The yogic path of the horse
Most agree that personal development and maintaining a certain quality of mental health can sometimes feel like a full-time job, as the demands of our busy lifestyles can make it difficult for us to commit to self-care. But it does ultimately boil down to truly being a choice. If you have attained a certain level of awakening, you already know that it is not a choice. It is a necessity. That’s why I chose that my horses would live with me, and I made the sacrifices to make this happen.
In yogic philosophy, we learn that there are 4 main paths toward reaching the same goal of enlightenment: karma, bhakti, raja, and jnana. Could the path of the horse be another equally efficient way of attaining samadhi? I’d like to share with you how it has transformed my life.
It is worth arguing that going through your life without a guiding path (or something close to a path) is like wandering aimlessly through an enchanted forest wearing a blindfold. You certainly have all your other senses to help orient you to some extent. Still, if you just took the time to remove the blindfold and learned the ins and outs of this rich environment, you’d be fully present to process everything around you.
Practically speaking, people can connect to their spirituality through various avenues such as art, nature, religion, soulful practices, intimate relationships, study, service, etc. Following an actual path, however, allows you to progressively achieve the following level of growth. My path has been through that of the horse. I never fully realized this until one of my dearest friends pointed out that my life came into full bloom when the horse entered my life.
As we are taught, all paths are like guide maps to achieve the same goals of “yoga” or union. A path helps to unite all our life forces by directing them inward to find happiness and connect us to universal consciousness. To simplify, yogic paths teach us how to live well according to the highest universal values to minimize our suffering, be of service to others, and achieve our fullest potential. These are all things everyone would want for themselves, but applying these concepts takes more work. If you have access to a horse, though, it may be possible!
The path of the horse can be defined as the process or personal journey towards achieving your highest potential through lifelong relationship-based interactions with one or many consistent horses (preferably your own).
If I were to fit the path of the horse under the umbrella of one of the 4 main yogic paths, I would undoubtedly find aspects that could be categorized under all of them, yet not one specifically. “All paths are like branches of the same river” (Swami Savananda), so I am letting the path of the horse stand on its own.
As the horse whisperer, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, explains, connecting with the horse on an intimate level is not for the faint of heart. It will bring out the best in you but also the darkest and most unresolved. It will test you to the very core and make you reassess everything you know to be true. Horses reflect our true nature, whether we are ready to see ourselves or not. Many need to work on the process before they can skim the surface of the rewards. Those who do find it within themselves to persevere may actually have a karmic link to the horse, and the discomfort, which inevitably surfaces for all at some point, is familiar enough to continue the work.
Hempfling also explains how horses demand that we show up as still as the surface of a pond. They require us to find a fine balance between strength and softness. Horses encourage us to return to childhood’s joy, innocence, and blissful ignorance. They highlight the unhelpful programming that still controls our beliefs and has managed to stunt our spiritual growth. Yet for the driven soul seeker who chooses the path of the horse, the breakthrough eventually happens, and suddenly all falls into place…
In time, one learns to fine-tune behaviour, and emotional responses. Soon enough, maintaining a more peaceful state becomes an increasingly more familiar feeling with practice. This has been my most efficient way of controlling the fluctuations of my own mind, as immediate and direct feedback is always available from the horse.
The magic that manifests once the barriers have been overcome with the horse is truly transformative. Perspectives of reality start to change, and a true sense of gratitude naturally permeates the soul. One becomes inspired and courageous in many aspects of life, and the gates of creativity open to endless possibilities. Compassion and respect for all life and sentient beings become prioritized values, and all actions are carried out consciously with a greater purpose. You begin to integrate the yamas and niyamas more effortlessly in your life.
In Equinisity (a healing practice in which I am certified), it is believed that horses can realign our chakras through their own version of reiki, as they are highly vibrational and grounded beings.
Working with horses, specifically choosing the path of the horse, has definitely deepened my yoga practice. Specifically, it was a gentle yet highly interesting way to address my personal samskaras, and to maximize my ability to access prana when my life as a mom of a child with special needs becomes intense. I can honestly say that living with my horses, and learning more subtle non-verbal and intuitive communication with all realms, has exposed me to the mystical side of life by slowly removing the veil of illusion (or maya), thus bringing me closer to my own sense of divinity.
Marianne Disipio is The Backyard Yogini. She teaches classes outdoors from her home ranch in Calgary, Alberta. Marianne is passionate about teaching children and adults how to find quality of life through unusual and challenging life circumstances. Her most excellent inspirational teachers have been Tanis Fishman (www.schoolofsankalpa.com) and Tracy Mann (www.passagestudios.ca).
For more information, visit www.thebackyardyogini.com or contact Marianne at firstname.lastname@example.org