How many times have we used a phrase similar to “My gut told me it wasn’t right”. It turns out that there’s actually merit in that phrase because often our gut, and other parts of our body, are giving off signals to us. The problem is that we’ve forgotten how to listen.
The wonder of our body is that it can be like a tuning fork, giving off certain signals to us – a tightening of the chest, jaw tension, twitching in our fingers, shallow breathing, and of course that feeling in our gut. And while all this is going on, we’re generally oblivious to the signals that are being offered to us, often because we’re too busy to associate the cause and effect of what is happening internally and externally. Life has become too hectic to stop and take note of repeated signals our body offers, even when those signals occur in patterns roused by similar situations or people.
Our body’s control and response center is the ANS (Autonomic Nervous System). It’s the neural pathway through our body and drives the physiological arousal or calming response. Its functions drive our heart rate, our respiration, blood pressure, and muscle tension including those generated from facial expressions. Operating below our consciousness, the ANS is a personal gauge that powerfully reflects our feelings.
Since a horse’s survival is based on reading the energy and intent of those in its environment, they are highly attuned to the tension we carry, our blood pressure, and the depth with which we breathe. Our body, or ANS, gives off a signal to a horse that can put them on alert – similarly affecting their ANS. By observing the reaction a horse has to those signals allows a person to take note of what’s happening with their own body, and associated feelings, that they previously may not have been aware of.
When in the presence of a horse, we can begin to practice listening to our bodies, being mindful of what’s taking place, and making adjustments to our thoughts and behaviors. Through this practice, we’re able to take advantage of our built-in compass that helps us make decisions, negotiate boundaries, navigate emotions, and how we engage with others.
Our body CAN become a hub of mindfulness, if only we are willing to listen. Like a loyal friend, a horse will always give you feedback that allows you to see (and practice) whether you’re actually making the shift.
What’s your body been trying to tell you lately?