Today I am off to meet with a horse, well I love horses and always have done. As a young teenager and into my adult years I kept my own ponies, riding across many landscapes mostly bareback and without any need for saddle and bridles, I had absolute trust of those fellow creatures. And then in my 40’s the accident happened that changed all of that.
Crumpling under a 17 hand high Irish draught horse, I near met my end and felt that intense vulnerability of powerlessness. I never rode again, but decided a short while ago to re-kindle my friendship with horses and to try to understand why something that had been so natural and life fulfilling for me had so swiftly and instantly been taken away.
So today I set out to meet with Gabrielle and her two horses at ‘Shine For Life’. A non for profit organisation that runs equine assisted therapy and learning. I could have just decided to go for a horse ride one day and get over what ever was blocking me and ignore those fragile feelings that arose when I even thought about a horse. But I knew the vulnerability was an important gateway to healing.
I had lost a big chunk of my life. So not only did I feel a sense of (probably very justifiable) fear around horses, I had also lost that necessary connection to horse and the world of my primal adventurous spirit that went with it. I didn’t need to ride again I told myself, but I did need to make friends with horse.
A few months ago Ben and my daughters went off to ride together for a birthday celebration, I went along to watch and support. Within the confines of the stable yard I had felt that fear of body crashing down onto concrete having slipped off the rearing horses rump and being sandwiched between that same concrete and beast. I was happy to simply observe. But once I was watching them canter through green meadows my yearning returned and my soul leapt a few beats. Wandering through the woodlands as I awaited their return I found the feathers of a tawny owls broken wing, I gathered them to me as they supported my tears of loss.
So now with Gabrielle in the field, with her two horses I began to reclaim a little of my relationship to those horses. Ben came with me and we were able to observe our own relationship through the energy of these horses. Intriguing it was and we saw many of our own patterns of behavior that are instinctual and necessary for us. We were witness to some fun antics, some sexy moments, friendly playful displays of flirtation and some firm feet on the ground determined, steady earthiness. The way to stand side by side as we look out at life together. We learned a lot about what is needed for us to continue together in a healthy and deeply connected way.
I had to really trust my own vulnerability to lead me to this place without bottling out and letting my fear of the past experience over ride my determination to make changes regards something that was actually affecting my soul quite profoundly.
I may never know fully any reason for the accident I had, maybe it is just one of life’s mysteries. But the journey it is now taking me on is certainly an adventure that I would not be experiencing had it not happened. Who knows where else it may lead. But for sure one of these days I will share my home once more with horses.
Looking through some of my writings I came upon a piece of writing about vulnerability that I had written some time ago.
Trusting The Vulnerable
Can you trust your own vulnerability? Is it something you will admit to in the face of others? Or is it something you would prefer to hide away incase you were considered to be weak or too fragile for the approval of others?
What would it truly mean to step into your own vulnerability, to acknowledge its existence and even bare the fruits of the possibilities that ensue? For sure their are enormous benefits in allowing our vulnerability, as it opens up gateways into the courage and authenticity needed to be an honest human being.
I have had to journey into my own vulnerability time and time again. I’ve written many experiences with this in my last two books. We are all vulnerable, just living on this planet makes us vulnerable. None of us are beyond the tremors and elemental forces that are around us.
Every day we meet with possible death, every day we face the enormity of how fragile we really are, yet barely do we allow ourselves to think like this. Probably for the best. If we went around imagining doom and gloom we would be in a right state, probably locking ourselves away shutting the lid on life and never daring to look beyond very tight boundaries. But there is a vulnerability that does need addressing, because if it is not, it will create stress and dis-ease within our bodies.
There is no possibility of truly loving with out that same love being prepared to be vulnerable. There is no true courage until we can walk through our vulnerability.
Beautiful vulnerability – be careful what I write. Releasing me from safety, never knowing, as safety has a harsh dance too, she reminds me to be ever careful, never to take risks or to dare to escape into the fire of adventure. Inviting my vulnerability may seem like a gentle and sweet exploration of my soul and my inner child – yet it rocks my boat and throws caution to the winds of time and illusion – reaching into my stress, one layer after another into that song that once sang a deep gratitude for all that is in my life.
