The Full Connection
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Do you believe the universe is loving and benevolent? I think we all want to believe that…but it becomes difficult to live it when issues arise like an illness, loss of a job, depression or even something as minor as getting stuck in traffic on the way to work. What if it is true…? What if we each began living our lives or seeing our experiences through the lens of a universe that deeply cares for and supports each of us?
Recently, I was challenged to see a particular life event through that lens of love, benevolence, connection and healing; and it has forever changed me. I’d like to share this story of my experience with a particular horse.
I began working with horses later in life….long after various iterations of careers in the health/fitness industry, as a university lecturer on mind-body, public speaker, and marketing and PR roles for both the corporate and the nonprofit sectors.
As a single mom, I clung to my job like a climber might cling to the side of a mountain…for fear of falling, fear of failure and ultimately fear of losing control. During those years I experienced minimal physical time with horses, maybe trail riding on vacations, etc. Nevertheless, I was frequently immersed in powerful dreams where a white horse (always a white horse) would be present and connect with me.
It took a series of accidents about 5 years ago to wake me up and release my death grip. I’ve heard it said that “the universe whispers”…until she needs to scream or in my case PUSH…hard. These accidents (one at the top of a mountain, one with a horse and the third landing me flat on my back for weeks) were the only things that got me to stop, drop everything and reassess what I was doing, who I was being and how I was connected to life.
See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.
We need silence to be able to touch souls.
Only in the silence of recovery, after my worried mind was soothed through journaling and deep reflection, would I decide to live my life as though the universe had my back. Once I opened up to a more supportive idea of what might be possible, the synchronicities began. I was paying attention and the little gestures and hints pointed me in a direction, previously those would have been completely ignored. Were they real? Was I making it up? It didn’t really matter, I couldn’t go back to the old way. I knew the way forward was to simply take a small step in the direction of curiosity or a feeling of heart energy (the kind you feel when you are immersed in nature, feeling gratitude, with your horse or in love), and then the next right step would eventually present itself.
I never set a goal or laid out a 5 year plan…I merely followed where the silence and energy led me. Over time that journey pointed to horses, specifically, healing work with horses. And when I say “healing” this does not imply that I am the “healer”. I am not the “healer”. Being a “healer” implies an unequal relationship with the "healed". The relationship I seek with horses (and all sentient beings) is a co-operative, co-creative partnership…. part of a deeper, resonant whole. What is healing anyway? Sometimes being healed means the horse becomes sound and/or healthy again. Often times it means there is greater harmony within the mind, body, emotions and spirit. Other times it is a relationship that becomes healed. And then there are the times when it is the owner/guardian who becomes healed by truly connecting with their sick/injured horse. Regardless of how it transpires, I help horses remember their innate perfection and their own ability to heal themselves; and I help horse guardians/owners/caretakers open up to the deeper connection and healing resonance that can take place with their horse. There are times, though, when the harmony of body, mind, spirit becomes fractured or elusive due to trauma or age or long-term illness, pain, etc. Ultimately, we are, each of us and our horses, mortal. And then the healing is altogether sacred.
THE TEACHER APPEARS
For the last year or so I have had the honor of supporting some horses and their owners/guardians in preparation for end-of-life (euthanasia). This work deeply resonated with me. It aligned with my acupressure, reiki and energy work, and has had a profound impact on me personally. Yet, after each time I assisted in the process, I experienced a hint of doubt in my ability to support the horses and their people… “Who am I to do this?” It got to the point where I literally asked the Universe (or God, Allah, etc.) out loud if this is really something I needed to make myself available to do more of. The answer came through a horse named “Timid” (names have been changed to honor privacy).
I’ve been volunteering to do acupressure, Reiki/energy and bodywork on horses at a therapy center since I first began studying through Tallgrass Institute for Animal Acupressure and needed case studies to complete the program. The horses and staff at this particular center give unconditional emotional support to the clients and the philosophy, rooted in Linda Kohanov’s Eponaquest, deeply aligns with my approach with horses. I am always so grateful to be able to give back to the horses who give so much to these clients. Timid was one such horse. Timid was known for being a leader and teaching clients about assertiveness. I only worked with him one time as a case study until earlier this year when staff reached out after Timid severely injured himself in a freak accident and was slowly recovering.
