The ponies have led me home again, and again, home to the heart, to stillness, to quietness, to peace. They teach me, again and again about trust and trust worthiness, about responsible leadership, about how it feels to be simply part of a mutually aware herd. They show me what “being with” can feel like as an everyday beauty of quiet, alongside connection.
It's an enormous privilege to be able to give these 4 ponies a good home, where they are fee to be in their nature and I am able to learn from and with them. And I want to share something of their magic with you.
When the world is going crazy, when everything in the last years seemed completely (and still seems completely up in the air and unknown) these guys weren’t worried. They were just there, and I was able to be with them and come into that parasympathetic, digestive place which has strengthened and softened the ground from which I offer into the world.
They teach me so much about the nature of respect - the nature of deep “in the body” listening and I’m looking forward in the months to come to sharing some of this with you.
As some of you know I’ve been talking about writing my book, about Embodied Listening for years now, and with all the everything of life and the Movement Medicine refresh project (amazing new website coming this autumn) it has kept being put on the back burner.
I am poignantly aware of my grandmother Maud Ivy Bruce, my mother’s mother, who, when her husband died, announced that she was going to go on Buddhist retreats become vegetarian and write the book that was in her heart. But instead she got Alzheimer’s and declined, eventually dying without any of that having become manifest. I don’t know what happened inside of her, but my guess is that it was simply too terrifying to take that step and she retreated. And I too am prone to dilemmas, fears and prevarications.
As I see the world and that with which so many of us individually and collectively are struggling, and I see what people are getting from Embodied Listening practice, I feel how timely this offering is. I that feel there must be a way, however busy I am, to do this thing and write this book, but how?
I was walking back from my daily trip to be with the ponies a week or so ago and I had an “a-ha!”. I realised that every month I write an article for the School of Movement Medicine newsletter. And I write joyously. I am committed to this and I do it. So what if, I simply write the book episode by episode and as my newsletter articles? Yes!
This is therefore the preface of my book about deep, listening. My 4 Exmoor ponies each teach me about a different aspect of listening, communication and communion. Lessons from each of them will feature in the book as we go along. They are all sons or grandsons of the Great Gatsby, an iconic wild Exmoor stallion, who died in 2016. They are family. They look similar. And they are each so distinct and different as characters.
So the first lesson I want to share from them is about this. In any herd of wild animals, the different characters contribute different functions to the whole. And together they’re stronger. For example, the ones who are very shy and nervous are really good look outs for danger. Without the more steady ones they would not easily explore new territory and find the resources there. Without the ones who quicken easily to fieriness, to anger they wouldn’t have the same level of protection.
I find this a very helpful way of looking at us humans and accepting my and our differences. The key question being, maybe, how can my particularity contribute to the well-being of the whole? And what do I need from the whole to enable that?
I’m aware of how many people go to their graves with their particularities, blessings, insights, secrets, songs, stories, creativity and often love still locked inside them. I am blessed to do work which is about unlocking the creative and love filled potential in everyone. Movement Medicine is a method of unfurling you’re the light of your soul into life, into the world. And I am overjoyed that the embodied, listening aspect of Movement Medicine is playing such a powerful role in that process, for so many people.
Because that is what I hypothesise most of us need inorder to bring what we have inside us into the world, to be received, to be heard, to be welcomed in our essence. That is a game changer. And all of us have the potential to be balm to offer this healing balm. And it can be so simple. That’s why I want to amplify how I offer this simple medicine to the world. It’s a key to bring forth the unique brilliance and the co-creativity which I believe we need as a species to evolve into a way of being which allows all life to thrive.
One last story.
I was once waiting in a queue to get some tea outside a big shop that sells farm stuff. And I was standing next to a young woman. As we waited for our tea we got talking and I told her about my 4 Exmoor ponies. And then she told me this amazing story of something she had experienced as a young teenager.
She and her friend had been out on Exmoor ( a wild place) on their ponies, and they had got badly lost. They got caught in a boggy area as twilight came, and the ponies refused to move. They couldn’t see the way out, and they rightly, were worried about sinking into the bog. It was in a deep valley and had no phone signal. The girls realised they were just going to have to wait out the night with their ponies standing still on that spot.
Night fell as they stood quietly next to their softly breathing and gently steaming ponies. As it got darker, they heard noises and they were all alert and a little frightened. And then they saw that there was a herd of wild Exmoor ponies wending their way down the hill towards them. Like ghost ponies in the moonlight, beautiful, fleeting shapes quietly stepping closer, following a path they clearly knew but the girls and their ponies had not been able to see.
At last the leading pony came right up to them, touched noses with their ponies, paused and then quietly turned around and led them out. The girl’s realised what was happening, got back on their ponies who confidently ow followed their wild chaperones out of the dangerous marsh.
The young woman who told me the story felt sure that the wild ponies had felt their need and knew exactly what they were doing. The wild ponies gave them their way home. The girls rode up the hill, rang their worried parents and found the way home.
You never know what you are going to learn when you open up to someone waiting together for tea, ask a god question and give space and attention to the answer....
With love, Susannah
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