Sing, v.i. Carol, chant, lilt, troll, yodel, warble ____, v.t. Carol, chant, intone, cantillate, warble, hum, hymn, celebrate in song. Troll, v.t. 1. Send about, circulate, pass round. 2. Sing loudly.3. Angle with a trolling line; allure, entice, lure, draw on.____, v.i. 1. Sing a catch or round.
In 2001, I sat a 14 day Meditation retreat in Nepal. It was a grounding practise necessary for me to clear my mind and focus my awareness on my breath and a peaceful clear mind, we sat meditating for 10 hours a day, and had to remain completely still for an hour, 3 times a day. While practising with my Meditation teacher a few weeks later, he pointed out that I was rather serious about meditating, instead of sitting for an hour, I was now to laugh for 30 minutes, smile for 10, dance and move for 20 and sing throughout. These are all considered meditating, so these exercises in focusing my awareness have been my practise since. Today the horses would like me to share some of my experiences of singing. They LOVE when we sing and rue the day that humans became so self conscious of making sounds vocally. To them any singing, whistling, clicking, etc are lovely and are merely us moving energy and air throughout our bodies using sound. Self consciousness to them is just our mind riding us and it’s voice is severe, judgemental and critical. They would much prefer if we rode our minds, instead of it riding us. So as you move through your day today, pay attention to sounds around you, let them focus your attention and awareness on relaxing, breathing and enjoying yourself and being present.Add some sounds of your own, some humming, singing or sounding. Sing to your dogs, they love it….you may feel silly, but according to the horses’ that’s the point!
So, here is an experience that happened in the summer of 2010 at Free Spirit Stables in Nova Scotia, Canada.
At the request of my friend Donna and her daughter Alicia, I am visiting a horse rescue center. I am in a rather dark barn, leaning on a stall wall, with mud up to my shins, whispering to a horse. She’s so sweet, she has been stuck in this dark stall for months, unable to make physical contact with her Mum and the other horses or go outside into the light. She has never had a halter on.
For the first two years of her life, she lived outside with her Mum. She had never, ever been inside a man made structure. Although neglected, she experienced freedom and as close to wild as a horse can get these days. Upon arriving at the rescue center, she broke through all the electric fences, not knowing what they were and experiencing fear and anxiety, she got quite spooked. Without any means to lead her, getting her safely back to the barn took considerable time, effort and energy for the humans. For this little horse in her perspective she ran as she naturally would do, then got shocked from some wire and then got chased for hours.
To keep her safe, a stall had been haphazardly built within the barn for her, there was a huge gap, between her and the other horses. Until she could get a halter on, she was stuck and experiencing loneliness. Donna and Shelby, the owner of the stables wanted me to ask the horses if they have any suggestions in getting the halter on this baby, so that she can go outside and enjoy the air and have physical contact with them again.
The horses ask me to sing to the horse, that by singing I will gain rapport with her and encourage her to develop trust in humans again. So I sing a song that comes naturally to me, to calm spirits and relax animals.
After singing this a few times, the horses ask for a song in particular. “Can you sing KUMBAYA please?”
KUMBAYA…mhmmmmm, oh dear….for some reason this song makes me gringe…it reminds me of being incredibly uncomfortable and self conscious as an adolescent at summer camp, when trying to be like everyone else was confusing, lonely and anxiety inducing. Mhmmm….but this little horse is so sweet and deserving of relaxing, getting the halter on and getting outside, so that she can get some sun on her body…so I lean over the makeshift fence and haltingly, whisper the words to the song….
“Louder, please…” The horses request.
Mhmmm, I glance over my shoulder, there are lots of people in the barn now…strangers who have gathered, curious about me and what I do….I am experiencing extreme self consciousness now…sing louder in front of a crowd? AND sing a song that makes me gringe… Mhmmmm… Taking a deep breath and clearing my throat, I hesitantly raise the volume of my singing….
“Sing louder please…” The horses say.
Darn! Okay…deep breath…exhale…and away we go…round after round of Kumbaya, as loudly as we can. Then, it becomes clear to me that Donna is the human the horse trusts enough to get her halter trained. Now, according to Donna, she is NOT a horse person. She likes them and everything, but it is her daughter who is passionate about them and has horse in her blood. She knows nothing about the tack, training or handling of horses. She receives the information about being the halter trainer with some disbelief, trepidation and fear. She doesn’t even know what a halter is or how it even goes on the horse. There must be someone else she suggests. But according to the horses, Donna is the one, they suggest she goes in the makeshift stall, sings Kumbaya and eventually the horse will be calm enough for a human to place something over her head.
There are many more questions for other horses, so as a group we leave this little horse, and move off to the paddock. Soon, I am ready to leave, say my goodbyes and get in my car. Before I can leave, Donna knocks on the window and jumps into the passenger seat of the car. She thanks me profusely for coming out to visit, saying that I probably had no idea how helpful the information I got was for everyone involved at the center. Then, suddenly she switches gear and in the middle of “how wonderful it was, how great….” She spluttered out loudly “How BLEEPING weird it was! ” To her surprise and delight, she has fallen in love with this lovely little horse, coming out to visit her, even when her daughter isn’t around. She likes to touch her and brings her treats. There is definitely a special bond between them it’s like she was friends with this horse before. She can’t explain it, she enjoys it, but is puzzled by the whole thing. Now, what she is finding super weird about what just happened is…. so weird in fact, that it is causing her to swear…is that as a child she used to sing to herself when she felt anxious, alone or afraid…the song she ALWAYS sang to herself was KUMBAYA! “How amazing and weird is that?!!!!!” She says with wonderment and bewilderment in her voice, still a bit freaked out by it, she asks. “How did the horses know that?”
To be honest, I was amazed and a bit weirded out myself. How DID the horses know that?AND what if my self consciousness about singing loudly in front of strangers had got the better of me? What if my judgement of the ‘coolness’ of a song had prevented me from singing it? Donna would not have heard the song, which calmer her, eased her anxiety and brought her peace.