A heartbeat. Waves rolling in and out on a sandy beach. The rising and setting of the sun.
The aroma of your favorite meal. A long walk to clear your head. That sense of joy that comes from swinging on a swing.
Your partner walking in the door at 5 o’clock every day and offering that same greeting they always do. The connection that follows a relational repair. The sound of horses munching on grass.
This is rhythm.
Our bodies and minds crave rhythm. It exists both figuratively and literally in our daily lives, and offers us repeated experiences of predictability in our environments, our relationships, and in our bodies.
Not surprising then, rhythm is one of the three necessary components of trauma informed care as outlined by Dr. Bruce Perry and many other experts in the field of trauma and attachment.Others like Bonnie Badenoch, Dan Siegel, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Pat Ogden, and Bessel van der Kolk emphasize the importance of rhythm in our lives.
Without rhythm, we miss an integral part of the healing puzzle. In fact, we cannot offer Trauma Informed Care without it.
We also experience plenty of moments that are filled with a lack of rhythm, a lack of predictability – times of sensory, environmental, or relational chaos. These moments have an impact on us too.
The practice of creating rhythm in relationships
Recognizing literal and figurative rhythms allows us to use them to enhance our programs, our work with clients, and our own healing work.
Join us for the Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship to:
Better understand how sensory rhythm is always affecting us, even in the very beginnings of life
Rhythmically connect with our bodies and the world around us to regulate the nervous system
Experience how much the rhythm of our movements matter (especially around horses!)
Learn the components of rhythmic environments
Feel how to BE in rhythmic relationships with humans, horses, and other animals
… and how to creatively bring more intentional rhythm into your sessions for effective (and fun!) therapeutic work.
The benefits of rhythm
With more rhythm, you can expect a more regulated mind and body – setting you up for more client progress and less professional burnout.
Pssst…in the Fundamentals, you will also come to understand the other two necessary components of effective trauma informed care!
Improve professional competency, enhance your work, and engage clients in lasting change – with the Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship.
You may have heard of the Natural Lifemanship Connection Kits and you may be wondering what, exactly, they are, what purpose they serve, and for whom.
We created the Connection Kits to fill a need in our community of equine-assisted practitioners – a need that emerged again and again during the course of consultations. As is often the case with useful tools, our Connection Kits have been discovered by many folks outside of the EAS community as well, including school counselors, therapists who work in a more traditional setting, and even clients!
Built with a purpose
Our co-founder, Bettina Shultz-Jobe, found herself describing the ways she incorporates rhythm to build regulation and relationship within and between humans and horses during sessions. She would refer to various tools she would use for that purpose as well as concrete activities, and she would always explain the science that supports the activities and, in fact, everything we do in NL.
She came to realize that one of the biggest ways that we could support our community is by packaging these tools and resources into ready-made kits accompanied by instructional courses that explain how and why we use the tools to promote regulation, healing, growth, and connection for our clients and our horses, whether we are working inside or outdoors.
So, we created the kits! We incorporated our knowledge of science, healthy brain development, and the power of the horse-human relationship with easy-to-use tools that help organize, integrate, and regulate the brain and body and build deeper connections. We call these tools, the Natural Lifemanship Connection Kits – Tools Designed to Enhance Your Equine-Assisted Practice.
These kits provide you with the same tools our expert professionals use at Natural Lifemanship, and hours of guided education including video demonstrations with our beloved horses, to ensure the tools are used safely and effectively. Most tools can be used in a traditional office setting, outside in nature, and with or without horses.
Who uses the Connection Kits? How do I know if they are for me?
If you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then the Connection Kits are for you!
A professional who provides equine-assisted services?
A parent of school-aged children?
A mental health professional?
A helping professional who works with people who have experienced trauma?
Someone who works with youth?
Someone who works with seniors?
Interested in learning how to regulate your own nervous system and how to help others regulate theirs?
Interested in understanding the science behind the techniques?
Appreciate having tools and concrete activities ready and available to use when working with others?
Appreciate the convenience of video instruction so you can learn on your own schedule?
Value the ability to earn CE credits (from NBCC)?
Know somebody who fits any of the descriptions listed here and want to give them an absolutely amazing, one-of-a-kind holiday gift – the kind of gift that keeps on giving?
