What Horses Teach Us About Remaining Calm Under Pressure #2 Observing Your Breath

In case you missed or want to recap on the the first blog post in the series what horses can teach us about staying calm under pressure its called Challenges

"As long as you are breathing you still have the chance for a happier life!"

Today we are going to be inspired by Thích Nhất Hạnh and the horses at the ranch moving forward for todays blog post with a focus on mindful breathing. Breath and what I have learnt from the horses as another critically important aspect of dealing with pressure in a constructive way. Remembering to Breathe. Breathing is something that we all do, all of the time – although we generally are unaware of this. When we put conscious awareness into our breath we become grounded and are connected in the present moment. When you spend time in the presence of horses it is quite clear and easy to read where their level of peace is depending on how they are breathing. When in a peace space there is something truly special about what happens to the environment around horses. It is very still, grounded in what can only be explained as earth energy or magical and through the breath of a horse we are reunited to all that is around us and within us.

When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Often when I have worked with clients and tell them today we will be focusing on matching our breath to the horses breath I get a very strange look, but it works every time. People generally feel free of judgement and relaxed around the horses and it allows them to settle into mindfully tracking something. Sometimes its more comfortable to start with your eyes open then closed. I see everyday people with high levels of worry slow their busy minds, still their agitated bodies and become centred all by creating a practice of observing their breath.

There are many ways we can find peace within tracking breath in a session with a horse such as noticing the sensation on your face or hands as you allow the horses to breathe their warm and magical life force onto you, watching the rise and fall of their bellies as they hold space for us to do our internal explorations or track the rhythm of the horses inhales and exhales matching our own rise and fall to their natural rhythm. We can practice observing without reacting, simply watching each breath as it happens without feeling a need to change it.

and then.... closing your eyes (or keeping them open if you would prefer, try having a soft gaze if this is the case) you can begin to consciously notice your own breath. Just observe it no need to change it. You can continue to do this for just a few minutes, or for longer periods it is up to you. You will be doing your very best to stay focused on the breath, but with absolute certainty you will begin to notice how unfocused your mind can be wandering what seems like a hundred times or if your lucky maybe just a few.  It is important to know this will happen and to gently remind yourself it is ok and to keep coming back to the breath.

I like to have clients go back and forth mindfully from connecting with their own breath and then to being with the horses creating a pathway between the two that their nervous system will never forget. Why is this helpful in creating the ability to remain calm under pressure in our everyday lives? When we get ourselves into the monkey mind headspace or we are in a uncomfortable situation and cant find our inner calm long enough to stay with observing our breath we can remember the special horse that held space for us in our time of being a student relearning how to be present. In remembering this special 4 legged teacher we re-experience the feeling of matching our inhales and exhales to theirs and this naturally starts to lower our activation levels making it easier for us to go back to observing ourselves.

When the pressure is piling up and you want peace first ask yourself is this a threat or a challenge? If it is a challenge tell yourself gently and repeatedly that you are safe (we learned this in last weeks post). Then go into observing your breath (if you are activated and breathing more rapidly then normal you will naturally want to change your pattern of breathing but try to resist changing things) first just notice what your breath is doing on its own and remind yourself it is doing what it knows best, every time you become distracted bring yourself back to your breath. As you stay with this exercise you will move closer and closer to a state of peace becoming more like a horse embracing the ability to just be in the present moment. 

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” 
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

We would love you to check out our 4 legged herd members here at the ranch for bios on our healing team members head to www.silvervalleyranch.com