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Peace of mind

Couple of months ago I wrote about giving extra food to my horses, and the rule of no poking. Since then Raiku has been finding her peace in the situation. While I hold the bowls of food I just show the size of my personal sphere, and Raiku softly stops and waits outside that sphere. And I feel that we are both there, peacefully listening to the presence of each other. Velmu already knows all that, yet he is always more inclined to test if I really mean what my bodylanguage says. This morning he showed that he understood my signals, still he walked into my personal sphere, and I had to ask him to back away a step. Which he did, with a protesting gesture with his head. I waited for him to calm down and gave him his food.

Now all this might seem like simple details about feeding horses. But for me it is also a question of major shift in "meta-ethical paradigm". In my last post I wrote about abandoning moral based of rules and punishments, and building on sense of oneness, love and compassion. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't have any rules because they are a bad thing. It is more about shifting focus from external behavior to inner motivation, from judging and punishing to understanding and supporting. Let's tell an imaginary story which illustrates how I felt when I was a kid.

In a city where everybody drives a car, there is a kid at age of five. His dad gives him a small bicycle, and tells him to ride with it. The kid has seen professionals driving a racing cycle in TV, but other than that he has no idea how to ride a bike. He tries different ways to do it, every time just falling down and painfully hitting the ground. Watching that his dad becomes increasingly angry, yelling at him: "I have already told you to ride that bike! So why don't you do it? Are you a stupid, or just rebellious? You'd better stop messing around and just do what I say, because I'm your dad and you are just a little kid - I have more experience than you, I know better, so what I say you must obey!". The kid becomes nervous and insecure. He wants to run and hide. But there is no place to go, so once again he just tries to ride the bike, falling down again. The dad loses his nerve, yelling: "I have had enough! Tomorrow we do this again, and if you don't ride that bike I'll beat you with my leather belt!" Well, he certainly doesn't want to get beaten, and he knows there is no way to escape. He spends the rest of the evening training by himself, finally finding a way to ride for a couple of meters! The next day he proudly shows his newly acquired skill to his father - only to get slapped on his face; "Just couple of meters! Didn't I tell you to stop messing around? Do I really need to beat you with my belt? I'd hate do that, and it is your fault if I have to do that kind of nasty thing! Now ride that bike, ride!" And the boy rides, miraculously managing not to fall down while his dad is watching. "Good boy!" says the dad and goes away, leaving the kid crying alone.

Well, I guess that anybody can see that it might not be the best way for a kid to learn how to ride a bike. Still, I feel that this is essentially what happens all too much. And even worse, as so many times the adults just give a bad example, failing themselves, while demanding kids (or horses) not to fail. I mean, like my own parents told us kids not to fight, but instead to solve problems with a discussion. But they never gave us example of how to do it. Instead they were just giving us rules, and blaming us for failing to follow the rules. Which just gave us example of: "I tell the others what I want them to do. And if they don't do it, I get nervous and upset, I blame the others and threaten them with physical violence, and if that is not enough I go on to actually punishing them." My older brother was good at picking up that model and doing it himself - which lead to us brothers constanly fighting. We failed to follow the rules, just because we were following the actual example given by our parents.

I think that "Do not fight, try to solve problems with a discussion" is a good rule and there is nothing wrong with having that kind of a rule. But the real question is how to do it. I guess it would start with steps like not to get instantly upset, not to force one's own views on anothers, respecting others and listening to them. Being able to reflect on ones own views, being willing to understand others, having patience to discuss. All these things are not just rules to follow; they are more like skills. And learning skills takes time and training. Learning skills is easier if you have guidance, support and an example. And, fundamentally, it is about feeling oneself accepted - which is not just a skill, it is more like a basic element of personality.

So many times it is so that if person A says: "I think we need to buy some fish." and person B says: "What about bying fishing rod instead; then for the same price we can get fish for many days to come, if we go fishing instead." - and person A instantly feels that B is attacking him, that B thinks that he is better than A, that A's idea is bad because A is stupid. And because of that A fails to start a discussion about what to do, and instead he starts to defend his self esteem and launches a counter attack towards B, questioning his intelligence... (I think I once saw something like this happen in a comment section or a discussion board in the internet...)

And sometimes it is feeling like these which also make it hard for people to communicate their own ideas to others. It was same with me, when I started to learn communicating with the horses. When Velmu wants to get his food instantly, I felt that if I say "No. Stay behind that line." Velmu would feel hurt, he would hate me for me being so strict. But actually, that is not necessarily the case. The horse is able to read my bodylanguage and my mood. Even if my gestures would look roughly the same, it makes a huge difference if I feel like: "Stupid horse, stay there! You get your food only when I let you eat!" or "Stop there. You get your food when I'm satisfied with your performance." or "I'm here, peacefully present in this space. This is my personal sphere, and right now I don't enjoy anyone inside this sphere." Especially with Raiku, the young mare, I feel that this has been a good practice for both of us. At first Raiku got nervous and tried to get her food by being pushy. I didn't punish her, but I showed her example of being peaceful, listening to the ohers, paying attention and respect. Raiku chose to join that peace, and now she doesn't get nervous any more. She knows that she will get her food, and we both enjoy the meditative moment of just being there and listening to each other.

So, when I write these details about communicating with my horses, at the same time they are my ponderings about the fundamental philosophical questions. To simplify, for me it is about finding peace of mind; and learning to maintain it even when there are contradictionary motives, differing intentions, challenging emotions or tricky situations.

tags: 
fictional
horses
philosophy
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Comments

Kirjoitat hyvin :) Sain taas itselleni lisää ajateltavaa.

Kiitos, jälleen. Tärkeää, tämä resonoi syvällä.

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