Tucson, Arizona – Miraval Resort & Spa
Read the series of W2N Miraval stories.
I came to Miraval to see what it was that made it the #1 Med Spa in the country. Part of my strategy was to experience every unique program they offered…the things you can’t get anywhere else. Perhaps the most unique is Miraval’s signature program called “It’s Not About The Horse.” And after a session with Wyatt Webb, they aren’t kidding! Read more about Miraval!
Pop quiz. “What do horses and humans have in common?”
Answer. Absolutely nothing.
Yet at Miraval, the number one Med Spa in the United States, horses and a man by the name of Wyatt Webb take center ring and bring healing and perspective to hundreds of people each year. While as different as a horse and a human can be, the magic that is Wyatt Webb brings two improbable species together in such a way that I saw astonishing physical and emotional changes happen right before my eyes. And found myself confronted with wounds of my own, laid open bare.
Someone once told me that if you go into an experience with no expectations or pre-conceived notions you will usually be pleasantly surprised. And nothing could have been more true at Wyatt Webb’s session, “It’s Not About The Horse.” He and his four-legged healer, a horse named “Elvis,” took three woman on that overcast, slightly chilly fall day and led them into sunlight – literally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I went into the session curious, excited…clueless. I was stoked to be around a horse, not that I am a horsewoman in the least. I wasn’t one of those little girls asking Santa for a horse every year, much to the relief of my parents. No, I am however always in awe of and admire these beautiful animals even though I am a bit intimidated by them. So after a short and quiet van ride with Wyatt to the stables with my comrades Anne and Patricia we were introduced to our horse therapist for the day, Elvis. Elvis was far less impressed with us than we were with him…I got the sense that Elvis has been through this a few times as opposed to us, with our first time “oohs and aahs.” Our host and facilitator, Wyatt was almost as much a mystery to me as Elvis…but I soon found out I was definitely the flunky of the group as I had not properly researched this amazing man. My classmates, however, had already read his book. Strike one Allison!
We followed our therapists, Wyatt and Elvis, to a small ring and took seats on the benches outside the ring were Elvis patiently stood and Wyatt sat facing us. I was eager, ready for what this grey-bearded cowboy had to share with us. Wyatt’s appearance screams “good ole Cowboy.” Tall, grey hair and beard, denim from head to toe, leather vest, dust covered boots and a Cowboy hat…I took him for a man who’s been working ranches his whole life. Well, as the saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover.”
Wyatt’s gentle nature, easy going smile, soothing voice and calm cadence draw you in immediately. He is mesmerizing. You are like a moth to a flame, and you can’t help it. I suddenly realized the two women on either side of me were silently crying, and my nervousness radar went off – what, I wondered, was going on? Wyatt gently began to extract their stories from them. Their stories are not mine to tell and I respect both their privacy and obvious pain, so the details they shared remain secret to our little society that day. Suffice it to say, they were equally dealing with painful life and family struggles that would test the strongest of people. Hurts that ran deep, fears for struggling family members with dependencies and the pain of lost dreams and happy lives. Suffering. Pain. Loss. Tears. Lots of tears.
I was overwhelmed. Speechless. Moved. I watched as they spilled every hurt and every piece of their heartache to the man I thought was simply a Cowboy, only to listen as his advice was both right on target and direct. He did not mince words, he was not unkind. He was insightful. He was blunt. He was honest. He was caring. He was right. Most of all, he was WISE. At one point, I put my hand on Patricia’s back, in the hopes of giving her comfort as she poured out her soul. Wyatt kindly told me not to. “Let her have her pain,” he said. “Let her own it…” Wow…
When it was my turn to share, I said I was there to experience all that was unique about Miraval, that I really didn’t have something to bring to the session. Wyatt’s quick and true response….”Well, we’ll see about that.” Didn’t see it coming. Strike two!
You see, Wyatt – as I learned after finally reading his book – is a trained psychotherapist and recovering addict. He has been working with people, including at-risk teens, for years and discovered the healing power of horses as therapy for people who are suffering, who are lost. As he explained, horses live in the present. They don’t hang on to the past, or worry about the future. They are pure of heart and spirit, just as we all were when we came in to this world. Only most humans have lost that gift along Life’s way. Horses sense our energy as it is in the moment – they are a mirror of that energy and they respond to it. They bring us back to the moment.
