Inspired by Toko-pa Turner

Facing a world in crisis calls for our unique contributions of beauty. Not beauty in its subjective sense, but beauty that is born from a heart that has been broken wide open, that is both, fallible and vulnerable. As we face the brokenness in ourselves, we build the courage and capacity to look at the world’s despair. The seeds of empathy, become waves of compassion and we are intrinsically pulled towards sharing our gifts as a necessity in these uncertain times. But, how many of us underestimate the value of these gifts? How many of us hold back in doubt, afraid to be seen for fear of the consequences from an ‘unsympathetic world’. A path not for the faint of heart and yet one that must be taken to step into the life that is waiting to make an offering.

The seeds of doubt were firmly planted in my childhood. Over time the ache of this internal conversation became a paralyzing sense of inadequacy and eventually lead to years of dealing with depression, taking hold and overriding the moments of believing that I had something of value to contribute. However, by all external appearances, there was no apparent evidence this was my inner turmoil. But even today, I trepidly gather my courage, because staying small is no longer an option.

Turner shares this, “Indulging in doubt can lead to self-sabotage. Doubt has an insidious nature that will undermine our life unless we learn to pull back its projections and take responsibility for creating disappointing outcomes. The first step is to be aware of the ‘doubt loops’. The hidden truth about doubt loops is that they’re actually defenses against our being rejected or criticized. A sneaky way of avoiding a challenge.” Is it possible to suspend our habitual thinking from fear and step forward anyway? I say yes. It takes courage, with no guarantees of the outcome but there will come a time when staying small becomes more painful than the risk of stepping out.

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“Doubt asks us to step towards that which frightens us, reassuring ourselves that if we have the courage to make a true encounter with it, a favorable outcome lies beyond fear. Until we are ready to give our hidden stories expression through beauty-making, we’ll have these stopgaps, or what I call guardians of vulnerability, which may take the form of paralyzing inadequacy, anxiety, fear, and depression. But here’s the paradox: the moment we honour those guardians, acknowledging the value of their protections, their rigidity begins to soften.” Says Turner.

Over the years as I’ve approached each guardian, with curiosity, tenderness, and loving kindness, I’ve discovered the gifts they are protecting.  My horses have often lead the way. Through their reflective communications, they invite me to slow down, pay attention and be with what is, moment to moment. The result is blending together, the Sacred with Science. I share with you, the path I have journeyed in company with my horses to discovering the wise heart.

Spending time with my horses is wrapped in a delicious embrace of unencumbered playfulness, childlike joy, and rhythms of beauty. Here, I embrace this creative endeavor;  attentive listening, careful observation, and empathic union, available to me, each moment, as I receive her guidance and step further into surrender. The cup of receptivity is ceasing to be in the driver’s seat, letting go of the need to control and direct her behaviour.

My invitation to you is to step aside, yield to her direction and discover joy, allowing it to give rise to parts of yourself waiting to be discovered. Let your horse lead you into the rapture of the sacred and allow her to teach you…for you are each contained within the same womb of nature.

Let your life be an endless offering of beauty.

The graced eye can glimpse beauty anywhere, for beauty does not reserve itself for special elite moments or instance; it does not wait for perfection but is present already secretly in everything. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary.” John O’Donohue