BRFWA – learning to “be”

22 Nov

With the onset of winter and the subsequent decrease in the amount of riding I’m able to do, I have been looking for a new hobby to try out on a trial basis. I have a friend at work who practices Buddhism and has taken up meditation over the last few years. I always find talking with her a real treat and always refer to her as my, “wise friend”. I had always been curious about meditation but didn’t really know anything about it or where to even get started. Through my discussions with her I decided that perhaps it would fit the bill for a tryout. I found a yoga studio close to my house that was offering a 6-week introduction to meditation course. The course description outlined that we would learn the basics of how to sit, how to breathe, how to observe, and how to let go. Furthermore, we would learn how meditation helps alleviate stress and tension and how it helps cultivate inner peace and balance. How could I say no to that?!

I’m in week 3 of class right now and I really do enjoy it. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before, but I find it really interesting. I won’t lie, there are moments when I have looked around at some of the more seasoned veterans (yes, there are advanced people in the class too) and wondered what on earth I am doing there, but it’s a very comfortable atmosphere. To be honest, I was actually quite surprised at how non-hippy the participants are. There are a variety of people in the class – it’s mainly women, but there are a few men, I’d say the ages ranged from early 30s to 70. I’m definitely one of the youngest but it’s nice to be surrounded by such a variety of people with different experiences.

Since it’s an introductory class, we have been focussing on learning how to focus and to just “be”. Our instructor was discussing how, during meditation, many students experience heightened physical feelings (ex: pain, itches, stiffness) or emotional feelings simply because your eyes are closed and our other senses are heightened. The key is to recognize these feelings but not feel obliged to immediately “fix” or “change” them. The need to “fix” or “change” means that we’re not living fully in the present and acknowledging that we are not at one with what is happening to/around us (if we were content with it, we wouldn’t want to fix it). Our instructor brought up a good point – she said that all feelings have a beginning, a plateau, and an end. It’s a process that will occur and if you recognize this, then you will realize that there isn’t the need to fix things when they are uncomfortable for you.

One of the techniques we learned was BRFWA – Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow.

When you’re feeling something, continue to breathe through it. Then consciously choose to relax into it. For example, if you’re sitting cross legged and your hips start to hurt, instead of letting your body tighten up against the pain, choose to relax those hips instead. Then we feel – if it feels good, then great. If it is uncomfortable, just acknowledge that it feels uncomfortable and see it for what it is, a temporary sensation of discomfort that will eventually end because everything has a start, a plateau and an end. Then watch – watch what happens when you feel it, let yourself observe what it happening as the sensation changes. Lastly, allow – allow the sensation to be whatever it is, don’t try to change it, just let it be.

This is an interesting concept to me and I’m going to really try to bring it into my everyday life. I was also thinking that it is likely going to be a useful tool for my riding. I actually think it lends itself quite well to my principles, in particular Personal Principles #1 and #3 – respect the horse as a horse, and respect The horse as A horse.

Maybe the next time I’m getting less than desirable results from Corona, I can tune into BRFWA and just ride it out. I can accept it for what it is, just a blip, recognizing that it too has a beginning, a plateau and an end. Maybe I can use the technique when I’m trying to keep my heels down and I can feel my bad ankle clicking, or when I’m trying to sit up straight and keep my shoulders back. If I conscientiously choose to keep breathing, and choose relaxation over tension, then I simply feel, watch and allow the sensations to wash over me, maybe I will learn to accept them and my riding will progress as well.

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