On July 24th, the hottest day of the year in St. Louis I find myself sitting in a giant barn with one close friend, seven others I am going to get to know, including Kit Maxwell of Zenhorse and her mom Peggy as well as two GIANT rescued Mustangs. We are sitting pretty far apart in comfortable chairs on Blue Sage Ranch in Marthasville. The barn has a giant fan which is doing its best to move air around.
This was not my idea. When Kit suggested it, I filed it away in my head thinking, “I’ll never do that.” However, the Universe often knows what we need more than we do.
In fact, the reasons I showed up is because I trust Kit as well as trust my friend Sandy who is here at the Meditation Circle. Kit has explained to me that the Meditation Circle is a gift to the horses and that I can honor my fear and anxiety of horses and still participate. We’ll see about that!
Mostly my fear is about giant horses of which I have only been around a handful of times in my life. While Kit has encouraged me to give myself permission to be scared, we don’t not do things because they scare us. Yes, you read that correctly. Learned in yoga, over the past few years, I have realized that not only have I attempted hard things, but I have also had the power to conquer my fears all along. (In my red shoes with my cape, bracelets, and boots on the ground.)
Honestly, I was not sure what to expect from myself, the other humans and certainly not the horses. The Meditation Circle does not disappoint. It is exactly as you might imagine and yet completely different.
And so, I find myself in a barn on Blue Sage Ranch on a hot Sunday afternoon.
As we get started, Kit gives us an overview of safety and explains what is going to happen. She encourages us to go with what the horses bring. Music begins and most of us close our eyes. It is a time to reflect as well as get out of our heads. That is something Kit reminds us-feel what your body is trying to tell you…
My feet are folded up under me as I do not want to be stepped on. I cautiously watch the horses interact with others. Kit assists when we need to set boundaries with the horses (is she available in real life too? -the answer is yes…).
The horses, rescued Mustangs Sunna and Skye are giant animals and seem to enjoy walking around the barn and exploring what the humans have brought. They are very in tuned with Kit, taking their lead from her. I did not know this, but horses use their noses much like dogs, sniffing for information.
As the horses walk around our circle, I watch as one puts her entire nose against the tummy of the young woman next to me. The horse then stands completely still holding eye contact for a few seconds. The horses adore her grandfather sitting next to her; he let us know he grew up with horses.
When the horses get near me, I instinctively push them away. Gently. They are too big. Too scary. I do not like not knowing what is going to happen. (post-traumatic response to unhealthy surprises) While I am fine observing, it is hard for me to get out of my head. As I calm myself and breathe, I still find myself not entirely comfortable with the horses roaming freely. It is more than that…and I cannot quite land on why this is.
The horses are gentle, and Kit and her mom Peggy keep a close eye on the horses and the humans.
As the meditation comes to its natural ending, Kit brings us back in by asking, “What did you notice?”
Everyone has their own response-some understood that they were practicing boundaries with the horses. Some were happy to observe the horses and the humans together and apart. The young woman next to me confesses that she just found out she was pregnant. She and her partner were thrilled; they were less sure of how her family might respond. The horse knew. Upon more reflection, the young woman shares, “She gave me strength, as if saying, you can do this.”
What did I notice?
Perhaps something I knew deep inside myself. Perhaps something I did not and don’t want to think about. Perhaps something new.
My M.O. is to push things away when I am scared. People, horses, situations. Feelings. If I don’t think I can handle it, I simply push away.
“Get into your body,” Kit reminds me. Okay…body body body. I am not good at that. I am a thinker and overthinker. “The horses represented something so big to me. A situation that I am unsure how to handle. Except the way I am handling it as I grow, learn and evolve. I didn’t want them too close because it scares me.” Both figuratively and literally.
Thinking (!) about it and discussing it…. I realized that my heart hurts; my heart is broken. I am not sure how to handle something so big.
“What can’t you handle?” Kit gently asks.
The unpredictability of an animal that I do not know. The enormous feelings of a broken heart. The ability or inability to put all the pieces back together. Such sadness that sometimes it knocks the breath out of me.
Kit smiles and nods. There is more work to be done and we both know that the horses and Kit and I can work together so that I understand I CAN put the pieces back together. That while the situation feels big and challenging, I have grown into a loving woman who is centered and grounded.
After everyone has shared their insights, there is time to thank the horses and take pictures. Kit has taken pictures of the Meditation Circle which she sends to each of us the following week. This surprises me as I didn’t realize at one point, I had one horse in front of me and one in back while my eyes were closed. If I had known this, I wonder what I would have thought…. or felt.
I am standing near one horse and Peggy snaps a picture. I decide I am going to try to get a selfie with the horse and she gently pushes me away, almost saying, “Get over yourself!”
On the drive back, I am fortunate to be riding with Sandy who loves me unconditionally. We chat the entire way home about ideas, steps forward and processing the (very hot) afternoon.
Exhausted by the day, I arrive home and shower. Much has been opened up and revealed that I am not sure how to proceed. “Go back to the horses” seems to be the theme for me.
I also realize for the umpteenth time that attempting hard things (and there has been plenty of this) I have support and love all around me. I am not alone. I know how to reach out and I know how to take care of myself. I am going to be okay. I am okay. I know I can do hard things. Including being around giant horses. Including healing broken hearts. Expect good. Sparkle on.
Thanks to Kit Maxwell and Peggy, the horses Sunna and Skye and everyone who participated in the July 24th meditation circle.
For more information about Kit, Blue Sage Ranch and click here: Zenhorse.