In this age of cell phones, social media and fetishizing being rushed or busy, let mindfulness be your escape. Mindfulness is simply being present int he moment. It is paying attention to your environment and how it affects your thoughts and feelings. We spend so much time at the barn with our horses, but how often do we really experience it. Try these five tips to connect a little more to your happy place.
1. Do one thing at a time
It's easy to pick up a task only to put it down and quickly move onto the next step you need to achieve. Try to resist this habit - pick a task and see it to completion. Be proud of what you achieve.
2. Do it slowly and deliberately
Schedule permitting, let each task fill a bigger, uninterrupted chunk of your time. Take grooming for example, instead of thinking of it as a means to an end (you've got to brush them to ride), view it as a bonding opportunity between you and your horse. Grooming is essential for your horse's hygiene, but it also helps encourage circulation before riding and gives you a chance to build the bond with your horse.3. Remove distractions
Our phones are endlessly beneficial, but are often the culprits of our failure to be mindful. Either turn your phone off or enable the do not disturb function (this way your emergency contacts can reach you if necessary). On the ground and in the saddle, take in your surroundings completely. If you feel your phone niggling for your attention, take an inventory of how you feel. Feel out every beat in the walk, feel down every crevice of your horse's legs, or feel where you balance is in the saddle.
I'm guilty of it too - I love to listen to a podcast while I move through my barn routine, but let sounds - your horse munching on hay, his breathing - be the soundtrack.
4. Use cleaning as a meditative moment
There's a reason they are called "barn chores." The small details of sweeping or cleaning tack can feel like a means to an end, but use these moments to connect to the present.
5. Think about what is necessary (Do less)
Our time is valuable - don't forget that. In an ideal world, we could spend all day with our horses, but the reality is that work and families dominate our days, leaving us with shorter chunks of allotted time at the barn. Understand this when you arrive and plan to make the most of it. Yes deep cleaning all your tack can be cathartic, but most of us can't budget the time to do this every day.
Give yourself permission to do less if you need to, and make what tasks you take on meaningful.