After sharing with Wyatt, we each took our turn in the ring with Elvis. Our task seemed simple enough. Walk up to Elvis, lift his hooves (back and front) and clean his shoes. Only rules were no pushing him or leaning on him. Simple enough, right? Not so. I watched as both Anne and Patricia tried to raise his hoof – one of the keys is to squeeze his leg just below the knee joint. Doesn’t always work – and inevitably someone says, “something’s wrong with this horse.” To which Wyatt emphatically says, “it’s not about the horse!” One eventually learns that like life, if you try and force it or control it, it plain won’t work. It’s not a challenge between you and the horse; he’s not being obstinate, he’s not playing games with you. He is simply reading your energy, your frustration. He is living in the moment. It’s when you let go of the impulse to force his hoof up and realize it’s about you trying to control that which is not in your control, that that beautiful animal accepts your request and up comes the hoof.
When it was my turn to get up close and personal with Elvis, I admit to being nervous. Wyatt is a “human whisperer,” a healer of souls. It’s as if he casts a spell over you and you can’t help but throw ego to the wind and open the vase of hurts some of us carry around inside of us. At least, that is what happened with me, as soon as I entered that magical ring.
“Why are you here?,” Wyatt asked me. Once again, I answered that I wanted to see what all the hubbub was all about. (I still hope he didn’t take offense to the word hubbub – I was trying to deflect my nervousness with humor, which sometimes backfires on me, just like it did that day.) He smiled that kind, gentle, all-knowing smile and asked me again, “So, WHY are YOU here?”
Before I knew it, as if in a magical horse-ring kind-of spell, I shared how listening to Anne and Patricia’s’ stories took me back to my childhood and some unhappy memories. I shared my recent history of divorce, hurt, insecurity of starting a new life and career, fear of being alone. Wyatt, who I now believe is part psychic, said “It’s more than that…” Stunned, I knew he was right. What I had shared were symptoms, they were not the cause. He asked about past relationships. He asked about my childhood and I shared with him the biggest hurt in my life…being told to apologize for being born. He said with more sincerity than I’d ever experienced, “I’m so sorry. No one should ever have to do that.”
I’ve always believed, since I was a young girl to that very moment in that ring that I was never enough. And I surrounded myself with people throughout my life that reinforced that feeling. I didn’t share that with him that day – those thoughts are some I never imagined letting out of my brain anytime in my life, but I was in awe that he was able to get me to drill down to such a basic core emotion.
With that it was my turn to clean Elvis’ hooves. When I approached Elvis – me, the one who wasn’t sobbing and emoting and melting down – he backed away from me.
I have to confess I was startled, embarrassed. Confused. My feelings were hurt. By a horse! Strike three! Thankfully, I didn’t get thrown out of the game, because the best was yet to come.
Wyatt called me back to him and said Elvis was simply reacting to my energy. I’ve always thought of myself as a positive-energy kind of person, so the needle on the nervous meter went up quite a bit. I shared this with Wyatt and he asked me a great question. “What are you hanging on to so hard?” I was stumped. I didn’t know how to respond, because I didn’t even know. How do you begin to explain that you are hanging on to your life so hard that you don’t know any other way?
After a couple of deep breaths I reintroduced myself to Elvis. This time, he didn’t retreat. He lifted both hooves for me the minute I pinched his leg. I stood up and looked long and hard into Elvis’ eye and said “thank you.” As if to say “you’re welcome” he snorted and nodded his head and let me give him a big hug. When I walked back to Wyatt he had a huge grin on his face.
He looked me square in the eye and said, “Here’s what you need to know starting now to forever…”
“You are enough.”
I don’t know how this wise, intelligent, perceptive man read my thoughts that day. How he knew that at the very core of me was the need to hear those words. I have lived my whole life thinking and believing I was never enough for anyone. Not for my parents, my boyfriends, my ex, my children, my friends. I have always aimed for perfection in an attempt to be enough, and as we all know, perfection is a myth for mere mortals. I suddenly understood why Elvis shied away-he sensed my need to control and present a perfect front. He sensed the negative energy that comes with my attempt to do both.
Yet right there, in that dusty ring as the sun came out for the first time that day, I felt the one thing I needed to feel for the first time since I made my appearance on the human stage…
I AM enough.
Personal Note: I highly recommend Wyatt’s book “It’s Not About The Horse” which can be found at the Miraval Online Shop or at Amazon.com.