It’s Just Feedback

by helen on May 14, 2011

Ever had an experience where you continue to assimilate for hours, days, weeks?

It changes you from the inside out, and parts of you cling on to the old until you reboot and realize you can’t un-see what you have seen?

I’m there.  Busily assimilating.  From an Equus workshop led by Diane Hunter and Renee Sievert with fellow coaches I have been in a coaching mastermind with over the past few months.

Equus coaching involves learning with horses.  As Diane says on her website:

“Equus Coaching is a fun and exciting way to uncover the magic behind how you use your energy and non-verbal communication to send important message to everyone in your environment. These brilliant teachers provide transparent, clear, and instant feedback that will shine some practical light on the thoughts that might be holding you back from living your best life.  Discover true leadership and learn how to build trust in your relationships.”

I had read this before.  I had studied the inspired work of Koelle Simpson, Master Life Coach and Horse Whisperer, but nothing prepared me for the experience of getting in a round pen with a horse.

Now, let me tell you my last 2 experiences with horses were not brilliant memories for me.  When I was 6 or 7 years old and taking riding lessons, I remember being terrified and very high up, and I remember after a lesson falling into a pile of manure and ended up, much to my embarrassment, going home in the back of my Mum’s Mini dressed only in supermarket plastic bags.  The other time was when I was not much older and I was hanging out with a friend as she was riding her horse and it baulked at a fence they were jumping and I was hit as the horse swerved.  Luckily I was more stunned than hurt.

So you can understand my trepidation at getting in a round pen on my own with a >1000lb mammal.

To kick off the workshop, Diane gave us a demonstration and then we each took our turns in the pen.  We were to set an intention for trust and leadership as we went in the pen.

I could feel my nerves as I stepped through the gate and Renee gave me the the line with this magnificent creature at the end of it.

I took a deep breath.  There may have been a prayer too.

Then very clearly, as instructed, I set an intention to develop trust and leadership.  And I got out of my head and into my body.  As I followed through the motions I’d seen Diane do in her demonstration, I realized how easy and fun it was to be with the horse.  I watch him running round the pen and gradually closing the gap and giving me signs that he now trusted me and would allow me to lead.

As long as I was clear and centered everything flowed and was fun.

As soon as I got in my head and thought things like “I’m in a pen with this huge animal and what if he tramples me?” or “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing,” or “He’s not following me – what am I doing wrong?” or “OMG he doesn’t like me…”

As soon as I got into a confused or unclear state the horse stopped and looked at me.  And I looked back, bemused.

As soon as I became clear again or dropped the story that, say, I was not good at this, or I got a crazy horse, or I’m going to be sent back to Delaware, a trampled mess in a box, as soon as I was grounded in my body and clear with my intentions, the horse followed me and allowed me to lead, without any line or leash.

It was a phenomenal experience.  One where I had immediate and very clear feedback on the non-verbal signals I was sending out.

And it wasn’t about the horse.

Of course I could get into a story about the horse and probably write a mini-novel about how he looked at me funny, or he was just stubborn, or he just didn’t get me.  But purely and simply it was feedback.  Horses don’t get wrapped up in language and stories, they instinctively want to know if they can trust you and if you are a leader, and moment to moment that is what the horse is looking for.

If what I was doing was unclear and the horse didn’t get it, he’d stop.  I tried something different.  When I was authentic and clear in my intentions, the horse immediately responded.  It was just feedback.  I didn’t make it mean anything.  What an incredible learning environment.

I realized how many areas of my life where I attach so much meaning to events and circumstances.  It was so freeing to realize that whatever’s going on for me, it is just feedback.  I can choose to ignore it and make a story and struggle on, or I can take the feedback at face value and adapt and make changes, in a clean way, without the story.

I can choose to stay in my own business and walk my walk, with clear intentions.

This workshop has been a gift that keeps giving, as I am noticing, becoming aware and adjusting, grounded in my own truth and clarity.

Where in your life are you perhaps unclear or struggling, and if you could view the situation as just feedback, how could that help you?

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