“Come back to the present. Be here with me now”, says Charlie the big beautiful thoroughbred. Charlie is one of the many horses I get to spend time with in the course of a normal week. I love working with horses for many reasons – chief among them that being with horses is my main mindfulness activity. Horses are better at living in the present than we are and spending time with them can give us some of the same benefits as meditation.
Mindfulness is on my mind these days in part because of my upcoming Mindful Leadership workshop on October 16th (go here here for more information). I am also participating in a 31 day online Mindfulness Summit put on by Mrs. Mindfulness, Melli O’Brien. I am really enjoying the Summit. Melli has put together a really good program of interviews with some of today’s leaders in the popular mindfulness movement. (You can check it out here.) I say popular because mindfulness and meditation have been around monasteries and temples for literally hundreds of years but, like yoga, is just taking off in North America now in the 21st century.
Today I listened to an interview with a fascinating man, Jono Fisher, whose areas of interest include Mindful Masculinity and Conscious Capitalism and Kindness. He has created a movement called The Wakeup Project. Jono regularly hosts events with Google’s Search Inside Yourself program. If you have a chance to hear him I highly recommend it. He is among an increasing number of people who think that mindfulness could save the world.
In today’s interview Jono talked about the benefits of everyday acts of mindfulness. He spoke about the positive effects of hugging a dog and needless to say, I was already there thinking about the benefits I experience in the work and play that I have with horses. I also found it interesting to hear that some people feel that mindfulness will take away their edge, that they won’t be as productive or creative, that they will get too mellow without the edge that they associate with life and work results. Au contraire I say. Fully embodied mindfulness and meditation are what you see when Shaolin monks perform their amazing feats of physical and mental prowess.
Science is showing us the proof – mindfulness is good for us. Mrs. Mindfulness lists some of the benefits on her web page invitation to join the Mindfulness Summit:
- Mindfulness will improve your memory.
- Mindfulness will help you lose weight.
- Mindfulness will help you have better sex and improve your relationships.
- Mindfulness will help decrease stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Mindfulness develops your creative side.
The only thing missing from this list is having mindfulness make you rich – which, when you think about it, could result from being more creative, having a better memory, and being less depressed and anxious.
All sorts of research is demonstrating the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices – if it weren’t so I doubt that corporations like Google would be investing in programs like Search Inside Yourself for the benefit of their employees. Clearly Google doesn’t believe their people will lose their creative edge or become less productive.
When I take people to the horses, inevitably they leave feeling this same benefit: a quieting of the mind, a clarity of thinking, and an experience of inner peace. The horses alone bring these benefits so it make my coaching job much easier. This is what a client wrote me last week after just two sessions:
“Evelyn, thank you! I am experiencing great value and breakthroughs inside-of, and in-between our coaching sessions. The ‘equine space’ was beyond my initial comfort zone, and I’m very glad I listened to the quiet voice inside me saying ‘yes.. do this!’.
The experience of “being coached” (that is, being deeply and attentively heard, understood, affirmed, and encouraged) is having an immediate impact on how I view, experience and strategically approach my ambitions, and is transforming the habitual process of how I have long pursued them.
I’m enjoying — while learning and experimenting with — a new process, and am greatly enjoying the results I am getting in my professional and relational life.”
I am humbled by the reactions like this that I hear from people. It is such a privilege to be trusted and to be able to share this kind of work with people. I am very blessed.
And the horses make it easy!