Mary Corning illusion of obstacles

The Illusion of Obstacles

Peace is now, not when.
 
Recently I heard a trainer say push yourself and your horse into “hard”. He went on to say “Horses don’t do well with easy they do great with hard. They need to be pushed past their comfort zone.”
 
As I listened to this perspective, I felt exhausted thinking of that way of living and seeing. I remember it well, though I have not felt that kind of resistance for a long time.
 
Life is challenging at times but we don’t need to go setting it up for “hard”. How about setting it up for bliss—for peace and wellbeing?
 
The title of my book is Perfect Practice. Half my life I practiced living a hard life. And the funny thing was…it just got harder and harder. Hard continued to expand as I focused on it.
 
Finally, it got so hard that I had to look for another way. This is where a great transition happened.
 
This shift of how I see things changed my world. It changed me, my relationships and now it is the basis for my horsemanship as well.
 
Life and horses are one in the same.
 
The idea that we focus on what’s hard is exhaustingly dysfunctional. And I will stand in testimony that horses don’t do consistent hard well!
 
Nature is flow, abundance, unity, and truth. Hard times are fleeting. And in nature, horses of all creatures, are examples of that. When there is difficulty they respond, adjust and return to neutral. Back to grazing, rolling, moving, connecting and thriving.
We can learn this brilliant way of coexistence.
 
It is true that we have great contrast to learn from. There are good times and hard times. There is sadness and joy. I often share with my clients the metaphor of a baby on the bed. If you were to lay a baby on the bed and watch the emotional responses, you would see a spectrum of emotions without the concept of effect.
 
You would see curiosity, joy, fear, and contentment all traveling through the psyche. Without a changing environment, there would be a polarity of experience. This comes with the package of being human.
 
We lose ourselves when we begin to attach our feelings to outside circumstances.
 
It’s powerful to realize that we have much more freedom than our unconscious conditioning has allowed.
 
What is an obstacle for one, is an opportunity for another. And the joy that we experience is experienced by the contrast of sorrow.
 
The subtle unchanging, infinite and consistent essence of life is experiencing the spectrum of stimulus.
 
When I was feeling that I was born into a violent chaotic world, I found myself enmeshed in violence and chaos. I learned what I lived. I continued to practice that paradigm until the realization that…
 
duality is an observation, not my essence!
 
This was (and still is) an amazing realization. It may be the single most important realization of my lifetime.
 
How does this apply to horses?
 
It is the essence of all nature to live in peace. And horses being a prey animal, means peace is at the root of their survival. It is their motive for everything.
 
Life does offer challenges that bring the contrast of hard and easy, but it all is to get to the other side of hard. I feel this is fundamental in all life.
 
When I approach a challenge with my horse I slow down, or even sometimes back up and break it into increment’s. This is how we practice success. And how the horse (and I) build on feeling accomplished rather than exhausted by hardship.
 
For example:
In asking my horse to lope early in her development, for whatever the reason, be it physical, mental, or both, I could see that the beautiful flow that Grace displays regularly became out of balance and braced. Loping was hard for Grace.
 
I could hear the words of Tom Dorrance in my head from his own voice, “The best thing for loping is trotting”. He didn’t say when loping was difficult push them into the lope. I trusted this mastery and I gave it time and incremental attention. We never stopped looking at the transition to lope. We just didn’t force it.
 
The other night I had tried several saddles on Grace to be sure that the saddle I’m using now, as she has matured is a good fit. I wasn’t even thinking about loping.
 
We were trotting peacefully around the arena, in a lovely evening light—feeling perfectly blissful. Grace transitioned into the lope so smoothly that I never even felt it happen.
 
All of the incremental experiences are helping develop a peaceful approach and with peace comes flow. With flow comes balance. It was a moment I won’t soon forget.
 
This is just one example of countless times that not pushing into hard has served the greater good.
 
Whether it’s horses or life it’s all the same to me. As my teacher would say “Don’t try to ride through something bad to come out good.” We can very simply and easily break things down into components.
 
We get so caught up in the agenda and what we think has to happen for peace, that we end up living our lives in difficulty.
 
Peace is now, not when.
 
I feel that this is such an important thing to share with folks. And it is the absolute foundation of all my work, whether it be personal or with horses.
 
~M~
 

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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