Are you REALLY calm? A lesson for me in horsemanship and Ki Aikido

I was doing groundwork with a horse that appeared to be calm but would suddenly amp up his energy, and move out in a very nervous, head shaking manner. 

In some previous groundwork, I believe he had been taught to go around in a sudden way, with quick nervous starts. He would start with a head shake, and sometimes would start bucking. 

I noticed in myself that when that head shake would start, I would get a little nervous, as sometimes that can result in a pull away and attempt to nail you!

Of course, any horse person knows that you must project calmness, especially when the horse is not. Knowing this and being this are two different things however!

I was helped by my teacher to understand that yes, you will not like that experience, and you will have to face it, learn to breathe through it, and get used to it so you can then help the horse to move and think in a better way. 

When they are that way, they are not connecting with you, and you cannot make them. You can however, direct them to a better state so they can take you up on the offer. 

The next day in my Ki Aikido dojo, we were working on just that. The mind state shows in the body, and maintaining one’s centeredness during challenging situations, such as when someone else has lost it mentally and you are connected to them, can be difficult!

In the dojo, they up the challenges as you get more practiced. The body is tested because TRUE calmness and centeredness will show up in the body. 

There have been many times I have seen what looks like calm in another, but it is hidden by a poker face, or false bravado. Horses can tell the difference. People sometimes, cannot. 

It is really easy to say and teach that one must maintain calmness. I have seen much better horsemen than myself appear to be calm, when in fact they are not at all. 

The really experienced clinicians I have seen-the really good ones-have it constantly. They’ve just done it so many times that it is no big deal. They’ve been there so often and worked through it. 

The rest of us? We might need more practice!

If I get fearful or worried, my center goes up, into my head, and I am not as physically stable, or as mentally stable. It is not always easy to get back to centered! This is why I am in class-to practice this skill so it is real, and more easy to access during those challenging times. 

The next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, check your breathing. Check to see if you are really relaxed, with no rigidity anywhere. Check your eyes to see if they are hard and focused, or softly focused on the whole picture. Just checking into those things can often bring you back to center.