Summer reflections

14 08 2022

Two projects are complete this summer and we will now pause for a brief break before we start courses again in the autumn.

Rarely do I take the opportunity to look back. I’m always too busy preparing for the next course, the next project, the next steps. Forward momentum has propelled our small social enterprise ever since we started with just two referred people more than six years ago.

A cool walk through the woods gave me some time to reflect backwards for a change. Walking the same woods where once I wandered and wondered whether I could create a project where people could come to connect with horses and feel their mystery and magic. A project which didn’t compromise my horses’ well-being or my own values. Walking these paths made me see how my path has brought me almost full circle.

I see how caught up I have been, too busy making things work to look up, too enmeshed in all the details and elements that go into putting something new into the world.

In the beginning, I cared for my fledgling project, fed it, looked after it, and on the walk this week I saw that I had almost forgotten I could allow myself to pause, step back a pace or two and watch it fly.

There are have been many beautiful moments of connection between the 40 or so people who have joined one of our weekly recovery retreats this summer. Each retreat has created its own unique feeling and I have learned something new from each circle.

I have learned that taking time to listen and be heard is one of the simplest, kindest and strongest acts of humanity we can offer each other. I have been moved to tears by the openness of strangers who arrive with feelings of anxiety and fear of judgement, and leave with feelings of hope and lightness.

The horses, and especially Dragonfly, who has been quietly present in every session, have revealed new subtle depths. They have helped people to feel more secure and at ease in themselves and they have enabled people to support each other.

Each time we have gathered in a compassion circle, we have drawn strength, solace and solidarity from each other. We have grown in our sincere wish to learn how to understand ourselves better.

In his wonderfully wise book The Compassionate Mind, Paul Gilbert writes that we can learn to shift our attention to things that we appreciate, that stimulate pleasure and other nice feelings in us. He says that when we do this deliberately then we are changing our brain patterns from the threat/self-protection system to a system that benefits our well-being.

This summer we have taken the time to appreciate the horses as horses. We have asked little of them. We have let them make their own choices on their own terms. They have responded by choosing to join our circle. In May, during the very first circle, Dragonfly chose to enter and to delicately fold his legs and lower himself down to the ground where he lay in peaceful rest while the group gasped in wonder.

So much truth, pain and beauty have been expressed in our bell tent and must remain private. Some words still resonate, though, and reading through the transcripts of recordings we made of people’s experiences, this one rings clear as a bell.

I’ve changed today. Like, I don’t just want to say it matters I had a really nice time and enjoyed it, but I’ve changed. Genuinely I’ve changed I said earlier, didn’t I, the light switch has been off for months – maybe like a year, probably – and yeah nothing, nothing was shifting it. I would never have left home, but for the fact that horses were here and that made me say, come on! You can do it! And, what do you know, the light switch is back on! It’s given me hope. Honestly, I know who I am again.

The gift of knowing ourselves, of finding the light switch to illuminate our true being, there is no greater gift than this. We have all found a beam of light in each other this summer and I know this will help to support and hold us when the days start to darken again in the days to come.


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2 responses

15 08 2022
Vicky

Beautiful written Belinda, I was there in that circle with you in my mind. Transported back to the wonderful experiences I had with you all. You can be so proud of what you’ve achieved since those early days and the countless lives you have touched. I will never forget it! Much love Vicky x

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15 08 2022
belindaseaward

Thank you, Vicky. Much appreciated. Sending you love. ❤️

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