After the most recent Optimal Performance Program Clinic in The Netherlands, my husband Pawel told me that at one point during the Clinic he had thought about telling me not to do something. However, at that point he didn’t…
Later Pawel explained: “I couldn’t tell you not to do this, because I knew that you were doing everything that you felt is the best for horses and participants, even if not everyone would understand it. I know that public image is not important for you, if compared to staying true to your inner values.”
Pawel’s honest statement impressed me… I instantly felt that I want to add more: “If I was there just to build my public image, then it would be a waste of everyone’s time: your time, my time, horses’ time, and people’s time. And then we simply shouldn’t have been there at all. I have to stay connected to my inner values all the time, because only then teaching makes sense. People can disagree with me, people can go through very strong emotions (due to very strong and real tensions releases they are experiencing), but I must not be affected by it. I all the time have to stay connected with my inner values, to be able to guide people out from the maze of their emotions and provide for horses possibility for change.”
Later at home I also thought that if I acted otherwise I would have become cynical, and my teaching and being there would be expression of this cynicism. I know such trainers… and it was due to their cynicism, that I got the driving power and a push to teach others: I wanted to provide real support, and real possibility of change, not comfort for the emotions or thoughts, and excuses why something cannot happen…
TWO WEEKS AGO…
…we met with our students in The Netherlands with the idea to share our knowledge and practical experiences of the Optimal Performance Program, and the power behind Conscious Relaxation for Horses. Optimal Performance Program is a very unique approach to horse training based on teaching the horse how to consciously relax his muscles through systematic and progressive approach of teaching the horse the series of Optimal Performance Program Relaxation Techniques.
The word “Relaxation” is present almost in all horsemanship approaches, but in OPP we don’t focus on relaxing the horse, but instead we teach the horse how to relax himself using our 7 Relaxation Techniques. Thanks to that, horses can reach very deep levels of Relaxation which are not available for them through the regular horse training approaches. Thanks to this unique technique of teaching relaxation to horses, horses can release very deep residual tensions from their bodies, achieve profound relaxation, and heal behaviourally and mentally. It’s our common experience that during Optimal Performance Program many behavioural and heath issues with which owners and horses were fighting since a long time can just disappear. And although Optimal Performance Program was developed and designed to optimise all aspects of performance for the sports horses, it’s our every day experience that if we want to turn a body into the sport-body it firstly ask for healing and recovery in all the areas that need recovery and healing. Only then the sport performance can get better, can improve and can become the base of our focus. Life comes always first before the performance, before Sport. So after the major “cleaning” is done, and the health of the horse is secured and in order, we can see that the Relaxation Effect spreads further and the performance, energy levels, engagement, and execution of the exercises dramatically improve. Within the OPP Program we teach horses how to take actions, and perform exercises emerging from the place of deep relaxation and how this deep relaxation leads to high levels of energy and expression. Moving based on Conscious Muscle Relaxation brings dramatic change to the movement, cognition, and performance of the horse.
During the Clinic we met several horses who started Optimal Performance Program with my personal guidance a month before the Clinic. These horses have been already classified by their owners as difficult, spooky, problematic, lacking self-confidence, some also prone to separation anxiety and panic attacks, others were showing aggressive behaviours towards their owners and other people. They were all avoiding human connection, and in result were not suitable for the regular horse training. This is why their owners reached out to us.
Our goal was to teach these horses how to Consciously Relax, and to restore their abilities to connect with humans, and participate in the horse training. But first we had to teach their owners how to practice Optimal Performance Program, and teach their horses how to Consciously Relax…
What have I learned from this Clinic?
My first lesson that I took from this process was that the word RELAXATION is a very good one, because everyone generally knows what is it, and that relaxation is an important part if not a foundation of the horse training, but at the same time it is a very bad one, because everyone understands this word differently. I had to come back to the basics, and explain the meaning behind Relaxation in the Optimal Performance Program which is: ceasing of unnecessary actions being unconsciously taken in each given moment. Relaxation seen through the Optimal Performance Program means doing LESS, so that the horse can do MORE when the request of the rider or a trainer is given (there is more readiness, understood as muscle, motor and cognitive availability of the body of the horse).
People can understand such a concept of Relaxation only if they have experienced it first. So my task task was to guide horse owners in such a way, that they can guide their horses to understand and experience relaxation. (Later, I learned that to be able to do this I had to connect with my 4 Core Values).
I learned that you can help other people and change their lives only when your actions are rooted very deeply in these four core values. Only when your actions carry a meaning that is clear for everyone around you, these actions can provide any change.
