I had the privilege of working with a wonderful Percheron by the name of Kairos during an Equine Faciliated Learning workshop in Tucson this last February. Karios is the largest horse I have ever seen. He is well over 17 and the weight of his physical body is grounding and calming. His gentle nature makes time stand still. His slow moving, solid black muscular mass calls you to him and pulls you back in time.
Kairos offered the participants at this workshop an equine learning experience that was based on ‘being’ verses ‘doing.’ By simply being near Kairos several people reported a deep sense of communion and connection to something that was beyond words. Kairos complete focus and slow gentle gestures moved people to the depths of their consciousness. While facilitating one woman in a reflective round pen session, I shared the same experience.
My client was standing in the round pen with Kairos. He gazed intently at her. In that moment I felt a direct stream of energy moving from him to her, centering in her heart. This strong, clear, and pure stream of energy continued from her heart straight into mine. Immediately I felt my heart expand and tears came to my eyes. The tears were not of sadness or fear. The tears were of recognition. In that moment an unspoken word passed from Kairos, to my client and then to me. The unspoken word felt like a complete book of knowledge, a sense of expansion and depth much greater than anything I have ever experienced with any other horse. In that moment time stood still, there were no questions to be asked and no answers to be explored. That empty moment simultaneously contained all the wisdom of the universe.
You may have a sense of what I am saying if you meditate or communion with nature. You have experienced those delicious moments that are beyond words. The moments when you feel you are one with everything while the wisdom of the ages sinks into your cells. These are the moments of experience I seek, moments that are bottomless, wide in girth, and endless in time. Kairos, with his sensual, prehistoric, and calming energy, invited all of us to venture into the infinite state of connection.
Many equine experiential learning training programs focus on ‘doing’ something with a horse in order to have an equine experience. I recently offered a presentation in Boulder, Colorado. One participant criticized the equine-based demos I facilitated. She claimed the session were not experiential enough. This participant needed to touch or interact with the horse to have an experience. I see value in physically interacting with horses, and I also see the value of connecting through non-doing activities, thus encouraging people to experience through the energy of their hearts verses their heads.
What quantifies an experience? Do we have to touch or be physical to have an experience? Must we play games, have goals, agendas and protocols, or even ride in order to feel we have fully experienced the horse? An experience is defined by recognizing and gaining knowledge or comprehension through observation or interaction. Achieving an experience can happen by simply ‘being’ verses ‘doing.’
In my humble opinion I believe we can achieve deeper levels of experience by ‘being.’ It is our doing nature that puts us into our heads, fills us with agendas and removes us from feeling from the heart. When we choose to ‘be,’ we choose to breathe, feel, observe and accept the moment as it is and as we connect with another. There is no time for judgment or analysis.
When is the last time you sat in the company of another being (horse or human) without an agenda? What did you experience when you shared this moment in time, breathing together, sensing the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin? Are you more focused on making the experienced happen, or are you willing to let the experience unfold naturally, accepting another and feeling in your heart the expansion and depth of the moment? Must you always be doing, or are you willing to simply bond through being?