Building resilience – March 2017 Newsletter

sun moments 20161125-06-36-57-Fiilies back paddock-IMG_4176 It’s not what life throws at you but how you respond – how many memes are there floating around based on that sentiment? What does it really mean though? To me, it’s about resilience.

If you look up the definition of resilience what pops up first is:

  • the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  • the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

I wasn’t sure at first about the word toughness as it conjured a more unyielding response, but with reflection about the sort of toughness that is still elastic, my opinion changed. You can for instance look at the difference between one of those big fit balls and a party balloon. Both can move and flex to pressure but one you can sit on the other you cannot. One is tough, the other is not.

Another example that the weather over the last couple of months has brought to mind is the toughness and resilience of grass. Just the normal soft grass that grows in my paddock. Its toughness is not because of its thick skin but its deep roots and its ability to go from dormant to full life in a very short period of time. In February my paddocks were dry and cracked and the grass looked dead. By the middle of march those same paddocks were knee deep in vividly green grass.

So how do we cultivate resilience? One of the ways is mindfulness. When we operate from a mindful perspective, we are fully present; and when we are fully present we don’t become mired in the past or lost in the future.  We are able to respond, not react.

Books we love

The books that support our work in Horsanity, where we gain inspiration and learning and which we think you would find valuable.

Mindfulness is a topic that has been around for quite a while now and there are lots of schools of thought about how it should be approached. Should you immerse yourself in a spiritual practice such as Buddhism, or at least take your instruction from that tradition? Should you enroll in a more secular course and be guided through an intensive course in a group environment? There are plenty on offer to choose from. Should you take the time to immerse yourself in the now with another sentient (horse) being skilled at being present (yes!)?

My personal belief is that if it works for you to achieve what you want to achieve then there are no wrong answers to how you go about finding your way to deeper practice. The problem is that often the barrier to taking such an approach is our over busy minds and lives that convince us we have no time to commit. And that is where books like the following two come in. They guide us through short practices of habit and get us started.

Before we launch into the books though, what do I mean by mindfulness? My thoughts are pretty main stream so this explanation from the University of California works for me.

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”

littel book of mindfulness

The first book is “The Little Book of Mindfulness, Dr Patrizia Collard, 2014”. For a start it is pocket sized. If you want to carry it around with you it slips easily into your bag or pocket and you can take it out if you need a bit of inspiration. After a brief introduction about the history of secular mindfulness practice and what the aims of it are, the books outlines a number of 5 and 10 minute practices for the everyday. The book is also beautifully illustrated, which always helps.

In the section on mindful eating: Food should be savoured for the mind as well as the body.

From the writer Peter Altenberg on a tea ritual: Drinking my tea at 6pm never seems to lose its power over me. Everyday I long for it as intensely as the day before, and when I drink it I lovingly embrace it into my being”

Midfulness practical guide

The second book is “Mindfulness, a Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Mark Williams and Danny Penman, 2011”. The authors come from the same school of thought as Dr Collard, based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn so much of the ground covered is the same as in the smaller book but in much more detail. It offers both practice and theory and the copy I have came with a CD of guided meditations which is a real bonus!

From the foreword by Jon Kaat-Zinn: While you are putting yourself into the authors’ hands for guidance, you are also, most importantly, putting yourself very much into your own hands by making the commitment to yourself to actually follow their suggestions, to engage in the various formal and informal practices and habit releasers, and put them to the test by seeing what happens when you begin to pat attention and act with kindness and compassion towards yourself and others, even if it feels a bit artificial at first.

In other words, remember, Mindfulness is a practice and our skill, and thus the benefit, develops as we persevere with that practice. These two books are a great resource in that practice.

Back in the saddle

February  was a month to remember both for the searing temperatures and St Ivans and Carwoola fires that affected many people we know, but also for me a trip in rural India where I discovered the delights of the Indian National Park system, which is quite extensive. Hence no February Newsletter.

March too seems to have just flown by but this time at least we have been engaged in honest labor. With both Public  and Organisational workshops it was a nice blend of emphasis. Of particular pleasure was to run the fifth “ignite Pharmacy Leadership” workshop in Canberra with our friends at Peakgrove. So far we have conducted the workshop three times outside Melbourne, once outside Newcastle and now outside Canberra. Participants fly in from all round Australia and are always highly engaged. If they arrive slightly skeptical, the skepticism soon vanishes as they work with the horses.

Meet the Herd

We have been looking at the new editions at Tashkent but time for a change of pace and a look at one of the more venerable members of the Yaroonga herd.

The big majestic grey mare Ladybird has been instrumental in much deep learning by participants at Yaroonga workshops. As Pam’s first born she holds not just a special place in Pam’s heart, but also in the dynamics of the herd. Very much the matriarch, she has her avid followers and communicates in no uncertain terms. Born during the EI crisis of 2007 (this was a complete lockdown of horse movements in much of QLD and NSW as a result of a rogue infection that escaped Australian Quarantine with potentially devastating effects on the equine industry) she was bred to be a dressage horse and had success in her early career. Some breathing issues combined with a lack of interest on her behalf put an end to her dressage career and instead she has embraced the role of People Whisperer with enthusiasm.

Our Calendar

Workshop 1 See with Fresh Eyes – Getting started 

Thursday April 6th  (Tashkent, Dungog) (limited places still available)

Saturday  April 22nd (Yaroonga, Blandford)

Workshop 2 Deepening

These workshops are no longer scheduled but will be offered “on demand”. They are designed to deepen the practices from both our Getting Started Workshop and one day Custom  Organisational Workshops. If you are interested in doing one please contact us

Save the Date

At the moment these dates are all designated as See with Fresh Eyes – Getting Started. We may change some to be new standalone modules or too a Deepening if requested.

  • April 29th Yaroonga
  • May 8th Yaroonga
  • May 15th Tashkent
  • June 3rd Yaroonga
  • June 10th Tashkent
  • June 23rd Tashkent
  • June 28th Yaroonga

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