Pressure and Release
“…while anger needs to be transformed into creative energy, sadness needs to be befriended.
Sadness I will always carry with me to a certain extent. I need to open the constricted channels of my heart so it can flow through me to the heart of God.” ~Susan Classen, _Vultures and Butterflies: Living Life’s Contradictions_
I love this quote I read on a friend’s facebook status. It brought to mind what I have been trying to do in my own life in dealing with sadness. I have discovered the more you fight and wrestle the strong emotions, the more they fight back! I have been trying to learn how to just allow the feeling to surface and be expressed in the fact I can acknowledge it, listen and then let it go. So often in the struggle to control and fight down the negative and stronger emotions, you get into a wrestling match that keeps the emotion unexpressed but still greatly influencing you.
Saddness in and of itself is just another emotion that adds dimension to to our lives. Without emotion our world is flat and disconnected but at the other extreme, if our lives are ruled by our emotions, without an understanding of what the emotions are trying to tell us, our world gets chaotic. We react but don’t know why. We also lose the capacity to learn what our intuition is trying to tell us.
Horses are taught to give to pressure and this is taught by using the ‘release’of pressure as the reward. Beginner or heavy handed riders can mistakenly train their horses to be dull and unresponsive by not giving the release as the reward. It takes some finesse and timing to do the release right but once the rider gets the hang of it, it becomes a wonderful way to communicate with gentleness and sensitivity to the horse.
A dull, unresponsive horse is made when they feel the pressure, of leg or hands, but when the horse responds, the pressure is not taken away. In essence the horse is then trained to ignore the pressure and NOT respond. It takes stronger cues and more force to get a reaction. In the end, you have a horse that gets heavy on the bit and is dull to the leg aids. It becomes a chore to ride because the rider is tempted to apply heavier and stronger aids to get the desired response. The energy and strength it takes to keep the horse responding becomes too demanding and you end up with a resistant horse and a worn out rider. The horse and rider just irritate each other.
I thought of how my own emotions respond in a similar way. The more I fight and push down, the more they resist and push back stronger. I get an initial ‘flattening’ of emotions which I had mistaken as the release but that was me becoming dull to my own emotional needs. As I learn how to NOT resist and to just let it flow, I am discovering the emotions come out, sometimes pretty painfully, but as long as I don’t fight it, they express and flow out! I am trying to seek out the message or lesson in the emotion in order to become more responsive to…. me! Imagine that?? The emotion is just a feeling and it will pass but it also is there for a reason. God has created us as beautifully emotional beings and in order not to be ruled by an undercurrent of unmet emotional needs, I have to learn to be responsive. This is where the richness of life can be experienced.
As often is the case, horses provide a beautiful visual of this process. When the rider and horse are in sync there is not a fighting of control – no straining, bracing, pulling or fleeing but a symphony in motion with communication and responsiveness. The maneuvers of horse and rider can be strenuous and remarkable because the energy is apply in a forward thinking mode rather than repressing and holding back. The more skilled the horse and rider are in being tuned into each other, the more complicated the moves become because they are not locked up in a fight! I don’t feel I am there yet but now that I know the process and can have in my sights the desired result. I can focus on seeing feelings as information to be evaluated rather than just reacting. I no longer have to be fearful that feeling feelings will cause all hell to break loose!
No, I believe the opposite happens because in the true release are the bits of heaven and the open communication that God wants for us in order to experience a richness of what it means to be who you were created to be.
Pslam 139:14- 16
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.