Is it ever NOT appropriate to calm down?
Our body is running through a number of organic stress cycles all day. Up, down, up, down.
In a regulated nervous system, left to our own devices, and to follow our own impulses, we would find ways to discharge and diffuse the energy. That might be to move, to rest or any number of things in between.
Whenever we move into a sympathetic response that brings a lot of energy to the surface (anger, fear, and anxiety are all examples of this) we are often taught that we need to calm down; that the goal is to move from a place of reaction and activation to relaxation by changing our thoughts and perhaps taking a series of deep breaths.
In order for us to find true relaxation, however, there needs to be a discharge and an honoring of the energy that’s present. This does not mean channeling anger towards someone or something in a harmful way or melting down in a pool of panic but it does mean meeting the energy where it’s at and finding ways to release it from the system so it’s not driven down to a darker and deeper place.
Calm can sometimes be a façade that’s layered on a feeling of chaos. More often than not, it’s done so we can present in a way that is acceptable and to save others from the discomfort of being present to true feeling when they are unsure what to do with it.
In both horses and humans, we are searching for is regulation as much as it is relaxation. The ability to increase our capacity to hold difficult or uncomfortable emotions and stay in flow with them by not disconnecting from ourselves or our environment.
And that requires the ability to be able to stay with the scope of what the body presents and to be curious about what that means and where it will take you.