Yesterday I was sitting in a field, watching a horse run around a small grassy space, shaking layers of dust and tension off into the crisp fall air. I was sitting crossed legged on the ground in the dried grass, listening to the almost quiet. I found myself getting lost in a feeling. Everything slowed down, my breathing, my heart rate, the hawk sat quietly on the tree nearby, the golden horse started to shine, and everything felt in balance.
If any of us has truly spent time in nature, not just being a tourist in nature, but really spent time letting nature wash over you, a wisdom to it all starts to emerge. Very rarely does anything push or force, yet everything is in movement. Whenever there is an opening, a spot of sunlight, a break in the trees, an exposed rabbit, there is something to step into that opening. Everything dissolves into something, the plants, animals, water, earth.
We often as humans become to obsessed with the energy of doing, pushing, talking loudly and quickly, “faster is faster” energy, this need to force things to go our way. We are closing in on opportunity, what we want, on our opinions, on this addictive rush to stay busy and light. Its a great feeling, heavenly almost. The problem with this energy is that it isn’t sustainable. We will burn out and try as we might to drink caffeine, exercise more, start a new project in order to get that feeling back, we won’t. It’s like a tree trying to grow without any roots. It simply can’t be done.
There is a saying that I like a lot for those that are crashing down from this energy, “The bad news is that you are free falling from the sky, the good news is there is no ground to hit.”
I hear that most people fear that if they stop being busy, of forcing things their way, they will become sleepy and depressed. The beauty of that busy energy is a greater sense of self, of pride, vision in who we are. To me, the “grounded” side of that isn’t giving up on ourselves, but more realizing there is no ground to hit. If we stop forcing things, we actually make more openings. By making more openings, we don’t spend so much energy and therefore we have much more energy within ourselves to work with. We become like an untapped stream, plenty of vitality and movement, but now waiting for the right moment to come out.
What I love about horses is that they seem to be masters at taking that grounded energy and using it to move beautifully in this world. I heard once that horses were thought to be the perfect combination of heaven and earth in one being, and that many horse cultures felt that way. I can’t say I would disagree but sadly we often don’t give them space to teach us that. We struggle with sitting and listening to the wisdom around us, feeling the nourishment we can take in with every breath, feeling the openings around us, and using the least amount of energy that we need to - which is actually very little.
An exercise for horse folks and non-horse folks - try doing something with your horse, whether it is sitting on them or leading them, and try doing it with while using the least amount of energy going out. Imagine you are going to keep all the energy within yourself and use the least amount of muscles you can. Take a breath, and then use less muscle, less energy. Instead of seeing what happens, see what changes. For those that don’t have horses on your journey, you can do this in an interaction with another person, with a different type of animal, or maybe even while opening a jar in your kitchen. Find that energy within and instead of having it leak out, let that internal movement make an opening. Get curious. What shifts?
Kaia Livingstone is a psychotherapist who runs a private practice outside of Boulder, CO. She specializes in helping horses and humans bond in order to help them relate and connect on a deeper level as well as heal and grow.