are always present
in the moment...sort of.

2.  I wonder how I should break it to my ___________ that I'm not hosting a damn Superbowl party again this year.

3.  I need new breeches before my thighs bust out of my old ones in front of all the b*****s at the barn.

If you don't see yours here, it's probably along the lines of hearing that odd sound coming from the fridge (dog/washing machine/neighbor's house) again and hoping you won't have to call the vet/repairman/police.  Or maybe you're more global and are thinking about those D***  _______________ (non-yours group of humans you're currently hating on).

Look...all of that is probably important on some level.  I'm not putting down your choice of thought process.  I'm telling you that if you want to improve your relationship with your horse or any other being of any species, you need to shut off the internal iPod and pay attention.
Free your mind from crap.

I used to start my annual Teen Frustration Festival (aka:  Study Skills Class) on Day One of the school year with the following lesson:

1.  Everyone stop talking, stop moving, stop trying to set fire to your neighbor, give me your cell phones...just STOP.

2.  [silence for 5 minutes]  [okay, I lied....3 minutes]

3.  Take out a paper and writing tool and list the things you heard.

This invariably led to blank stares followed by a few tentative scribbles, followed by a torrent of hands in the air and pronouncements like "I heard the ticks!  Did anyone else hear the radiator ticking?  Is it going to blow up?"

Thereafter followed the question, "What is the difference between hearing and listening?"  The cool factoid I dropped on them was that one hears 24/7.  There's never a time (unless deafness intervenes) that your autonomic nervous system shuts off your hearing.  Period.  You can test this by waiting until your dad is asleep and sneaking into his room, waiting for his eyes to twitch (indicating REM sleep) and whisper something like "Your head fell off."  In the morning, odds are you'll be treated to a cool response like, "I was dreaming about the manifold I need to replace on the car, and my head fell off!"

Hearing is universal and endless.  Listening means paying attention, and that's being present in the moment.  Voila! 

When you go to the barn next time, shut up.  Just don't talk; don't let your mind wander to how you look, how your trainer is going to see you, how your horse's clip job sucks....just nothing.  Let there be nothing while you look at your horse.  Look at his ears, eyes, the way he's standing.   Is he twitching with energy?  Shivering from the cold?  Did he seem happy to see you, or is his butt facing you in hope you can't see him?  As you groom him, listen for the sigh and watch for the relaxation of his muscles.  You're allowed to coo to him, but no chattering to barn mates.  Just silence with intermittent cooing.  You can do that.

When you mount, take a beat.  Don't hop up and ride off into your usual routine.  Sit for a moment, stroke his withers, relax.  Then walk off.  Walk a lot.  Notice everything about him.  Feel him.  Feel where your legs are, your hands, your seat.  Feel your seat bones.  Are they both feeling the same amount of pressure, or are you listing to one side?  Straighten up!  Feel your spine from your head down to your butt and on down to your feet.  Breathe!

If you're not asleep (this is actually self-hypnotic induction), you can go ahead and start your slow circles at the walk and trot and move on into the practice of your choice.  And you will feel awesome.  So will your horse.  He'll know you're with him, maybe for the first time in months.

You're welcome.

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