I just got back from spending time at a Cowboy Ranch in Utah. I grew up with horses in Rural Indiana and it’s always so good to reconnect with my roots and re-learn the things I forget when I am living in the city.
Here are a few remembered wisdoms.
1. Slow Down.
There is a Hopi prophecy that says: in these days when time begins to speed up, it is most important to slow down even more. Life on a ranch is verrry slow.
For the first few days, my brain was like a hamster still running on a wheel. But after awhile, he begins to relax and notice all the vast space around him. The hamster is free to roam to desert plains. But when he does, maybe a hawk swoops down on him and he vanishes into the sky. And that is alright because suddenly the small mind we identified with is gone.
We begin to experience something bigger. Time no longer exists. The rising and setting sun becomes our clock. Things still get done, in fact, we become much more efficient. We can put in a hard days work, and feel like it was effortless.
In taosim it is called Wu Wei: Non-doing in harmony with the flow of life.
Listen to the land. There are signs every where. The rattle of a snake. Distant thunder and the sounds of birds warning of a coming storm.
Soon you will watch yourself watching—then you will begin to see who you really are.
3. Have a ritual.
One of the best times of my life was living in a Zen monastery.
One reason is because humans need a ritual; on the ranch, my ritual was meditation, then breakfast and some coffee while watching the sun rise over the mountains. Then a little yoga before going to the garden. After that, not much could go wrong.
My day had already been far better at 7am than most days in the city. What ever your ritual is, try to do it every day, even taking 15 minutes to be alone.
It is one of the best things we can do.
4. You Can’t Make a Horse Drink.
We can only take a horse to water—but even that can be hard. We can only act as guides in this world. We can offer our love, support and insight. Just avoid any attachment to the result. They may be exhausted, thirsty and in pain. But they will drink only if they are ready.
People Horses are stubborn like that.
5. Guide the Horse.
Riding in the middle of the desert, it can be easy to lose our bearings. Assuming the horse knows where he is going is generally a bad idea. A few minutes of distraction can mean hours of being lost. I may or may not have gotten lost. At least I found my way back.
But by the time I did, I was exhausted and it was dark. Life is a lot like this. Our body is the horse and our mind is the rider. They usually want to go in different directions. The mind needs the connection and awareness of the body. The body needs clear directions. If left undirected it is easy for us to get distracted. Keep your eye focused on the horizon, then the rest will follow.
It might take effort to keep focusing on where we are going. But at least we will get there.
6. Find Yourself.
With all due respect to Barbra Streisand, people who need people are just needy people. We don’t need people. If we are lucky, eventually we come to realize we don’t need much of anything. Food, water a warm place to sleep. The first few days of being on retreat or on a ranch, you might keep checking your text messages. If you are lucky you won’t get reception. It doesn’t matter.
Turn off the noise. Be quiet. Silence the mind and you will find your own awareness is not only enough, it is powerful beyond measure.
7. Everything is Connected.
We may not need anyone, but in the middle of nowhere, neighbors are nice to have. We are not alone. Accept this. We are connected. We need the sun the land and the rain, to give us food and water.
Being with what is you will be able to rise like a plant with support from the earth. There is no separation. We don’t need each other.
We are each other.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise