I have been exploring the topic of Self-Love recently, what that concept means to me, and how it shows up in my life. As I often do, I looked to my horses to explore what insights their way of being in the world could help me better understand mine.
The Initial Disconnect
As I stood watching my herd in the pasture and reflecting on how they experience and express Self-Love, their world felt so different, if not distant, from my own. The answers I was seeking didn’t flow easily to me. Instead I felt a longing to be fully immersed in their world and their way of being in it, which is a world without ego without so many social constructs, and judgments, without over-analyzing thinking thoughts, without second guesses, and self-doubt. What must that feel like? How different would my relationship with my Self be under these conditions? It became clear what I was seeking wasn’t going to come from watching their interactions, but by interacting with them.
As I moved closer into their energetic field there was a visceral shift in my body. I paused in this space of presence and connection. They meandered their way to me, nosing my arm and positioning themselves for back scratches. The relationship I’ve built with them over time was evident in our interactions. For most of the animals that live here, these interactions and mutual loving relationships are the result of challenging emotional work and loads of patience from both sides. Smoothing out rough starts and healing early trauma has been an equally challenging and rewarding, character building endeavour that revealed as much about myself as it did the animals.
“That’s it!”, I thought. I have cultivated my Self-Love, in part through the actions and sacrifices made to establish these relationships. Over the past two decades horses have played such a major role in the development of my character and the traits I genuinely love about myself. In walking the path of the horse, I’ve gained a great deal of self-reliance, responsibility, patience, confidence, empathy, sensitivity, physical health, humility, and a soulful connection to nature. I value and love these characteristics about myself which has allowed me to actualize Self-Love. Was this the insight I had been seeking?
It wasn’t. And I realized that, as I stood among them later that day. Once again being grounded in that field of energy that connects me to them beyond the physical realm. Once again feeling that shift in my body. Standing there with them and truly feeling their presence and a deep sense of Oneness, the characteristics I was so proud of earlier, felt more like conditions.
In moments of exercising self-reliance, responsibility, patience, confidence, and empathy it’s easy to love myself, or as previously noted, feel pride in myself. Should any one of those conditions falter, perhaps I behave irresponsibly or lose my patience, what is it that keeps me connected to that greater sense of love and belonging? There was something else at play here, and I could feel it. It was beyond words and once I let go of the struggle to find just the right ones and know that feeling it was enough, it washed over me, filled me, and poured from my eyes. I was more home in my Self than I’d ever felt and home was Love.
The Deeper Connection
In reflecting on my initial sense of distance and longing to live in the
way of the horse, and offering deep listening to my body when it speaks to me through visceral sensations and shifts, I know Self-Love to be an ever-present connection to all that I AM. It is when I am in a place of flow, of interconnectedness, of Oneness, that I am able to tap into the wellspring of absolute and unconditional love that is available to all of us, all of the time. It is in that place outside of ego and conditions. It is in that place of being and of breath. I know that place may be difficult to travel to some days, but I found this sweet little shortcut in my pasture if you ever want to take it.
Connect with a community of other humans discovering the Way of the Horse through the simple act of Presence.