Experiencing Body, Mind and Spirit with Horses

There is a voice that doesn't use words. Listen.

Other animals think with the whole of their bodies.
David Abram

"When we transform our own bodies through movement or imagination,
when we blend our own sensuous physiology with the earth or our horses,
we become a feeling, expressive landscape among other feeling, expressive landscapes.
This merging and blending is the path to a deep peace and pleasure,
where we abandon our separateness and become connected;
woven into the fabric of our world.
And in that shared terrain we can more easily feel and find each other...and ourselves."

Our Horses, Ourselves: Discovering the Common Body

About horses
Our relationship with horses has an outer landscape, a known contour. We know them from movies and books - from seeing them in a distant field. Horses also live beneath the surface of our known landscapes. Like the history of the earth held in its hidden striations, our knowing of horses lives in the unconscious tissues of body and mind - in the blood, bone and sinew of shared battle and work - their lives and ours are an intermingled cellular memory. These deeper connections are mythic, sensual and poetic.

How can horses help humans?
Horses can help us to understand ourselves as partners and cohabitants in an inter-species world in which the language is movement and touch. In my experience, horses can help us with whatever needs helping. They can illuminate issues or give us insights into the places that we are stuck - places of resistance or habits of body and mind that have become obstacles to our opening fully to ourselves and the world. Often that information is stored in the body. It can show up as pain or stiffness or a lack of feeling and joy.

As prey animals, horses are congruent, meaning their outward behavior always matches their inner feeling. Horses read not only our movement behaviors but their underlying emotional tone. They mirror our physical and emotional expression and show us when we are "out of sync" - that is, when our inside feelings and outside behaviors are not in harmony. Often our movement unconsciously reflects an unsettled or distracted state of mind. The non-judgmental, reflective presence of a horse can help us settle and ground ourselves physically and emotionally, as we understand more clearly what we are communicating both consciously and unconsciously.

Centering in the Heart
Shifting our consciousness and awareness from the brain to the heart brings us into a state of embodied attunement with the horse and ourselves. Engaging the brain first limits our ability to connect in a more embodied, holistic and intuitive way. When we project a heart-centered intention of caring, love and attention, our horses (or any being that we are with) can be more responsive, open, and affectionate.

According to Stephen Buhner, author of The Secret Teachings of Plants, "this shift in the focus of awareness from thinking to sensory perception produces a transformational cascade that affects all of our physiological and cognitive functioning."

About Paula:
As a movement artist I bring an improvisational perspective to all of my work with horses and humans. This offers an opportunity to deepen relationship by nourishing our intuitive, moving selves. I am a Certified Laban Movement Analyst (CMA) and a registered Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist (RSMET). and a Somatic Experiencing® practitioner.

I have trained with Linda Tellington Jones, and am Guild certified Tellington TTouch Practitioner I . My training in dressage is with Sabine Schut-Kery and was blessed to own her performing stallion Capprichio for the past 17 years. I have also trained in dressage with Tom Davis, Brandi Rivera and currently with Koryn Doolittle. Some of my most valuable horsemanship lessons have come from studying with cowboy and black belt Aikido master Mark Rashid

My book, Our Horses, Ourselves: Discovering the Common Body is published by Trafalgar Square Books.

Private sessions, classes, clinics:
I am available to teach private sessions, workshops and clinics. I can come to your facility, or I teach privately both in my movement studio in Kent, CT, or at the barn in upstate New York with my horse partners Amadeo, Blue and Izarra.
Contact Paula to make an appointment for a private session or book a workshop.

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Listen to Paula discuss "The Common Body" on the Somatic Summit