I am sat in the barn with the horses. Today is one of those limbo days. Extended family have been to visit and it has been a flurry of action, but yesterday they packed up and went home and it's back to a quieter pace of life.
I found myself floundering on which bit of catch up admin to do versus observing the quiet and empty space, not knowing quite what to do next without the external input of a group to direct me. Thankfully, I've not only been encouraged to live in the moment, but have first hand evidence of it's efficacy. So it's follow my own advice time, and each time I find myself missing the crew or wondering what I should be doing, it's an opportunity to bring it back to the comforting sanctum of now.
When you know the now-space, you understand why life before it was so stressful. Forever striving for external validation, connection and goals, not being connected to now is literally the most uncomfortable experience there is. Listen to spiritual teachers and all will tell you, all suffering is born out of not being in the now. Some 12 years into my meditation journey and a lifetime with horses and I can first hand experience say, I agree.
Nowhere is the need to focus and be in the present being played out on a global stage more than the current Tokyo Olympics. As an avid sportsperson myself, I love watching the games and marvel at the commitment and excellence of the athletes. Of course, the part that captures my attention most of all is the psychology behind their performances. My first foray into performance psychology was through a sports psychology book back in 2008. One stand out sentence captured my attention most of all and that was:
Performance = potential - constraints In sport, those constraints can be many things; funding, access to facilities, coaching, nutrition, equipment and of course - mindset and psychology. If you have a saboteur voice going on in your head, you need to know how to not listen to it or to switch it to something constructive. A high profile example of sports psychology right now is the withdrawal of USA gymnast Simone Biles from all Tokyo 2020 events bar the beam competition. Simone cited mental and physical health reasons, which she later explained was "a case of the “twisties” - a gymnastics phenomenon where the mind and body do not connect as they previous have." Other international athletes this year have cited mental health reasons for stepping out of competitions or their sport for a few months - a statement that was almost unheard of until now. For an athlete, having their head in the game is paramount. Many sports are physically demanding and a split second out of focus can mean a life threatening injury or worse. Coupled on top of that is the pressure to perform, being under the eyes of the nation, personal ups and downs, team pressures and years of commitment, sacrifice and single point focus outside the parameters of normal living and you can see why an athlete's mental health needs to be managed and is worthy of respect. Which brings me full circle to living in the now. As the Olympic games come to a close, many athletes would have returned or will be returning home. Not all of them will have won a medal, some may have not even been able to start. The hype and the excitement of the games will be unparalleled and their bodies will be flooded with emotions. The British Olympic Association is well aware that this is the time an athletes mental health will need to be supported most of all. They, just like us need to live in each and every moment as it comes, if they are to process what has been and capitalise on the experiences moving forwards. It is no surprise therefore the athletes that are parents, or still have horses to look after each day, fair best when it comes to present moment living. Both children and animals are excellent in-the-moment role models reminding us that right now, this moment, is the only one that counts. It is something the horses, Josie and I would love to share with you at our up-coming meditation retreat. The masters of present moment living, if lockdown has seen you worrying, being ineffective, or exhausted - we have created an anti-dote to help. Regularly described as "peaceful and calm", just being with the horses is sometimes all the therapy we need.
We are extremely excited to be able to offer the opportunity for you to spend some time with them over the course of a weekend to chill out, re-find your centre and prioritise your mental health, and hope that you will join us. 2 Day Meditation Retreat With Horses, 14th & 15th August, with Josie Truelove (non-residential). Have a wonderful August, the horses and I look forwards to seeing you soon.