To find now the gratitude for being thrown into the thunderous waves of life, like a small twig cast from a precipice into the torrents of mighty rivers – I draw in my breath.
To wander in and out of lightning struck head games and eat from the tables of natures hurricanes, I am daunted by what is yet to follow. Yet if gratitude persists in the knowledge of vulnerability and safety sits on the shelf and simply observes, then the mystery welcomes me into its storm, into its whirling midst where I can dance in its stillness, letting the stress take care of itself. The eye of the storm takes me further into my own gentle and unfolding garden and the storm passes over the landscapes leaving a trail of words and sentences, poetry and prose for yet another tale of outrageous ridiculousness on the merry journey of life.
Would I remain on that shelf and sit side by side with dear safety – maybe for a moment – to ask her how she is and is life exciting her enough? Is she ready to risk putting a toe into the storm or a finger tip into the currents and yell that rebel yell, ‘to hell with it all – I want to dance freely’ Risking all of the need to remain with one story of love and of being at home, home with the nest of many and curled into comfortable illusions and dreams of a perfectly nice existence. Breaking loose of any idea of mundanity opens from the cracks in the walls and stains on the carpets, the unfinished jobs left too long that create a stench of ‘her rightful place’
Never no more it sings from the garden wall, time wasted on the endless cycle that goes round and round creating harmonious tremors like forty days of washing up and unswept floors. Emptying out, it is time to let go of that home, that never ending cycle and leap into the boundary-less world of expanding vulnerability letting its waves meet with different shores in a world that will greet it and meet it one wave after the other as fresh and new ideas tumble into the dunes and grow fruit from the expanding consciousness of its receiver.
And safety holds my hand as she leaps off the shelf, in fear of being left behind.
What is being vulnerable?
It is about being able to feel into our own emotional being. To listen inside the body to the stirrings of our hearts. It means paying attention to the vibrations of sadness and grief. To the underlying fears that we would prefer to ignore. It means speaking out even when we are deeply afraid of doing so, daring to allow the possible shame and humiliation that might ensue. It means meeting once more with the beast that rocked our boat, that took away our innocence and wild spirit and without fighting back, standing facing or leaning into and seducing the kindness and gentleness to be our ally and friend.
Some people prefer never to look at the shame they carry. There is a stigma that says ‘it is shameful to be ashamed’. This is confusing for the innocent being who is experiencing that level of shame. Others may feel that to be jealous, envious, angry, regretful, fearful are also shameful to feel too. So they cannot admit to those feelings and prefer to assume they must be about some one else.
Yet to be fully vulnerable, we need to acknowledge all that we feel and be prepared to face what ever unfolds along the way. Pure honesty is called forward.
Having to admit that one is vulnerable takes courage. Interestingly the flip side of vulnerability. Two sides of the same coin. We cannot be one without the other. We need courage to explore our vulnerability and we need to be vulnerable enough to step into true courage.
A man going into battle knows there is a possibility of death. He must face that vulnerable possibility and have the courage to stand strong in what he believes in. A woman giving birth knows there is likely to be pain and an opening up of her body, she prepares herself to face this. There will be no new baby without it. She can choose not to feel by anesthetizing, but risks not having the full experience of birthing her child, that she may hope for. The baby may be drugged and the strong bond between mother and child may be at risk. So to open ourselves up to experience rather than hide through anaesthetic, drugs, food or alcohol becomes a route to experiencing vulnerability and a way to address many levels of shame we might feel.
We can remain in denial, but denial is a trick created by the mind. Sometimes a useful trick that enables us to wait till we are completely ready before we embark on those mighty seas of transmutation. If we are able to swim out into those great waves and we still choose to deny our feelings, then chances are some one else will get the brunt of our stress levels and projections.
If we are brave enough to take courage, swim from those shores and at the same time face our shame, we open up possibilities of incredible creativity. We invite it in, to show us who we really are.
from The Circle, The Fire & The Phoenix
Thank you to Gabrielle and ‘Shine For Life’.
Gabrielle and her horses can be found at http://www.shineforlife.co.uk/staff/gabrielle-gardner.htm