“Experience is the wealth of our life. Perfect Practice is embracing each experience with a child’s mind. A mind that is inquisitive and reverent and born from an open heart.”
Riding with Grace has opened my world. I do not, at all, mean this as a trite cliché’. I mean it as truth.
After decades of doing what I’ve always done with relatively effective, but somewhat inconsistent affects, I let go of my conditioning at last. Of course, quite often it still creeps in. Old habits are hard to break. Though when it does show up it cannot sustain, because I will not give it my attention. I am well aware when my thoughts enter my experience and want to rob me of what is the essence, indeed, the truth of each experience.
I had no idea for the majority of my life how my mind was limiting my experience. I just followed my thoughts like a tail on a kite. I didn’t realize there was any other way. This world became so vast and peaceful when I didn’t let my thoughts rule my emotions, sensations or even my decisions.
I think I must open this topic, because how can your thoughts not rule your decisions? I can say this, I live deep in the heart of nature. And each day I observe how life itself is flourishing without so much as a thought. The forest and birds, the weather, the atmosphere and all that surrounds me seems to coexist and flourish without the need to think about it.
We humans are so reliant on our projections because we feel that we are the higher intelligence. I don’t believe we are, in the sense that we destroy what we love. It’s so easy to get lost in the myriad of 10,000 things. Rather than opening our hearts to the sublime. Letting go of our engrained perceptions allows us to see an incredible world. We begin to see from our true and unconditioned essence. We are allowed to live from the depths of who we are.
My horse Grace came into my life at the most opportune time for me to listen and understand. The love I felt for her was so deep and so true. Her spirit was free and unconditioned and I didn’t want to tarnish it with the habituated tasks of human doings. Of course we both had a lot to learn from each other. so this did not mean we didn’t evolve. It meant that it wasn’t preconceived. I found that the greatest wisdom, the most effective way of living came from this open mindedness.
I once had a Kiger mustang. He was born wild in the Steens mountains of Oregon, where he lived for 10 years of his life. I bought Concho when he was 11 so he was fairly fresh out of the wild. The man I bought him from was a kind soul. He had given him a good start into life in captivity. And although his entire world changed, Concho’s spirit was still intact.
I remember realizing that this “spirit” was so beautiful, I didn’t want to influence it with conditioning his mind to dull his senses. I feel that the relationship with Concho was exceptional. I rode him for 10 years. There was a purity about the bond. But I will say this we most likely wouldn’t win any ribbons.
We were explorers. Concho learned about the human spirit and I learned about the horse. We had many magical rides in the mountains. One of my favorite memories of Concho was that his deep, thick, long mane always smelled of sage. When we would go to eastern Oregon, he would always snatch sagebrush as a treat. I am eternally, grateful that I didn’t do a lot of training with him. He was born sublime by nature.
My intention with Concho was that I would come to learn the true essence of the horse. A horse that was naturally raised. I wanted to learn from God’s horse….and teach me he did.
So now, as I enter the last stage of my life, I am grateful for the lessons I learned . My greatest teachers have been my horses. And in this time with my horse Grace, the bond is more important than any task or any accomplishment that we share. That is not to say that we don’t evolve or grow in this relationship. It is to say that we do so in unity. I won’t compromise the relationship for accomplishment.
Thank goodness for Grace and her willingness to show me a better way. I spent my life wanting to offer a better way for horses to coexist in man’s world. I’ve dedicated my studies, time, and resources to learning how to be a more effective teacher. And what I can say now, in this stage of my life, is that I have become a more effective student.
So often things are completely opposite from what we intend. This world of duality shows us both sides of the coin. The greatest hardships can be our most profound openings. And those highest peak experiences can sometimes seem so hollow. The mind and its ideals are a simple speck of light, not the sun.
Opening and even freeing the mind and our dependency on its thoughts is a profound shift that joins us with the true essence of nature. Our intellect is a powerful tool. It serves life in a very significant way. But the complexities of thoughts often blur natural beauty. Life can get lost in the details.
I feel that when we are capable of detaching our life from our conditioned mind, we see that the mind’s usefulness is to serve, not to lead. This is a subtlety that changes the world.
Freedom is the essence of nature…it is the essence of life. And for this freedom to be true, we cannot tarnish it with our personal projections. Grace is freedom, it is our essential nature—the truth and the breath of life itself.