Friday, May 23, 2008
The Sacred Horse
I really believe that owning horses is a balance between the practical and the spiritual. My last post was about the practical side of caring for horses. This is about the adventures of the spirit that can come with loving horses, if you are open to them.
I was given a gift last Sunday by a remarkable man who came to visit me and my horses. With his encouragement and permission, I would like to share it with you. It will take a leap of your imagination, but it’s invigorating. First, I should give you a little background.
Last year, my good friend, Jaqueline Sussman, introduced me to her mentor, Dr. Akhter Ahsen. Jackie, who is an author and therapist, teaches and practices Eidetic Imagery. Dr. Ahsen developed the concept of Eidetics. He believes that each of us store visual memories in our minds, like little movies. These images are emotionally charged records of events that have shaped you into the person you are today. Accessing them using techniques and exercises that he has formulated can give you deep insights about who you are and allow you to find a fresh perspective on the potential that exists within you.
Dr. Ahsen draws on various mythological and spiritual sources in his work. Joseph Campbell called one of his books, “Manhunt in the Desert”, a “work that has the quality of revelation and should be read by all.” Ahsen likes to use the horse in his imagery, but I learned that he had never actually gotten up close and personal with a real horse. So, I invited him to come meet Silk and Siete. Standing next to them, he noted, “They’re very powerful.” Then, he taught me a meditation on the horse that will help me take this power to strengthen myself.
The meditation is based on the first chapter of the Upanishads, which bring out the spiritual meanings of the Vedic texts. It is called “The World As A Sacred Horse”:
“Aum, the dawn, verily, is the head of the sacred horse, the sun the eye, the wind the breath, the open mouth the Vaisvanara (lightning) fire; the year is the body of the sacred horse, the sky is the back, the atmosphere is the belly, the earth the hoof, the quarters the sides, the intermediate quarters the ribs, the season the limbs, the months and the half-months the joints, days and nights the feet, stars the bones, the clouds the blood vessels, the liver and the lungs are the mountains, the herbs and the trees are the air. The rising sun is the forepart, the setting sun the hind part, when he yawns it lightnings, when he shakes himself it thunders, when he urinates then it rains; his voice, indeed, is all voices.”
If you’d like to try it, Akhter Ahsen has broken this meditation down into twelve steps with these instructions:
1. In your mind, see the horse’s hoof on the ground, which is the earth. Tap your own foot and feel the power and strength through your legs. Stamp it and feel it. This is good for people who are disconnected from their own power. We all travel on our legs and feet where we want to go. So, if the whole universe is you and you stamp your foot, there is a special feeling. There is no power outside of it. You are the one.
2. Feel your eye like it is the sun. Your own eye in the context of the bigness of the horse as the universe. When I tried this, I closed my eyes and felt like the sun was rising. Dr. Ahsen told me that I may progress as I do this more often, but it was a good place to begin to see the universe as the horse.
3. Feel the breath in you like the great wind. It is the wind that is free all over the earth and between the earth and the heavens. You are joining them in the universe.
4. The sky is the back of the horse. You may ride it like you are flying.
5. The stars are the bones. You are riding through them. You can feel your bones, brilliant and powerful and big as you ride among them and your self is in the middle of the stars.
6. The rivers are flowing in your blood vessels with the sound of that rushing like the sound of water. A small stream is coming down the mountains and when it falls, it feels like your blood is coming down from the heart. There is no failure. Sometimes, people hear the sound of their heart beating when they do this meditation. Just feel it and let it clear the stream.
7. The trees are your hair. You have a huge head. Shake it and feel these power images. The wind is blowing through the trees (your hair) and singing.
8. When you yawn, you cause lightning on earth. Feel the lightning come out of your mouth. It’s another power image.
9. When you shake your body, you cause thunder. Open your limbs. Sometimes, out of fear of keeping your space, you can become congested and smaller. This image makes you big and opens your insides. Shake your body, letting the wind pass around your organs so they are breathing on their own, open.
10. The lungs are mountains. They can change the weather because the weather contains the sound and the wind, which is your voice. See the immobility of your lungs. They can’t just be told to move. They assert themselves, these lungs, and change the weather.
11. When you urinate, it rains. In other words, let them take a good bath under what you express. Let it go. Otherwise, you hold it back and the whole thing is reversed. You become introverted and it poisons you.
12. In front, is the dawn, verily this is your head. The hope is the beginning of a new day. In the Vedas, the dawn is very sacred. It gives you the strength to do what you want to do.
So, every morning, before I do my barn chores, I’m taking some time to meditate and move through these twelve ideas. When I started, my left leg was weaker than my right, but now I stand more firmly balanced.
Before he left, Dr. Ahsen also mentioned that he knew that many people who rode had a fear of falling. He said that doing this meditation will make you less rigid. You become more confident in your mind and lighter in your body. He also said that if you have suffered a fall, you should go back in your mind to the moment before the fall and feel what you were feeling right before the accident happened. Remember how it was when everything was fine. It will help restore your mind to where it was when things were okay and it will help to heal you. This is one of the ways that he works with people who have had traumatic experiences.
If you are interested in learning more about his work, Dr. Ahsen’s website is Image Psychology.. Jaqueline Sussman also has good information about Eidetics on her website. If you decide to try the meditation, please let me know how it goes for you. Right now, I’m going to ride the back of my horse like it’s the sky. I love that image.