Spirit of the Mountain Herd
I’ve just returned from the most amazing working holiday in France, travelling with a herd of 50 semi-wild horses through the Pyrenees mountains. It was a personal journey of self discovery, of trust, of deep listening and curiosity. I learnt about horse and herd behaviour. I learnt how the horses communicate with each other when given the freedom to do so. I learnt how the confident and proud lead horses of the herd were constantly in conversation with the other horses with their energy and body language, managing the group dynamics and addressing the individual needs of the group to preserve harmony and ensure we made it all safely to our destination.
It was a challenging, exhilarating, joyful, peaceful and at times terrifying experience. For these 10 days I discovered a place and time where the silent and powerful energy of the mountains, and the free spirit of the horses supported me to focus on myself and deepen my personal knowledge and practice of mindfulness, energetic presence and emotional intelligence.
I’m sure this will affect my world, my life, my work in so many ways, but for now I thought I would share four key life lessons that I’ve arrived home with:
Letting go of the need to control creates deeper connection.
If you are in a position of control you can force a response or an action but this fundamentally damages the relationship.
Curiosity creates connection.
To build an authentic relationship you must remain curious about the other, and refrain from bringing in your own beliefs, judgement and expectations. When you are open and truly listening to the other, they feel valued. This build trust.
Thoughts are energy.
Every thought we have includes an emotional energy that others can pick up on. Our thoughts can be positive or negative or neutral but even trying to hide them impacts on the relationship. Being conscious of our thoughts helps us to notice the impact and gives us a choice to change the thought.
Replace making a demand with an invitation to have a more successful response.
When we use genuine invitational language (not a demand disguised as an invitation) then the other will feel they have a choice. Choice supports the other to feel relaxed and valued. Then the primal fight/flight mode that kicks in when we feel threatened is turned off and we become more open and receptive to what is being asked of us.
I want to express deep gratitude to the host family that welcomed us into their home and into their world of living and working with the Meren horses. To Paulette, the owner of Ribbleton who was our teacher and tour guide throughout the Horse–Led Adventure, Thank You so much for leading us with such insight, compassion, humour – you are an amazing woman!