Walking. Most of us do it every day to varying degrees. Some people do a lot of walking. Others don’t enjoy it and walk as little as possible. Do you consider walking a gift for which you give gratitude? Where is your attention when you walk? Are you present in the now? Or are you distracted thinking about yesterday, tomorrow and later on?
Just for fun, do these two exercises. First practice walking with your shoulders hunched and looking at the ground. How do you feel about yourself? Usually I am distracted and not very alert when I have that sort of posture. Then walk with your shoulders back, head held high and stride it out like you know where you are going. Does this make a difference? I feel good about myself when I walk with purpose. A great side benefit is that I also become alert to my surroundings. It is very important to always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking anywhere that is at all deserted. Studies show that attackers look for victims. When you are walking tall and looking confident, you do not present as an easy target. This is especially true if you are also listening to your intuition. Say you are walking through a park and you suddenly get a ‘bad’ feeling and think that you should get out of there quickly. Don’t dismiss your feelings. They are there as a guide. Get out of there. It is far better to be safe than to be a statistic.
So how do you develop your confidence and your intuition? I find that working with horses has done lots for my confidence. They are brilliant coaches and very intuitive. When I am with them, I learn about life skills as well as riding. There have been times when I have thought that my mare, Doll, was dawdling over the walk from the stables to the paddock. Then came the flash of awareness. I am the one dawdling and distracted. She is just taking her cue from me. So I straighten up my shoulders, lift my head and walk to the paddock with a purpose. Doll will then walk tall and stately beside me.
It has not always been smooth sailing with Doll and I. One time she got a fright when I was taking off her saddle. She accidentally pushed me into a fence, jumped on a wheelbarrow and ended up hurting herself on one of the other fences. All of this happened in the blink of an eye. Whilst both Doll and I suffered very little physical damage, the mental and emotional trauma was huge. I had trusted Doll to keep me safe and she hadn’t. I also hadn’t trusted my intuition, which had told me to move the wheelbarrow before taking off the saddle. The wheelbarrow had been in the yard with Doll many times before, all without accident. ‘Why should this time be any different?’ I argued to myself, leaving the wheelbarrow in the middle of the yard. Famous last words.
Horses are herd animals who look for a strong, confident leader. After this incident my confidence was in tatters. I kept getting flashbacks that would see me cringing and curling up. This would in turn set off Doll’s anxiety. Paradoxically, whilst it was horses that caused me to lose my confidence, it was also horses that helped me to rebuild my confidence. Doll was suffering too. To help her and to build a better relationship with her, I needed to become a strong, confident leader. I learnt that instead of crumbling, as I wanted to do, I had to walk tall – to become aware and walk like a leader. This took practice. The more I did it, the more my confidence grew and the easier it became. Then I found that it had greater application than with Doll. My confidence was growing in me and I was ‘walking tall’ in other areas of my life. I began to speak up in situations where I would have kept resentfully silent in the past.
I was motivated to learn to ‘walk tall’ and become a confident leader to help Doll. What happened was that I learnt to be a confident leader for me. They say that when you are ready the teacher appears. Doll and our other horses are marvellous teachers. They have taught me to go beyond where I thought I could. I am grateful to, and for them.
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