Really, each kit has something unique to offer. It may be helpful to hear a little about how some of our customers have used the kits and for what purposes.
Essential Connection Kit
The Essential Connection Kits are the most inclusive, containing many different tools and activities to regulate each region of the brain and to promote connection. This kit comes with 16 hours of instructional videos delivered in a course that offers 11.5 CE Credits.
The Essential Connection Kit is transportable, too! It comes neatly organized and packaged in a tote that you can take with you and use in an office, a school, and even outside.
This kit has been most popular with the equine-assisted practitioners (both therapists and coaches) who use our model. It has also been very popular with school counselors. We’ve had several districts buy one for each of their counselors to use with their students. Some counselors have also shared their kits and their knowledge of how to use them with the teachers at their schools. One school counselor reported that she has used the kit for her therapy groups at school, teaching regulation skills throughout the year.
The Essential Connection Kit activities can fit very easily into a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program if teachers and counselors choose to use it this way, as it promotes knowledge and skills related to how the brain works and bottom-up regulation.
Drum Connection Kit
The Drum Connection Kit comes with a Remo Bahia Buffalo Drum and nearly 5 hours of video instruction (and 4.5 CE credits) demonstrating ways to incorporate drumming to regulate the brain.
If all you want is the drum, we encourage you to head on over to Remo to purchase it. However, if you want the drum AND the online course with CE credits, you’ll want to buy it from us. Lots of folks have purchased this kit, including equine professionals and coaches. If you want to incorporate drumming into your work, the NL Drum Connection Kit makes it super simple.
When therapists and other practitioners use the Rhythm Bells in sessions, clients fall in love with them because they are such a great regulation tool. They also really help people come into connection. For this reason, we’ve used them a lot in mounted work and have created multiple ways that these handcrafted bells can attach to the client’s clothing and the horse’s mane or saddle.
Another surprising fact is how many of our therapists like to use the bells in an office setting. We even have one client who wears these while walking during telehealth sessions. The Rhythm Bell course offers 2.5 CE credits.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Connection Kit
Finally, the Do-It-Yourself Connection Kit is also a great option, especially if you already have a collection of tools similar to the ones we package. The DIY Connection Kit gives you ALL of the downloadable instructions and resources you need to build your own Essential Kit. It includes the course and all the videos. It also includes the Drum Connection Kit course. It does not include any of the physical items that are demonstrated, but it gives you the information you need to purchase your own.
Because it includes both the Essential and the Drum Kit courses, the DIY Kit offers a total of 16 CE credits. It also is available to NL Members at a very steep discount.
How much do our customers love these kits? We’ll let them tell you in their own words.
The drum kit absolutely drives home the concept of bottom up regulation. After this course, I feel like I can confidently take these activities into my work with clients. Thank you!
– Ashley M Stavig
I love using the drum and bell kits with clients who have trauma. These are fundamental tools that give clients a ‘language’ (sound, movement) that makes sense of their world. These tools help me see, without the pressure of words, the client’s trauma. Essential for trauma work!!
– Jan Stump, MSW PEACE Ranch
I was able to understand the science behind the tools in each box [of the Essential Connection Kit]. I was able to see how to practically use the tools in a therapeutic setting.
– Christi Lundby, LPC-S, LCDC
Practicing walking with the bell and riding with the bell on me and my horse gave me an understanding of how my body is responding that is beyond anything I have ever felt before. It is not the regulation that was most important; it is the integration. Amazing.
– Marilee Donovan Dual Certified in NL
The Drum Connection Kit Course was both educational and fun. It was not only full of pertinent information, but it was easy to follow with demonstrations that I can use right away in my program. I loved learning how the progression of activities using the drum achieved full brain engagement. It was easy to follow and fun to watch.
– Claudia Alesi, Certified Equine Assisted Coach
It [essential connection kits] was all valuable. I appreciated the raccoon circle because I have a family that is struggling and I believe this will help show how important it is to connect and work together.
– Anonymous Customer
I have been a therapist for over ten years. Natural Lifemanship is the best therapeutic model that I have integrated into my practice. NL has provided me with the science and practical instruction to immediately improve my skills as a therapist with an equine partner or without. A sound principle is a sound principle resonates with me in all client/therapist relationships.
