Saturday, 26 January 2013

Way of the Horse: Boundary Dance

I bought Way of the Horse by Linda Kohanov on a whim the other day. I have no idea why. It's not like I've been into horses, not since I was a kid, or even been thinking much about them really, other than looking at a possibility of  retreat to a place called 'Intuitive Horse', and of course then there was that weird thing with the horse meat in the burgers (not an issue for me because 1) I'm vegan and 2) I think there's no real distinction between eating one animal or another -- flesh is flesh. Though I suppose if something is labelled beef you have a right to expect it not to be made of horse. But I digress). Actually it was the week of the horse meat debacle that I discovered this deck, oddly enough. Maybe without all that horse talk, it would not have caught my eye.

Anyway, today's card is called Boundary Dance. It seems obvious what is going on in this card -- two horses are engaged in a ritual of dominance and hierarchy. Boundary setting. However, the book calls it 'a tenuous dance of respect and connection,' which is actually a very healthy and more realistic way of looking at boundary setting. Actually, setting boundaries isn't about determining who gets the upper hand and who has to back down, though it might sometimes look that way.

'Few people truly understand what a boundary is, mostly because dominance-submission still rules,' writes author Linda Kohanov. 'A boundary is not a wall. It's a flexible physical or psychological buffer zone that, if respected, allows you to relax and feel safe in someone's presence, leading to great trust and intimacy...If only people could learn to stop when they sense discomfort rising, back off without disconnecting, and give each other space they need to feel safe and present.' 

This is the Boundary Dance. It's not dominance and submission. Setting a boundary is not the same thing as being assertive. It is about being sensitive to the responses in yourself and others and backing off or moving in accordingly. In that sense, it really is like a dance. 

Now, I wonder why I have drawn this card today. I will watch very carefully today and seek to be sensitive to the boundaries of others, and in letting people know my own boundaries. 

ETA: I know why I drew the card...today during lunch several members of staff had an earnest conversation about our feelings regarding an issue that comes up sometimes at work. The need to approach someone with   strong or offensive body odor and speak to them about it. It is in our procedures manual, and is something that does come up, being a public space and a safe haven. Some of us felt unable or unequipped to do so at all and would have to defer to a manager to do it. Others felt more able to take on the task. I realised this was an example of personal boundaries. 

7 comments:

  1. My mother is a body psychotherapist, so she uses more physical means of expressing things than a traditional "talking cure" therapist. One group exercise she often does is to give people a ball of string, and ask them to create a comfortable boundary for themselves, and then encourage them to interact between their boundaries. Your post really reminded me of this. Some need more space to feel safe, but few people actually want to entirely exclude others, it's just finding the point where both feel included, yet not impinged on...

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    1. I remember doing a similar exercise in a teacher training day. We were told to stand still while another member of staff walked toward us, and we were to hold out our hands when that was 'close enough'. Some people were practically touching noses while some were half way across the room. For me it was just beyond arm's length. But of course my hearing was better back then!

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    2. Do you mean you think you'd be happy with people closer now, so you can hear them, or less close, as you feel less secure without being able to hear so well?

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  2. This is another meaningful card for me, as in the last year or so I have become uncomfortable in the presence of someone who was and is still very dear to me, I feel my boundaries have been crossed though and my comfort zone breeched. I wish I had picked this card :-)

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    1. You can pick this card for yourself today or any day. Just take the message you received from it and apply it to your life whenever you feel the need. That's the whole point of studying the cards. :)

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  3. a beautiful design on this card Carla xxxxxxx

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  4. Wow this deck is stunning...! It reminds me a lot of Hildalgo, and the riders relationship with his horse. Viggo Mortenson buys all the horses he rides in movies....

    I agree about flesh is flesh.... in fact I recently bought a book on Kindle called Whats Wrong with Eating People? My kids and I are all lifelong Vegans or strict Vegetarians....

    Thanks for this enabling Ms Carla!!!

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