How A Horse Taught Me Courage

I promised this week to tell you about my afternoon experience in the horse pen at Martha Beck’s ranch, so here goes.  For those of you that missed reading last week’s report, I’m referring to a session I had during the opening workshops of the Whole Health Medicine Institute last month.  It’s an amazing mentoring program designed for visionary physicians who want to change the face of healthcare, and I can say that there is nothing else like it out there right now.

After my energy work with the horse in the morning, I moved to another pen for the afternoon.   It was interesting to see how this session was so incredibly different.  I watched 2 women go before me into their sessions that brought up a lot of deep, hidden feelings.  The doctor before me talked about having to always be perfect, to do everything right.  And that struck this chord of recognition.  Suddenly I had this thought come into my head… and in a flash I saw how the horse pen experience was an analogy for life.  I was doing something that I had no idea how to do, without any instructions.  And everyone was sitting there watching me.  And I was going to look stupid.

This flash of insight opened the floodgates. The tears started streaming down my face.  I felt incredibly vulnerable.  I suddenly saw so many places in my life where I expected to be perfect and I was so afraid that I was not.  Even worse was that sinking feeling of no escape, that everyone else would see my imperfections and criticize.

It was my turn.  I walked up to the Master Coach with tears streaming down my cheeks.  “What is this bringing up for you?”  she asked.  I told her my thoughts about being scared to do things that I don’t know how to do, to feel uncertainty about things that I cannot control, and the big thing about people seeing me out of control and clueless.  We talked about it a bit, and she told me that there was no right or wrong way to do it.  Just walking into the horse pen was enough.  To show the courage to try it was enough.  OK, so the gate opened and I slowly walked into the middle of the pen.  I just stood there.  I felt quiet.  I didn’t do anything.  After a few moments the horse came right up to me, his face right in front of me.  I touched him.  He kind of nuzzled me.  I walked a few steps away.  He followed me.  I walked a few more steps.  He followed me some more.  I just didn’t have the energy to try asking him to trot.  The Coach asked me what my intention was… did I want to direct the horse to do anything in particular?  And I remembered the feeling that I get when I wake up in the morning and my cat is lying on my chest purring.  I hug her and I can hear the birds outside my window chirping.  Those moments give me such a sense of peace.  I felt this same sense of quiet peace with the horse.  I just wanted to enjoy this quiet time, walking with him and feeling his energy with mine.  We ended up circling slowly around the periphery of the ring.  The horse followed me everywhere.  At some point Martha Beck told me to put both my hands on the horse and stand so that my heart was very close to the his.  I could just feel the energy that exists in all things.

Finally my time was up and the gate opened and I exited the pen.  Everyone came up to me and gave me lingering hugs.  It was such a deeply emotional experience for me.  I will never forget the lessons that I learned from this one exercise:

1.  Be courageous enough to do things that you are scared to do.

2.  Not everything you do has to be perfect.

3.  It’s OK not to know everything about everything.

4.  No one else expects you to know everything about everything.

5.  Other people don’t judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.  Try to be more like everybody else in this respect.

Since I had this experience, I have become much more conscious of what situations scare me.  I decided to work on courage by purposefully choosing to do the very things that scare me the most, things that actually give me a physical reaction in my body.  After all, that’s how we make ourselves sick.  Once I made the connection that a feeling in my body was from thinking about something I was afraid to do, I immediately wanted to make myself do the exact thing that I was afraid of.  Because I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

I admit, it’s not the easiest thing to do.  But isn’t that the whole point of practicing courage?




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