Do you ever feel like you are trying to focus on your riding but your mind keeps spinning out on your to-do list, a troubling conversation you recently had with your friend or wondering if you actually shut the garage door on the way out this morning?
Typically, when our minds start cycling quickly and ruminating on things outside the control of this present moment, it transfers to our body language. Every aspect of your body language, energy projections and quality of movement that you present is all taken in by your horse who then responds or reacts accordingly.
It can be challenging to put a stop to the hamster wheel but it IS, in fact, possible! Whether you experience being distracted, over stimulated, exhausted, anxious, manic whatever - you can regain control of your mind. Keep in mind I am not a mental health professional but I have been in the trenches with my own mind, fighting to regain control, be in the present and feel like myself again. I have used the techniques that I am about to share with great success in addition to therapy and psychiatric care. Does it feel weird that I just shared THAT? Well... get used to it because normalizing mental healthcare is part of my personal mission in this world. No one should suffer silently without access to someone else's story, encouragement or insight who has been there. Let's just sweep the shame off the table right now and shine some light on ways we can become greater influencers of our own minds!
1) Your mind feeds off what you expose it to.
Take a good look at what you are feeding your mind. Do you spend a lot of time watching the news, violent movies, or chronically multi-tasking throughout the day? Never offering your mind quiet, peace, beauty or inspiration would make anyone feel frazzled or depressed.
2) Become a passive observer of your mind.
Start to notice where your mind wanders off to. It is important to do this without judgement - which will create more stress and tension. Just observe and become curious as to why your mind wants to constantly redirect you out of the present moment.
3) Redirect to your senses.
Once you have noticed your mind wandering take notice of your surroundings. Take in everything within your field of vision; including your peripheral vision. Feel the saddle you are sitting in or the ground you are standing in. Notice any sounds around you. Many times we get so wrapped up in an imagined world produced by our brains that we don't even hear the birds singing anymore. Think about what you may be missing that your horse is trying to tell or show you!
All of these techniques can be used with or without your horse. Learning to be in the present moment is like building a muscle. It is about repetition and catching yourself as often as you can when your mind drags you away from the present again. Being present is the best way to slow your mind and body down creating a smooth coherent cueing system for your horse to understand and respond to you.
Are you willing to take a challenge this week? Cut out one toxic thing you have been "feeding" your mind. It might be scrolling Facebook or watching the news. Replace it with something that feeds you joy, contentment and gratitude like watching an inspirational video or taking a trail ride while monitoring your senses and staying as present as possible.