Two passions guide my life: My bond with animals and my natural practice of Unitarian Universalism and Loving Presence.
Just seeing any animal, or even just thinking about animals, brings me closer to loving and appreciating the unity of our world. My eyes brighten and I come alive, even when a bird flies across the sky above me or a mouse scampers across my barn aisle.
I’ve trained animals, mostly horses and dogs, just about all my life.
When my kinship with animals and my UU practices join each other, my heart unfolds with good vibrations. Sometimes the vibrations turn into a song called Loving Presence, a term coined by Ron Kurtz, founder of The Hakomi Method of Self Study. The word Hakomi means “where do you stand in relationship?”
Loving Presence has made such an impact on my life that I am deeply inspired to share and broaden its message. When people get the gist of what a Loving Presence means with animals, a natural understanding develops deeply within the fellowship of humans.
As a horse professional for over 40 years and with horses so dear to me, that’s how I can best explain Loving Presence.
It goes beyond horses, though, and I dare to think that my small offering will somehow reach far.
What is Loving Presence?
When you hear the phrase, Loving Presence, what comes to mind?
Coming from the heart
Better than Good and more than Love
Loving Presence goes beyond these connotations. It feels better than good. It holds a unique quality that is not a habit of love nor a usual state of mind.
In the context of my relationship with my horse, here’s how I experience the unique quality of Loving Presence:
- I’m here. Not “here for you,” but just here. I see my horse as complete and whole. I don’t need to be here for him. I am just here and available for connection.
- You know the saying, “put yourself in the other’s shoes?” I put myself in my horse’s hooves—as much as a person can do that for a horse.
- I don’t need anything from my horse. I would enjoy connecting with him, but I don’t need to.
- I have no desire to change anything. Things will change whether I want them to or not.
- As much as I can, I tune in to what’s important to my horse, seeing it as neutral and not good or bad.
- I am sensitive to noticing subtle signs and naturally occurring changes that indicate he is open to connecting with me.
- My heart is open when my horse is ready to connect. This feels like my horse and I briefly merge together in existence. It usually doesn’t last very long, but comes and goes. When I return to my own individual self after even this brief type of connection with my horse, I feel strengthened, enriched, complete. I ride, free with my horse, without struggle.
Loving Presence fills my soul, whether it be with horse, dog, human, or any sentient being.
Mary Kay Hasseman is a Unitarian Universalists, an All Souls Virtual Member, and a horse professional for over 40 years. She connects people and horses in the practice of Loving Presence. She lives in Tomball, Texas with an awesome husband, 4 dogs, 6 cats, 2 horses, 1 pony, 3 miniature horses, and a miniature donkey. If you want to practice Loving Presence with the animals (and humans) in your life, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a short exercise to get you started.
Learn more about the Hakomi Method of Self Study at hakomi.com.
Read more from our members about their spiritual practices to connect with our human family.
Images courtesy of Mary Kay Hasseman 2018