Energy of Connection | Barbara Alexander

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 like 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.

Just before entering this experiential session, I asked a question straight on, “What is the greatest power?” Having witnessed his immense strength and having experienced dominance-based horsemanship, which was the same in business leadership – I was familiar with intimidating power that creates separation, fear, and submission. I felt the emptiness from the lack of genuine heart-based connection and sadness that we don’t understand. It doesn’t have to be that way.

The answer that I immediately heard, what brought me to tears and has been a profound foundation for the work I continued to bring forward, was this: “Love is the greatest power.”

There was so much that continued to unfold over the years, skills to create healthy boundaries, modulation of energy, and awareness of the non-verbal messages that are all around us.

But it wasn’t until years later that I learned about co-regulation within relationship. 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…