Oftentimes our lives are over scheduled and chaotic which leads us to be more and more disconnected from the stillness within. In order to find the stillness, we must learn to be still.
It sounds easy. It’s sounds obvious. How many of us actually take time to just sit with ourselves, doing nothing but Being?
Find a place where you will not be distracted or interrupted. (As a mom with two small children, I know how rare these moments can be but even five minutes can help you connect to your inner goddess) Just a few minutes can help you connect into your inner guidance and creating a daily practice can give you access to the stillness within, even on the stormiest days.
All you have to do it sit or lie down. Notice the thoughts as they arrive but then let them go. Allow them to float away as you bring your attention back to center. You can focus on your breath or place a hand on your heart and focus on your heart beat.
Mindfulness is about being present, allowing whatever arises and being in a state of non judgement. This means that if you notice yourself drifting into stories in your mind or thinking about your shopping list or what’s for dinner that night, that is ok! Don’t judge or berate yourself. The moment you became aware that your mind had drifted is the moment you begin to awaken. Meditation is not so much about quieting the mind as it is about noticing what arises and being able to see it from the perspective of the observer.
You can use a meditation app if you’d like. In the beginning, guided meditations can be very helpful. I love insight timer. It’s free and there are some super guided sessions you can use or you can just set a timer and listen to relaxing music while you meditate.
Notice your discomfort as you sit in stillness. I know, for me, the second I sit down, my mind feels the need to shout out (very loudly sometimes) that I need to be doing this, that, or the other. Just watch your discomfort as the quiet observer beyond your mind.
Remember this truth- you are not your mind. Your mind is governed by your ego, the false sense of self. As you sit in stillness, notice the deeper being within- the being that is aware of the mind but is not the mind. The Being within is beyond time, beyond the illusion of the material world. Some call it God, some call it Source. Some call it Intuition. It is that which connects us to each other. It’s the space within the atoms that make up our bodies and all that we perceive.
In these moments if stillness, connect with that greater power. If it doesn’t happen right away, keep at it. When the mind has run your life for a long time, it can be difficult and uncomfortable in the beginning. Awareness is the key to disintegrating the power The ego has over your life. Keep noticing your thoughts as they arrive. As you do this in sitting meditation, it will become easier to do in your daily life.
If you find sitting agony for the restless mind, try walking in nature. Notice the trees and birds around you. Use your senses to take in the colors, the sounds and feelings around you. This can be a wonderful mindfulness practice. Connecting with nature is connecting with God.
There are many ways in which to access the Divine within. Today I have mostly discussed sitting or walking meditation but another great one is automatic writing or journaling. This is just a free hand, stream of thought writing in which you purge the meaningless cluttering thoughts of your mind to access the deeper guidance within. Other ways are yoga, singing, exercise, spending time with animals, etc... Really, anything that you do while remaining truly present will put you in contact with the stillness within.
I invite you to connect with that greatness within you. It’s always there with you, living life as you. Be still and know.
Sometimes our thoughts and emotions can feel like the waves battering the shoreline. And endless battering, sometimes knocking you to the ground and sometimes it’s difficult to even breath, the waves can be so relentless.
Beneath the ceaseless pounding of the waves is a stillness, a quiet and peaceful place of serenity. It is a place that lies within us all, deep below the feelings of inferiority, of insecurity and fear. It’s a place of deep knowing and connectedness.
It’s the place we go when we can learn to move past the mind, past our intellectual understanding of what is and embrace our true nature.
It is a welcoming place, warm with love and understanding. It’s the place to find freedom from the daily cares and worries that threaten to consume you. In order to find this place you must be willing to venture beneath the waves.
Oftentimes when searching for this place we feel like we are holding a great balloon, filled with air that keeps pulling us back to the surface, where we begin to get pummeled by the waves all over again. The balloon feels like security. It feels like a lifeline but all it’s doing is preventing us from finding that stillness within.
Release what you perceive to be your lifeline- your false sense of identity. Put aside the masks you wear for the benefit of others and slip into stillness and oneness with all that is, and in doing so, discover the true nature of who you are.
