In “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” Eckhart Tolle writes:
“Regardless of what you say or do or what face you show to the world, your mental-emotional state cannot be concealed. Every human being emanates an energy field that corresponds to his or her inner state, and most people can sense it, although they may feel someone else’s energy emanation only subliminally. That is to say, they don’t know that they sense it, yet it determines to a large extent how they feel about and react to that person. Some people are most clearly aware of it when they first meet someone, even before words are exchanged. A little later, however, words take over the relationship and with words come the roles that most people play. Attention then moves to the realm of the mind, and the ability to sense the other person’s energy field becomes greatly diminished. Nevertheless, it is still felt on an unconscious level.”
This passage struck me as a perfect explanation for why horses can be such a beneficial partner in mental health and learning. Horses live in the present moment and are masters at reading energy. Due to this they are able to continually sense an individual’s inner state of being and will react accordingly. People create and project personas and stories that are not always authentic to their actual mental-emotional state.
Without the ability to understand words, the horse never becomes confused by these projections. You cannot fool a horse or win him over with outward gestures – they read who you are through the energy that you emanate and therefore have a window into your inner world. Watching how a horse reacts to an individual gives insight that can help that individual make changes to improve their life. This innate ability in the horse is a gift. If you are open to it, horses can teach you about yourself, how to live in the present and how to better read energy.
The horse can act as a mirror but the image that they reflect is not the outer shell that you normally see in a mirror – they show your emotions and core belief systems. This is best demonstrated when working with horses at liberty when they are free to be expressive. We all carry baggage from the past and have insecurities about the future which can lead us to living a life full of anger, resentment, jealousy, fear, sadness or feeling inadequate. We need to understand the things that are holding us back from living our best life. We also need to see how our emotions are projected onto others even when we try to mask them. The horses can help illuminate those dark spaces so that the individual can begin to address them.
Our belief systems also play a huge role in our lives. When we are working with horses, they will react to what you actually believe rather than what you say you believe. Perhaps you are one of those people that act confident and capable when in reality you don’t believe in yourself or your ability. Maybe you manage to fool everyone in your life. Maybe you over compensate by bullying coworkers or bragging about your accomplishments. The horse will be able to see through all of that.
If you ask a horse to do something without believing in yourself the horse isn’t going to trust you. If you fall back on your “tough guy” tactics to prove yourself the horse will balk and move away because you aren’t acting authentically. This allows you to peel back the layers and see the core of the matter which then allows you to make changes. When you have successfully shifted and start to believe in yourself, the horse will trust you and work in partnership which gives you immediate, positive feedback. Regardless of your issue, awareness is the catalysis for personal growth and empowerment.
A lot of spiritual practices point to mindfulness and living in the moment as the key to unlocking happiness. When a horse is interacting with you they are living in the moment. The human, on the other hand, is often worrying about the argument they had with their spouse that morning or the big presentation they are going to give at work later in the week. There is often a constant dialogue in the mind that prevents us from living in a state of awareness. Do you ever get so caught up in your thoughts as you’re driving down the road that you suddenly realize you don’t remember the last 10 miles? You miss out on life when the chatter in your mind takes over.
Life is about this moment. Is all of that chatter in your head really helping you connect with your horse? Is it helping you be a better person or live your life fully? Allow the horses to help you learn to live in the moment. Thoughts of the past are often connected to depression and thoughts of the future tend to be full of anxiety – happiness can only take place right now. When you become present you can connect to the horse and practice living in a state of awareness. As you get better at living your life, rather than stressing about things you have no control over, your life will become filled with joy, acceptance and possibility.
We are all so caught up on outward appearances, proving ourselves and dialogue that we fail to pay attention to the energy field that others are giving off. Being in touch with our ability to sense energy is where intuition comes from. Good leaders, business people, parents and friends have good intuition. They are able to read other people and see past the projected persona. In our culture, we are often encouraged to turn off our intuitive self but that is what helps keep us safe and make good decisions. You should learn to develop a strong intuition and then trust that ability. Working with horses can help you tap into the energy fields that surround us.
Watching how a horse reacts to an individual can give you a glimpse into the energy that they are reading. A good example of how we can use horses to tap into this ability is to work with a group of people and a horse. If you ask for people to work together to communicate with the horse using the horse’s language – silence – a clear picture is painted about the internal emotional-mental state of the people involved. When you take away words people have to connect and communicate through body language and energy. The horse will also react to the, often escalating, energy of the group and pretty soon everyone’s “stuff” is out in the open. This allows the group to break down the outer walls, or the projected personas created by the individuals in the group, to more clearly sense the authentic person.
It would be beneficial for everyone in their journey of growth and seeking purpose in their lives to have the opportunity to learn from horses. We would all benefit by thinking more like a horse – which is to not really think so much as it is to feel. All of us can benefit from learning more about ourselves and the energy that we are emanating, how to live with more awareness and joy, and how to read the energy fields of the people around us.