How Horses can Help us Build Self- Awareness.
American author, James Thurber once said “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” Being aware of how we feel in the moment and why we feel that way gives us the ability to make choices on how we will respond and engage with what is happening around us.
Russ Harris, one of the world’s leading authorities on Acceptance and Commitment therapy describes the importance of being able to drop anchor- just as you would if you had boat and wanted to be safe and stable. Dropping anchor gives us the space to be mindful of how we are feeling even when we are surrounded by stormy seas or turbulent emotions.
In equine assisted learning we use our horse partners as those anchors. They do not look back in anger, nor forward with fear. They stay in the present moment. As such, they provide a safe, stable presence in which we can securely drop anchor and explore our inner experiences, emotions and feelings.
We can also use the horse to assist us regain control over those emotions by grounding ourselves. We can tune ourselves to the senses of the horse, mirroring the horse’s breathing, motions and feeling the non-judgmental support that they offer. Once we are grounded, we then can choose how we engage with the world around us. Choice gives us the ability to regulate our responses, to be fully aware of how we act.