Vitality: exuberant physical strength or mental vigor; the capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence; the power to live or grow; the vital force or principle.
Vitality as a benchmark. It’s not enough to be less anxious, less fearful, a little bit more confident- although that may be the start.
The true measure comes from asking ourselves, as a result of the practices I am doing, do I feel more vital? Have I increased my capacity to hold more life force in my body and not feel the need to shut down or run away? Is my aliveness more keenly felt? Does my pulse feel stronger, do I have a bigger sense of self, a sharper awareness of the edges of my skin as a result of what I am doing?
And is my horse experiencing the same?
In order for this to happen, we need to be open to the full expression of emotion in our body and not see them as instructions but as information; to be masterful of an experience means to be able to hold it and to choose where to take it, rather than feel at the mercy of it.
Your job is to feel into the spaces, to search for the openings, to allow them to expand.
Your mind will take you to the shadows. Accept that. Search still for the openings. Ride towards them.
The art of any practice is to increase your ability to hold feelings, sensations, and emotions within the container of your body. As soon as the experience feels bigger than your body, it is at once bigger than your capacity to handle.
Use vitality as your benchmark. Ask yourself, does this practice make me feel more vital? Do I feel more alive? And have I increased my ability to hold that force in order that the full range of experience be available to me when I am alone, with others, and working together with my horse?
Pivot. Find what takes you there.