Last updated on August 22nd, 2012 at 12:11 pm
The dark brown stallion with a wide white stripe down his nose reached down over the low door of his stall and put his black nose right up against my lips, as if to kiss me.
He then stuck his nose right into my cleavage, resting his head on me, pressed up against my heart. He was giving me a “heart kiss” as my friend Pete would say later day.
My heart opened wide, heart chakra popping open all the way, when Pete said that. These horses are such wonderful loving creatures!
Peaceful Acres Horses
I was at Peaceful Acres Horse ranch for a volunteer training last Saturday morning. This amazing ranch located on 156 acres of land in Pattersonville, New York, has more than 40 horses that they have rescued from abusive situations or the kill pen.
These beautiful animals are lovingly nurtured back to health by owner Nanci Beyerl and her amazing staff and team of volunteers. Witnessing the transformation of these horses, who often arrived scared, skittish and scarred from years of abuse, to gentle animals, healed and interacting with the other animals and the people on the ranch, is nothing short of miraculous.
As we toured the ranch, we met several of the horses and heard their stories. Jasper, Jazzy, Judy, Grace, Aerosmith, Guinness… each with its own beautiful coat and unique markings, each one having endured terrible suffering and then returning to health and prospering.
There is even on horse named “Woz” who is named after Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who is a supporter of the ranch, and who will be returning there in September to visit Woz and see how else he can help support the ranch.
Healing Others Once Healed
These magnificent creatures, with their slender legs, strong haunches, beautiful curves, glossy coats, soft noses and shining eyes, work wonders for the people of the ranch as well.
Part of the purpose of the ranch, besides rescuing and healing these beautiful animals, is to heal people. The horses are trained and work with trained volunteers to provide “equine therapy” to troubled teenagers, cancer survivors, veterans.
Volunteers all say they get more back from tending to the horses than they give. Some volunteers simply “buddy up” with a horse as their volunteer job, visiting the ranch to spend time with that horse, brush groom it, and just give it some love and human companionship.
Others feed the horses, check the water troughs, clean out the stalls, or tend the grounds. It’s all a part of making this complicated mini-ecosystem that is the ranch function smoothly.
Getting Back More Than You Give
I know that during all the times I’ve visited the ranch, I’ve found that to be the case. Visiting with the horses, most of whom over time have become such peaceful and loving creatures again, is such a boost to the spirit and warms the heart.
I’ve also played with rescue dogs on the ranch, when a student at a Reiki Level One training I attended brought her pit bulls, also rescues who’d been trained to be therapy dogs. They sloppily kissed my face, and kept hopping up to sit on my lap or lean up against me on the couch.
For me, spending time with animals is very healing, since I don’t have pets of my own right now due to my ever-changing travel schedule.
Volunteering at the ranch, which I am just beginning to do, is a way of giving back, but it’s also a way of feeding my soul and uplifting my spirit.
I’m interested in going one of the equine therapy sessions too, since it is often used to treat people who have suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as I have.
As I walk through the final stages of completing my book manuscript this year, it’s important for me to check in with people who can help in case the old feelings around the trauma get triggered again.
I’m seeing a therapist too and looking to try new techniques like EMDR (eye-movement rapid desensitization) which is supposed to remove the sting of a traumatic memory so that it is no longer triggering.
Taking Care of Ourselves First
So many of my female friends and clients struggle with the idea of putting their own physical, emotional and spiritual health first. Women often tend to be the primary caregivers of children, pets and older relatives (although over the years more and more men are taking on those key roles as well).
One coaching client who has successfully shifted many of her habits so that she is now meditating and doing yoga daily, going to the gym, and eating healthy, including packing her own nutritious veggie-filled lunches for work, was feeling guilty about spending so much time on herself.
I told her, honey, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you help others? Keep on doing it and be a positive example for other women who put their own health last!
How Are You Nurturing Yourself?
As you work on living your dreams, how are you nurturing yourself?
Do you take time to eat healthy, exercise, drink plenty of water?
Can you carve out a little time in your schedule to meditate, journal, or take a walk? Contemplative time, spent in silence, is often how we are able to be still and hear those quiet inner voices that are urging us to to do what is best for us and the planet.
It’s important to take the time to listen!
7 Ways to Nurture Yourself And Live Your Dreams
Here are some strategies that have worked for me and my clients to be sure we are feeling healthy and replenished, and able to put energy into taking action on our dreams:
- Spend some quiet time in contemplation each day.
Whether it’s setting your phone alarm to meditate or journal for 10 minutes, or even 5 if your schedule just feels to crammed! It’s best to find a quiet place to do this, so if your household is bustling with activity, set aside a little corner somewhere for yourself – setting up a “meditation altar” somewhere with favorite objects or symbols of what brings you peace is a lovely idea, or you could shut yourself into an office, spare bedroom, or even just sit up in your bed and meditate or journal after waking up.
- Make time to exercise.
Even if it’s just going for a 20-minute walk. It gets the blood circulating and also clears the mind. Exercise is known to build our cognitive skills as well – it’s good for body, mind and soul.
- Do things that bring you joy!
I know that when I go too long without dancing, it always feels like “something’s missing” in my life. I give myself a “joy boost” by heading out to dance with friends or dancing around the kitchen to Shakira. Whatever I can do to lift my mood in the moment!
- Take time regularly to review your life goals.
To be sure you are feeling “on track” with them. I’m starting to do a practice called the Sphere of Silence that I learned from my spiritual teacher, Nithya Shanti. He recommends spending an hour in silence each morning reviewing your short and long-term life goals (including rewriting them every day to really program them into your subconscious!), as well as how you felt you did the day before, and what you learned; what your goals are for the current day; and also spending time doing some inspirational reading as well as journaling. Now for many busy people an hour a day may seem like way too much time, so you could modify this, as I am doing, so that you may spend 3 to 5 minutes reviewing the previous day 5 minutes on today’s goals, 5 minutes on life goals, 5 to 10 minutes on inspirational reading, etc.
- Remember you “are what you eat.”
Work on creating a diet that fits your schedule and budget and makes you feel great! Drinking lots of water is vital for a healthy body as well.
- Volunteer some time for an organization or cause that is important to you.
I have often found in life that if I am feeling down or “lost,” what helps me the most is doing something for someone else. I’m looking forward to doing more volunteering on the ranch and know that will feel great!
- Most importantly, choose to love yourself just as you are.
Focus on creating the best and happiest life you can from where you are. Self-love helps us to have the confidence to reach for all of our dreams.
Have fun, take good care of yourself, and keep us posted here on your dream progress!
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.
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