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.


Strawberry Lane said...

Very interesting points to ponder, Victoria. Meditation and visualization are assets in so many ways and situations.

billie said...

A lovely meditation! It is very similar to what happens inside my own head when I do the rainbow ride meditation on Keil Bay, especially.

A few elements remind me of Sally Swift's Centered Riding images. All so powerful and archetypal.

I'm glad you're riding the sky today! We have lessons all afternoon so will be doing much of the same. :)

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

That big old horse sure has been urinating around here a lot lately!

Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like an interesting concept that could be helpful to many people. I'm a little dense I suppose, but don't know if I really understand meditation and how it works, since I've never done it. It's on my list of things to try someday. I like the visualization of riding the sky on your horses back, it's a lovely image.

Victoria Cummings said...

Marvel - It sticks with you - these images. Besides the sky as the horse's back, I love the idea of trees as my hair.
Billie - It is archetypal. It reminds me of how valued horses were in earlier civilizations and how much we can still learn from them.
Mr. BnH - Go for it - Tell it like it is,man!

Victoria Cummings said...

Arlene - The hardest thing about meditating is sitting still, stopping the chatter of your inner voices and relaxing enough that your back and knees don't kill you. It's like clearing all the gunk out of your pipes. But these images just keep floating around in my head all day.

detroit dog said...

Very interesting (I love Joseph Campbell). I have a friend that is an extraordinary flamenco dancer, and what you say in #1 about stamping the foot is pretty much what she says when teaching dance.

Bill Evertson said...

Ah! This is the nectar ( from the Greek - who over comes- hence overcomes death) A wonderful mantra to begin a day. I love your imagery of riding the the back of your horse like it's the sky. I hope that I ride the back of my passion with as much freedom as You! (and Silk and Siete).

Rising Rainbow said...

Imagery has always been a powerful part of healing for me.

Victoria Cummings said...

DD- You know that Flamenco dancing has its roots in India and Hindu dancing - and it still lives in its true form (not the touristy kind of Flamenco) in Andalusia - where there are also some of the most incredible horses in the world. They say it's all about "duende", which means passion coming from the soul.

Bill - I walked out to feed the horses this morning as the sun was rising and I thought about the sun as the eye of the horse. You do ride your passion very well, by the way, in your art.

MiKael - Yes, I agree. What's amazing to me is that the Upanishads originate before 700 BC, so people have been thinking these thoughts about the spiritual connections to the horse for a very very long time - In fact, I think that we're only being re-awakened to it now because we almost lost the connection with the overwhelming influence of technology and mechanization. There's a lot of healing needed on the planet right now.

djbrown said...

Frankly, when I meditate in the traditional sense (sitting quiet, focusing) I just fall asleep. I have found your meditation works great during long walks around the lake; however, even though my beloved horses are no longer part of my every day life. The sacredness that is horse is still central to my spirituality.

Cassi said...

I know that most of my readers think I am a little crazy for loving horses like I do.

I've been thinking alot about it lately. Just what is it? It's so much more than, "they are pretty."

So, here's what I have come up with: they are the closest thing I can think of that embodies all the attributes of God. ... beautiful, graceful, loving, gentle,, relational...a great listener.... faithful... but strong and powerful at the same time.... and when you can no longer walk ~~ they will carry you.

Callie said...

Very interesting post.May give it a whirl..... :)

Jen said...

cassi, that was beautiful and it really gives voice to my feelings, as well. I like the idea of visualization in healing, but being a Christian, the meditation doesn't take exactly the same form. :) Drawing parallels between my relationship with Christ and how my horse loves me unconditionally, too, is very freeing. To be gentle and powerful at the same time must be the very essence of the divine. Our horses breathe divine breath from the Creator, and every time I'm near them, it refreshes my soul.

Sandy said...

This was fascinating! Just found my way here and really enjoyed this post.


Ewa said...

Great post. I will try it. Meditating gives a lot of strenghts.
Last year I had some practice on rinzaizen meditaions. It worked very well for me. I dropped it, but I am going to get back :)