Our Equine-Collaborative Practice programming provides an educational and healing space for relating to the energy of emotion. Please visit our Black Women's Leadership Initiative page to learn more about our research on the intersection of Equine-Collaborative Practice with African Indigenous wisdom at Five College Dance.
Equine-Collaborative Practice Approach
Emotional energy is strong, wild and powerful. It can easily move us more deeply into experiences of connection, our relationship to our humanity and our interconnection with all of life. It can also just as easily spin us into dissociation, experiences of disconnection and perpetuation of violent thought and action. The direction this takes relies largely on the level of our community's initiation into working with the energy of emotion.
We are relational beings. The human nervous system evolved in social contexts and the navigation and management of our emotional energy must happen in relational spaces. It is through relationship that we engage with, harness, and/or mismanage a large portion of our personal and collective energetic power. Our emotional landscape directly informs how we unconsciously use or misuse that power. We can witness the ways we relate to power in a harmful way by simply looking at oppressive society we live in. Unprocessed trauma, pain, fear and grief in our psyches and tissues distorts our perception of ourselves, one another and the earth. In our illusion, we have not only attempted to destroy, enslave and exploit indigenous ways of knowing, but continue to inflict violence on all of life. At ELP, we believe that to move out of colonization, enslavement and oppressive paradigms we need contemporary education on rituals for relating to our emotions so that we can engage with power in a way that is rooted in consent.
Horses also work with emotional energy in relational spaces within their herds. As prey animals, their nervous systems are designed for heightened sensitivity and expanded perception. For hundreds of years horses have partnered with humans. And many horses have fallen victim to human's misuse of power through violent methods of training and domestication. But if we can learn to listen to them and meet them in partnership, they are offering to be teachers for us by bringing us into the wisdom of their emotionally intelligent and non-preditory nature. Horses can support us in developing a sacred and non-preditory relationship to power. Our Equine-Collaborative Practice curriculum offers an embodied and intellectual understanding of how to collaborate in this healing and education with horses safely and in a way that is sensitive to trauma.
Our curriculum is designed to offer a structured and clear process for doing and understanding the work described above. This work is offered virtually and in-person. It is facilitated by Jamila Jackson in partnership with her Equine Co-Facilitator, Angus and his herd live and over zoom both in real time and with pre-recorded footage.
Our Equine-Collaborative Practice curriculum weaves together four components to create sessions and long term relationship building that has an experiential and healing approach:
1) Guidelines to listening, witnessing and empathic response: Learn and engage frameworks for listening and observing that cultivate specific ritual containers in which to perceive, honor and be present with feelings and emotions. We work within specific containers that honor both the verbal and non-verbal wisdom and stories of the body and earth. We use empathic listening structures and responses as well as Authentic Movement.
2) Trauma-Informed Yoga philosophy: (*we do not practice yoga postures on or near horses as some programs integrating yoga and horses do. Our practice of yoga is for the development of our own sensitivity and awareness as well as a framework for understanding subtle energy) We engage with yoga philosophy that specifically focuses on a trauma-informed and safe practice for working with the subtle energies of the body and engaging consciously with power. Our approach is restorative, focuses on the navel center for working safely with trauma and deep feeling, and works to strengthen the container that supports the movement of our energy.
3) Entering into ongoing healing and sacred relationship with the horses: Showing up to connect to horses as our teachers, friends and partners in an ongoing process of learning. The work we do with the horses is reciprocal, the horses share healing with us and we also share healing with them.
4) A ceremonial approach to acknowledging and relating to our own positions of power and privilege: We are working to embody a sacred and non predatory relationship to power that is rooted in deep listening and witnessing. Through a commitment to ongoing self-inquiry, our collaboration with horses aids in their justice and liberation as well as our own. We are committed to liberation that includes the horses and all other beings impacted by enslavement and domination.
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