Since arriving at Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina I have been meditating every morning. We have arrived for the American Eventing Championships despite terrible tragedies of flooding and destruction in our home state of Texas. Every step along the journey to get here was wrought with changes, exceptions, re-routing, group texting, and events of small and large nature; it was not easy for our team, nor many other competitors to make this journey. Nothing went as planned.
I was supposed to drive but flooding indicated it would be impossible and I was lucky to have been able to catch a last minute flight. On this flight I read:
Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies for Modern Life By Sakyong Mipham
Reading this followed a shift in my personal world that was a bit unexpected, which seemed completely in line with all of the other "chaos" in the air. Just as our trip had presented, many of our lives were mirroring a lack of willingness to stay on the projected plan. Even my morning meditations during this competition were a substitute for my morning yoga (asana) practice due to picking up a stomach bug. When you can't do a sun salutation, sometimes it's better to just be still and think on these things.
While reading Ruling You World, I highlighted more sections than I will ever be able to recall, but this quote popped up and I wanted to share it:
"We're not playing Pollyanna, we're learning to let go and fly in the space of things as they are. Meditation has shown us that our mind is not solid. It is not made of earth. We cannot measure basic goodness. What brings measure to mind is expectation - hope and fear. Knowing the reality of change, we accept gain and loss - no hope and fear attached. When we do this, we become naturally and spontaneously lighthearted. We are no longer trying to cure change by applying fixation. Rather, we accept what the moment presents and use it to expand our heart and mind. - pg 127
Basically the only thing permanent is change. We fight this, holding on to our expectations and attachments, thus we suffer.
Our sport is a tremendous example of this potential self-torture. We come down centerline with some expectation of what our test will be. "My horse has a great lengthening" we tell ourselves and expect it to be the case today. Well, our expectation kept us from being truly in the moment and we didn't quite feel the minute loss of balance in the turn. All of sudden the lengthening we expected was tight, got quick because the horse was slightly out of balance, and now our lengthen became rather unimpressive. Of course this would happen at championships.
Staying in the moment and accepting the dynamic nature of life can hep let go of our self torture. You either mentally drag yourself though everything you rode poorly, over and over and over and over... or you take a breath, smile, pat your horse and say not today, mate. The sooner you let go of your crap performance that was all of 2.5 minutes, the sooner you can enjoy everything that is around you!
We are in a stunning environment with the top equine partners in the country, surrounded but mountains, trees, greenery, vineyards. Every where you look to an opportunity to find inspiration for your riding, to say Hi to a rider you have respected on the FEI circuit, to be in the moment. Or, you can ruminate over the transition you missed and beat yourself up because your attachment to your score is overwhelming your excitement of being at national championships to begin with.
This is life folks. The only thing permanent in change. I fight it too. I missed my morning yoga (asana) practice but meditation has been what I needed more. I am grateful.
My suggestion is be grateful to be here, take a breath, and stay open to the moment to moment opportunities presented for a joyful life and a continued successful ride. That's why there are 3 phases. Breathe and Kick on!