In this article, we will delve into the Trust Technique developed by James French, which aims to release and resolve trauma in both humans and animals. Building upon the previous episode where we discussed my horses and the search for an effective training method, we will now explore the specific details of my experience applying the Trust Technique with my animals.
The Unique Personalities of my Horses
During the initial weeks of training, I focused on Star, the blonde mare, and her healing process using the StarHealing method. However, Rusty Moon, the mule, had a different personality. While he appeared more playful, easy-going, and sociable in general, he also exhibited signs of neurotic behavior. Initially, he became fixated on standing at the top of the driveway, anxiously observing the road. His attachment to this spot worried me and made me question if it was related to a past experience.
Uncovering Rusty’s Past
Upon further exploration, I discovered that Rusty had displayed aggressive behavior during the unloading of another horse three hours away from my location. He was so uncontrollable that he had to be placed in a separate pen for the safety of the other horses. The transport driver speculated that Rusty’s reaction was born out of his attachment to the departing horse, rather than any personal issues. While I was concerned about his well-being and whether my place was the right fit for him, I also wanted to ensure that he could stay with his friend. Unfortunately, the mare’s hostile behavior further complicated the situation, as she dominated everything, including access to food and my attention. This left me uncertain about the best course of action.
Realizing that Rusty had a good buddy at the rescue where he previously stayed, I contemplated getting his friend to alleviate his distress. However, I questioned if this was truly the underlying issue, especially considering his friend’s promising future. Both the rescue and an animal whisperer assured me that Rusty’s behavior was simply a reflection of his protective instincts, as mules are known to safeguard their herds. Despite my doubts, I decided to embrace this aspect of the journey, as I recognized that I, too, harbored inner dissatisfaction and irritability.
Challenges and Discoveries
My first challenge in dealing with the mare’s behavior was to detach myself from judgment and anger. I had to let go of my expectations for her to be kind and generous, as she asserted herself as the alpha mare. It was a matter of bringing a nonreactive presence to the situation, which required practice, as my initial inclination was to become frustrated with her actions. While some visitors labeled her behavior as jealousy, I resisted placing such labels on her. I consciously made an effort to curb any reactions that were influenced by her aggression towards Rusty. Nevertheless, I often left the farm feeling sorrowful.
This brought about a second challenge – accepting the unfairness of the situation. Although I sensed that Rusty had the potential to be playful and sociable, there was no outlet for these expressions, except when he managed to steal a bite of grain before the mare asserted her dominance.
Seeking a Training Method for Change
My search for an effective training method was driven by my desire to transform the relationship with the mare, fostering more connection and addressing her underlying grumpiness. I believed that once Star achieved a state of tranquility, the herd’s dynamics would shift, allowing me to understand what was genuinely troubling Rusty Moon. Through the process of having someone ride the mare, I discovered that Rusty could mirror Blondie’s emotions.
The Trust Technique offered a comprehensive process for exploring and resolving the underlying tensions within my herd. It emphasized the recognition that humans and animals can absorb each other’s emotions and trigger shared experiences. I questioned whether Star’s anger was an expression of her own frustration or a reflection of my repressed childhood emotions. Perhaps, she was simply mirroring my discontent. However, it didn’t matter in the end. The solution lay in staying fully present and embracing whatever emotions arose – be it sadness, frustration, or peace.
Unraveling the Trust Technique
So, what exactly is the Trust Technique? It is a deceptively simple method that encourages humans to create a state of awareness while connecting with their animals. By holding their body still and focusing on a specific point, one develops peripheral awareness of the animal’s presence. To further immerse oneself in the present moment, the technique incorporates listening to a sound and embracing the sensation of touch. This intentional redirection of the mind serves to eliminate distractions and cultivate inner peace. When the human achieves this state of peace in the present, it often has a calming effect on the animal, encouraging stress and tension release.
Exploring the Trust Technique with Rusty and Star
Excited to try out the Trust Technique, I began implementing it with my horses. However, Rusty would often turn around and show disinterest after a few moments. It was clear that he wasn’t as engaged as I had hoped. On the other hand, Star would walk away and assert her dominance by pushing Rusty when I practiced the present moment technique. It was quite surprising to observe the aggression that arose during these sessions.
James explained that not all animals are aware of their need for peace, nor do they always desire a peaceful state. He also reassured me that my intense presence could be overwhelming for some animals. Despite his guidance that any unresponsiveness in the animal is never the fault of the human, I found myself questioning if I was doing something wrong or lacking focus. It took me some time to comprehend his advice to “pace” myself – to match the animal’s energy levels during the Trust Technique. This realization only came after watching more of his instructional course and acknowledging the aggression I was unintentionally stirring within Star.