If we do not take moments to connect with our inner Being, we live life only on the surface. In doing so we allow the waves to define us. We scream in anger at the ceaseless onslaught. We fight it, resist it and in doing so we take more assault from the superficial experiences of the moment.
If we could only surrender and move with the waves as they play against us in an endless rhythm. Relax rather than resist. Be bendable, adaptable and take time to drift below and experience the stillness. The more time spent just Being in the depths, the more easily we can withstand the tumultuous storm when it comes.
Journey within, for it is within that you experience the very nature of the Divine.
I have always loved exploring. When I was a kid I would venture out into the woods for hours, following paths and getting gloriously lost while I played out stories with my very active imagination. To this day I love going for walks in new places. The intrigue and thrill of “what is around that next curve” keeps me moving forward, putting one step in front of the other. Living in the excitement of the new experience and the curiosity of what comes next is the way I try to live my life.
It is important to balance the eagerness for growth and change with the ability to remain grounded in the present moment. We must be able to adjust to the ever shifting reality- open to new experiences but also being able to surrender to the now.
Approach your life with curiosity, awareness and non resistance. Put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable for in discomfort there can be growth. The seeds of expansion do not grow in the comfort zone.
Be the explorer that discovers the highest peaks and deepest caverns of your own mind. Let curiosity be your guide. Let each discovery inspire you to just walk a bit further, just around that next curve.
Some paths are well worn from all the foot traffic you have given them before but sometimes even if the path appears innocuous, it does not lead you where you want to go. Sometimes growth requires us to scale a mountain or walk down a path almost obscured in darkness. Have faith and take the first step.
Embrace your apprehension and lean into discomfort. Sometimes it’s in those times that we experience our true faith for the first time.
Curiosity stems from awareness and it is in awareness that we discover who we truly are. Become a student to your own experience. Discover the lessons to be learned from all situations and grow into the highest version of yourself.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
What do you dream about? What are your goals? Do your dreams excite you? Scare you? Honestly, if they don’t scare you a little, you aren’t dreaming big enough.
You have the power to change your life right now, at this very moment. Not tomorrow, not next week, not after the promotion or after you find the perfect partner. Because, you know what? There’s always another tomorrow, another excuse, another reason why you aren’t stepping into your power.
And power is what you have. The power to create your reality, the power to start living the lifestyle that will propel you towards those dreams.
It is not enough to dream. To manifest your dreams into reality, you must take action! Push past the fears, lean into the discomfort of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Get comfortable getting uncomfortable because that’s where growth occurs. It is the only place growth can occur.
You got where you are by doing what you’re doing and if you are unhappy where you are it’s time to change. It’s time to do something new that will propel you towards the life you dream of.
What action step can you take today? I’m a big fan of affirmations and vision boards, something that sets an intention for the universe but by action step I mean something more. Do you want to be a Grand Prix rider? How often are you riding right now? Maybe sign up for and lunge lesson or a lesson on a schoolmaster. Perhaps find a coach that can help guide you past any blocks you may be experiencing.
For me, I want to be a published writer so my action step is that I must write everyday no matter what. Even if I don’t want to that day, even if I don’t feel inspired I must write to start exercising the discipline I will need to achieve that goal. The same goes for making any change in your life.
If you aren’t yet sure of what action step you need to take, ask yourself what would the future you look like? What habits would they have in place? What would their routine look like? Then, start to live that reality!
It can be scary looking at that goal in front of you. You may feel like you have a huge mountain to climb to achieve that dream. And perhaps you do, but the key is to take that first step. A journey of a thousand steps begins with one.
Step back and instead of looking at the entirety of your goal, take it apart. Separate it into manageable sized bites. If your goal is to be a Grand Prix rider and you are currently riding at 1st level, map out your plan. What do you need to do to get to 2nd level? Improve your sitting trot? Help your horse to develop a medium trot or clean up your simple changes? Can you map out how to accomplish those things or do you have a coach that can help you through this process?
If we face the entirety of our goal, it can feel monumental, almost impossible. But if we can break it down and create a habit of taking small action steps each day, we can start living the life that will lead us to our dreams!