Not long after that session the staff reached out again—in fact, just days after I asked my question out loud to the Universe—hoping I could help Timid. Due to his injuries they had to make the very difficult decision to euthanize and asked if I would help prepare him. There is a saying that goes something like “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Timid was definitely going to be my teacher.
EVERYTHING IS ENERGY
The responsibility I had to Timid during this process was to stay out of my head and, instead, be in my heart. Years ago I was introduced to the HeartMath Institute. HeartMath teaches that our heart rhythm patterns reflect our inner state and when our heart and our brain are in-synch our entire system comes into coherence; that is where healing takes place. Fortunately, my daily meditation and Reiki practice was a wonderful preparation for this heart centered endeavor. The first step was to prepare Timid physically, mentally and emotionally for his transition; and this would also involve his family/guardian/caretaker and executive director of the therapy center, Athena. That first session I offered acupressure and energy work so that he would be physically comfortable, at ease, relaxed and experiencing as little pain as possible. Then we moved on to supporting a harmonious system for the transition that was scheduled to take place in a couple days. The acupressure work I do for injured performance horses can be very different than the acupressure work on arthritic seniors enjoying their time in retirement. So it is with the end-of-life…the acupressure and energy work used at this time is unique to the horse, the situation, and his/her needs. The entire process emphasizes creating a transition with awareness, ease, comfort and connection. Through all of this work, which included Acupressure, Reiki, chakra clearing and energy balancing, Timid was present and willing and engaged.
Athena was essential to preparing Timid on a mental and emotional level for his transition due to their deep connection and long-time relationship. As it is with humans at the end of life, it is equally important for us to care about the mental and emotional wellbeing of our horses as their lives come to an end. Prior to my in-person work, I asked Athena to “talk” with Timid about the decision that had been made, what that meant, what would happen and how it would take place. This conversation can be different for each horse; for some it might be literally talking out loud, for others it might be creating a story and using pictures in your mind, or it may be a combination of both. By doing this ahead of our session we were able to spend time asking Timid other important questions about his life, what was left for him to do, what would make him happy, and what else he needed before his transition.
For some people, being open to hearing what the horse has to say is the challenge. Our minds like to be in control and we tend to diminish our intuition—especially in our western culture. When someone experiences one of those spine tingling “aha” moments it is typically discounted and pushed aside as coincidence or make-believe. Most of us are raised in a culture that restricts how we perceive life. However, life and beings (humans and the natural world) are more connected than our limited beliefs allow. How do flocks of Starlings fly in unison forming spectacular twists and turns (its called murmuration)? How is it that your horse is waiting for you at the gate every time you show up at the barn? How is it that some dogs are known to sense an illness in their owner? What is it that allows some people to communicate with animals or loved ones who have passed away? Science (quantum mechanics and unified field theory), along with every spiritual tradition, teach us, demonstrate and practice the truths that 1) everything is energy, 2) everything is connected, 3) we are all one. When our body is in a state of harmony (coherence) and we connect with another being, we are in a state of resonance—a unified field. It is within that unified field of energy that we can understand and know things on an intuitive level. We can know what our horse needs and Athena knew how Timid wished to proceed.
CIRCLE OF LIFE
The day that Timid was scheduled for euthanasia I arrived a few hours early. It was a beautiful day: a robin’s egg blue sky, with the scent of spring grass and a remarkable hawk circling overhead. My intention was to 1) ensure that he was ready—physically, mentally, emotionally, 2) follow his lead for what he needed, and 3) support the herd, Athena and Zoe—the equine specialist at the therapy center. When I first arrived at the farm, the herd was all lined up along the fence, just like they knew I was coming. I opened the door to the barn and there was Timid, waiting for me. The next couple of hours were a beautiful dance and Timid was the choreographer. He was very clear with me that he did not need work so I followed his lead by supporting his herd mates.
He spent time with each of them. For some it was a sweet nose touch and exchange of breath, and for others it was time munching on hay together. There were several he would nudge my way so I knew to support them with energy work and acupressure. This was all his choice and his making. Finally, only after he had spent time with each horse, did he request hands-on work for himself.
