I extended my hand out to the side and held it there ‘til her nose followed the feel. An inviting hand, I reminded myself, not a brick wall hand. I loosened my body and let my seat soften, gently asking for more of a bend, a progressive loosening and flow that encouraged elasticity and ease.
The idea of the invitation has been one that’s both guided and shaped how I approach things on every level, so much so that there are very few things I can think of that exist outside this framework. On the physical level, we have the invitation of feel. On a more subtle level, the invitation of feeling. And beyond that, the invitation of experience which envelopes us in the ever-oscillating upward cycles of progress.
Understanding these allows us to recognize every moment as a creative opportunity or one of renegotiation, where we are asked to lead both the body and mind towards a corrective emotional experience.
The Invitation of Feel
The invitation of feel is what allows us to communicate our intention through physical expression. The quality of our feel expresses whether we are moving within the atmosphere of demand and authority or communication and partnership
As the hand touches the rein, ask yourself, what is it that I wish to express through this connection? If someone were to interpret my feeling state solely through my feel on the reins, how would they describe me?
Through body and leg, there is a deep chasm between strength that yields, and strength that holds. One offers the possibility of moving with and the other, of moving against. As you sit in the saddle, ask yourself, is my strength here comforting or restrictive?
Our intention creates the atmosphere that informs our feel. Maintaining your connection with what that is allows you to stay tuned in to who it is you need to be in the saddle as much as what you need to do there.
The Invitation of Feeling
The invitation of feeling recognizes every emotion that visits us as an opportunity to fully integrate our experience and stay in emotional flow. Staying in emotional flow means that we seek to find and understand the motivating questions behind emotions and allow them to inform our next action.
If we understand emotions in this way, we release the need to categorize them as good or bad, positive or negative. Instead, we appreciate every feeling as part of the workings of our emotional intelligence system; an ever present and ever moving invitation that demonstrates how it feels to be us in the midst of the situation that we find ourselves in, and that calls us to do the work necessary to heal any unresolved trauma, release old patterns of limitation and step forward in a way that honors the present and any latent energies of the past that have yet to be resolved.
When we fail to recognize this invitation, we suppress, deny or attempt to explain away how it is we feel. Doing so does little to metabolise the energy of the emotion and leads to one of two options: emotional shut down, or emotional explosion. One can precede the other, but both will keep us stuck.
It will feel like brave work, but it’s the only way true courage is built. To see emotion as experience, and an invitation to understand the messages they offer and to move accordingly in order that we stay in flow.
The Invitation of Experience
The invitation of experience is what I simultaneously refer to as upward cycles of progress. Upward cycles of progress are where we are presented with a situation from the past, or one that is familiar to us, that is seemingly representing in the present moment. Without an understanding of the cyclic nature of experience, it’s easy to marinate in feelings of failure.
“I thought I dealt with this,” you might tell yourself. “I thought this was over.”
Instead, every situation that represents is simply another opportunity to negotiate that experience with the new awareness, understanding and skills you have developed since it first appeared. Viewing it this way lets you understand that there was never a backward trajectory; instead it is an opportunity to peel back another layer, to integrate any information that was outside your scope to assimilate previously and to engage in another upward cycle of progress.
Now, at every point, I ask myself, what is it I am invited to do, or what is the invitation that I’m extending?
Invitation of feel, feeling and experience.