The Other Side of Fear: Part One

If you want the full experience, listen to the reading of this blog so you are able to close your eyes and fully immerse yourself in the story.

Imagine yourself sitting on the ground, legs crossed. The sky is blue, the air is warm, and you are sitting in the shade of a giant oak tree. As you sit, tears wet your cheeks. Not because of the beauty of the day, but because of who is sharing that space with you.

It’s not a person, no- but it is a being. A being with thoughts and feelings and presence. In fact, it’s very presence is invoking the feelings which are in turn causing the tears. It’s physical presence is large, which under normal conditions, is enough to bring anxiety to the surface. But these conditions aren’t normal. It’s a first for you, actually.

How you got here, sitting on the ground, in the presence of this large being? You were invited to follow your instincts, your desires, as you forged a relationship with this horse. And 3 days into the process, you find yourself being drawn to sit in the round pen where your equine partner stands. Not to sit right next to her, but a few feet away from her, giving her space to choose.

And to your surprise, she chooses to come near. Not in a rushed or aggressive manner, but curiously. Gently. She comes and stands right behind you, so her legs are right behind your back and her neck and head are hovering over you. Your rational brain quickly analyzes the risk, the need to self-protect kicks in. For a split second, that part of you initiates a desire to stand, to move, anything but stay put.

But something else inside of you beckons you to stay. Somewhere inside, you actually do feel safe. That the connection being offered here is real. That there is something to discover on the other side of your fear.

As Leta lowers her head next to yours, you feel her warmth, her breath, and those healing waters flow even more freely. Things start to click in your heart and mind. That you can trust. That there is something to be gained through vulnerability. That just because something/someone can hurt you doesn’t mean they will. And all of a sudden you feel as safe as if you were curled up in bed reading a book.

You feel her legs against your back. She shifts her feet in the slightest and you jump a little, reverting back to anxiety. But as you return to calm, you settle in a little deeper to the moment. You actually lean into her legs a little, appreciating the quiet strength she is offering. You know this won’t last long, but the memory will forever be imprinted in your mind- the picture of the safety experienced in true connection.

It’s a picture of you relinquishing your power, sitting on the earth, offering nothing but your being. It’s a picture of her relinquishing her power as well, standing still above you. The choices that forged the way for this moment. The relational connection. The trust.

When you finally stand, fifteen minutes later, there are no words. Just tears of joy, of being known, of knowing another. There is a sense of reverence for the beautiful connection that was just shared.


Questions for Reflection:

  • What or who did you first imagine before the “being” was identified as a horse? Consider what significance there may be to that, if any.

  • When was the last time you moved through fear, either in a relationship or in a circumstance? What did you find on the other side ?

  • Reflect on the relationships in your life in which you allow yourself to be most vulnerable. Think back to the beginnings of that relationship and the steps it took to get to that place of trust and connection where vulnerability can happen.

  • Now consider a circumstance or relationship where you want to take a risk (vulnerability is inherently “risky”). Imagine yourself taking that risk and what positives may come on the other side of your fear. We are so good at imagining the negative outcomes, but give yourself permission to imagine the positive. Sit with that and know that the choice is always yours. You only have to take the next step if you want to!

Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog! This story was a real experience I had at a training and I’d love for you to hear about the significance this experience had in my life.


Sacred Moments of Connection

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This picture captured the moment of the first time Pippy, one of the herd at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in northern CA, let me reach out and touch her.

This was after three days of working with her for hours, gaining her trust by showing up consistently and communicating to her with my body language that I wanted good for her, not harm. Horses are prey animals, so their survival instincts teach them to self-protect instead of connect. Safety is their #1 concern.

Because of this, until safety was communicated and understood between Pippy and I, she was going to stay as far away from me in that round pen as she could. Some horses are more dominant, assertive types and will try to maintain control as a means of safety. Pippy was very gentle-natured and was more inclined to avoid and escape for safety, rather than control.

From the get-go, my intention was to build a relationship with Pippy. I wanted to connect with her. Horses are social beings and are capable of connection in the same way humans are. But like any healthy relationship, this one was built on choice and not force. So even though I wanted to reach out and touch her on Day 1, we waited until Day 3, when she was ready, when she said “Yes” to that request.

