The Caring Heart

with Dr. Joyce

Let’s “Join-Up” For Joy and Harmony

April 2013

“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.”  (I John 2:10)

Join-up, which happens when two sentient beings, be they of the same species or of different species, each make the decision to accept one another’s communication signals and to accept the invitation to operate in harmony, or cooperation, with one another.  Monte Roberts named this relationship phenomenon “join-up,” when he could successfully engage wild horses in accepting his invitation to work together with him, then becoming willing to be ridden after only one half hour of training.  In human terms, this deeply cooperative relationship has been called by various names, including attachment, bonding, interactional synchrony, attunement, and being connected.   
 
Human babies greatly need attunement with their mothers to progress in good development.  You have no doubt read so many stories of animals of one species really “buddying up” with one of another species, or the same species, and spending their lives together, taking care of one another, and seeming to really enjoy the harmony and closeness of their lives.  People bond so tightly with their pets.
 
 I , read a doctoral dissertation some years ago, wherein the author found that many women loved their horses more than their husbands.  Why?  Evidently they felt joined up more perfectly with their horses, in ways that are difficult to describe, and which seem to be based on a spiritual connectedness.  In so much good riding, harmony with the horse is the ultimate goal to be sought, wherein the horse responds perfectly to even the slightest cues by the rider, and the two seem as one.  Talk about joy!  The deep contentment and exhilaration of a ride like that can last for days afterward.  “Transforming” and “transcending” would both be words helpful to describe the deep sense of somehow participating in another dimension – a higher dimension – of “abiding in the light.”  While existing in “the zone” of true harmony, deep acceptance, and reciprocal communication, the problems in life seem to fade into an obscure background, out of awareness.  Instead, life seems bursting with meaning and significance.  True love is happening between the two, that they are remarkably open to one another, and each operates to supply what is needed for the other, and for the activity being engaged in.  True caring seems entirely natural.  Joy and happiness are felt, as well as comfort and security in the company of the other. 
 
Well, how can we learn to have more of these marvelous relationships?  In the first place, we have to be honest beings, as each participant has to deeply trust the other, which can’t happen with dishonesty.  Then, a lot of natural or learned skill has to go into the mix.  For example when a baby cries, the baby is telling Mom he or she has a need.  Mom has to have the awareness and the skill to know what that need is and to meet the need in a timely manner.  (Sometimes that can be very difficult when Mom has tried everything, and the baby still bawls!)
 
Another example would be my effort to understand and to communicate to my horse how he was feeling. Sunny did not want to trot around in a circle on a lunge line, to be exercised.  He was nice in his way of telling me he did not feel up to it, but he just kept coming in close to me and not “taking off.”  Finally, the light bulb came on in my head.  “He’s still tired and sore from a lot of exercise a couple of days ago.”  I just gently quit, gave him some loves and treats, and put him away.  Sure enough, a couple of days after that, he did just fine, having had enough rest.  
 
The point in that example is that, in order to have such high-level, high enjoyment, cooperative relationships, we need to really watch and listen to the other, and we have to communicate to the other that we do understand and will act in accordance with caring about the other and with what is good for the other. Real empathy and compassion need to be ongoing.  If I had persisted in forcing Sunny to trot and canter, which would have made him quite uncomfortable right then, I may have really damaged our relationship, and his willingness to act in cooperation and harmony with me.  He wouldn’t trust me.  I would have become a hurtful person to him – one he would need to protect himself from and guard against.