Training While Holding A Tea Light Candle (Or Going Against The Grain)

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Training while holding a tea-light candle, otherwise known as:

Going against the grain.

I truly don’t think I would ever have started my own business if I didn’t live in the location that I do. Isolation, combined with a healthy appetite for learning, the willingness to figure things out and take consistent action, and never really entertaining the thought that, well, I couldn’t, played not only a formative role in the creation of my business, but is also an essential ingredient in progressing with my horses in a way that feels natural and humane to us both.

We all know about the benefits of community, and the obvious advantages that this has. I’m not suggesting that friends aren’t important (they absolutely are), or that you don’t need a teacher or a mentor (you do), or a second pair of eyes when you get stuck (please definitely seek this out); what I am saying is that this needs to be balanced with alone time where you are free to bumble on and make mistakes.

Where you can figure out how to hold your hands and coordinate this part your body with that without referring or deferring to someone else.

Where you can let yourself learn, free of the lurgies of comparison or not-so-great-wonderings that accompany us when we are individually doing our best to figure things out in the context of a lots-of-opinions environment.

When I was first invited to speak within summit setting, I was launched into a container filled with other professionals much more skilled, more well-known, and more accomplished than myself. I looked around and thought, I’m so glad it’s taken me so many years to get here. The a-few-years-earlier me would not have been deeply rooted enough in her own understandings. She would have spoken words that were yet to live in her heart, shared knowledge that lacked a point of difference or uniqueness.

And that’s totally ok. The a-few-years-earlier me needed more space, more time, to figure some stuff out. She needed to dive in to learn, to gather knowledge, and to listen to other people’s thoughts and understandings. And then she needed to retreat. To play; to practice. To get oh so many things wrong so she could maybe get a couple of things right.

A similar, slightly different situation:

Once, when I was on a training week for some horse bodywork, I went to a stable that was home to at least a hundred horses and then counting. I looked around, at the comings and the goings. I thought how difficult it must be to learn here, if what you are playing with is different, new, or against the grain. How you are always witnessed, always under the gaze of another person’s eyes.

And so, I say: new learnings, new understandings are like holding a tea-light candle. The flame needs protection to get big. Once it has; once it’s licking the ceiling and not easily extinguished, you can carry it around in all manner of weather and situations and it’s unlikely to go out. But until then, it needs protection. The protection not only of people who are looking to also nurture the flame, but alone time where you get to stare at it, marvel at it, figure out how to make it grow.

My personal challenge is not so much alone time to play with new ideas, or space with my horses to apply new understandings, to figure out what goes where and how this connects with that. My challenge is community; the second eyes, the people around and on hand to help me out.

But if you find yourself in the context of many, YOUR creative challenge might look quite different. Because going against the grain, new learning, and the chance to apply what you have been told to the point where it has practical benefit means you must have time to think things through- alone.

You must have time to figure out how to figure it out in a way that lives in your body, which requires you go through the process of letting yourself learn.

At the end of the day, the ultimate in any learning situation is a balance, between mentorship and independent learning. Between opinions and the space to figure things out. Sticking to something you recognize is right for you or your horse but goes against the ‘most practiced and familiar’ can be tough, even when we know that it’s the right thing for us to do.

Protect your tea light candle insides until they’re a strong and solid flame. At that point, alone or in a group, the flame is sure enough of its own heat to not go out.


❤️ Jane

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