Hi, I’m Jemma,
In the coming months I am going to share what I continue to learn from animals through my work as a volunteer at SAT www.satanimalrescue.com and at the Easy Horse Rescue Centre www.easyhorsecare.net. I have always had great love, respect,affinity and a special rapport with animals. Recently when I went past a cow being roughly hoarded up onto the ‘knackers van‘ for slaughter I wept uncontrollably for a day … but that doesn’t help the cow or me! What I can do though is write in her honour what I have learnt in my life from animals.
Life is a process, a becoming, it is not fixed and definite and animals can help us to realise this. They are amazing, sentient, gracious beings that can teach us so much if we watch and listen. I read somewhere that animals help us ‘reveal our very humanity. There is still so much unkindness and ignorance in the way they are treated by us humans, but I truly believe as in the quote above that the way we treat our animals is indicative of the state of our evolution.
One of the many things I learnt from the work of Monty Roberts (probably the most well known of natural horsemanship) is that the first few moments of contact with a horse are vital for all further connection and work you share with that horse, and this can be applied to both animals and humans. Because animals do not physically talk to us (though of course they do communicate to us in many ways, the understanding and learning of this a never ending skill in itself) and therefore do not meet us with words, we have the opportunity to pause and assess how we feel internally before we make that first contact so as to choose what we bring to it, and , if we choose make it meaningful and special.
One of the many things that walking the dogs at SATs gives me is that it presents a space to practice mindfulness. Most of you will have heard of this up and coming practice and that this is now beginning to be taught in schools. The NHS now states on their website that paying more attention to our thoughts, feelings and world around us can improve our mental health.
If you would like more information I recommend to try Ruby Wax’s funny and insightful book ‘ A mindfulness guide to a frazzled world. ‘ Mindful practice comes in on many levels, but basically it helps us to become more conscious of who/where/how we are, moment by moment. With regular practice I believe that we become more able to live life with greater awareness, have more control over our thoughts and get less caught up in them, hence life itself becomes so much more vital, present and precious…
… I bring my attention to my feet and become aware of the ground beneath my feet, the feel of my socks and shoes, the ground… I consciously feel the way I place my feet on the ground and how one foot follows the other. Then I am reminded of the dog on the lead and I can become more aware of him, at the same time keeping some awareness on my walking. Then there is the beautiful views, the feel of the air, the sounds and smells around, the other walkers and dogs, cars and farm machinery, birds…to name but a few things! The skill is to play with the focus of one thing to another while at the same time maintaining a broad awareness of all the other things, and not forgetting that the most important part is maintaining one’s own and the dogs safety and well being as well as providing the dog and of course yourself with as enjoyable and stimulating an experience as you can. A life’s work and so much more fun with an animal …
Please get in touch with SAT or Easy Houre if you are interested in volunteering in any way. Jemma x