Following the directions given me via email, my sister Tricia and I headed all the way to the end of Longacre Road to find a gateway that had a beautiful mosaic picture of a donkey on our left and a sign clearly saying THIS WAY on our right.... So, up the driveway we went and found a hilltop home overlooking fields of green and a large paddock with several handsome chestnut and chocolate brown rather tall, horses... and 4 dear little donkeys. My heart leapt at the sight of the sweet things I’d first seen on facebook, skipping through the forest on a walk with their owner Pauline.
Warm fuzzy welcomes were made and excited faces and embraces as I met in person Pauline, a lady I’d only met online a few short months earlier via a workshop called ‘Get Out of Your Own Way - to Clarity of Purpose.' My sister Tricia was with me and we met Ting Ting who was visiting from Beijing as well as Blue, Pauline’s lovely husband.
I love how we can meet kindred Souls on the path this way. We enter a virtual classroom together and can end up friends in the wide open world outside for real, and encompassing and integrating the new/knew thoughts learned.
We shared a pot of ‘black gumboot tea’ which simply means good old black tea that comes quite strong and may be commonly called English Breakfast Tea at your local cafe. One of life’s simple pleasures is teatime shared with friends old and new.
Soon after our round table connection, off we went to meet the donkeys. Oh the joy. I’d purchased a bag of very large carrots enroute as gifts for our new long eared friends so we took them with us as chunky chopped up pieces and they were received enthusiastically by Donald, Sparky, Roma and Chippy, their crunching sounds made us giggle. It’s so great to have good teeth! I thought to myself.
Feeding and feeling into the energy of these compact likeable creatures was absolutely a pleasure. I’ve not had a lot to do with horses in my life and was a little scared of them but these miniature donkeys touched my heart and reached in to my inner child at once.
Perhaps it’s their size, they don’t tower over you as a race horse might, they reminded me of the biblical story of a donkey taking Mary to shelter to have her baby.
Getting to pat them and talk to them and see the way they come in close it feels so nurturing and an instant acceptance of possibility that love will be shared here, how can it not? I rubbed a spot behind Chippy’s ear, it stood up straight pointing to the sky as the other one stayed down and he put his head down against my legs making me feel so close to him, I suspect he was very much enjoying a little wind break my body was providing by blocking the wild west wind that was blowing on our arrival.
I sometimes feel unsettled on a very windy day, believing there’s too much ‘chi’ but curiously that didn’t seem to bother me this day as I had delightful distractions of meeting Pauline, Blue and their friend Ting Ting and also the field of green with a stunning herd of horses and four extremely cute miniature donkeys.
We ventured over to see the 130 year old house that is being lovingly restored to her former glory.
When she’s ready the hearth will be a place of grace and encouragement for participants interested in their own wide awakening and seeking equine therapy along with the wisdom and guidance of longtime Woman of her land - Pauline. She showed me the bare boards and dilapidated kitchen that will be restored to life and rooms where retreatants will sleep and find shelter from the external winds and storms or life.
Pauline animatedly shared ideas and visions of how it will look and feel and reminds me too that it's so important that each one may be reminded they are their own guru. (Deep down, we know what resonates for us.) All that is sometimes needed is an encouraging and well prepared resting and gathering place and some wisdom teachings of awakening to remind a Soul the reason they are here (and how they are being) and how they may find their way back to their centre.
I love the idea of returning to this homestead and experiencing the possibilities and opening that can come about when inner work and an open heart meet with the groundedness and intuitive nature of equine therapy. I am intrigued by this connection of animal and human.
Unfortunately our stay was brief but oh how grateful I am that we were able to have a walk with the donkeys before it was time to go.
After a good cup of ‘gumboot tea’ and a yummy pancake breakfast we were ready to go.
Pauline is such a nurturing and grounded guide, we found her in the pen; donkeys waiting with their halters on ready to walk with their companion... Chippy made his way over to where I was standing at the same time Pauline asked which donkey would we like to walk with. I remembered the little moments I’d shared with him the day before so it seemed we may have chosen each-other.
I would have loved to have had many more hours with this kindly Soul in the shape of a red/brown miniature darling donkey.
A favourite moment was at the very end of our walk I brought out some more carrots and at one point I had the crunching mouths of three little donkeys closely surrounding me as in ‘stereo sound’ they chomped and chewed happily.
If you have a chance to get to Whanganui, (aka Wanganui) New Zealand be sure to check out Pauline’s guided walks, she has a facebook page called Donkey Walking here : https://www.facebook.com/Mt.ZionStation/
Below is a link to a short video Pauline made of our little donkey walk ... https://www.facebook.com/pauline.neilson.7/videos/1902748663170692/
"Whatever state i'm in i believe myself"
I was introduced to the 'Inner Map' by Julia Colwell, she explained how we experience our feelings going above and below this 'line' many many times a day.
The idea is that when we are below the 'line' we are in what is called Reactive Brain . . . and it is not usually the best place to make good decisions from.
To NOTICE and acknowledge when I am below the line... is to remember... I'm not in the best position to respond from . . . take a breath/pause. So many things can trigger us to go into states like shame, guilt, despair, sadness, fear and anger. . . probably many of them set up when we were really young. Those 'programs' are still running along in the background and we wonder why we freak out sometimes about something that doesn't seem all that worthy of our despair.
Wouldn't the world be different if more of us could communicate about our feelings in ways like this, imagine if you could let folks know when you realise you are 'below the line' and need to take care of yourself.
Sadly . . . I notice, I am experiencing me pushing against me.
Below the line are feelings and beliefs around scarcity, competition and narrow focus, it's quite painful to be there.
I've been in a cycle of 'growth' and 'stuff' lately... and so the feelings below the line have become a lot more familiar than the ones above.
I was reminded whilst listening to an interview on Sounds True of Rob Bell.. talking about how he 'makes things'- that using my creativity really helps me to shift from disempowered thinking to something else... perhaps... neutrality, acceptance ... or even a hint of happiness! So... I took the information on the pdf above and added Little dd drawings, expressing the emotions in pictures.
Julia Colwell has a free guided meditation on her site... link is here in case you'd like it.
How to move above the line?
With self compassion and kindness, . . . what if I just give up the need to struggle about it . . . and take some calming, centring breaths.
Coming back inward, gently tenderly, acknowledging the feeling,
I see you,
I feel you
. . . and let it transform.
Truly... it's flippin hard being a human sometimes. Waving to you there and wishing for you a moment of deep kindness and compassion, and may it continuously grow like a beautiful garden in spring.
p.s. . . . and I know it can change quite quickly . . .
Allowing inner alchemy. Yes... this is the invitation for April and beyond.
It feels like it's taking me an inordinate amount of time to figure out the feelings thing... but when I simply allow them to be here . . . and FEEL them... they can surprise me by changing... quite quickly.
But it's tricky... it seems they want to be felt for their true self first... then they're willing to release their grip.
Sometimes feelings are a little messy and hard to manage, but pressing them back down inside makes for a rather compressed state.
"Identifying your feelings allows inner alchemy to begin.
Consistently inspired by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy I hear her words and sometimes see pictures to go with them.
SARK's website. http://planetsark.com/