Thursday, 10 March 2016

When the lesson becomes the weapon

This was a frustrating lesson for me.  I get it.  But it would be so much easier to be holier than thou. To be right.  

Actually for me, with animals, the lesson is digestible. Problem is I just realised it has application with humans. Aaargh.

So what is the lesson?
When i learn about something it becomes a part of my frame of reference. If I truly want to use the lesson and be bigger than the story I cannot use the lesson to judge another. 

For example. I learn that when our horse friend Tonic is agitated his top lip quivers. So I take this story and make it a law for all horses. 
😴(sound effect is the buzzer in a quiz show that says _ wrong answer)
We know that there are many signs that can be generalised for a species. For horses a high head, flicking tail,pawing the ground, hard eyes are a few. However we need to look and feel in every moment rather than just see the sign and make the judgement. Are we feeling the horse's state of being or ticking boxes. That high head may be curiosity. The flicking tail a fly. Pawing, an intention to roll. Hard eyes squinting in the sun. We can only know the difference if we sense the picture. 

When teaching these concepts to people we need to be patient. Because animal training and connections feel so natural we can make the mistake of forgetting we never knew the knowledge in the past. That we also had to bring the know how to conscious thought. We forget that there may have been a time where we too were reactive as a result of ignorant  fear. That the reactions we delivered in those interactions with animals were not useful to assist success. If we judge people rather than look at assisting to open up new perspective we risk shutting them down to the lesson. We risk making them more victim-oriented and fearful. But more than that. We risk making the lesson we pretend to have learned our master. We give ourselves away to the lesson rather than letting the lesson serve us and the greater good.  

Every lesson is an opportunity for us to let go of a limiting belief system we once held. For example we were all taught not to walk near a horse's back legs. Some of us had the lesson reinforced by the backhooves connecting with us at inopportune moments😣

So we feared. And came up with all sorts of mechanisms and systems to assist us to do what needs doing without going near the back of the horse.  Usually the 'aids' employed required tying the horse up. Relationship and trust were low on not the to-achieve list. Then we learned that there is a better way. A gentle way to teach the horse and let it feel in control at the same time. A safer way. And we had the ah haha moment where a belief system dissolved and all of  a sudden we were not as limited as we had been in the past. We gained liberty to work more closely with the horse.  We entered a deeper relationship with the horse. 
The risk after learning this new way is taking the lesson and judging everyone with it. Then it becomes an unnecessary nag. A stone-throwing vendetta. And this attitude grows and becomes an ugly focus. And eventually we are stuck in another story. That limits us once again. We are no longer compassionate and even in relationship with horses we may be arrogant and opinionated. And we serve nothing except our rightness. And shut out the world. And our world and our experience becomes a mean and nasty one. We project our thoughts and fears out and only experience the ignorant imbeciles that we have come to believe make up the world. Rather than the potential splendour that can and does exist in every moment.
Worst of all. We don't serve animals with judgement. 

Meeting the moment. Focusing on what works. This is useful. This is ethical. This is unattached Godliness. 

I feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to teach. To see things through innocence. To challenge the perceived limitations of others. For in this teaching I am supported to stay clear and true. As well as rejoice in the enthusiasm that is evident in willing students.😚

I also have the opportunity to take these lessons to other parts of my life.  

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The confusion of words

At our animal training workshop on Saturday I was amazed.  In the workshop I begin by establishing that all are familiar with the terms positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment.  I find that if we don't establish this, confusion reigns. So this is where we begin.  On Saturday my students really battled. I considered what was wrong and for a while was pretty perplexed.  I usually whizz through this section without a hitch.  And the students were pretty clever people.  

Then I got it. This is one of the first workshops I have presented to the informàl training sector and more to the point, they were English-speaking.  Most other audiences have been foreign or had substantial numbers of Afrikaans and African language participants. So why is this significant? I was presenting in English.

Significant because we English speakers have a uniquely evolving language that is filled with associations. The essence of language is so often lost.  The words positive and negative to most English speakers have a strong association of good and bad. This is not new to me.  I tell students all the time to let go of the association. The audience on Saturday just needed more time to put down their beliefs about the word.  They had to see the words in their mathematical essence.  Positive means add. Negative means subtract -take away.  

This special audience taught me one more thing about the confusion.  The term reinforcement has the definition -increase the chance of a behaviour occurring again. This is opposite to punishment which in behaviour terms means - decrease the chance of a behaviour occurring again.  This on its own we can accept.  Notice in the definitions we have the words increase and decrease.  Also mathematical in essence.  And this was the first time I saw this.  The first time I note that there was confusion because the mathematical terms together are confusing.  Negative reinforcement is a subtraction to effect an addition. Lighbulb moment for me.  It will be easier for me to teach now. Just have to create this awareness and then they can see clearly.  

So big gratitude for the lesson.  Just love that I am always learning.  When we look with renewed perspective we can see from all angles.  This enables us to put all the angles and perspective down.  Then we see clearly.  

Animals see literal truth. They see in the moment much more clearly than we do.  The evolution of language has taken us out of the moment.  Out of our hearts and into our stories.  When we work closely with animals we will succeed when we are in our hearts.  So they teach us to put down our stories and journey back to truth. 

Thank God for animals

Thursday, 3 March 2016

hats off to anyone with an office job

Because I truly do not know how you manage to keep motivated.  How do you stay focussed and sit down all day.  How do you wake up in the morning and know you are heading to a desk.  You must be made of much better stuff than me. On days where I need to catch up on administration tasks and spend all day in the office, if I try and fit in a few minutes here and there to connect with the animals.  Just came back from a moment just like this.  An hour ago I was heavy lidded and dragging on the end of my enthusiasm to get my monthly report done.  I stepped out to spend some time with the incredible Zulu and Kelpie, and I feel enlivened again.  I am so so so so grateful to have these connections in my life.  Thank you thank you thank you!!!