What does it mean to be aware? What is the definition of awareness? The Webster definition is this: having or showing realization, perception or knowledge. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aware) That seems pretty straightforward. But many of us walk through life very unaware of what is happening right now within ourselves and around us. We get so consumed with regrets of the past or worries about the future that we don’t stay here right now. We don’t notice what is happening in the world around us, nor do we recognize what is happening within us. So often, we are not self-aware. It is easy to become reactive to our emotions and the situations we are in instead of reflective. ?Habits can become so automatic, becoming such a part of us, that we aren’t even aware that we have them. Even with the habits, beliefs and feelings we recognize we have, we often are unaware of the triggers that set them in motion. It is so easy to walk through our lives and miss so much of what is happening in the world. When riding, a lack of awareness can lead to missing the subtle cues and conversation that horses are trying so to send our way. It is easy to get so consumed with thoughts and worries and so stuck in our heads that our bodies become stiff and unyielding to those messages. When horses don’t get a positive response to their needs they can become nervous, tense and over responsive or dull and shut down to our aids. Imagine how you feel when someone is nagging at you and no matter how many times you try to respond, they don’t hear you and they just keep repeating the same thing. I am sure you wouldn’t like it and neither does a horse. As you begin to create awareness you will be able to better hear what your horse is saying and learn to be present and give a proper response.
Without reflection and self-awareness, thoughtful responses to our situations don’t happen. That is where a mindfulness practice can help. When we become more mindful of how we feel, what we are doing and learn to be right here, right now, we can handle better what life sends our way. I thought about naming this subject mindfulness instead of awareness. But I thought the word awareness would make more sense, as many people think living mindfully can be an overwhelming practice. It’s not, but it is often perceived that way. Thinking about being more aware as you go through your day should be pretty easy to do. Staying in awareness does take some work, but understanding about being aware is pretty self-explanatory. Stop and think for a moment of all the opportunities that are missed when you are not aware. It may be something as simple as noticing a beautiful bird in a tree. It may be something bigger as not being focused and listening deeply to a potential client and understanding their needs. Maybe it is not noticing, when in a conversation, that the person you are talking to seems uncomfortable about the subject at hand. If you were aware in this situation you would know to shift the subject and lighten the mood. When we stay focused and aware we really keep ourselves open to wonderful learning opportunities.
Think about how you can bring more awareness into your riding. With awareness of yourself, your horse and your environment you can most definitely have more success in your riding. You will become more focused, more in the moment and more of a feeling rider. I will go deeper into where and how you can become more aware in your riding and what benefits you will discover in later blog posts. So keep checking back. Enjoy your journey to more awareness!