by Nikki Kagan
Anyone who follows Jim Masterson’s work, as well as those of us who treat horses with the Masterson Method know full well its effectiveness on horses. In fact, it works so well, that I began noticing its effect on people too.
When I decided to study the Masterson Method and eventually become certified, naturally my motivation was all about helping horses feel better mentally and physically through the release of tension in their bodies. Little did I know, that not only would it help the horses, but it would affect me and eventually also my corporate consulting clients by touching all of us in a very intimate, yet powerful way.
I am a corporate facilitator and leadership development coach and consultant. I work with individuals and teams, supporting their personal and professional growth as leaders, colleagues, partners, employees, parents, and friends. Part of my services include bringing people together for “HorseSense”, my Equine Assisted Leadership Development program in which individuals and teams work and play with my horses at liberty as a platform for exploring more effective ways to address common challenges both at work and at home.
At the heart of my consulting practice is self and other awareness, presence and mindfulness. For a Masterson Method Practitioner, self and other awareness, presence and mindfulness are essential. Because if we are not present to ourselves and to the horse during our Masterson Method sessions, we will be missing the point and results will be compromised. It isn’t surprising really, because the same holds true when we’re not present to ourselves and others as we go about our daily lives at work and at home. Things escape us when we’re not fully ‘there’ or our attention is divided.
Like many people, when I was first learning the method I had ‘performance anxiety’, always worrying “am I doing this right?!?!” But as my confidence grew, I began to relax, soon realizing how fast the time passed when I was treating a horse. I noticed that as the horse relaxed, I relaxed too, and when I witnessed the inevitable signs of release in the horse, like yawning, licking and chewing, heavy-lidded eyes and more, I felt immense gratitude for him and for my part in helping him let go and release tension.
When I work with horses, I try to leave their owners with one or two simple things they can do regularly to help their equine friends. Tracing the bladder meridian is one such technique that is safe, easy, and yields obvious, tangible and near immediate results for the horse. At the same time, it is an exercise in being aware, present and mindful for us as well.
So I decided to try it with my corporate clients. I created an exercise in which they work in pairs, one tracing the bladder meridian, one observing the horse while holding the lead line. I instruct them just as I would when I teach the weekend seminar, there is no difference. The results of this one exercise are numerous and powerful. In our subsequent debriefs, I have heard comments like:
- “Wow, it’s amazing that such a light touch can have such a big impact…”
- “I felt myself relaxing as I focused on the horse…”
- “It was amazing to tune everything else out around me so there was just me and the horse…”
- “I felt such gratitude that I was able to relax him…”
- “I can’t believe he stood still so long and so quietly! He never moved!”
- “It was like I put him in a trance!”
Why is this important to people working in the corporate world? Because all day, every day, they are focusing on creating outcomes, managing others, keeping up with the pace of work/life through their phones and computers with little time left to just “be”. When my corporate clients work with horses in this way, they MUST slow way down, and tune into the horse, which means tuning into themselves as well.
When participants in my sessions trace the bladder meridian on all four of my horses at once, the energy on my little farm becomes one of tranquility and peace. Sometimes it even brings up long-buried emotions as people get back in touch with what it feels like to BE in touch with themselves and another sentient being.
Learning the Masterson Method has enhanced my life in so many ways. First, I am able to help horses release tension in a way that not only improves their movement, but also their mood. Second, I am able to access a state of mindfulness that helps improve my own mental state. Thirdly, I have been able to help my business clients get back in touch with a more intimate, connected and present way of being that enhances their relationships with themselves and others both at home and at work.
In summary, the release of tension that forms the foundation of Jim’s method goes far beyond the release of physical (muscular) tension. It also reaches deep into the psychological state of anyone who happens to be nearby or perhaps stops to observe. Work on one horse, you’ll see others standing quietly with heads hanging in relaxation. Inviting others to put their hands gently on a horse with little to do but be aware of responses and convey positive intentions awakens thoughts and feelings that have been all but forgotten.
It’s all about presence, mindfulness and awareness—and those are things that we all need now, more than ever. I’m so grateful for the method, the community, the support and The Masterson Method team.