It’s been 15 months since the start of the global pandemic that stopped the whole world in its tracks. This week also marked the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. I feel the weight of what has been the toughest year ever of being a trainer, mentor, and supervisor to educators and mental health practitioners who have been on the front lines every day in support of others, many of whom are struggling with the same feelings of uncertainty, isolation, depression, and anxiety as their clients.
It’s been a long slog and It’s not over yet. While pandemic restrictions have eased in many parts of the USA, I am aware that around the world, restrictions and lockdowns are still very much a part of everyday life for many people. Travel restrictions are still in place and while the USA are doing well with getting people vaccinated, there are still many who do not trust the science behind the vaccine and/or are unable to take advantage of it due to pre-existing conditions. In Hong Kong, the vaccination rate is only 2% of the population despite an abundance of vaccines available. Meanwhile, in India, the virus is on a rampage across the country and they are desperate for vaccine supplies. These pandemic inequalities highlight the systemic inequalities that are so embedded in the fabric of our global society, and while it’s tempting (and easy) to turn a blind eye because many of us are not directly affected, it’s part of the ecosystem that supports the work that we do at The HERD Institute.
It was against this background that we held our first in-person equine facilitated psychotherapy certification practicum of 2021 last week. Students arrived from all over the USA to connect, explore, and practice our compassionate approach to working with humans and horses. Each student brought with them their individual life-space and cultural context. We dug deep and excavated intrapersonal and interpersonal processes that supported our way of being in the world. There were disagreements and ruptures that were held with dignity, respect, and compassion for the other’s worldview. Repairs were made possible through acknowledging and accepting differences of experiences and opinions. The horses showed up, as always, with their wisdom and authentic engagement that left us in awe and wonder. For me, I will never cease to be amazed at the energetic resonance and co-regulation that can happen when we allow ourselves to surrender to the here-and-now experience of connecting deeply with self and others, and the horses.
So, I’m coming out of this immersive experience with a sense of lightness that I haven’t felt in a long time. I’m beginning to feel the softening of my hard edges and I’m starting to see a glimmer of light. It’s always been there, I’m sure. I just haven’t been able to orient myself towards it until now. My experience as a global citizen tells me that there is always light in the dark; that things are never so black and white, right or wrong; and that healing often happens in the murky light of overcast grey skies. Now that I’ve turned towards the light, I long to feel the warmth spread through my body, and I’m more supported in my ability to reach for it.
I recognize this feeling. I call it hope. And for me, hope is the starting point for my creative endeavors. So, watch this space. The creative process is unleashing and who knows what will emerge!