A Sioux Indian saying states that “the longest journey you’ll ever take is from your head to your heart.” I have been wondering lately how I can live more heart centered. I know how much I am in my head. I approach problems from an intellectual perspective and block out emotions and feelings as much as possible so as not to hurt my seemingly delicate heart.
From a young age, I have had my walls up. I’m not a person that is or has ever been open with my feelings although at my core I am quite sensitive. I think many of us wall ourselves off from our own hearts in order to keep ourselves “safe”. Unhealthy relationships, bullying, and being on the receiving end of hurtful words can all be reasons we separate ourselves from the truths and experiences of our own heart.
These walls make us numb. Not only have we blocked out the bad but by doing so, we have blocked out the good as well. We may have the knowledge of how to live a heart centered life but knowledge without practice is useless. We know life can be so much more vibrant yet we only see it in muted colors.
How can we reconnect with our own heart? First, I believe, we must go within. Meditation, walks in nature, mindful breathing are all ways we can connect back to Source, shifting our consciousness from egocentric to unity centric. We understand that we are only one small piece of the whole.
I have two statues on my little altar at home- one of the Buddha sitting cross legged, in a lotus position and the other of Jesus, standing with his arms open. This is a reminder to me that to find peace, we must journey within and then share that inner love and wisdom with others. Connection is key. It’s being able to show love in every interaction. Even when somebody is being unkind to us, know that they are on their own path of evolution and only saying what they are saying because of their own internal struggle.
Creative expression can also connect us to our hearts. Expressing ourselves through writing, art work, dancing, singing, etc can begin to chip away at our walls. I know for me, when I feel uninspired, I’m usually all in my head. Yet it’s the act of writing that allows me to shift more towards my heart. It’s being able to take that first step that begins the shift, even if my ego protests!
Be vulnerable and share your story with others. Ask for help and allow others to help you. You don’t have to be able to do it all on your own. We are all one and here to lift each other up.
Spiritual growth is a journey. It’s who I become while on this path that will define me.
I invite you to Awaken to the Truth of your Divine nature. You are love, you are loved and you are always enough.
Can you imagine how freeing your life would be if you could release yourself from expectations? I know for me when I experience the most stress it is usually when I fail to meet expectations that I have set for myself.
When I have something planned that I cannot get done because of an interruption, I have had to learn how to adjust (and sometimes lower) my expectations as not to set myself up for failure.
Similarly, with relationships with others, you can save yourself so much heartache if you just love and appreciate them for who they are. If you put others on a pedestal, you will find yourself constantly disappointed and frustrated when they do not measure up to the impossible expectations you have set.
So how do we release these expectations? Isn’t part of having a goal having expectations?
If we can learn to disconnect ourselves from expectations we can be so much more present and enjoying of the journey.
As a mom of two young children, I have had to do a lot of adjusting of my expectations. Sometimes I feel that there are simply not enough hours in the day and if I just hurry and go from task to task I miss so many beautiful moments with my children. It’s so important to be able to stop and treasure the small moments in the day. That is what makes for a special life.
If I believe that my day was either a success or a failure based on how much I get done, I am missing so much joy by not being in the present moment. Plus, there is always more to do so please don’t let your self worth be based on how much of your To Do list was checked off.
Instead, ask yourself, did I experience joy today? Did I take a moment to appreciate all the blessings in my life? Did I spend a few moments to connect quietly with God/Source/Universe?
Let each thing you check off your to do list or each achievement be seen as a blessing. For example, I have four horses I ride about four times per week. If I go to the barn expecting to have four productive rides, then I will experience frustration when my baby needs me and I cannot finish my rides. If I instead shift my perspective to one of gratitude- I can be grateful for each ride I have and if I get interrupted, I can rest easy knowing that tomorrow is another day.
Worry is also a feeling connected to expectations. We worry that we may not get that promotion at work, or we may worry about our children or about money. The wise Dalai Lama says, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” And one of my favorites by Thomas Jefferson, “How much pain have cost us the evils that have never happened.”
