On Friday’s Pamela and Paul teach a four hour Driving Class to students from Amherst College. They’re agricultural students, who want to learn about using horses to farm with. After a lesson in harnessing the horses, everyone made their way into the field.
One of the important ways that Driving is different from Riding, is that the only contact you have with the horse when driving is through voice commands and the reins. And it’s not like in the movies where the driver snaps the reins and yells Yee Ha! to get the horse moving. Here, the commands to stop and go are spoken softly but firmly, to get a horse moving you have to be clear. And it’s only the tiniest pressure on the reins that gives direction.
Then, like with riding, there’s the thing you do with your mind and body, which your horse is as sensitive to as if you were sitting on it’s back. Your intentions have to be clear, you have to stay in the moment, having a fixed point you’re heading towards. Your elbows are at your waist, your leadership emanating from your center, from your belly.
On the way back to the farm, I walked behind the class,my elbows at my waist, my hands holding invisible reins. And felt the energy and power coming from my center. It could feel the warmth glowing yellow. I thought of how I’ve always been self conscious about my stomach. My whole life thinking it was too big, ugly. It’s something I learned to feel growing up, something our society reinforces. And yet, this is where our will, our power lies in our bodies. The third chakra, the color yellow. It’s as if I was taught to hate my own power.
For the past few years, whenever I thought about my stomach in a negative way, I would lay my hands on it and say to myself “I love my belly”. And when doing yoga, I often focus on the center strengthening positions. But yesterday I embodied the idea, the connection between the two. I cried a bit as I walked back to the barn, feeling my power surge and settle in my body, known again.