The “GREEN-TEA POWDER” effect…
Several years ago I have been travelling in one taxi with a friend of mine who worked for a Pharmaceutical company. Her company had just released the new medicine for elder women. My friend said that this medicine is basically just a powder extracted from green tea leaves. I remember that I asked her: “Is it working? Does it have any real value?”. Without any hesitation she answered: “My company policy is to provide products which are not working, because then we are not liable for what we do if someone complains”.
I remembered about the above conversation again when several months ago, while listening to the lecture of a very famous academic professor from USA, I learned that this academic professor believed that accordingly to modern standards aspirin would have not been approved as a publicly accessible drug, simply because it is working too well, and is able to provide real changes to the body/health of the person who takes it.
It brought me to the conclusion that very few things offered now on the market are working, simply because no-one wants to be responsible for their effects if they worked. In the equestrian world we can see similar things: no-one wants people and horses to experience REAL CHANGES. Why? Well… because these changes are happening for real, and are really affecting people’s and horse’s lives, and do it in a real way. When these changes take place, there must be someone willing to take responsibility for these changes, and know how to guide the process further.
The Conscious-Relaxation effect
Relaxation has tremendous power to change humans, and horses from the very bottom of their existence to the very surface of their existence. Things that were previously hidden, thanks to the Relaxation are popping out, we can see them and we can do something about them. Not everyone is mature enough and prepared enough to deal with such situations. Most of the people live dragged by their thoughts and emotions, they don’t have a stable point in life which allows them to see how ephemeral and unimportant emotions and thoughts are.
The beginning of the process of Releasing Tensions is not pleasant, and can be quite rocky. It’s like starting a general cleaning in the house: all the dirt cumulated, yet conveniently hidden behind the pieces of furniture or under the carper, all the issues that were there yet were not-that-visible before become visible and come out on the surface. This means that many training and health issues of the horse, that used to be conveniently covered or masked, will become visible and that we will have to look into them, and deal with them. This time for real. In the process of releasing tensions there are also many emotions coming out on the surface. Horses are releasing tensions for real, and together with them they are releasing emotions and behaviours which these tensions were triggering storing in the body of the horse. Seeing this process can be quite emotional and difficult for the owner. Normally people don’t like to see problems of their horses, they don’t like to be faced with the idea that their horses could have been in pain or discomfort. But its an essential and integral part of the healing: realising the problems, and treating them. It however requires highest level of maturity from the owner to not back up at this stage, and to not resign from the process — coming back to the more convenient state of the issues being “covered”, and “masked” to be able to continue regular “usage” of the horse.
One of the participants’ horses, Eros, experiencing deep moment of relaxation during the third day of the Clinic.
Most of the time emotions are popping out because we experience some relaxation in the internal organs, but how to see it if we are inside of these emotions, and our mind is always ready to find some reason for what we feel???
A STABLE POINT
My role in all this situation was to be an anchor, rooted in the Core VALUES of Life to provide some steady point for my participants who were undergoing the process of releasing tensions together with their horses.
For me, maturity is one of the most important quality of a horse owner, which means that you understand your role, and you are not transferring your problems and emotions on your horse. Without being mature enough, we are simply harming our horses loading on them our ever-changing emotional states, then following these states, and turning them into actions. When someone is not mature enough this person follows their emotions, and change them into actions. It should not be a part of a horse training experience.
But how to be mature when we really FEEL our emotions, and the mind is telling us that we are justified to have these emotions? Self-talk is not helping, because self-talk cannot over-rule the real feeling coming from the body. In such moments we have to go deeper and find the stable ground below the always-mobile matter of emotions. We have to connect to never-changing CORE VALUES OF LIFE: respect, openness, sharing, and gratefulness.
MY GOAL FOR THIS CLINIC
It was my goal to bring these core values to our Clinic. I was there staying firmly on two legs grounded in these values. It would be so easy to follow the temptation of joining other people’s emotions. I believe that some people would love to see it, because it would have brought comfort to their feelings: I would show that I share their emotions. But it would not help anyone, least the horses.
I had to stay grounded, available for everyone who wanted to see the way out from the superficial thrill of emotional maze. I was amazed to see how many people — participants and spectators included — were open, seasoned in their experience as horse trainers and horse owners, and ready to receive powerful knowledge of Optimal Performance Program to help their horses, and to take the full responsibility for themselves, and their horses.
WHEN I CAME BACK HOME…
…I was thinking for a very long time how to help people who don’t want to feel trapped in the whirl of their emotions, who see that these emotions are not true and are just the outbursts, the side-effects of relaxation, but they lack tools to stay grounded and see clearly what is ephemeral, and what is real in the real-time when the real-life decisions have to be made.
I came to the conclusion that I don’t have, and cannot think of any better tools than the ones that I am using myself on everyday basis. I decided that I want to share with YOU what I do every day in order to not let emotions and thoughts rule my decisions and actions, and therefore myself.