Say you enter a horse show. If you say that your goal to get a certain score or placing you’re already setting yourself up for disappointment because these are factors that you cannot always control. Do not set expectations that are reliant on something outside of yourself- instead simply enjoy the process, be present in the journey and you’ll find such a higher level of happiness. If you sign up for that show and you have it in your mind that your goal is to simply do the best that you can, you are now setting yourself up for success.
Don’t tie your self worth to what you accomplish. You are enough as you are- a beautiful being of divine potential!
I invite you to Awaken to the Truth of your Divine nature. You are love, you are loved and you are always enough.
To me, surrender and faith go hand in hand.
We’ve heard the phrase give up, give in or give it all you’ve got but where does surrender come into play? Surrender is not giving up but rather the acceptance of the uncertainty and it’s understanding that we are not in total control. It’s releasing expectations and living in the moment.
Surrender is to give up oneself into the power of another. Surrendering is having faith even when we do not understand why things are happening. It’s trusting that even though the path is darkness now, it will be illuminated for you as you walk along it. Surrendering is relinquishing control and giving yourself over to Spirit.
It’s understanding that your life is but one thread amongst an intricate tapestry. We see only a moment in time and cannot see the beauty of the full image. We must have faith that, “all things work together for good”, as written in Romans 8:28.
With this life, we experience pain, loss, and heartache, but also the hope of a new beginning. In moments of despair, know that peace will come to you again. Go quiet with your grief, your pain. Sit with it, allow it to move through you and know that you are not alone. You are the light of the world and, in time, your pain will give way to hope.
As Brené Brown says in Daring Greatly, “only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
For this is the nature of life. The wave does not fight the ocean of which it is carried. It surrenders. Know that when your pain feels like more than you can bear, you are not alone with that pain.
Let yourself lean into the arms of the most beautiful source of love in the universe. You do not have to carry your burdens alone. Share your pain with the source of the love from whence we came and in which we will return again.
Surrender and allow the love of the universe to fill you, to wash away your pain and begin the healing journey.
I wish you peace, love and joy in your journey.
Courage is embracing vulnerability by telling your story. It’s admitting when you are struggling and when you are proud of your success. Courage is discovering who you are and living that truth.
Sharing your story is liberating. We tend to put on a mask for others to see at the expense of our true selves. Courage is dropping the mask and being true to who you are.
Trying to always be what others want you to be is exhausting and pulls you farther and farther away from your true identity.
Courage is owning your story without shame.
Our goal should be to live an authentic and transparent life and that includes sharing our fears. We believe that if we express our fear that we are in some way weak but we all experience fear in some form or another.
Courage is leading with your heart. It’s standing up for someone in need. It’s putting your moral values ahead of being accepted by others. Courage is leaning into Truth and surrendering to Light.
Courage is accepting who you are and showing yourself love and compassion. This doesn’t mean you settle for mediocrity and discard your evolution. It’s loving who you are at this stage of the journey as you continue to grow into the most beautiful version of yourself.
Courage is pushing past fear. It’s about showing up and being unapologetically you. Courage is failing and then showing up again and again and again.
If we hide our fears, we allow those fears to keep a hold on us. By admitting them, you can begin to move past them. Fear is designed to keep us safe but it can cripple us if we hold tightly onto it. Be courageous and own your fears. Thank them for trying to keep you safe and send them merrily on their way.
Courage is aligning with your values and acting accordingly, no matter the consequence. If everyone around you is behaving in a way that does not align with your values, courage is turning around and walking away.
As social beings, we feel that we need the acceptance and validation of others which can lead us into a lot of trouble! (Hello, peer pressure!)
I think there are many instances in the life of an equestrian in which we show courage but the one I want to write about today is showing. I have been competing horses for over twenty years and yet I still experience some self doubt as I approach a show. Each time we enter into the show arena we are opening ourselves up to criticism (we actually pay for it!). Anyone who has ridden in a Dressage test can most likely attest to the feeling of vulnerability as we put ourselves, our horses and our training on display. Time, money, blood, sweat and tears goes into our training and it feels like it all culminates into those five or six minutes in the show ring. As if if it doesn’t go as planned, it is somehow a reflection on who we are. Bad ride? I must be a terrible rider and because I’m a terrible rider I am worthless. It doesn’t make sense but in the heat of the moment that is exactly how it feels. Courage is continuing to put yourself out there and understanding that each experience has valuable lessons to help us grow.
