#70 A Mindful ChallengeMar 01, 2023
Horses are masters of observation. People... not so much. Especially in our fast paced, tech-laced world. We are more distracted than ever. This distraction keeps us from being able to connect with our horses and read the things they are sharing with us.
Recently, I started a challenge for myself that has been improving my focus and skills of observation.
It's going to sound super simple- and it is- but it isn't necessarily easy- especially depending on your level of distraction- mine can be off the charts at times.
So... here's the challenge.
Spend 5-10 minutes with your horse (or horses) without any distractions. No phone, no talking, no expectations. Bring along a curious mind and observe your horse and the environment for 5-10 minutes. Listen to the sounds, feel the breeze or sun or cold, observe what gets your horse's attention in their environment, etc.
Chances are (if you're like 99.9% of people) within a few seconds, your mind will start to wander- thoughts will enter of things you need to do or have done. Acknowledge the thoughts and then go back to observing.
Be kind to yourself when you catch your mind wandering. You might need to bring your attention back 100 times in a 10 minute time frame- it's totally ok. The cool thing is: each time you come back into an observing frame of mind, you're strengthening that muscle.
See if you can do this for at least 5 minutes- I'm doing at least 10 with the option to add additional time. Yesterday I sat with my herd for 20 minutes and I left feeling recharged and connected with all of them.
The 3 Session Challenge- Try this out for at least 3 sessions and see if you notice any improvements in your time with your horse. I find that it's most beneficial for me to do at the beginning of a session- so I'm more present and relaxed BUT it's also awesome to do at the end of a session- or BOTH!! Also- I'm doing it as a session in and of itself too- it's a great thing to do when you don't have a lot of time OR when you're feeling tired or stressed.
I hope you have many wonderful discoveries along the way.
Choose an anchor: It's helpful to have an anchor to return to when your mind wanders. The feeling of your breath, touching your horse, listening to the sounds around you- can all be anchors. Your mind will wander- the power lies in the practice of coming back- strengthening this muscle of refocusing.
Stay safe- if you have a particularly rambunctious herd try this from the other side of the fence. Maintain safe boundaries too.
Start small: If this is new for you, try starting with 3 minutes. Keeping the practice short, sweet and successful will result in you wanting to do it again.