Last weekend, I took the opportunity to do two of my favorite things—ride my horse and hike. As part of my Camino training regimen, on Sunday I walked the trail that I had ridden my horse on the day before. It made me think about shifting perspective.
When riding a horse, especially a fairly green one, you are hyper aware of the trail from your horse’s perspective, always scanning the environment for things that might suddenly startle her. But you also observe things you might not notice on foot—things like the deep green of low hanging tree branches, broad expanses of meadow grass or interesting cloud formations. On foot, the perspective can tend toward the tiny—the colors of individual wildflowers or little bugs scurrying across the trail. Same path, different perspective.
There is a place on the trail that feels a bit hairy from the back of a horse. It’s a narrow passageway between two boulders with big rocks imbedded in the ground that horseshoes can easily slip on. But on foot, it’s just a little rise that goes through a gorgeous rock formation. Both things are true.
This reminds me of the power of a shift in perspective. I can choose to see something from the hairy, scary point of view or notice the beauty that is also there. Conversely, I can get hung up on the miniscule—like the brief moment of fear while crossing that passageway on horseback—or I can choose to see the bigger picture and enjoy the ride.
The photo with this story is a picture of the oracle card I pulled the other day. It’s from the ZEST oracle deck, created by my friend and fellow healer Cleo Dunsmore Buchanan. She tells me the boy on the card is a drawing of her 10-year-old son. Interestingly, I randomly selected this card the day after Cleo and her son were at my house so he could ride a horse. This kid has an amazing memory and often shares his perspectives by retelling stories he’s read or movies he’s watched. His point of view often fascinates me, so when this particular card chose me, I knew it was an encouragement to open myself to the magical way a child sees the world.
The shift in perspective the oracle card encouraged in me is also a way to shift my energy. Energy we don’t allow to move through our consciousness gets stored in the mind, and even in the heart. In the yogic tradition, this is called a samskara, a psychological or emotional imprint. In my experience, if not shifted, these imprints tend to become “sticky” and attract other energy that vibrates at the same level.
For example, if I have the experience of being betrayed by someone and do not choose to shift my perspective to forgiveness, I can become stuck in the energy of being wary of people. This can start to feel familiar. Then I ultimately find myself in the thought pattern that it is risky to trust. But if I shift my perspective as the oracle card recommends, I can allow my energy to flow toward the more delightful things that are also in my path. I begin to notice that if I keep my energy moving, the fear of opening to trust is temporary, but holding on to distrust causes long-term pain. As the oracle card notes, this perspective shift offers me freedom.
One of the coolest things about perspective is that we get to choose it for ourselves. We can open ourselves to others’ perspectives, which is a very healthy thing to do, but ultimately our perspective is our own sacred space. We have complete control over what we allow to lodge in our hearts and minds.
You might be interested to know that horses have two kinds of vision: monocular and binocular. With monocular vision, each eye sees independently, so as a prey animal, a horse can see potential danger with one eye while keeping the other eye on the rest of the herd. Even though each eye sees a separate view, a horse can switch to a form of binocular vision where both eyes focus on one thing, such as a treat I’m offering. Its ability to shift perspective enables the horse to see the big picture, but also be in the present moment.
Now that’s a viewpoint to aspire to!