Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – The Lessons of Not Neglecting Our Health – August 26, 2012

CFN – The Horse Lover’s Week-end is on at Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg this week-end and I have spent the last three days participating with the Spirits in Unity group from Drogheda Manor. I have been going for riding lessons for the last two years with my daughter. Horses have been a source of joy, delight, and inspiration since my childhood. Rarely did I have the chance to be near horses, much less ride them. When my daughter expressed interest after seeing the demonstration in August 2010, I decided to take the lessons with her instead of just dropping her off. I gave myself permission to revisit a childhood dream and make it come into reality.

As there are several adults who take lessons, I am making friends amongst them as well as among the various children, pre-teens and youth – it makes for a diverse group. We all share a passion for horses and an aversion to competition: we prefer to support one another in our desire to make the world a better place for horses and humans. Working with horses has helped me to make a number of important connections, one related to health and the other related to creativity.

A number of years ago I studied this quote by Shoghi Effendi:


“… you should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It – the body – is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation.”

This quote had a profound influence on the way that I was relating to my body. At the time I hated my body and neglected my physical needs. Though I had no horses around me, because of my love for them I realized that my relationship to my body had to change. I began to nourish myself better and to attend to my needs more effectively. I also began to look at myself in a more loving manner and to accept my body the way it was. This was very important in setting the stage for evolving my conscious mind. I came to realize that it made sense that the body holds the sub-conscious memories and the emotions associated with them. This has helped me to do a lot of healing, a process that continues apace.

As I have come to learn to groom and care for my horse, Bailey, I have come to appreciate her beauty and physical presence. She is just beginning to really connect to me and trust me as her leader. As I work with my horse and learn how to deal with this emotional creature, a flighty prey animal driven by fear, I have come to understand myself much better on many levels. I am an emotional creature who is at times also driven by fear. By learning how to read my horse’s language, I am learning to read my own body’s language. The body is, after all, the animal part of ourselves. Many people think that the body houses the sub-conscious or our “inner child” part. Making that connection is an important part of my self-development plan, though having fun is the overall driver. I always say that when I am riding, I am giving my inner ten-year-old her playtime.

Shirley Barr lives and works in Cornwall, Ontario and is a member of the Bahá’í International Community.

Bailey of Drogheda Manor (photo credit: Stacy Leishman)

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1 Comment

  1. Yes there is nothing you can’t do when your horse becomes a part of you.

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