This time together was so sweet, so sacred. She let me stand there for five minutes, rhythmically petting her face, easing into the enjoyment of being cared for and shown affection by another being. Connection, trust, and respect were all wrapped up in this moment. When I look at this picture, it brings back those feelings for me. It reminds me about my true self, gentle and kind, caring and affectionate, capable of connection and love.

I have found that to be a pattern in my work with horses, the invitation I receive from them is always to come home to the real me. The essence of me that requires no effort or striving. Then, and only then, will they extend a willingness and desire to connect. It’s never an invitation to be the perfect version of myself with no faults or negativity, simply an alignment of self that communicates, “I’m safe, I’m not hiding anything from you, all of me is here in this moment”.

These are sacred moments of connection. Where the truest part of me connects with the truest part of another. These moments add such depth and meaning to life, and opens pathways to change and transformation. The more we get in touch with our essential self, the more we want to tend and cultivate it so it is the part of us that is able to shine the most brightly in our lives. It’s the part of us that requires the least amount of effort and makes us feel most fully alive.

I’m committed to giving people opportunities to experience this. It’s too good not to share. This work is rich, deeply relational, authentic, and connecting. It has the potential to bring self-awareness and transformation.

My invitation is constant, come and experience this for yourself. Join me for a workshop or schedule your own personal session.

Until then, may you find moments of sacred connection in your daily life.

Rooting for you!

Jamie

Self-Sufficiency Has Met Her Match

In December 2017, I attended my first NL Intensive training in Brenham, TX. I’m pretty sure it was day two, which in my experience at these trainings, is when things really start getting stirred up internally. This life lesson came to me in my blind spot. Like a horse’s blind spot, it was right in front of my face (or maybe right behind my rear?). In fact, the only one who could see what was going on was my partner for the weekend.

I was in the round pen with the horse, Indigo (name has been changed for this article), trying to connect through attachment. When we had worked together the day before, we had a pretty quick connection, so I figured it would happen pretty easily again. This was not the case. Indigo was completely ignoring me. So I started to gradually increase my efforts, going from clucking and calling her name, to stomping my feet, to waving my hands in the air, to getting closer and jumping up and down and waving my hands all at the same time.

My partner stopped me (thank goodness!). I walked over to her and took a much needed break from all the jumping and flailing around. She said something simple like, “It seems to me like your energy on the outside does not match your energy on the inside”. At first I shot a quick answer back like, “Really? I feel like all of my energy is as high as it can go! I don’t know what else to do.” And then the thought settled somewhere deep within, and I took a deep breath and looked at her. She was right.

At some point, Tim Jobe had joined the conversation (he has a way of popping in at the just the right moment). He asked something to the effect of, “What might be keeping you from raising your internal energy?” I explained that it felt like there is a line that divides where I feel safe and comfortable to make an “ask” in a relationship and where it feels all together too risky and vulnerable. Tim asked, “What is the risk if you cross that line?” I started to process out loud about how if I gave more energy toward the relationship, what if it wasn’t reciprocated? What if she still kept ignoring me? The fear of losing what connection I did have seemed to outweigh the potential of gaining an even deeper connection. A wave of realization was rushing over me. This, of course, directly correlated to how I often felt in my human relationships.

Then something beautiful happened that I’ll never forget. By this point, I was back to standing in proximity to Indigo. As soon as I acknowledged my true inner feelings to Tim and my partner, Indigo turned and came toward me. She planted herself right there next to me as tears began to steadily stream down my face. I hadn’t even asked her to come over. She chose to all on her own. And all I could do was stand there next to her and let the tears fall freely. I savored that moment with her and all that she “said” to me through her actions.

In a way that only a horse can, she affirmed so many truths for me in this moment. She affirmed that all she wanted was the real me. She didn’t require that I had it all together. She only required that I was being real with myself and with her. It was as if she was saying, “Oh good, you’re truly present with me and now I want to come be with you”. She also affirmed that the experience of a connection like this was totally worth the risk and vulnerability it took to get it.


“Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves…are we willing to show up and be seen?”

–Brene Brown


Self-sufficiency has met her match, her name is Vulnerability. It’s only through vulnerability that true connection is experienced. Self-sufficiency may give a false sense of security, but it will forever leave me feeling disconnected from others. Indigo helped me realize that what I want more than independence and self-sufficiency is the sense of being known and accepted for who I am. In order to get this, I have to show up in relationships as my authentic, vulnerable, messy self.

Every day we have the choice. Today I choose vulnerability.