COMPASSION…..A NEW UNDERSTANDING  (delivered by a horse and a boy)

By Lauren Munger

This word has taught me so much it is hard to put into words. It has been a journey of an unusual kind. It impresses upon me the value of focus.

The mere act of looking at this word and thinking of it in every situation was like surfing. I paddled out over the swells and searched for the perfect wave. When I chose the one I wanted I turned my board around, stood up, steadied myself and rode the experience all the way to the shore!

Compassion transformed many times on this ride. It went from begrudgingly cutting someone slack whether I felt they deserved it or not, to feeling relieved that no longer felt the burden of having to judge someone for the act of stupidity I put on them, to understanding that feeling compassion really is a measure of the beholders self-esteem and security (at least mine) and now I have had the ultimate experience of truly understanding the word compassion to mean COME to the situation with PASSION.

My most recent experience and two profound teachers were a horse and a boy. The horse was labeled as “a princess” who was “impatient” and didn’t like certain things like being groomed. The boy was a beautiful child who was also labeled as “ADHD” and “ high functioning Autistic.” It was said he could not focus and was scattered. 

I had the privilege of having them in a coaching session together. Long story short, after several trips through an obstacle course with horse on a lead and the boy leading, I asked if he wanted to brush the horse. Keeping my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t start her usual impatient dance of to and fro I watched as they engaged in what came to be an extraordinary connection of depth and respect.

Not one hair was missed from head to toe, each being patiently put back into its place. Such focus, such intention, it was moving. The horse, too, seemed in a trance, moving not a muscle, not a whisker, only blinking an eye when the boy moved to another part of her body. She stood like a beautiful Greek statue. I began to feel like I was eavesdropping on some intimate experience. I felt out of place so I said nothing and just held the space.

Toward the end of the grooming session I asked the boy if he thought he could get the horse (who was not on a lead) to walk through two upright panels near where he had been grooming. There were several hula hoops on the ground between them so I thought it might be a tall task but I went with my gut.

“Sure,” he said and he stood up and walked through the portals himself and turned back to the horse and said, “Come.” The horse had watched intently as he walked away from her and took with him his loving touch. She then did something quite remarkable. She walked over the logs and hula hoops on the ground and straight to the boy and his brush.

A boy who couldn’t focus and a horse who couldn’t stand still…or so they said. These kinds of experiences are why I love working with children and partnering with horses. When both are in the moment and truly connected magic is the result.

This boy demonstrated to me that when you COME to the situation or being with PASSION the connection is so strong that there is no room for judgment or doubt or criticism. There is just a sense of BEING. And when you just BE you have no need or desire to judge or criticize. Then the true COMPASSION will arise. When you can passionately be in another’s presence and simply allow them to also BE...to connect and make contact with another in any given situation… that is true compassion. Compassion is the ultimate understanding of what is going on in the moment and, in this case a strong desire to be there in that moment with another.  

For more info about Lauren Munger and her programs please visit her website