That’s me this week, getting an unexpected horse kiss.
Today I’m going to talk to you about a completely new topic that I have never mentioned before, ever.
Just kidding!!! Nah, I’m learning the SAME THING all over again. Because apparently I forgot. (Again.)
Also, we learn in spirals, and I’m circling around the same questions again but at a more
challenging interesting level.
I’m talking about coming to our work, lives, relationships, and legacies from a filled-up place instead of a sucked-dry-empty-rattle-in-the-throat-glazed-with-exhaustion place.
Listen, for those of you evolved beings of light who have not found the last few months challenging, feel free to skip this one. This is for we mere mortals who fall down and twitch on the ground every time we think about the US Supreme Court. We mere mortals who have felt like our hearts were being ripped out of our chests and set on fire by every news cycle. We who have been trying to balance the absurd terribleness of what is happening in America with— well— basically anything else.
You know, mere mortals like me.
Have you ever been to a yoga class or a meditation circle and the instructor kept telling you to BREATHE? And inside your head you snapped, Of COURSE I’m breathing, what do you THINK I’m doing, stop BOTHERING me you willowy harpy!!!! and then all of a sudden your breath whooshed all the way down into your lungs and belly so deeply that you realized that you’d basically been panting shallowly for the last two years? And then you felt sheepish and you gave the instructor a weak grin? And they winked back knowingly?
Yeah, me neither.
That’s what this whole weekend was for me: the deep inhale I didn’t even realize I was yearning for.
Let me back up: I just wrapped up a two-day horse whispering retreat with one of my magnificent private clients. We spent two days communing with horses and working a kind of Deep Magic on old patterns that is hard to describe but impossible to forget once you’ve experienced it. It is truly breathtaking work, watching someone take a pattern they’ve practiced sometimes for decades and SHIFT it. The mind and the heart and the body come together and with the loving and gigantic presence of these gentle yet fearsomely enormous animals, new ways of being emerge. You can practically see the neurotransmitters re-wiring themselves in the brain. And feel the soul threads weave new shapes to new songs. It’s fierce and powerful medicine, yet gentle as a horse nuzzle.
The first day, I suddenly had an intense urge to sit on the ground, so I plopped my butt down in the dust (watch out for the nettles) and let my body sink down into the earth.
Oh there you are, she whispered.
Oh shit I went away again didn’t I, I whispered back, my holy prayer. Here I am now! Fill me up! I breathed, and the earth’s steady energy flowed up through my loins and up my spine and hummed into me until I felt myself become my tree-self again, the one with roots sunk deep into the earth and branches unfurling to the sky.
Oh yes! I thought. This is who I am— not that weary draggy person that I’ve been emulating!
And I swear to heaven, the spirits of the trees and the horses and the mountains ROLLED THEIR EYES AT ME.
Look, I’m a slow learner ok? But very enthusiastic once I get there.
It was remarkable; within about 20 minutes of ass-to-ground communion, I could feel the vitality rising in me like sap.
My friend and horse whispering collaborator, Diane, said, “We’re exhaling so much— giving, generating, doing outwardly— that we forget to inhale.”
Ah. Once again, friends, I had forgotten to inhale.
More importantly, I realized that I had taught my body over the past two years that it wasn’t even ok to inhale.
There are good reasons for this, and they go like this:
Ahhhhh, let me sink into the magic of all-that-is…. WHERE IS YOUR BABY BROTHER OH MY GOD PUT YOUR PANTS BACK ON!
I have a three-year-old, after all. And a four-year-old who has Very Terrible Injustices happen on an hourly basis. Not to mention the older three, except they never have emergencies except when— well. You get the idea. So a primal part of me is always on mama-bear duty, and this is why over the aeons we have survived as a species. But it’s easy to get sort of stuck in that mode. When the children aren’t in active danger of setting things on fire, there are so many very stressful things to think about— grocery lists to make, immigration paperwork to have a nervous breakdown over, plus the daily fireworks of watching the
toddlers politicians actually set things on fire. It’s easy to push that DANGER button in our brains every few minutes, the one that evolved to keep us safe but mostly just makes us feel jittery and on edge and so, so tired. (Because we keep triggering floods of adrenaline inside our brains and bodies, and that’s hard on our tender selves.)
So I didn’t even realize how “ON ALERT” my baseline had become until I sat in that wooded clearing, looking at the mountains, listening to horse hooves, and noticing that every thirty seconds my body would startle and screech, OHMYGOD IS EVERYONE EVEN ALIIIIIVE!?!??!?!?!?!
This is not a helpful state to be in. Neither is being crumpled in despair at all the awful things happening.
To be useful, to be helpful, to make things that make the world a better place, we can’t be so easily startled. We can’t be sodden with our own empathy.
We are most helpful when we are LIT UP.
And to light our inner fires, most of us need to inhale.
This is slightly different than everyday ordinary-epic-fucking-badass filling-up, aka “self-care.” Self-care is important, sure— for me that means writing, and sleeping, and resting, and reading, all good things that nourish my mind and body.
But my soul— oh mama, she needs deeper breaths. My soul needs to sit down on the ground and let her tendrils sink down deep into the earth and inhale. Otherwise she gets dry and weary and forgets who she really is.
To really remember again, to re-member, it took me two days of deep connection with nature and a couple of delightful kindred spirits.
What about you? What inhale do YOU need to light up?
Your inhale is essential, dearhreart, because your light is essential.
This is not about being precious. This is not about checking out. This is not about bypassing, or averting our eyes from the realities of our world, or being in a bubble where we can pretend that chaos will never reach us. (Sidebar: if I see one more inspiring quote from a life coach about love and peace that doesn’t acknowledge what’s happening to immigrants and people of color in the United States, I am going to rain down some mama-bear-whomping-willow fury. Why yes I AM disappointed at the silence of so many “self-development” types. Hey life coaches, now is the moment to speak out! Be forces for good and love and light and the evolution of our collective consciousness— not in privileged enclaves but in our laws, policies, cultures, and rights! If we are “all connected” and it’s “all love,” now is the moment to show it!!! Ok, end rant. For now.)
After two days of inhaling, I am more fired up than ever to do good in our world.
My arms are wider, my heart is bigger, my fire is blazing brighter than ever. I will NEVER stop fighting for a world where there is room for all of us. But after an inhale, I can do it with more laughter, more humor, more badassery, and more courage. I am not scared of the world’s hurts because I remembered that I know how to help people HEAL. And get BIGGER. Oh yeah!!! I’m a healer tree! And we are all fucking cathedrals!
So let’s talk about your inhale.
What brings breath and brightness down into the spaces between the protons and neutrons in your very cells?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Shinrinyoku, or tree bathing— aka quality time with trees
- Wading in the ocean, the world’s greatest salt bath
- Cackling so hard with your sister friends that you wipe away tears
- Painting with colors as deep and rich as your feminine power
- Attending a march and inhaling sturdy hope and persistence
- Reading a novel cover to cover and stretching your empathy muscles
- Driving to the mountains and resting your head upon its stony, loving breast
- Cooking that special dish you used to make with your grandmother
- Going horse whispering with yours truly
- Gazing at art so long you can feel it enter your soul
- Meditating on the blooming heart at the center of everything
- Planting a garden and watching it bulge with life
- That other thing that is tapping at the edge of your consciousness right now— yep, the one that feels scandalous and like too much to ask for— THAT one
Your light matters. We need you to be a bright big radiant irresistible force for kindness and justice and transformation in our world.
And that is exactly what you are made to be.
So don’t forget to inhale. Go ahead, take a couple of days. We’ll be here.
Because when you’re all filled back up, we’ve got a world to change together.