June 28, 2013 by Kathleen
“To know our soul apart from our ego is the first step toward accomplishing the supreme deliverance”
Have you ever found yourself in a place when your body knew something that was not available to your conscious mind?
As I lifted my leg over the saddle to get seated on Hannah I immediately felt the entire memory of the fall down the stairs which resulted in many injuries, trauma and the right ankle broken in a few places. Both Maude and I, being good facilitators, knew that I needed to step off the horse and to process this memory. It is important to know that I did not go into this experience with a goal or a conscious desire to recreate the experience of falling. However, I know from my experience and from watching and facilitating others that the body always remembers and holds that memory.
We took the time needed, I shed a few tears and talked about the experience and when we both felt I was ready, I got back up on Hannah. Maude was leading Hannah and I was there to enjoy the ride and to allow my body to experience the guidance and safety that both of them were giving me. If my breathing was even a little bit unsteady we would stop and wait for me to come back to a place of homeostasis and relaxation. I could feel my legs, my bottom and my whole body in sync with Hannah as Maude led us around the arena.
There are a few very important points I would like to stress about this experience for me that might also be helpful for others:
1. My body and my spirit were ready to process and heal the trauma from the fall. I did not set out to re-experience it and have it healed and released. It was released and healed because it was time.
2. You must feel safe and protected when you are processing any trauma and know you are in capable hands.
3. Your body and your mind have an opportunity through limbic connection to experience limbic revision. (for more on that, listen to my interview with Jennifer Oikle, “Limbic Lessons“)
In this work we teach about the difference between an outside fear and threat of physical, spiritual or emotional harm and the inside “fear” of vulnerability. My body did not know the difference and was at first responding to the situation as if it was a fearful place and one to run from or avoid. It takes some time to differentiate between these two types of fear. Both fear and vulnerability feel the same in the body and the body responds as if there is an outside threat.
I felt it important to share this experience with my readers because even though I am a teacher in this field of equine experiential learning and psychotherapy I was not consciously aware of the memory my body was holding. I have done a lot of healing, body work and processing around the experience but my body, having a “mind” of its own knew that further release and rejuvenation was needed. I do feel that the process with Maude and Hannah allowed for a complete release and a baby step to riding on the trails again. I am forever grateful to both of these “wise mares” for their love and guidance.
For more information on body memory and trauma look at Peter Levine’s work; “Waking the Tiger” Healing Trauma and the “The Body Remembers” The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment by Babette Rothschild. These books have been useful for those of us working with trauma and the new neuroscience of emotions has given us even more evidence about the body’s innate wisdom.