There's a part in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (chapter 3) when Alice comes to a wood where "things have no name". Walking through the wood, she is unable to remember and identify the trees and things surrounding her. A fearless fawn approaches her, and they walk side by side – Alice's arm cradling the fawn – organically moving together in peace and acceptance. When they reach a clearing on the other side, the ability to identify names returns, and the fawn – startled – suddenly bounds away in fear.
In my personal life, I've noticed how easily I'm drawn to stories that highlight a deep relationship between humans and other species. In Harry Potter, a Patronus is a personal guardian that takes the form of an animal as protection against evil. In the original Peter Pan story, all infants start as part bird. It is only once Peter begins to associate more as a human that he loses his innate ability to fly. In The Golden Compass, humans live with animal partners they call daemons: physical manifestations of their soul.
Humans evolved as a species that relies heavily on language, and because of this our lifestyle is such that we tend to feel superior and separate from nature. However, the mental gap we've created is often a pitfall in our potential to deeply understand – not only the environment around us – but also ourselves.
When we hear people speak of wanting to reconnect with nature, this implies that there was ever a disconnect. But this is just an illusion. We are all a part of this experience here on earth – there is no man vs nature. Our environment speaks to us and informs us all the time, just the way it does with other animals and species.
One of the most impactful concepts I've grown to understand over time is the way horses (and other non-human animals) receive emotions from their environment as information, and nothing else. Our emotions have become a bit of a sore subject in the human world. We think of feeling emotions as painful, challenging, or hard to control. We yearn to feel less because we think emotions are the enemy. Well here's the fun fact for today! Emotions are your environment's way of handing you real-time information and a map to safety. Doesn't that sound like a great thing!? Agreed. So why doesn't it feel this way to us?
First, let me talk about horses as our example. We'll keep it basic. If you watch a herd of horses, you'll notice they're perfectly designed to stay safe as their #1 priority. They know when to run from danger, they know when to rest, they know when to eat and drink, they know when to seek shelter, etc. When they feel an emotion, they understand the message behind it saying "danger! run!" or "time to play!" or "I can trust them and follow their lead." An emotion comes up, delivers its meaning, and disappears as they take action. There are no lingering emotions to suppress or stress over. They move through emotions like a constant flow of helpful tips.
The trouble for us humans is, because of our language, we don't live in the present moment. We hold on to, suppress, and ignore our environment's real-time feedback. We let our thoughts lead our emotions, instead of feeling and responding to them as information in the moment.
Now, I will be the first to acknowledge how challenging it is to truly let go of this perception of separation, and to really live in the present moment. Just like everything I speak of, this is a journey not a simple solution. However, there are ways to make the process of letting go of our ego and opening our eyes to our connectedness easier.
Removing yourself from the constant noise, distractions, and social media is step one in my book. Again, that's why I do what I do! These concepts are a lot easier to put into practice when you get to experience them first hand. So do yourself a favor. Even if you can't make it out to my farm, find somewhere you can go. Someplace quiet and peaceful like the woods or the beach, and surround yourself with natural beauty. Take a journal and just notice what you hear, what you smell, what you see, and what you feel. Are those just songs the birds are whistling, or do they have a message? Please don't edit your thoughts, just let them move through you. No one else will read this. Write down at least three things you notice. Over time, your list will grow because you will notice more.
"When we learn to speak with the animals, to listen with animal ears and to see through animal eyes, we experience the phenomena , the power, and the potential of the human essence, and it is then that the animals are no longer our subordinates." - Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews.