Mary Corning gift of Choice

The Gift of Choice

Thought is not truth

The gift of Choice

My husband often tells me that one of my attributes is that I am highly geared at seeing options.

When I was a young child, I hit the wall hard when the world and its conditions boxed me in. I would often run away from home.

This started at an incredibly early age . One of the first days of kindergarten, when the kids got to go outside for a break, I took off in the woods. I think I was 5 years old.

I’m not running anymore. But I still make my home and my sanctity in the woods.

That tendency continued throughout my life. And at first it was very negative. I would end relationships and run away and then start new ones.

I would look for relief through using drugs and alcohol and even look into new worlds through psychedelics.

But the important element of this tendency was that I was searching for peace. I wasn’t a warrior by any means. I was a seeker.

Eventually, when all of those options circled around back to the same suffering, I had to look for another way.

I let go of all the bad habits I had developed; drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and yes, bad relationships.

Then the journey led me inward. And at that point that tendency to look for choices started working for me. When I looked inward, I realized that the limitations of my thoughts were absurd.

Typically the psyche offers a dualistic perception—stay or go, fight, or flight, right or wrong and good or bad. When I let go of looking for my answers outside of me, I was able to bring in a great spectrum of options that were none of these things.

These days I call those options door number 3. Door number 3 initiates the option of not knowing. And with that comes very neutral observation. Subsequently, with the observation comes endless possibilities.

The key factor in this is the opportunity to be neutral. When we are defensive, we are anything but neutral. And at that point, it’s very difficult to shift out of a dualistic perspective.

I see the same in my work with horses. For so many years, I limited their choices. I would even go as far as to say I Eliminated their choices. I was so unconsciously defended that I was trying to please an ego who could never be fulfilled.

This time with my horse is absolutely bliss. Now, door number 3 is the only door. I look for her to guide me into what is best for us. And then I can guide her from a real perspective. Not a conjured up idea of right and wrong.

What I’ve learned from this is really mind blowing. And this is my business. I am in the business of blowing minds. Because the mind is the limit. The heart is infinite.

I had two really great examples this week of opportunities to watch my horse make choices. And as I watched her make choices, I realized there is no better way for either of us to learn.

When Grace makes choices, they are within her. And in that they remain with her. It’s not a temporary mandate that later she wants freedom from.

To go back to my early childhood story of running away from kindergarten. I see that’s what the horses want to do when we take away their choices. Why would they care to connect with such a limited perspective.

I truly believe that is one reason why there are so many stoic horses in the world today—The lack of choice.

Mary Corning Grace in Trailer

I have a couple of short videos to share from this week that I feel really show how much can be learned through observation. I feel these clips really highlight my horse’s choices. The first part is working with the tarp and the next is while in the horse trailer.

I want to mention, I don’t see these as training videos. I have never claimed to be a trainer. Although truth be known, what we practice is what we become. So, in a sense we are always training. The major difference is whether it’s effective or ineffective.

Perhaps I’m more horse than human. But nonetheless, the learning that evolves through neutral observation is stunning. It’s the most beautiful work I’ve ever experienced.

I hope that between this essay and the videos you might be able to experience the freedom of Door number 3.

When we crack our world wide open and let go of the knowledge we think we have— wisdom begins to develop.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the knowledge I have learned. It is simply not a final destination.

Life is all about fluid change. The horses know this. They utilize the natural law that all things are temporary. Therefore knowledge must be flexible to be effective.

I have found the most simple and effective way to integrate the mind and the heart is to perfect observation. And to perfect observation is to be in neutral.

Of course this is a tall order. It takes practice. Our minds want to label, project, confirm or deny. Letting go of this is where, when and how to bring infinite options into our lives.

It’s not by doing. It’s by undoing.

Simply pausing without believing our thoughts is perfect practice.

And when we do this in the presence of horses they know we know what they know. And that is that we know nothing.

Thought is not truth.

This is a rare gift. A rich and rare opportunity to join in the vastness that is nature. We need not know how our heart beats or our lungs breathe to know we are alive.

Let go of knowing to fully be. And find the truth that passeth all understanding.


If this blog resonates with you, please consider reading my book Perfect Practice. You can read an excerpt from the book HERE.


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