Despite risking the unintentional, high-velocity dismount nearly every day, at Outside Rein we completely buy into the idea that our bodies are temples, and we treat them accordingly. We’re also aware that it’s equally important to pamper our minds, and so balance is a concept to which we strictly adhere. Thus, we were quite smitten when we stumbled upon (in the most unlikely place) the exercise of meditation (in the most unlikely form) as a means of harmonizing our emotions and manifesting positive outcomes.
Every morning on the remote Indonesian island of Sumba, equestrian specialist and mentor Carol Sharpe rises with the sun. She traverses a stone footpath leading to a stable of horses situated along the coastline, and readies them for their morning meditation. Because horses are sensitive and intuitive, they are excellent in aiding the practice of disciplined “mindfulness.” And at the risk of sounding too “New Age,” we totally bit on Sharpe’s idea of equine meditation.
“The universe is constantly vibrating around us,” says Carol in her Aussie accent. “We have to align our vibrations. The idea is to focus on the world as if it is already agreeing with you, not with the intention of mitigating what might not go your way.”
Cool. Wait, what?
“People dive into meditation focusing earnestly on preventing an outcome, such as, ‘I just don’t want this to happen, or I don’t want that to happen,’” she adds. “You are still bringing the exact opposite energy into the thought. It’s still a negative. It only works if you remove all of the rationale and just be the result you want. It’s a feeling, not an act.” She went on, “Horses are fiercely connected to the energy that we humans emanate. Therefore, they offer a huge opportunity to feel like we are making progress while we meditate, because they respond to it. It’s wild.”
Okay, now she’s giving us excitations! Sharp’s approach is rooted in the teachings of James French’s trademarked Trust Technique — the ability to connect with your horse in a way that builds a bond, and thus confidence, “which can then develop and extend to other areas of your life.” In other words, the so-much-about-riding-can-be-applied-to-life philosophy to which we adhere at OR.
So how does it work?
According to Sharp, one should sit in the general vicinity of a horse at liberty and find a focal point (a water trough, a fence post, that lost shoe that just magically reappeared after evaporating into thin air last week). Then simply listen to the sounds of the environment, and imagine all goals and dreams coming to fruition. Once focused and in a headspace full of positive energy, the horse will feel the resulting vibrational pull, and be drawn to it. Not only are we benefitting from the experience, but the horse is also relaxing and harmonizing his own spirit, pretty much guaranteeing better rides ahead.
Mediation has proven to be an effective tool for calming the mind, reducing stress, improving concentration, and increasing self-awareness. And for ORers without a tropical island or stable full of horses at their disposal, we recommend simply finding a bit of nature and employing Sharpe’s techniques in the same way, sans equus.
Of course it will be less fun, but you’ll still be picking up good vibrations.*
*Come on, you knew it was going to happen.