When I competed a few weeks ago, the schooling day before the show I felt myself getting tense when riding my horse because there were several other trainers coaching in the warm up and while I believe my horse and I have improved, many of these people hadn’t seen us out and about in a while and I was worried that they would think had made no progress at all. I was extra critical of myself- i hadn’t made my horse wasn’t reactive enough, my piaffe was struggling and my ones were hit or miss. Of course my horse could feel my tension and I have to be a certain amount of relaxed for him to work forward for me. I really had to give myself a pep talk- why are you so concerned about what others think? You should be damned proud you trained your horse to this level on your own. So what if you aren’t the best Grand Prix rider in the world? You’re getting better each and every day. Let’s just do our best and go out and have a great time. It took courage for me to push past that fear of worrying what others would think and once I let that fear go, I went onto have a great show and had an amazing time.
Where do you show courage in your life? Playing it small may feel safe but you only cheat yourself out of living a true and meaningful life. Identify your values, discover your gifts and share them with the world. Be unapologetically you!
I rode my three FEI horses in a clinic this past weekend and the theme that kept coming up for me was that of accountability. Those three horses are all schooling or showing the Grand Prix movements and it was a great reminder this weekend that is not simply enough that my horses do the movement. It’s now time to build in the quality and ease with all but invisible aids.
Are you holding yourself accountable when it comes to training or do you cut corners (literally and figuratively)? Do you avoid difficult movements because it’s hard? Do you avoid sitting the trot because it is uncomfortable? I know I have to push myself to do the hard stuff!
I encourage you to dedicate yourself completely towards your evolution. Hold yourself to a high standard. Step outside your comfort zone for the sake of expansion. If you have a bad habit, discipline yourself to correct it.
I used to say that I was a more effective rider than I was a pretty rider. Then I decided why confine myself to that statement? If I keep saying it, that is the reality that I am creating and I will never then be the pretty rider. I decided to double down on discipline myself to keep stretching my upper body tall and my legs long. Each time I’m riding towards the mirror I take a moment and make sure my toes are directly under my knees and not rotated out. I’m still a work in progress of course, but holding myself a little more accountable has made all the difference.
I think it is totally normal in the course of training to get a little sloppy. Maybe we don’t ride our circles 100% accurately or we don’t ride a specific movement at a letter, which leads us to not have total control over the line we are riding. We may avoid riding deeply into the corners or aid just a little to big or do too much to “help” our horse with our own bodies- guilty!
However, if we want to become the best rider that we can be, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. This is the difference between a good rider and a great rider. A great rider is detail oriented and not satisfied with mediocrity. As the saying goes, it’s not practice that makes perfect but perfect practice that makes perfect. And while I do think striving for perfectionism can be dangerous, I do believe that we should pay attention to the details. Don’t accept that bad transition. Repeat until lit is something your proud of.
Your standards may differ from horse to horse and they will change over time. We will be more forgiving of a young horse just learning walk to canter transitions than we will be to a Grand Prix horse that should be held to a higher standard.
Of course in all of this we must have self compassion. Training is tough and training in this way can be a physical and mental challenge. Be kind to yourself. Do your best. Make mistakes, learn from them. Enjoy the journey.
Of course we can apply accountability to the larger scale of our life. Where can you be held to a higher standard? For me, it’s being able to handle my stress by finding positive coping mechanisms rather than emotional eating that leads to further guilt and stress. Do you scroll Facebook endlessly instead of reading a book that can further your growth? Are you distracted in moments with your children? I challenge you (and myself) to be hold yourself accountable. Nobody is going to do it for you. Be present and aim higher. You can be and do anything you set your mind too.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
-Henry David Thoreau
It’s no secret that we all perceive the world in different ways. The same situation can cause two different people to have completely opposing reactions based on their individual personalities and previous experiences. For example, while for one person, public speaking can be a thrilling and invigorating experience that brings about joy, and for another it can be panic inducing and terrifying, throwing the individual into fight or flight mode or causing them to completely freeze up.