I came to this conclusion because during the Clinic I saw so many wonderful, mature, and open people, who seemed to be just waiting for a tool as such in their lives to become truly empowered, connected, and emotionally independent in their decisions and actions.
The techniques which I am using and which I am going to share with you are not tools to achieve some goals, or improve something in your Life. These are the most essential VALUES which are the goals and the paths themselves.
THE PURE MEANING
I often see that we all seek purpose and meaning in life. Many times we feel that something is missing. What we do is intelligent and eloquent, yet in a longer perspective feels meaningless, and make our actions empty and disempowered. People seek ways to change: they choose another training technique, and start to follow another trainer, maybe even sell their old horse and buy a new one… And they hope it will bring the deeper meaning to their life.
In reality, every action has a meaning, and everything that we do has a meaning. We do not always know what is the meaning of what we do, and our actions do not always have THE MEANING that we would want them to have.
We believe that it’s enough to JUST DO THINGS, and that their deeper meaning will appear or start to manifest itself with time, or even independently from what we do. For example, we all seek relaxation and ultimate ease, yet so often training techniques which we choose promise that these qualities will come with time, and are not necessary to be present at the beginning of the training scale.
We all seek universal values that are common and shared by the wholeness of humanity, like: respect, gratitude, openness, sharing.
The same values we want to promote in our life with horses:
Deeply inside we want to express these values during our trainings with horses, and horse riding. Many people are buying their first horse to seek these values and to cultivate these values in their lives: innocence, openness, happiness, sharing, becoming grateful, respected and respectful.
Horse training becomes something technical, where we look for correctness of aids and techniques, expression of the horse, strength and straightness of his body, obedience, leadership, etc. On the other hand, we expect from our horse to express the same values: we want the horse to be open, respectful, grateful, and eager to share.
These values exist, no matter what we do with horses, but we can access them only through the MEANING.
Every moment during horse training HAS A MEANING
When someone is riding their horse, and is not expressing gratitude, this person can think that they are not expressing anything with their horse… but in fact they do express something: UNGRATEFULNESS.
In nature there are no empty spaces. If you are not expressing gratitude, it’s not that you are expressing lack of something, or that you are not expressing anything at all at the given moment of your Life – there is no empty space. You express ungratefulness. The same works for other values like: openness, respect, and sharing.
Many people believe that horse riding can take place solely in the technical sphere of riding techniques, and their application through the correctness of the aids, body parts, pieces of equipment and angles.
It’s very understandable that most of people don’t think about values during horse riding. It’s because usually they don’t have tools to implement these values during riding their horses, so it’s more convenient to skip this moment of Life and move on. Generally we do believe that we, people, have values such as: morality and consciousness and, that our actions will be agreed with our internal moral construction. In practice we many times do things that we regret later on.
Some people can think that they is full of gratitude to their horses, but in practice they lack tools to express it during their trainings, or even feel unable to say “Thank You” to their horses during the training routine (because the thing the horse did was “not good enough”, “too late”, or because the horse “already knows this exercise, so there is no need to thank him for this anymore”).
Normally, people try to connect to the values which are close to them via thoughts or very strong emotions.
Unfortunately, this attitude cannot work because the CORE VALUES, such as: gratitude, respect, openness and sharing lie in the base of our existence, and CANNOT BE SHAPED BY THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS.
Human mind is extremely flexible and allows believing in two contradictory things at the same time: people can think that they are grateful to their horse, and yet at the same time can have problems with telling “thank-you” to their horse.
Building values cannot base on thoughts or emotions, it must be rooted in the actions we take.
When looking at the trainings of other people, many times I see that the thing that lacks them is not an even better technique, an even better seat or even better knowledge about biomechanics, but the VALUES: openness, respect, gratitude and sharing.
I see how far these people could get, and how quickly their situation with their horses could change, if only they could express these FOUR CORE VALUES through their trainings with their horses.
Many times people speak about it and they try to help one another, but they lack tools and common language to express what they mean. You cannot disconnect horse training from the values:
- if you lack respect in your Life, if you are disrespectful – you won’t build respect in your horse,
- if you lack gratitude, your horse will not want to offer you anything,
- if deeply inside you are scared, you will not have a brave horse.
- if you lack openness, you will not crack your shut down horse open…
Later, we see a rider who does everything “correctly”, but in separation from his horse: he does something, his horse does something, yet they are not doing anything together. Such a situation is not brining any value to the horse, nor to the rider, nor to their being together. As well, and probably even for the better, they could have not met at all during that day’s training…
TENSIONS GUIDE TRANSFORMATION
It’s wisely said that one cannot teach values to others. What is more, some people even believe that one takes values with the breast-milk of their mother. It’s something we are either born with, or not. But is it really true?
