What is Mindfulness & How Can it Help my Horsemanship?
Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.
Mindfulness is more than a meditation technique. Like our horsemanship, it is often described as a way of being and living. Being mindful is a state of being, and it is one that takes practice to develop.
We are not naturally good at being aware, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. In fact, most of the time our thoughts are either in the past, (most often replaying and ruminating over past mistakes) or in the future (worrying over what bad things might happen.)
We often run on autopilot, automatically responding to our environment, thoughts, emotions and feelings. And that isn't always a bad thing! Our ability to think ahead and to plan means that we are prepared. Our ability to reflect on our past actions means that we can learn from them and do better next time. Our brain running on autopilot often is useful-for example, if you are driving and you see a red light, do you have to consciously think about lifting your foot off of the floor board, moving it over the brake pedal, and pushing it down while also staying focused on keeping the wheel straight so you don't crash? You probably did when you were first learning to drive, but now that your brain knows what to expect, autopilot takes over.
However, we don't want to live our entire lives on autopilot, letting our thoughts run away from us, and our emotions overtake us. That is where practicing mindfulness can help, so that we can live in the current moment and appreciate it.
Despite the initial difficulty that many people encounter when beginning a mindfulness practice, there are many proven benefits to practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can help us cope with anxiety and stress, it can improve our well-being and quality of life, it can help us to manage our thoughts, reduce our emotional reactivity, increase our self-compassion, and it can help us to lead happier lives.
With mindfulness, we are training our mind to be aware of our environment, our thoughts, our emotions, and our feelings. By becoming more aware of all of these things in a non-judgmental manner, then we are much more able to mindfully respond in a positive way, instead of just reacting.
How can Mindfulness Benefit my Horsemanship?
Would you be able to be a better partner for your horse if you were able to remain focused and aware of your body, your thoughts, your emotions, your feelings, and your horse's body and emotions in this current moment? If you were able to notice all of these things without judgment, would you be better able to respond and communicate with your horse? Would you be better able to connect with your horse and have a more positive relationship? Wouldn't your rides be more relaxing and fun?
The Mindfulness & Goal Setting Paradox
So, if mindfulness is all about present moment awareness, what would mindfulness have to do with grit and goals? Isn't grit all about perseverance, working hard to overcome obstacles along your journey? Isn't goal setting about thinking ahead and preparing for the future?
Well, yes. The key here is Balance.
Goals are great. Goals are motivating, they give us direction and something meaningful to work towards. However, sometimes we can get so focused on reaching our goals, on toughing it through obstacles, that we forget to live in the present moment, to enjoy the journey. We can get to where we are only happy when we achieve our goals-and with our horses, the process to achieving our goals is a long, long trail!
Mindfulness reminds us to notice the present, to be aware of the process and to appreciate it, to enjoy the journey. And the ironic thing is, that if we enjoy the journey, if we are happier along the process, then we will be much more likely to achieve to stay motivated and actually achieve our goals-and when we are motivated and passionate about a goal, then we can get gritty and persevere through the tough times along our horsemanship journey.
Thus, the Mindfulness and Goal Setting Paradox. Mindfulness and present moment awareness is beneficial to goal setting and goal achievement. There needs to be a balance of both mindfulness and future goal setting.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what Mindfulness is, the Benefits of having a Mindfulness Practice, and how Mindfulness is important to Grit and Goal Setting, let's get started with a simple mindfulness breathing technique called Square Breathing (this sample page is from my eBook, Mindfulness for Your Horsemanship Journey.)
Square Breathing Mindfulness Technique
Get Gritty-Build Your Mental Toughness with Mindfulness!
In this book, I share with you 15 of my favorite mindfulness techniques.
Dedicate 5 minutes a day to practicing these mindfulness techniques, and you will see how quickly you can rewire your brain to be more positive and also improve your riding and connection with your horse.
Mindfulness for Your Horsemanship Journey
I'm going to get real with all of you-Mindfulness is a practice that I have struggled with.
I struggle with the idea of just sitting somewhere and not really DOING anything. I mean, I breathe all on my own without thinking about, why do I need to practice it?
So believe me, I get it if you feel like Mindfulness isn’t for you. However, I encourage you stick with it. Here's why.
Research shows that we are rarely thinking about the present moment. We tend to either be thinking of the future-what we need to do later, or we are thinking of the past-what we should have done.
Like many horsewomen, my thoughts are often anxieties and worries about the future or ruminating and replaying events from the past.
Is that how you want to live? Always worrying, always mentally beating yourself up for past events, always focusing on the negative? Or do you want to enjoy the present moment, savor the good events, be grateful for all the blessings in your life, and look forward to the positive things that your horsemanship journey has in store for you?
If you want to get out of the rut of negativity and improve your horsemanship,
then mindfulness is a key practice to help you re-wire your brain and shift your thinking.
In this ebook, you will learn 15 quick and easy Mindfulness Techniques that are designed to help your horsemanship. After purchase you will get a link to download a pdf of the ebook.