How do you relate to your world and to the challenges that are presented to you?
If you believe that the world is out to get you, you will find evidence of this in all of your experiences. But if you see the world as a benevolent and kind place then you will see evidence of this. Reality is, in a way, an illusion. We experience it through our own, unique filter based on our previous life experiences.
You have the choice every single day to choose how you will relate to your experiences. The key question to ask is not “Why is this happening to me?” but instead “why is this happening FOR me?” If you choose to find the opportunities for growth in all situations, you will shift yourself from victim to one that is in control of your life. You have the power to create your own reality based on your perceptions and reactions to life’s experiences.
All of life is an incredible journey, though not always an easy one. Focus on the lessons you can learn and the ways in which you can grow into the most beautiful version of yourself.
Next time you encounter a challenging situation, whether in training your horse or perhaps a difficult relationship with a coworker, ask yourself what are the lessons for me to learn here? How can this help me grow? Are these experiences happening for me to bring about my highest evolution?
You have the power to choose how you interpret your world. If you believe you are a failure, you will see evidence to back this up. If you believe you are never good enough, you will find support for this too. But, if you begin to cultivate self love and acceptance and begin to see yourself as a most beautiful incarnation of light and love, then, guess what? That is exactly what you will see, and, when you do fall short, because we are all human after all, you will be able to show yourself compassion and understanding because you know who you are at the deepest, most spiritual level.
It’s like when you’re driving a horse trailer and all of a sudden you notice all of the other horse trailers on the road or if you make an intention to see all of the red cars along the road they are all but invisible until you make that decision to see them. They were there all along but until you set an intention to see them, they were not perceived.
I had a major burnout in 2014. I felt like every ride I had was a failure. I felt like I could not make progress and was a terrible rider and trainer (even though evidence did not support this). I had no joy when riding because I had decided, more subconsciously than consciously, before the ride even began that it would not be good enough. I had no compassion towards myself and would become angry and frustrated. It was a tough time and I questioned why I was even riding anymore. I had decided that I was not a good rider, that I was a failure and I saw that each and everyday even though from the outside looking in I looked successful and happy.
My story is not an unusual one. I think anytime we are passionate about something, we go through times of difficulty when we question ourselves and our abilities as we attempt to live up to some impossible standard. Who set these standards anyway? Early life experiences of always falling short- getting the B instead of the A or not being as successful in sports as our parents believed we should have been or not being as comfortable in social situations as our sibling. Whatever the case may be, we all have our own unique stories that create our current perspectives. The key is understanding that you can change it if you wish.
Now, five years after my burnout, I am loving riding more than I ever have. I took off about six months from riding at the end of 2014 into 2015 when I was pregnant with my first child. What had become a stressful job for me now was my alone time, the time when I could focus on myself and my horses. My horses became a place of peace and solace, my rides became the time in which I could quietly study to improve myself and through improving myself, improve my horses. Develop the rider, you develop the horse. Did I magically become that much “better” a rider in the last five years? I hope I have improved but more likely it is my interpretation of myself and my rides now that had led to my joy. Where I used to berate myself for not ever being good enough, now I enjoy the journey each and everyday and when I do have difficult rides I can see them for what they are, not a reflection of my failure but as a beautiful opportunity for learning and growth.
If you are interested into shifting your life and finding more peace, happiness and freedom, I encourage you to set an intention to find the things to be grateful for. Make this a practice. If you can begin to train your mind to look for the positives in your life, it will be easier to find the lessons that aid you in your growth in tumultuous times.
Believe that you are the creator of your own reality and begin to shift the perspective of your life into one in which you are evolving into the absolute best version of yourself!
This blog will be all about personal growth. I will discuss different topics and issues, some relating to horses and some not. Feel free to comment!