– Christi Lundby, LPC-S, LCDC
I do not generally respond to music and drumming is sometimes annoying, so I was not prepared to be amazed by the benefits of the bells. I wear a bell each morning when I go to turn the horses out and often I wear a bell when cleaning the barn and feeding. It is a mindfulness practice above all others. I had to work initially to have a rhythm but once found it is comforting and rewarding. Riding my horse with the bells generates another level of connection and we have a great connection already. Now when the horses hear me coming with the bell on they often come up and touch the bell on my clothing to say good morning. I would recommend this to any NL professional to deepen their own understanding of their body and of connection and integration.
– Marilee Donovan, Dual Certified in NL
I loved everything about the [Essential Connection Kit] course, very helpful and that it’s not just for psychologists but for teachers, parents, foster parents, equine professionals, etc.
– Anonymous Customer
Natural Lifemanship never ceases to amaze me with their dedication to incorporating both the art and science of connection, and the way this leads to healing and growth!
– Melissa McMullen, LSW, Equine Therapist at One Heart Stables with the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio
I am just beginning to learn about Natural Lifemanship, so everything [in the Essential Connection Kit] was valuable to me. It was very educational. I really love the demonstrations. They are easy to follow and I can’t wait to use them in my program.
– Claudia Alesi, Certified Equine Assisted Coach
We LOVE our Connection Kits and are so delighted that our community loves them, too. We love hearing about the creative ways people are putting these kits to use, and of course how they are working out.
If you already own a Connection Kit, please join our Connection Kit forum in our community so you can share ideas and resources with other Connection Kit owners.
Have questions about the Connection Kits? Leave them below and our team will get back with you.
You’ve likely heard the exciting news! The Natural Lifemanship Institute has evolved its brand and is subsequently transforming to better meet the needs of our growing community of professionals.
We hope this includes you.
Learn more about our evolution, what our new NL membership includes, and how you can grow your impact by becoming part of something bigger.
The Evolution of Natural Lifemanship and What It Means for You
While the Natural Lifemanship model began developing in 1986, we still believe there is much more to learn and explore. Just as the mental health needs of people around the world are constantly changing based on the various and often unexpected fears and struggles we experience, we too must remain ever-evolving.
Therefore, we decided that it was time to pave a clearer and more direct path for professionals from different walks of life to pursue a principle-based approach to working with clients, horses, and discovering themselves.
Our metamorphosis gives you the opportunities to access tons of career-changing education and resources, trainings designed to support your personal and professional paths, and the opportunity to experience a transformation yourself.
As Equine Assisted Services professionals and a community of helpers and healers, we invite you to walk with us.
A Closer Look at Natural Lifemanship Membership
In the same way the Natural Lifemanship brand evolved, so too did the NL membership plan, which now provides you with a larger and more comprehensive toolbox to support both your life and practice.
Our choice to focus on just one membership plan allows us to ensure that each and every member gets the highest level of educational resources and training available. That means YOU have more access to the learning materials that will improve the ways in which you interact with horses and clients.
To put it simply, we wanted to give you more—and now we’re doing just that.
How the New and Improved Membership Benefits You
What can you expect when you become an NL member and take advantage of the member benefits? If you ask other NL members, you’ll hear similar responses.
“ A toolbox of regulation and relationship skills, a depth and breadth of knowledge.”
“Improve not only your professional development but your personal growth as well.”
“Changes you’ll witness in yourself, your horses, your families, and of course, your clients.”
“An incredible group of people willing to dive in, to grow as individuals and professionals.”
While the overall price of membership slightly increased (for some of you), the impact you’ll experience from joining our growing community of EAS professionals and walking with our NL team will far exceed your expectations.
Want to get a free membership?
The best way (and highly recommended) to take advantage of the NL trainings and resources is to pursue NL certification, which includes NL membership. Our certification is unlike other EAS certification programs in that it requires a long-term commitment to your personal growth, your professional practice, and the sustainability of your business.
We believe it takes valuable time and mentorship to effectively integrate Natural Lifemanship’s *TI-EAT, **TF-EAP, or ***TI-EAL into your work with clients, so we offer the very best of our knowledge and expertise as well as our guidance and full support.
By walking the path to NL certification, you access all the benefits of NL membership along with a transformative experience that will shift the trajectory of your work and evolve your life and practice.
