Mindfulness and the wise horse retreats are run each year at Peakgrove. The retreats runs for either two days or four days. Contact us for details. The workshops are limited to ten participants.
Learning mindfulness with horses goes back for many thousands of years. Search for it on the internet and it will appear that we have just discovered this remarkable way to make contact with our racing thoughts and learn to understand ourselves better, through the eyes of a horse. In buddhism the ‘skilfull wise horse’ is symbolic of energy and effort and also the air or prana which runs through the channels of the body and is the vehicle of the mind. The "wind-horse" that is symbolic of the mind can be ridden, giving us the possibility of guiding the mind in the direction and speed we wish. Of course like a real horse, the wind-horse mind cannot carry us to our desired places through force or coercion and we need to, just as with a horse, build relationship and communication with our own mind, for it to serve us well.
Terms associated with mindfulness include “being present”, “calm” and “aware”. Being with a horse in a setting where the horse has an equal opportunity to interact (e.g. at liberty) can help us achieve all of these. In terms of being present, horses don't have same prefrontal cortex as humans. Humans use this part of the brain for complex planning and other less useful activities, like obsessing. Because of their different brain structure, horses are literally living in the present, relative to humans. This is not to say they don't remember or anticipate, but it is different to the way we can often avoid the present, preferring to linger in the past or fantasise about the future. Working with horses brings us into the present which is one of the reasons that horses make such a popular hobby, they literally make us forget our daily toil.
Regarding calm, horses have a much larger amygdala relative to humans, consistent with their greater fright and flight response. When we work with horses we need to moderate our movements and emotions to keep them comfortable, and a cycle of calm is created between the human and horse, ‘I won’t scare you and you don’t scare me’. Awareness is another gift horses give us. With such a large creature, our senses are heightened and also, if we tune in with our horse, we can borrow their extra-sensitive awareness of people, places and things that otherwise we might miss.
Mindfulness and the wise horse
"I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to participate in your mindfulness workshop and be paired with the beautiful Meesha. It opened my heart, mind and soul and I will continue to reap the benefits of this experience."
You will be partnered with a horse for the retreat and will discover each other through grounded experiences.
"Throw all your expectations out of the window and open up to whatever may occur" (Participant)
We lead each session with a teaching from Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism.
"This is the most powerful and helpful mindfulness training I have ever undertaken" (Participant)
This is followed by a meditation practice.
"It takes the exercise of mindfulness and being human to an elevated level" (Participant)
Immediately following this, participants go outside to their horse. A variety of activities are undertaken with their horse that relate to the previous teachings and meditation practice.
"If you are ready to peel off the layers, connecting with Horse allows for non judgemental awareness so you can embrace aspects of yourself and learn to love more of who you are" (Participant)
As well as peace, connection and tranquility participants are able to explore some deeper thoughts and feelings in the group.
"This could be a life changing workshop for you. It provides an opportunity to explore your current reality - your beliefs, fears and stressors i.e. how you get in your own way in a gentle, safe and challenging environment" (Participant)