It all came down to the energy of connection within the arena but little did I know my energy could influence a 1500lb horse. During my training to become a facilitator of experiential learning, I found an answer to something that would form the foundation and trajectory of my life and study.
I had chosen a horse early in the day for my experiential work about connection later that afternoon. When the time came for my session, however, that horse’s energy had changed entirely. As I walked into the round pen, not only was his size overwhelming, but he had become wild with frustration and anger. He was racing from side to side, slamming into the 6′ high steel panels, angry that other horses were eating and he wasn’t.
Though I was afraid initially and verging on the fight or flight response, something took me in a completely different direction. I learned that I had an extraordinary power within me, which affected the horse and our entire experience.
I began filling my lungs with slow deep breaths to help calm my nervous system, and I could feel the strength of my heart’s energy expanding. Though my back was to the horse as he stood across the arena, I could feel his frantic behavior easing. For a moment, I was caught up in the bliss when suddenly I was aware he was touching me.
His approach from behind me was silent, and then I felt him touch me with the tenderness of a butterfly. His massive chest barely touching my back, and the next part brought tears to my eyes; his head slowly came down over my shoulder across my chest and stomach in what felt like a horse hug.
Witnessing the enraged energy of this horse mirrored many things I had seen inside and outside of the arena. I was confused about power and the result of its misuse. Something about this felt primitive and ignorant. Must it always be the dominance and submission of spirit, or could there indeed a better way?
I’ve watched management blast employees, creating fear and obedience in corporate culture. I have also seen dominance-based horse training camouflaged with words like leadership, relationship, connection and even “natural” horsemanship. Intimidating power intends to dominate, and the outcome only creates separation, fear, and submission. I could feel the emptiness and sadness from a concept that we don’t understand. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Just before entering this experiential session, I had asked a question straight on, “What is the greatest power?”
The answer that I immediately heard, what brought me to tears as he enveloped me, and what has been the profound foundation for the work I was to bring forward, was this: “Love is always the greatest power.”
I had unexpectedly stumbled upon this moment in time transitioning from fear to something far more profound. And so, it became my quest to understand a better way of connecting to each other both in and out of the arena.
Co-regulation is the process where one nervous system calms another and creates a loop that becomes soothing to both. Slowing my breath, calming my nervous system and using my heart energy helped me create this incredible transformation and genuine connection so many years ago.
I began to learn about the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and specifically the Ventral Vagal Network, to understand more about the science behind the effect we have on each other.
Modulating the energy of connection opens doors to trust, creativity, and inspiration. Mastering the skills to help regulate volatile situations and confusion is invaluable in all relationships.
Emerging research is beginning to explain the calming influence of the Ventral Vagal Network, known as our social network, including breath, facial expressions, and eye contact, which has a clear and positive impact on others allowing us to be in the present with compassion and curiosity.
Look into their eyes and see their heart… Breathe… Connect… Co-Create…
Click here for more information about Barbara Alexander and her experiential workshops