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opening new doors – gently

A new experience after the birth of a foal

what can i learn from you?

If you follow me at all on social media, you’ll know that my mare had a foal in the small hours of this morning (Wednesday 27th of May, 2020).

Because this wasn’t entirely a surprise – in fact, I’ve been holding my breath in a metaphorical sense, for the past eleven months – I’ve spent quite a lot of the last month practicing holding a space within which mare and growing foal could teach me.

 

simple doesn’t mean easy

This is the art and science of animal communication. The basics of it are straightforward (note: ‘simple’ and ‘easy’ are not synonyms). If I can settle into that space where my inner dialogue(s) fall still and my attention is broad, then there is space for other things to slide into the space this leaves.

If I am fully aware of my baselines and know how I feel on an emotional, energetic and physical level; if I know how my inner landscape usually looks, sounds, smells, tastes and feels; if I am stable and immensely well grounded… then there’s a possibility that whatever comes in is not from me.

all kind of angst

There is also a possibility that I’m deceiving myself about my levels of groundedness, connection and stability and I’m making it all up. That goes without saying. The only way to test this is to try it out. And finding inspiring reasons to still my many inner voices, to ground, to find a stable baseline and to be aware of the nature and boundaries of my own inner landscapes is A Very Good Thing. So whatever the outcome, this is a useful exercise.

It takes me out of my comfort zones. I have an internal narrative that says I’m flexible and willing to try new things, but this get me out to sit in a field (not so unusual) in ways that feel… interrogated. Which is uncomfortable. It triggers all kinds of angst. I’m not used to the sense that an external force is judging my ability to find stillness. I can do that quite well on my own, but it has a different feel to it when there are two ponies staring at me in that ‘What are you actually doing?’ kind of way.

An opening sense of self

So learning to watch that, to find the curiosity again, and let it dissolve in the space that arises, was the first step.

Let’s assume a few days of growing used to this, and then an evening that started off much like the rest, except the pregnant mare had stopped eyeing me sideways and was dozing close enough that I could feel the heat from her body and her tail was rhythmically snapping past my ears when she flicked at flies.

It occurred to me that if I was endeavouring to bring together my shamanic practice with this, then the obvious thing to do was to ask for guidance (on the basis that all shamanic practice is all about building relationships and asking for guidance). So I asked her ‘what do you want of me?’ which is my default question.

What happened was then and still is, hard to put into words. I felt an opening of a sense of self that was so hidden in plain sight that I didn’t know it existed. Where before had been a black background of ‘self’ – or an empty void – I’m not qualified to know the difference – now there was a swirl of colour, as if someone had taken strands of many-coloured lights and woven them so tightly together they’d lost their colour. In the relaxing of the weave, they were drifting apart and the colour was returning.

 

a kind of awe…

This feels rather more profound than it sounds perhaps because along with the images was a felt-sense of opening something that had been closed for… ever. Or at least a lot longer than I have the capacity to examine.

There was relief, and wonder – a kind of awe to the power x where x is a very, very large number. I think I cultivate awe and wonder and now I realise I play in a sandpit at sea level when there’s a Himalayan range out there to explore. It was like that with all of the sensations: everything felt reframed, not that I was feeling things more profoundly, but that I was sensing that something more profound was possible.

It didn’t last long – Faith came to call me in for dinner, which is my fault for not telling her I was going to meditate in the field to begin with. But it opened a door that I know is there, and can open if I choose to.

trying too hard

It feels like one of those things I could grasp at, that I could ‘try too hard’ or blunder all over it with endlessly futile good intensions.
 
I am reminded of a book I read about cycling through the Jhanas in Buddhist meditation and the basic rule was – the more you want this, the less it’s likely to happen.
 
Which feels self defeating and I could slide down that tunnel with remarkable alacrity. Instead, I’m finding ways to dwell in the moment that feel relaxed and opening the possibility that this door opens and the colours-unfurling is a possibility.
 
And so I am exploring the edges of this. Looking at how it feels and what it says about who I am. I have a feeling it’s going to entirely alter my sense of self, but the part that feels this is my sense of self. So that, too, is a rabbit hole. It’s best not to think. Just to be. And watch. And find the curiosity that lets everything happen.
 
If I work out how to walk through the door and find what’s on the other side in a way that I can express with more precision, I’ll do it.
 
Watch this space, but don’t hold your breath.

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