Or, if you are interested in pursuing NL certification, accessing NL membership for free, and evolving your life and practice, you’ll find everything you need to get started here.
Become Part of Our Growing Community
We are more than an organization that equips professionals from various walks of life to help people heal, grow, and recover from trauma. We are also a community—and we want to welcome you in.
Having worked in this field for more than 35 years, our NL team understands the importance of growing to meet the ever-evolving mental and emotional needs of those we serve. Our clients grow because we grow.
When you become part of our NL community, you not only access the decades of experience and knowledge we’ve gained, you also learn from other professionals who walk a similar path. Together, we are working to help change lives using the unique principles of connection and relationship we developed many years ago. We strongly believe that where one can make an impact, many can change the world.
Join us as we continue to challenge ourselves, our communities, and the mental health and wellness profession. Join the many, and together let’s change the world.
Idioms about the importance of being congruent in both speech and behavior abound.
Our spoken words, no matter how sincerely we mean them, become untrustworthy when they are not supported by our actions.
Similarly, our actions feel incongruent and insincere when they are not consistent with our intention and motives.We have all been on the receiving end of an interaction that appeared or seemed intended to be helpful or friendly, but instead felt empty at best and manipulative or exploitative at worst.Both our actions and our words, no matter how well intentioned, can leave us feeling confused and disconnected from each other if they are not congruent with our internal state of being, and can result in relational rupture.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “embody” in this way: to be an expression of or give atangible or visible form to (an idea, quality, or feeling).
Embodiment entails a sense of internalizing and integrating a way of being in the world that moves beyond our way of doing or behaving.Beyond acting as guidelines for behavior, embodied principles and beliefs become woven into the fabric of our identity and sense of self, and flow naturally into the ways in which we connect with self and others, both human and animal, and the larger world, including nature and our conceptualization of the divine.
We can sense the difference when someone is “acting kind” as opposed to “being kind.”Kind acts can be done for a variety of both honorable or self-serving motives. However, experiencing true kindness from someone who embodies the truth of their character in serving and caring for others because this is who they are engages our limbic system in an entirely different way and offers a rich relational opportunity for connection on a level so deep and healing that it is felt at a cellular level.
This kind of connection requires genuine presence, being in this moment and being with yourself and the one who is in front of you. We try in various ways to derive “being” from “doing,” but “doing” actually flows from our “being.”
WHO we are shows up in WHAT we do and HOW we do it.
A society of task managers
In our task-focused, accomplishment-driven society, our obsession with productivity and output leaves little room for the rich, satisfying, deeply healing experiences of connection that are only possible when we slow down and focus our complete attention on this interaction at this moment with this being, whether horse or human.
When I work with a client in the round pen who is asking for their horse’s attention while preoccupied with the outcome, so focused on the task of getting the horse to look at them, or turn and walk to them that they have reduced the interaction to a project whose success is measured by achieving a certain behavior, the principle of embodied connection is completely lost in the transactional nature of this exchange.
When the client shifts to a more genuine, present state, connecting with their deep longing to be seen and felt and valued, and sees and feels and values their horse as well, the change in energy is palpable.The quality and depth of the connection available in this type of relational exchange defies language, as it is felt on a somatic level between the two as an energetic exchange.
Embodiment requires breathing and processing space. . .
As a trauma survivor, I learned to “behave” appropriately in relational interactions by accurately assessing expectations and how to meet them in order to avoid rejection and abandonment.When I was first introduced to the Natural Lifemanship model of Trauma Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, I approached it the way I did everything I wanted to learn about: in a cognitive manner.I studied the model, memorized the principles and then practiced applying them in the round pen with horses in a task-focused, outcome driven way.
It soon became clear to me that I could ask a horse to attach and detach from me without any true connection whatsoever.I did not feel the warmth in my chest, or energetic exchange between myself and my horse that other people described when their horse connected with them.I spent hours in the round pen practicing making requests for interaction and felt despair about ever moving beyond the behavioral stage of it “looking right” without it ever “feeling right.”
Then I took the Natural Lifemanship Intensive Training, which focuses even more on embodying the relational principles of this model.I learned that the healing work we do with humans and horses is a way of “being” in the world, not only a way of“doing.”Embodiment requires breathing and processing space, which is why Natural Lifemanship trainings are designed in a combined video and live learning format that offers not only plenty of time to learn and master essential principles but also skilled and knowledgeable instructors to guide your learning by giving personalized feedback on the specific ways to practice these principles.