The turning point arrived when I reached a section of the course that focused on utilizing the present moment to address my own reactive emotions stemming from past traumas. As I engaged in the suggested exercises, they brought forth and intensified my feelings of despair.
Addressing Past Trauma
At one point in my life, I embarked on a journey to the high desert in search of meditation and a deeper understanding of reality. I believed that true freedom and eternal peace could only be attained by experiencing ultimate reality firsthand. This required a still mind, unburdened by distractions. However, despite my efforts, I remained stuck at level four of the nine levels of mental training leading to the desired state of meditation known as shamata. Frustrated and desperate to progress, I eventually reached a breaking point, and a six-month hiatus from meditation followed.
Little did I know, I had not fully resolved the trauma associated with my meditation practice. Now, as I delved into the Trust Technique, which mirrored the state of meditation, I found myself encountering familiar emotions of frustration and despair. The apparent cure for my past struggles seemed to be perpetuating them. Yet, I managed to break free from this cycle, releasing the pent-up pain over the course of a few days.
Embracing Progress and New Possibilities
During this process, I discovered evidence that the Trust Technique was indeed bringing up unresolved issues in my animals, providing an opportunity for release. Rather than succumbing to feelings of defeat, I embraced the possibility that my present moment technique might be too intense for my animals, rather than seeing myself as inadequate. James described this as a cup analogy, where the clear water of peace fills the cup, mixing with the unpleasant emotions represented by the thick syrup at the bottom. While this discomfort arose from conscious awareness, it could now be diluted and easily released, leading to freedom.
With this newfound perspective, I continued practicing the Trust Technique, focusing my efforts during my animals’ least mentally active time – their midday nap. Although I wasn’t convinced of my impact during these sessions, I remained patient as I moved through the course. James revealed that achieving the healing zero state, where animals enter a deep relaxation, could vary in time and required persistence. He shared an example of two horses at his rehabilitation center, with one reaching the zero state in just two days, while the other, plagued by fear aggression, required 19 days. This reassurance allowed me to relax and trust the process, understanding that progress would come with time.
Encouraging Results and Future Expectations
To my surprise, positive changes came sooner than anticipated. Catching the animals during their nap time became a highlight, as they no longer walked away when I approached. Although it was challenging to gauge the full extent of my influence during these moments, I sensed that they were gradually growing more relaxed. In one session, I noticed Star entering a state of tranquility beyond what I had witnessed before, but unfortunately, I had to end the session prematurely. Nevertheless, I had a hunch that when we resumed our next session, we would quickly re-establish the peaceful space we had previously attained. This was one of the remarkable aspects of the Trust Technique – each session built upon the progress achieved in the previous session.
The following day, I arrived to find the animals visibly frightened by something near the back fence. They refused to come up for their grain, remaining wary of that area. Although I couldn’t discern the exact cause of their distress, I knew they were secure and left them alone to attend a day-long class. It struck me as peculiar that their fear seemed to focus on the spot where they usually took their afternoon nap. Later, I learned from my partner that they had been acting unusually throughout the day. When I returned the next morning, Star appeared calm, and during my midday visit, exhaustion had taken its toll, as she was lying down – a sight I had only witnessed twice before, during her initial week when she fell ill. I joined her, and soon enough, she followed suit, rolling onto her side, seemingly unconscious. However, her open eyes and attentive ears indicated that she hadn’t fully let go.
Persisting with the present moment technique, I maintained my focus, and eventually, Star rose to her feet, reorganizing herself and nudging the mule. After about 30 minutes, Rusty laid down as well. He seemed on the verge of complete relaxation but shook himself awake. Moments later, Star reclined, entering the zero state. She appeared completely conked out, eyes twitching in REM sleep, her tongue casually hanging out of her mouth, resting on the soft bedding. This state lasted for several minutes before she sat up, drowsily went down once more, and then finally returned to full wakefulness, signaling an end to the session.
As of now, this is where I stand in my journey with the Trust Technique. I remain curious and open to uncovering what else is possible through this method. I wonder if it will ultimately enable me to ride Star, but only time will reveal the answers. If you find yourself feeling stuck and desire a Change Anything Now Session with me, please visit ChangeAnythingNow.com. Remember, sessions aired on this podcast are provided free of charge, offering a valuable benefit to all listeners.
Music credits: Cheery Monday by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License