Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Lately the world, and particularly those of us living in the United States, have been feeling a lot of stress. I am not going to get into politics or my views of what is happening in the world. But all of this had made me more aware of the how important it is to learn ways to let go of the stress in our lives. This is important in all things we do, including riding.
As riders we not only have to deal with how we handle our emotions and the stress in our lives, we also have to try and be calm in ourselves in order to keep our horses calm. Riders who walk into the barn bearing the weight of the world on their shoulders will inevitably bring that to their ride. This will create problems in the ride and just serve to add to the stress level. Even if you learn to let go of your problems, when you get on your horse you still will have to be able to let go of any problems or mistakes that occur with your ride. Seems like a tall order, right?
It does take some practice to learn to let go of what we can’t control and instead to reflect on what changes we can make with the things we can control. We often create big story lines about imaginary outcomes of the troubles we have in our lives and in our riding. Most of the time these stories are just that, stories that never become reality. But when we create these stories our bodies and minds live in the stress just as if they were real. So, one great tool for stopping this cycle of negative stories is using the breath to come back to the present. When you find yourself going down the path of worry and stress stop and just focus on your breath. As you begin to slow down and focus on your breath observe your situation without judgment. Look at what you can control and through thoughtful reflection make the changes necessary to begin to shift your situation to where you want it to be. Also take notice of the things over which you have no control. Recognize them and let them go. Each time you go down the path of worry go through this process again. You can also schedule time to worry and deal with stress and then be done with it for the moment. Don’t let it take over your life. If the worry creeps back into your mind tell yourself that this is not the time in the schedule for worry. Save it for later.
When you plan on riding you can use this technique to put your worries aside for another time. If for whatever reason life is too overwhelming at the moment then it is probably best not to ride. When you get stressed out about mistakes in your riding you can also go back to your breath. Look for calm logical solutions to fix your mistakes and consider these times as learning opportunities. You can also table some of your concerns for later when you are off your horse. That way you will be able to observe what you want to change in a calm setting and think about it without judgment.
Learn to let go of what you can’t control and not create to big story lines. Come back to the present and learn to be in each and every moment of your life. Even when life is tough, let go of the stories and stay in the moment. You will learn great lessons and be able to move forward through your problems creating solutions instead of being stuck.