To read more about my experiences early on with Natural Lifemanship read here.
The secret to success
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the “10,000 hour rule” in his book, Outliers, based on a research study that found it takes about 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials like playing the violin or learning computer programming.A surprising nuance in this discovery revealed that it is not simply the amount of hours spent practicing but how you practice and who guides you in deciding what to focus on during that practice time that determines the level of success achieved.This idea of “deliberate practice” under the guidance of a skilled teacher who is able to assess each student individually and outline specific steps to help them improve then tailors the time spent to focus on what would be most helpful for that student’s growth and development.
How you use your practice time and who guides you is what matters most.
I spent hours in the round pen doing the same thing over and over, getting the same results, until I received the personalized attention and guidance I specifically needed to let go of my task driven focus and learned to embrace and embody the principles and nuances of true, heart-felt connection.I discovered the power of presence from trainers who embodied this with and for me so I could hone in on what was missing in my learning and start practicing in a way that actually led to transformational change.
How the NL Intensive training can help you embody connection
The Intensive Training is set up to enhance your learning with guidance and support specifically tailored to the areas you want and need to grow.It helped me refine my understanding of connection in relationship and led to powerful shifts in my perspective on my relationship with self and others, both horse and human.
This is a powerful opportunity to take the next step in your journey of personal and professional growth!
Practice Embodied Connection at Home
To practice feeling a sense of embodiment through connection, try taking a walk with a trusted person.Orient to your environment and do some mindfulness and grounding to become fully present in your body as you walk beside each other.Then start to notice if you can fall “in sync” with your partner, matching their stride by sensing their movement without looking at them.
Take turns lengthening your stride, speeding up and slowing down, and changing direction.Can you feel these shifts without looking at your partner’s legs or body with your eyes?Can you sense the energetic exchange between the two of you as you become entrained in your motion and your connection deepens through this rhythmic shared movement?Be playful with it!You can also try this with your horse or dog.
“NL continues to be the gold standard for training in EAP and continues to show that their principles and the fundamentals align within all aspects of life and relationship.”
-Renee Bouffard, LCSW/Executive Director, Healing Hoofbeats of CT, Inc.
The reviews are in and we are over the moon!
When COVID hit, we at Natural Lifemanship were in a scramble to create a new plan for staying connected with our community.Staying connected, and continuing to grow in ongoing learning has been possible…virtually!
As the pandemic has continued, we’ve worked to bring our second level training, the Natural Lifemanship Intensive, to an online platform as well. We launched our first cohort in March of 2021 and, having just wrapped up, I am simply delighted to say how powerful it was for me, the rest of the NL team, and for our students – some would even call it life-changing!
“The NL Intensive training is a life-changer. Diving so deep into concepts, receiving helpful feedback about videos, and having a dyad partner helped me deepen my practice and my relationships with individuals I serve, my horses, and all my other relationship partners. I would recommend this training to anyone who works in a helping profession. Honestly, I would recommend this training to anyone who has any relationship at all. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me.”
-Terri Schanen, Equine-Assisted Skill Developer, Lessons In Harmony, LLC
“Y’all. And I don’t say y’all bc I’m from Iowa. But y’all, this is life changing.”
– Ashley Stavig
Before, the Intensive was an in-person training lasting 3 days that allowed for a group of paired up students to work with horses to deepen their learning from the Fundamentals.Taking turns practicing the principles of NL, the pair would receive feedback and participate in discussion throughout the 3 days.It was a fun and meaningful training, without a doubt.
And yet, at the end of the 3 days we were always met with the same conundrum…people wanted more time to think together, learn together, and practice…but it was just SO hard for everyone to make more time to do this in person.Putting together a virtual learning experience is tricky, especially as we work to hold true to our values of relationship and connection first.But the NL team outdid themselves again and produced a 15 week virtual training that has been, I am thrilled to say, a HUGE success.
As one of the instructors in this course, I have relished being able to connect with students over a whole 15 weeks through a group forum, routine office hours, and a total of 8 class meetings – while each student has been able to learn in their own time and practice, right at home. The learning has been deeper, richer, and more transformative, because students have time to step into the principles, and even apply their learning to their personal lives and relationships.
