Sunday, February 2, 2020


There is a story about Buddha fighting the Demon God, Mara, on the eve of his enlightenment.  Instead of denying his existence or driving him away, Buddha calmly acknowledged that the demon was there, "I see you, Mara".  He invited Mara in for tea and served him like king.  Mara drank the tea and then left, bored with Buddha’s response.

Well, I think we all know that I am not Buddha, that I am not on the eve of my own enlightenment and, calmly is not always the way I greet my demons.  And often, when confronted with my demons, I don't have the self awareness to invite them in for a cup of tea.  And if I am really honest, my demons sweep in like over-caffeinated Dementors out on the town looking for some rip roaring fun.

Today I jumped my Lil Redheaded Girl.  I've been eyeing a jump set up for a lesson earlier in the week.  Every day, I'd look at it and say, "I can do that!"  And another day would pass, "Shanti is a bit too excited, I'll jump it tomorrow."  Tomorrow came and I thought, "Well I have a lesson in the morning, I'll jump it then.  I know I can do it... tomorrow."

Its been weirdly bi-polar.  I know I can do it.  I watched so many old videos of Sugar and I doing it.  And when I talk about Shanti being wild, her worst  is really just a level 3 on the Sugar 10 point scale of exuberance.  And you know what?  I competed Sugar often at a Sugar level 8 and cliniced on level 10s.

Getting there slowly
And yet this morning, when I entered the indoor, the Demons swept in very Dementor-like.  I didn't know what hit me, my anxiety level was at a 10 and all the strength was drained out of my body.  WTF just happened?  I felt fine, actually great, until I saw the "JUMP" that was so easy.

God Bless anyone who teaches me...  I wouldn't know how to deal with this kind of anxiety...  Wait, I actually do.  I spent so many years learning coping skills that I teach this stuff.  Oh, right...  I did no prep work for my "big" jumping lesson.

Like the Buddha, our trainer did not ignore or deny the anxiety...  We invited Anxiety to acknowledge itself, invited it to watch (with a cup of tea, kind of) and continued on.  Eventually, bored, Anxiety left.

I jumped Ms Shanti... we're still not going big but I cantered over the "Jump" that had been calling my name.  And, I have a pony who is bred to jump.  When I finally reacted and ask her to balance around the corners while sitting on her haunches, I understood the difference.

There is amazing power and grace when she comes around a corner and seeks the next jump.  Her powerful hind quarters are under you and her front end is lighter and lighter - bold and eager - you know, there is a heaven and you're riding it.

Maybe my enlightenment comes slowly...  we are definitely working forward towards it.

For the full story from one of my favorite teachers, Tara Brach