I’m learning to ride a horse, which is a lot like driving a car, if cars were nervous and unpredictable and expressed their anxiety by leaping suddenly sideways and accelerating uncontrollably whenever the breeze picks up. Also their shock absorbers were made out of jerky. And they bit.
So I sit on this huge beast named Buddy like a fruit bat clinging to a human’s scalp, and I’m supposed to make him do what I want without reinforcing his suspicion that I’m a serial killer. My options are limited: I can tug on the reins, tap with my legs, or wiggle. Buddy and I must agree on what each of these actions will mean.
The process boils down to what my teachers call “pressure” and “release.” Tugging, tapping, or wiggling is pressure; a typical horse will start trying anything to make it stop. When Buddy does something I want—going forward, backing up, turning in place, composing poetry—I’m supposed to release the pressure and relax. This stillness–relief from pressure–rewards him.
It occurs to me that this is how my Essential, or Big Self (or soul, or whatever) communicates with my Small Self. Self is the Rider, and in this scenario, I’m like Buddy the horse. My Rider asks me to move by creating pressure: unease, discontent, irritation. When I do what my Big Self wants, my Small Self experiences stillness, peace, and relief.
You may feel your own Rider Self guiding you right now, tugging at your head, tapping your sides, trying to wiggle you out of your job or into learning French or adopting a child. Begin tuning into it. Pay attention to the subtle tugs and flutters. Try something—anything. Then try something else. When you go toward your best option, the pressure will suddenly disappear. Pay attention. Repeat.
It may feel awkward, but eventually this always works. Always. The more you practice, the more quickly you learn to interpret the Rider’s requests accurately. And your Rider has some big plans, friend. I don’t know what they are, but when you calm down and tune in, the two of you will have adventures your Small Self could never even imagine. Get quiet, get responsive, and giddy up.