The material that is covered in the NL Intensive takes students deeper into the neuroscience, the attachment, and the ethics of this field of equine assisted services – and it does so through powerful experiences in learning and practicing with horses.
“This course was informative, practical, and easily transferred to my work with people in my private practice, with or without horses. I highly recommend it!”
– Lydia Radke, Ancora Wellness.
Each of the 8 class meetings is an opportunity to connect, regulate, and learn new skills – as well as an opportunity to watch, pause, review, and discuss the active work that the students are doing at home. NL Intensive students come away with a toolbox of regulation skills, a depth and breadth of knowledge, and an embodied experience of how to build healthy relationships no matter where they go.
Whether you are a therapist, equine professional, or someone in between, you will find this training can improve not only your professional development, but your personal development as well.
“Phenomenal training that helps expand therapeutic knowledge, horsemanship knowledge, and self awareness. Applies to every part of life and really gets the wheels turning!”
-Brooke Bodar, LPC
NL students remark on the changes they witness in themselves, in their horses, their families, and of course, in their clients – the NL Intensive is a transformative experience.
In our last class together, each student had the opportunity to summarize their experience with the course and I was truly brought to tears by the reflections they shared.We wanted to stay connected with our community, even at a distance, and I really think we did it.What an incredible group of people willing to dive in to grow as individuals and professionals…and what an exciting training to be a part of!
I cannot wait for our new cohort to begin – so we can connect with a whole new group of incredible helpers and healers in the world.I hope to see you there!
“If you are considering taking the intensive… DO IT!!! This course was not only profoundly helpful for my sessions with clients and horses but also deeply impactful for me personally.”
Are you ready to join us? Our new cohort is now enrolling and will begin August 23rd!
The Intensive Practicum is a 3-day in-person experience for those who have a desire for hands-on practice with our trainers to truly understand the NL approach from the inside out. Following 15 weeks of comprehensive, in-depth online learning, you’ll have the opportunity to dive deep into your practice with horses, and receive in-the-moment feedback from experienced NL professionals, so you can progress with confidence and competence. It takes practice to become a therapeutic presence and skilled guide.Here’s what our students are saying about the Intensive Practicum….
“The practicum really brought the online learning information together in the most meaningful way. This was a very powerful training and one of the best trainings I have ever attended.”
-Dr. Sarah Cairns, psychologist, Cairns Therapy and Nutrition
“One of my biggest takeaways [from the practicum] was getting to practice finding the space between my own “old tapes” of either trying to control or simply walking away when I’m feeling ignored; and then practicing what to do with my internal energy and getting clear about my needs in that space. Very healing and helpful to my personal and professional life moving forward.”
Haven’t taken the Fundamentals of NL (the pre-req for this course) yet?Registration opens soon for the Fundamentals as well!Check it out!
Still undecided? See ALL our amazing video testimonials, here!
Rarely do we experience collective grief that moves beyond ourselves, our families, our communities, and across oceans.
This past year was an exception.
While each individual visit from grief varied in depth and time, the shared experience of having met under similar circumstances gifted us with opportunities for connecting on a much deeper level.
In pulling apart the pieces that make the experience of grief complex, I have found that love and grief are indeed connected—either one not fully existing without the other.
As author, theologian, activist, and storyteller Stephen Jenkinson puts it,
“love is a way of grieving that which has not yet slipped away.”
We needn’t look far behind us to see that the things we grieve, were the things we loved first. That without having loved, we would not grieve at all.About this most of us agree, but Stephen Jenkinson argues that love is also grief.As a woman married to an older man and as a mother of young children, I am all too aware of the impermanence of love every time I hug my husband and snuggle my little ones to sleep.I know this too will pass.Yes, love is also grief – about this, I am sure.For me, the Pandemic heightened this awareness.It was a hard year.At times, love and wonder had to be stolen, in seconds, minutes. . . Before moving forward on the path that follows the recent pandemic, let us glance over our shoulder at the ways in which the past year revealed our interdependence, our similarities, and our shared journey.
