I have become convinced that life, among other things, is a continual process of posturing and re-posturing. I am currently undergoing a major re-posturing myself. The horses are helping me.
What I discovered after a visit to a brilliant dentist who specializes in TMJ issues, was that I had suffered a kind of postural collapse over the past two years. The cause was the trauma of losing a daughter. It was almost as if the internal structures of organs, fascia, fluids and glands had fallen in on themselves. The first place to fall was my heart, and then other parts were dragged downward and inward. The TMJ was just a side-effect – painful, but not causal.
Fortunately, I had also been doing some physical research into the endocrine system from a Body-Mind Centering perspective, which I wrote about in Riding from the Glands. Things got really interesting when I reached the solar plexus area. From the BMC perspective, the adrenals and pancreas (an organ and a gland) begins to shift our center from earth (coccyx, perineum, gonads) to air and the upper body. Bonnie describes the pancreas as creating a six-pointed star relationship among the six limbs – head, tail, arms and legs.
So what does that have to do with riding? As it turns out, everything. In the drawing above, the darker green triangle represents the relationship of the tail (coccyx) to the arms and hands. The lighter green triangle is the relationship between legs/feet and head. Riding with a sense of feeling the connected and inter-relationship of those two triangles was a revelation.
The first thing that I noticed was how I was NOT feeling the relationship between head and feet. Bringing more weight into my feet and actually opening the bottoms of the feet to create a more spongy connection with the stirrups immediately set up an electric connection that was both horizontal/widening through the feet and vertical/rising through the head. The surprising and lovely result was to greatly increase the stability in my seat and hands – the other triangle – without bracing. While the glands are physical bodies, they are also intensely energetic, and engaging the specific consciousness of each of these centers can have a profound effect on the body-mind as a whole. Like turning on the lights.
Back to the re-posturing. Horses are generous, kind, patient. They tolerate with greater equanimity than any human I know, our imbalances and distractions, both physical and emotional. What we can do for them, besides the best care we can afford, is to pay attention to the ways that we are falling out of balance, to make re-posturing a practice. Posture is a tricky word that can summoning up military images or a “shoulders back and soldier on” kind of mentality. That is not the kind of re-posturing I am talking about. What I am looking for in myself and in my clients is something more fluid, more subtle, even mysterious. A way of undoing and opening that is revelatory and vulnerable. Give that to yourself, and then to your horse and see what happens.