Unconditional love.

We all long to receive it. We all want to get better at offering it. Yet, time and again, most of us find ourselves feeling that unconditional love is elusive.

As the primary facilitator and founder of an equine-assisted learning program in Ravenel, I am privileged to observe countless interactions between students and horses where true unconditional love is demonstrated before my eyes. Witnessing these interactions helps me understand the power behind equine-assisted therapies. But it also helps me unravel the “mystery” of unconditional love, which is this: 

Unconditional love isn’t something that can be given or received in isolation.It can only be realized as a shared state of being.

One cannot provide unconditional love to another who is not already open to receiving it. And one cannot be open to receiving unconditional love until she first understands how to embody it. But how does one learn to embody unconditional love? The answer is simple, even if it is not obvious.

Unconditional love is not something we have to learn to embody; it’s something we are born already knowing how to be. And then we forget. We get confused. We’re taught that unconditional love is something we need to offer to ourselves or others, no matter what they/we do.

But that’s not true because unconditional love cannot be given. It can only be awakened. So if a person behaves in an unloving, selfish or hurtful way, what we really need to offer them is a combination of tough love and forgiveness. Why? Because this is what will help them find their way back to the perfect state of unconditional love again.

Unlike humans, horses are not confused about what unconditional love is, nor have they forgotten how to embody it. Horses don’t care what our resume says, or how much money we make, or how we look. They don’t even care whether or not we know anything about how to behave around horses!

When a horse meets a human, the horse only cares about two things:

Is this human comfortable and happy in his/her own skin?

Can this human honor and respect me for who and what I am?

When they believe the answer to both of these questions is “Yes!”, horses respond in the most amazing ways. And in so doing, they remind us that unconditional love is nothing more than the simple state of accepting ourselves and others, without conditions. It’s being able to say with complete faith: “I am enough and you are enough. Right now. Right here. Just as we are. We are both enough.”

And whenever we can find our way back to this state of mutual acceptance and surrender, magic happens. Expectations and judgments fall away. We feel free and happy. Our hearts overflow with appreciation. We are at peace. We are filled with wonder and we can connect authentically, rejoicing in the present moment.

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Kim Hallin is the founder and president of Unbridled LLC. An accomplished horse trainer and expert at reading horse behavior, Kim spent 18 years in higher education fundraising before taking a leap of faith to pursue her lifelong dream of bringing horses and humans together, to heal together. To read more about Kim and opportunities at Unbridled visit www.unbridled.guru.