In Praise of Wildness


What do you really love, deep down? What do you wish for? What do you actually need? In today’s edition of “Living Joyfully,” I share some inspiration for the path that leads us back to who we truly are.


(Click here for audio version)

Inside of every gentle horse there is a wild horse, and inside of every wild horse there is a gentle horse – and it is the same with us.

Reclaiming your own inner wildness is part of the path of becoming and re-membering who you truly are. What do you really love, deep down? What do you wish for? What do you actually need?  What would you push away, out of your life, if you could?

For some of us, these questions get clouded, the inherent blueprint of what is wholesome and true for us gets overwritten – by the over-culture, with its cookie-cutter expectations, by the pressures of our social group or family. It can be hard to listen to the inner voice of your true nature calling to you sometimes. But it is always there.

Anything that calls you back to yourself can be path. Because of my personal history, it is horses that call me, and I think many of them have a special gift for doing so. Horses help reconnect us with wild nature – that part of ourselves that is vast and free and majestic, no matter how crushed we may have been, how bent and bruised by circumstance, or by another’s malignant design.

In “The Heart of Evolution,” EFL expert Linda Kohanov talks about how ancient people watched the animals – not just as a prelude to hunting, but for pleasure, enjoyment, entertainment. Long before radio or tv… Have you seen the wild horses running across a field of waving grass? Have you seen the dolphins laughing and splashing in the surf? The wild uncatchable birds flying toward the window of the stars? Child spirit in each of us rises to such visions with wonder – laughter and tears.

Linda goes on to speak of the way the ancient ones must have begun to recognize individuals among the herds, the brave ones who saw us looking, and stepped forward unexpectedly to return the gaze. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a wild creature? Given him or her a name, even in your mind? This naming is an acknowledgement of the other as a conscious being, an acknowledgement of the gift of their approach. Not a dominion over, but an act of claiming kinship with the wild – connecting, saying, “you” instead of “it.”

Through our Yoga practice, too, we forge a connection between the conscious mind, with its ego distractions, and the deep innate wise knowing of our inherent nature. As we advance in the practice, we become more sensitive to, more clear about, what the body actually needs, what the psyche needs in order to follow the path of our true calling. As we become more healthy through the practice, we come to feel and sense what is wholesome for us, and to desire it, allowing the unwholesome to melt away. This is a process of stepping forward into reverence for the wild, innate wisdom of the body, as a miraculously fine-tuned sensor and receiver of information. Just as being in nature brings the senses alive again, so to our Yoga practice can reawaken our deep awareness of our personal, wild nature, which is a divine gift.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful poem today, by Arthur Sze, “The UnNamable River:”

1         Is it in the anthracite face of a coal miner,
crystallized in the veins and lungs of a steel
worker, pulverized in the grimy hands of a railroad engineer?
Is it in a child naming a star, coconuts washing
ashore, dormant in a volcano along the Rio Grande?

You can travel the four thousand miles of the Nile
to its source and never find it.
You can climb the five highest peaks of the Himalayas
and never recognize it.
You can gaze though the largest telescope
and never see it.

But it’s in the capillaries of your lungs.
It’s in the space as you slice open a lemon.
It’s in a corpse burning on the Ganges,
in rain splashing on banana leaves.

Perhaps you have to know you are about to die
to hunger for it. Perhaps you have to go
alone in the jungle armed with a spear
to truly see it. Perhaps you have to
have pneumonia to sense its crush.

But it’s also in the scissor hands of a clock.
It’s in the precessing motion of a top
when a torque makes the axis of rotation describe a cone:
and the cone spinning on a point gathers
past, present, future.

2         In a crude theory of perception, the apple you
see is supposed to be a copy of the actual apple,
but who can step out of his body to compare the two?
Who can step out of his life and feel
the Milky Way flow out of his hands?

An unpicked apple dies on a branch:
that is all we know of it.
It turns black and hard, a corpse on the Ganges.
Then go ahead and map out three thousand mile of the Yantze;
walk each inch, feel its surge and
flow as you feel the surge and flow in your own body.

And the spinning cone of a precessing top
is a form of existence that gathers and spins death and life into one.
It is in the duration of words, but beyond words—
river river river, river river.
The coal miner may not know he has it.
The steel worker may not know he has it.
The railroad engineer may not know he has it.
But it is there. It is in the smell
of an avocado blossom, and in the true passion of a kiss.

Have a wonderful week!

For information about the Early Bird special for Yoga and the Way of the Horse Teacher Training, please click here.

I am indebted to my friend and mentor Linda Kohanov for the gift of her continued inspiration, and grateful for the teachings I have received in the path of the wounded healer from the wonderful and wise Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves.


Erin Menut, MA, E-RYT
Yoga, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Equine Facilitated Learning