I wanted to write something of the mind in dressage and found myself at a loss of words. There are feelings and thoughts, but when working both are distractions.
Feelings are funny because they ascend and descend. What I mean by that is that we can feel into the body or feel into surrounding space and there is a feeling of subjective central self.
The mind can find itself projected in these three directions, launching itself into chains of thought, connected or disconnected. An educated mind knits careful chains and the uneducated one shows an element of confusion, not necessarily felt as confusion, but nevertheless confused.
How a lot of this inner dialogue is carried on has a lot to do with how the body is positioned on the horse. This is subtle because small defects in posture have pretty profound effects on what arises. This is where seat training is important for not only does it add emotional stability, but it assists in clarity in the thought process.
So where does the mind rest in good dressage? That is the problem for when it rests in anything that I have described here, the problem is that awareness is not in the immediate experience with the horse. Good dressage places the mind somewhere else.
Awareness and mindfulness hover in the moment. They do not fixate on an object of thought, or feeling. This placement of the mind is in a very primordial state. It is one which occurs before thoughts. Awake but not moving and yet taking in the motion. From this place we see the horse and its activities in a very pure way. This is a state from which good dressage arises and is a place of kindness and goodness which is extended without hesitation.
I do not think this is a unique state that only the elite can access but I do think it takes practice to maintain it. I think very young children know this place well as they begin to cultivate language skills and I do think the horse is also very close to this in a native way.
For most of us, we must learn to remember and try to forget the elaborate sandcastles we have built and live in our mind. There is a confidence which is beyond words, compassion, balance arise from this. Dressage which is beyond compare is the training in the birth or rebirth of this beautiful mind.