This one-on-one time with him was truly magical and very difficult to describe. He was so clear and open—no tension, no resistance, no stress…just like a soft summer breeze. A feeling of love and appreciation while working with him overwhelmed me; it was a give and take between the two of us—I was receiving from him as much or more as he was receiving from me. I had goose bumps from the top of my head to the tips of my toes and tears streaming down my face. It was a feeling of awe, gratitude and love all wrapped up together. I was present with him for as long as he wished. And then…he stepped away. He was ready to spend time with the two humans who cared most for him during the last few years. I facilitated an intimate guided meditation time for Timid with Zoe and then Athena.
After, I sensed it was time for me to depart so they could prepare to load him in the trailer and be on their way to the clinic. I truly felt like everyone—horses and humans—had given and received what they needed and wanted. Yes, there were lots of tears and emotions. And yet, everyone was so fully present. As I was driving out of the property it felt as though we were all enveloped in a special cocoon of beautiful, loving energy. Frankly, I don’t much remember the drive home.
Later in the day I had to drive to see my dad who lives about 4 hours away so I had lots of time to reflect on the events of the morning and think about Timid, the herd, Athena and Zoe. Timid was scheduled to be euthanized at 2pm. So around that time I made a point to be present, say some prayers and practice Reiki breathing. A couple hours later as I was getting closer to my dad’s I was suddenly filled with that same cocoon like feeling from earlier in the day and a rush of energy that made me tingle from head to toe. This stayed with me for several minutes. It was such a beautiful and impactful experience that I made note of the time…4:16pm. That night, after arriving back home, I picked up messages from both Athena and Zoe. The euthanasia had been delayed and did not take place until around 4pm.
You do not get disconnected and then you die.
The death experience is the FULL connection.
The death experience is the ultimate calling back into alignment,
releasing into a pure positive energy.
They also shared the following:
“I’m beyond grateful for your assistance in Timid’s end-of-life preparation. The entire experience was so much different than any euthanasia I’ve been a part of previously. It truly was beautiful and I can’t imagine using any other process in the future,” Zoe, equine specialist.
“As Zoe stood in the mud getting the trailer unhooked back at the farm that night, the phone rang. It was a call saying that I needed to take one of our client’s to the hospital as she was in labor. As I reflected on the day’s events later that night, life had come full circle on that day, and all the emotions with it. I feel so privileged to be able to come to work each day at the therapy center and know that something very sacred is taking place. Zoe, our equine specialist, and I were blessed to be with Timid to hold that sacred space for him, and it was very healing. Yes, we left with heavy hearts and lots of tears, yet could share our stories of how he was a teacher until the end and how wonderful it was that we were able to be a part of his life even for a short time,” Athena, executive director.
The opposite of life is not death, for when we pass away our essence, our divine spark will actually expand throughout the universe as we shed the physical form. We all just use this physical form as a temporary container to communicate with each other. When Timid made his transition he no longer had the physical form and yet his divine spark (the essence of Timid who we all connected with) is now everywhere. Each time I worked with Timid my awe for his wisdom and sensitivity grew. He made me a better practitioner and I learned so much about the power of touch, energy and connection with this wise soul. What an amazing gift that now both his teaching and divine spark will be with me always.
And, again…the universe had my back. I am so grateful that I opened to another opportunity to step into the flow of this loving and benevolent universe. This work supporting horses—their herds and human companions—as they transition through the end-of-life process is the most important and meaningful work I have had the honor to do. Each time I am asked to assist with some aspect of animal end-of-life I am in awe of the process that unfolds for all involved and I am so thankful for the beauty and power of the transformation that takes place.
It has happened enough now that I am being called to offer this as a service. I believe there is a need…to facilitate this full connection that I believe we all long for and to help, not just the horses with their transition but the guardians, friends and herd mates as well. I will be undertaking some advanced training later this year but in the mean time please reach out for support if you or a friend find yourself needing to make some important decisions about end-of-life care for any animal companion (large or small).
Finally, I say a Buddhist Metta (loving-kindness) prayer at the beginning of each session—I used this often during my time with Timid—and is my wish for you:
May you be at peace.
May you be happy.
May you be safe.
May you be free from pain and suffering.
May you awaken to the light of your true being.
June 21, 2019