Yet, in the straggle of human settlements that stretch like bleached coral reefs across the landscape, many of us are harnessed to thoughts, beliefs, situations that chaff and constrict. In the dissonant babble of other people’s voices we lose our way, forget what it is that we truly need to nurture our soul. We may wander in exile, lost in the endless surge of sensory stimuli that pluck and prod us off course. Our dreams and longings discarded, forgotten in the sweet meadow of distant memories.
Our neuroses may be a response to being removed our natural habitat. Our pliable brains adapt to places and situations, while our wise animal bodies speak to us in metaphor, show their dis-ease in symptoms.
Like humans, animals have an inner nature. And while some of their behaviours and defenses are not always due to overt abuse, their adaptations to an alien environment may distort and warp or erupt in aggressive behaviour.
Anna Breytenbach has devoted her life to inter-species communication. In The Animal Communicator, a documentary in which Anna demonstrates how animals and humans share the same need to be seen and heard, we see how animals and humans display similar trauma and defenses when out of balance with their natural state of being.
Katrina Clay, publisher of Healing Springs Journal, describes a Navajo Horse Blessing she witnessed recently in Saratoga County. Each race horse was blessed with the intention that they would heal, let go of past wounds. Many of the race horses distracted themselves with habitual behaviours.
She writes, “good race horses have every physical need met in order to perform well. What is often neglected, however, is experiencing life true to the nature of horses – outdoors in strong social groups, eating 20 hours a day on a variety of nutritionally low plants while travelling as far as 20 miles a day finding them. While some horses and people are well adjusted to domestication, others habitually fill the empty time ordinarily satisfied by searching for food with hollow patterns of behaviour… For a horse, it may come out as cribbing or biting. For a human it may be workaholism … or any multitude of obsessions.”
Over the past thirty years we have all experienced Promethean changes in technology which has changed the way we think, communicate, behave. March 2015 will see a solar eclipse and the final Uranus-Pluto square in the series of seven which have reflected global events, particularly in the use and mis-use of power as well as the unprecedented proliferation of new technology. Perhaps this final square will bring a sense of resolution for some of us in some deeply personal way. A decision to take the action needed to make those changes that reflect inner growth. A choice to replace habitual thoughts or behaviours with new ways of being in this world that resonates with an authentic place within.
Change is unsettling, even threatening for humans and animals. We, like the other animals on this planet, are hardwired for danger. Our anxious brains have kept us alive for eons. Many of us tend to become more calcified as we age, more fearful, more sealed into our ticks and twitches. For most of us, letting go of our defenses is threatening. For some of us, we will never be ready or willing to embrace the changes which terrify us. And yet, it is in the taking of baby steps that we can truly follow our bliss and find our way back to a place where we feel a Belonging.
“We have not yet arrived, but every point at which we stop requires a re-definition of our destination,” writes poet, Ben Okri,in Tales of Freedom.
Beneath the surfaces of our lives our yearnings flutter and soar like the summer swallows on thermals of delight. Our places of nurture which will be different for each one of us. Like the brave green shoots that thrust from cracks in pavements and the trees that stand sentinel alongside swirl and swish of traffic, we live amidst noise and fumes of humans in continuous motion. Yet some of us may know those places of silence. If we allow ourselves to go there, we may re-visit that spacious zone where we expand into our Belonging. Perhaps making our way back will require one day a week where we switch off the phone, leave the incessant demands of our in-box, turn our eyes away from the twitter stream or the distractions that become our armouring and our straight-jacket. Perhaps then we will glimpse our natural habitat. Perhaps then we will know that private place, where we feel our Belonging.
Gemma Hayes from the new album Bones and Longing