Elevate Your Spirit – Pillar Four (of four) Inspired by the Shin Dao Institute

I had the honour and pleasure of being asked to write a series of articles for the Shin Dao Institute’s Heart and Mind Matters Newsletter in the fall of 2016. The fourth article is based on the fourth Pillar of the Shin Dao Philosophy – that of “Elevate Your Spirit”. In this article, I talk about – having a wild or domesticated spirit.

Are You Wild or Domesticated?
by Patricia L. Atchison (Heart and Mind Matters 12/13/2016)

Ah, the spirit. I’ve been thinking of my own definition of ‘spirit’ and what it means to ‘Elevate your Spirit’ (the last of the Four Guiding Pillars of the Shin Dao). A simple definition of Spirit by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is:

•    the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power
•    the inner quality or nature of a person
•    a person

I always think of horses when I think of a definition similar to the above. In central Alberta, by Sundre, we have wild horses. (Google: Wild Horses West of Sundre.) They roam free, unencumbered by fences and owners. I can feel their spirits soaring as they look over the foothills, their manes flowing and swaying with the breeze. They canter, gallop, and step freely in only a way that a wild horse can. (As a side note, biologist’s figure that the wild horses of Alberta were all once domesticated, but they have broken away from the herds.)

There are also domestic horses. Over the centuries horses have been trained and ‘broken’ to be work or entertaining animals. I’ve haven’t personally seen a horse ‘broke’ other than in a movie (or read about it in a book). What I’ve learned is that horses are worked around and around an arena or corral and motivated into relaxed movement that soon takes their ‘spirit’ and squelches it, molding it into a way that the animal will suit a particular job (etc.) per the owner’s needs.

So we have one horse, which is free to live with their spirit roaming wild, and another horse who has had their spirit tamped into a manageable focus. Do you see how this analogy above could be the same as our own lives?

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