Reflecting on 2020
At the start of 2020, the Natural Lifemanship Institute was thriving—or so we thought. We were leading the way in the field of Equine Assisted Services, and were training practitioners in-person in Trauma-Focused EAP and Trauma-Informed EAL.Our passion and practice was fulfilling a purpose – we were living the dream.Truly!
As word spread of a virus potentially impacting our communities, we believed like many others that the threat would soon disappear, as similar threats had in the past. Yet as quickly as the name Covid-19 overtook the airways, the devastating virus rocked our business, our livelihood, and the world.
The loss was sudden, the effects longstanding, and the impact, in my opinion, lifelong. As practitioners in the field of mental health, we recognized the trauma in ourselves, and in those around us—and we responded.
We knew the need for teachers and professionals in our field would increase as more people around the world experienced the grief of losing that which they loved—family members, friends, businesses, jobs, homes, community, celebrations, affection, and more.
The grief was growing as quickly as the impact of Covid-19, and we evolved in response.During lock-down, with young children at home, no childcare, and no school, our trainings intensified to meet the needs of practitioners and clients, and our courses moved online to increase accessibility and convenience, as each experience required unique accommodations.We had to quickly let go of how we taught and connected with our students for almost 10 years and embrace the unknown.You can read between the lines as you recall your experience during this time, but uncertainty, unrest, fear, and grief touched us all —it was surreal.
But today Natural Lifemanship provides virtual trainings that meet the requirements for NL certification, and hosts intimate, in-person trainings throughout the country to help ease the burden of traveling in this new world.
Lessons on grief, loss, connection and community
The global pandemic helped to support the belief that grief and love are truly connected.
In fact, grief permeates nearly every aspect of our lives as we move through seasons of love and loss. How do we find joy in the lingering shadow of grief that follows everything and everyone we love? In one another, and the shared experiences we have as human beings.
While Covid-19 brought with it destruction and devastation, it also provided us with a rare opportunity to experience a collective loss, and initiate a shared grieving process. For far too long, in Western culture, grief has been an isolated experience usually impacting one person, family, or community.
In 2020, however, the same fears and feelings of loneliness, vulnerability, and loss were shared throughout the world. Whether we realized it or not, grief connected us, and in that there was a bigger effort to empathize, connect, and lend a hand.
For a moment, we were one people facing the same challenge, and reassuring one another as we walked an unknown path together.Just maybe, 2020 brought us back to experiencing grief the way it was intended —in community, among others, and in the context of connected relationships.
A Natural Life: Love & Grief Are Connected
As we continued to evolve our practice and support other practitioners in their own healing journeys, we chose to host a special kind of conference this year—one that acts as an experience for all who attend.Via a path we walk together.
A Natural Life: Love & Grief Are Connectedis where we make a collective date with grief from where we are on our journey. Designed for everyone, regardless of experience and background, this 2.5 day event will bring together a community of helpers and healers from all over the world, to guide us in the art of grieving.
We will partake in healing practices and other experiential activities together, and hear from speakers whose expertise on the topics of grief and healing will inspire us, help us heal, and increase our impact on our clients, and in the world.
Whether we recognize it or not, we are always in a season of both love and grief.
On July 23rd, 24th, and 25th we will simply come together to connect our grief, our love, and expand upon our abilities to support our own healing, and that of our clients or loved ones.
A collective grief and healing process
Just as we found comfort in the shared experience of a global pandemic, we can also find it in the healing process that follows.
As we turn our gaze forward, and walk in our grief towards that which looks unfamiliar, our hope is that we recognize those walking beside us. That we acknowledge them on their journey, feel less alone, and support one another in accessing the endless love that exists within.
We are all new to this path—let’s walk it together.
Learn more about the Natural Lifemanship way…
#1Take some of our courses.We offer many low cost, single purchase courses and videos for those just wanting to get an idea of what’s out there.Many of our courses offer CE credits through NBCC and NAADAC.Many courses are also part of NL Membership or can be purchased by members at steep discounts.Check out our courses here.
#2 Follow along for FREE!We offer an array of free content online through webinars, blogs, and videos – you can do any or all of the following to stay connected and up to date on NL happenings!
Follow our YouTube Channel for free video content! This is a great place to begin understanding how the relationship between horse and person progresses, organically and over time, utilizing NL principles.Watch this video first and then follow the progress made with Annie and Abilene.