Begin With Presence
I’m feeling excited at launching this blog with the purpose to share with you stories about my Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) sessions, my client’s responses and insights (with their permission of course!), and how the lessons from the horses can inform and support change in both personal and professional lives.
During my training at the Equine Psychotherapy Institute, I discovered that the horse will teach us what we need to learn in that moment, regardless what expectation or hopes the client or I had beforehand. The EPI model is one which requires us to be curious and open to what transpires and to listen to the horse, to notice what it is they are saying to us.
And that was certainly the case with Inga and Alhandro during my first individual coaching session, which was both touching and reinforced to me the value of this work.
My session started with a question – “What brings you here today?” Inga told me that, like many busy mothers, she was worrying that she was not spending enough time with her children and this was creating feelings of guilt that she was not being a good enough mother. She wanted to learn how to balance her life more effectively.
Note: In Personal Development Coaching sessions clients aren't always as clear about what they need and at times we will just see what comes up when with the horses .
I wanted to support Inga in this EAL session to see if, through the eyes of the horse, she could gain fresh insight about this guilt, her beliefs and her need for more balance.
I begin all sessions, both individual and group, with a mindfulness grounding practice called the 3 Steps to the Present. Presence is a state of being where we can let go of the distracting thoughts about the past or future and bring our full attention right here in this place and right now at this time. Getting grounded and present produces feelings of calmness, settles the nervous system and supports us to step into the work with the horses from a place of openness and receptivity.
Doing the meditation outside the yard helped Inga to close her eyes and relax without needing to be conscious of where the horse was or what he was doing. What I noticed during the 3 Steps To The Present, as her breathing slowed so did Alhandro’s and he dropped his head and starting to nibble at the grass. This is a sign of a horse in a relaxed calm state.
Inga shares that this feeling of being fully present is one she seldom experiences, and expresses a longing to have more of it in her busy life. It is very common with our busy lifestyles and technology distractions for people to feel not present, while at home, at work or in life. Our mind is distracted by ‘what’s next’, and not therefore fully noticing or experiencing what is right there, right now. Others experience us as being distracted as well. When we stop, pause and start to notice what is present to us in this moment, other notice that too and respond to us in a different more open way.
It was now time for me to invite Inga to take that feeling of calm and presence and enter the yard with Alhandro to connect with him in a way that felt safe and right for her.
We will learn what happens in my next blog.