September 5: Inner Work

This morning I had the realization that I’ve taken to not making a journal entry unless I actually do something with Kastani. I also found I’m not making journal entries unless we’ve done something interesting, new, exciting… Then I realized that even if I’m not physically working with Kastani we are still building our relationship, I’m making observations about him, and things are happening within me.

Aren’t those things worth tracking?

I did do a session with Kastani on the 3rd. We just worked in hand. I was so tired. Gearing up for a live workshop here and I’m trimming feet and mowing weeds. I was so played out there was no way I could scramble onto his back and have any sense of balance so I promised him a short session in hand just to keep us both moving. It was one of those days where he didn’t refuse but he looked at me with that - ‘why are you even out here look’.

What I hear from him right now is that the 2 week project is done and I’m busy and tired so just let it go. He’s in a good a place and can hold the work we’ve done. AND, sometimes they really benefit from a week off in the midst of all the work. I realize there has been a fear of losing momentum again. After he had 2 weeks off around Mom’s Memorial it felt a bit like we backslid. I don’t want that to happen again.. I have such a pattern of losing momentum with my own horses for one reason or another. Time to let that fear go and just be present.

I realize that this riding bareback experiment is going to take some strength and coordination. My MovNat certification weekend is fast approaching and I’m not in full training like I need to be to pull that off. It’s time to get myself sorted a bit more. The last few days I started diving into course content for MovNat again. Spending more time on the floor and really focused on my arm and shoulder strength and stability. My left rotator cuff is bothering me. No lifting my arm over my head or hanging. I spend a lot of time exploring various avenues for strengthening/releasing - trying to discover if something is too tight or too loose - shoulders are so complex and all the muscles have to be in balance with one another.

Things I’ve learned about my left shoulder:

Hanging is too much for it - and when hanging it’s not a question of engaging my biceps to try to keep my elbows bent and support my weight that way (in fact that might be how I originally tweaked my shoulder) It’s really a question of holding from the backside and underside of the shoulder blade and allowing those great big muscles and grip strength to do the job. Watching others hang, they are so relaxed about it!

Using my arms to support weight. I am doing better with this but not in all contexts and I can really feel the instability in that left joint when I do things like use that arm to post off of to get up on Kastani. From a strength perspective I’m finding ways to hang from the sides of door frames so I don’t have so support my full body weight but my shoulder can get used to letting go and allowing these other muscles to do their jobs. There’s a huge psychological component to this.

I also realize my shoulders have been rounded forward most of my life. Opening them up requires physical effort. On the floor I can sit with my hands on the floor behind me and practice shoulder stability with my chest open. Lifting my butt of the floor makes it more demanding and I’m starting to be able to do that without pain on the front side of my shoulder joint. It took a long time just putting my arms behind me and leaning back a hair to start building that strength. I can see how diligent I’ll need to be to get this arm and shoulder thing going before November!

Now, here’s the big thing. I’m becoming aware there is a strong emotional component to this shoulder issue. Every time I lay quietly and just let my arms and shoulders rest I find they are so balled up and tight they hover above the ground vibrating. as they start to let go they shake and finally release and relax to the floor. Just before the release I am always flooded by emotions. Sometimes it’s a tsunami wave of grief and disbelief that Mom is really gone. Sometimes it’s the edges of panic. Sometimes my whole body will feel like it’s on pins and needles. It’s intense. It’s a huge reminder that I have not processed through all the various aspects of what happened with Mom. And it could be there’s other older ‘stuff’ trapped there too. These patterns in my shoulders have been around a long time!

This morning as I lay in bed tracking the patterns I feel in my neck and shoulder I asked my body - ‘what’s this about?’ I felt a pattern of tension and focused on it. It intensified and traveled throughout my shoulder into my rib cage and upper back. It was so intense it felt like my whole left upper body was on lock down. I just allowed it happen, getting tighter until it was all just rigid. And then it started to melt slowly. I felt a bit of fear/anxiety and then it was gone and another pattern of tightness would arise. I tracked three different patterns of tension that all followed the same pattern of getting tighter and then rigid and then slowly melting. I have not test my shoulder range of motion this morning. My sense it to let it rest. But now I’m sure, there is tension disrupting that delicate balance of muscles in my shoulder. and there is definitely an emotional component. I can feel Kastani holding space for me to find peace and let my nervous system reset after all the trauma of this past year. He is a wise one!

And this is such a great reminder to me that Kastani and I now have a bond that goes beyond just what we do together in the physical. That connection allows us both to continue working on our own things even when we aren’t together.