Our struggles and difficulties which we experience in Life – our tensions – show us the way to transform, and point at the areas which we have to work on. One cannot teach others values, but surely one can support others to enliven the core values in their lives. We all know what are the core values of humanity, because we all seek them tirelessly: love, openness, connection, sharing — giving and taking — gratefulness. Everyone wants their life to have a meaning and be meaningful.
When you awaken in yourself the CORE VALUES OF LIFE: respect, openness, gratitude and sharing — your Life won’t be any longer supported on unstable fundament of thoughts and emotions. You no longer will be scared about the future. You will set roots in something more stable than eternity, and you will connect with it’s source, and take your strength directly from there.
EQUESTRIAN WORLD should think what values it shares with the non-equestrian world, and if the external world really needs our values at all.
Other people are watching our trainings and time spent with horses, they don’t understand or grasp all the technical aspects of what we do, but they can realise (or not), and share our values.
It’s very good to be mindful what values we show and share with the world.
We stand now in front of a very important shift. Very soon the world will ask if it needs equitation, and horse sports anymore. It’s very probable that these disciplines can disappear from the Olympics in few decades time.
- What do we, equestrians, can give back to the world?
- What is the MEANING of training horses?
- What is the MEANING of being a horse owner/trainer/enthusiast?
- Are horses trained only for that other horse enthusiast enjoy them, or want to buy them?
- Are horses only the currency or a tool in the modern world?
- What do values we THINK we share with the world, and what values do we really share?
People do yoga, meditation, they climb highest mountains, they buy expensive horses, train them to the highest possible level, they do BodyMarc — because they want to grow, seek meaning and look for deepest possible meaning in their Life.
In fact every action has a meaning. If you practice YOGA, and you treat it just as sports and recreation, and you are not expressing gratefulness, then you are enlivening UNGRATEFULNESS in your Life. When action LACKS CONNECTION WITH THE MEANING, it doesn’t provide possibility for the one who takes this action to enrich his Life with meaning.
DOES YOUR LIFE HAVE A MEANING?
When you ask someone: “Does your life have a meaning?” – usually people answer: “Yes, of course it has!”, or “Errm…I don’t honestly know, but I hope so!”.
But where this purpose is, if the things we do is deprived of this purpose?
If you take the most important spheres of your Life like: personal growth, yoga, horse riding and you resign from enlivening meaning in these actions, taking satisfaction only from the practice and techniques you have — HOW CAN YOU BUILD THE MEANING IN YOUR LIFE?
On one hand, we believe that the most important things is gratitude and openness, but on the other hand the only thing we look for is correctness of the angles, and perfection of the execution of the exercises.
LACK OF GRATITUDE doesn’t mean emptiness in the space of gratitude, it means UNGRATEFULNESS.
For example: if you do a canter pirouette, and there is no gratitude in the rider but sole orientation towards correctness and training, and execution, this canter pirouette will be promoting ungratefulness in the training of the horse.
If you do YOGA, and you don’t respect yourself, your body and others in your practice, your YOGA will be expression of disrespect.
THE 4 PURE-MEANING TECHNIQUES COURSE:
During this course I am going to share with you MY 4 PURE-MEANING TECHNIQUES, which I do before every training with my horses in order to connect with the 4 VALUES OF LIFE.
This is a very simple set of 4 techniques. It doesn’t take me more than 4 minutes to do these techniques. I do them in private, in silence and in humbleness before my trainings with my horses to enliven in me the 4 VALUES OF LIFE.
Connecting with these VALUES through my 4 PURE-MEANING TECHNIQUES allows all my future actions to be guided by these values, and to preserve these values in my life and practice with horses. I strongly believe that when we are not mindful about what we are expressing, there is a risk that we can be expressing something different to what we would want. These 4 PURE-MEANING TECHNIQUES allow me to stay connected with the values I really want to express in my Life, and really see how they are expressed and enlivened through everything I do with horses, and in my personal Life.
I take all my strength and being grounded from practicing these techniques. I see that my actions are not random anymore. I see that I don’t relay on the thoughts, opinions or others, or emotions I may feel, when taking actions. This gives me this tremendous power of keeping my actions pure, on the point and extremely powerful.
4 PURE MEANING TECHNIQUES 4-WEEKS Course
- is meant to enliven your connection with the 4 CORE VALUES OF LIFE
- Starting date: 22nd JUNE 2019.
- is a Self-Study video-guidance course, with techniques and short 10-minute lectures about each technique, it’s application, importance, and how will it affect your life.
- I will help you to define your blocked areas of horsemanship, and how to open them to stay connected and grounded no matter what is happening around you and your horse.
Sign up: https://gum.co/ujRQL (click here)