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Tracy Courtney

Mind Gears

Why do so many look at behaviour from a negative perspective? It's partially because of what others have told us, partially due to frustration from not understanding it or how to address it effectively & partially due to our not understanding how we unintentionally cause the behaviour we don't want. When we begin to analyze our roles & contributions to how our dogs & horses behave, we can begin to open new doors of deeper understanding that change what we thought we knew. This is why I often say "our pets are a reflection of us".

During Parameters, we use the analogy of how our pet's mind has been in fifth gear or overdrive for a very long time. In most cases, this has been life as they've always known it, from the start. Depending on the age of the animal, this can equate to a significant amount of time & repetition to establish & solidify not only physical, but mental & emotional habits. If we look at the nature of habits, they aren't created in the body. They are created in the mind & then transfer to the cellular structure, hence the term muscle memory. See "Deeper physical effects of unbalanced emotions" article for more information.

After using the analogy of fifth gear, we discuss how as with a vehicle, we can't shift from a forward gear to reverse without shifting into neutral first. This is why we take the time to list all unwanted behaviour currently being expressed, in order to show how they will all disappear on their own, as we're shifting the mind into neutral through the power of silence. This is also to provide tangible proof of why gadgets, force, addressing behaviour individually or directly & cookie-cutter methods aren't necessary.

Many methods are attempting to gain control of the mind through the body & this is why cookie-cutter routines have been established, but as many have come to realize, these are not long-term effective solutions unless we're willing to spend a large amount of time in practice. We feel strongly that these methods are justified & do work, but what happens is we inevitably spend enough time to affect the mind & create the changes that reflect in the body, & this is the long way around to achieving our goals.

Something we need to begin to consider, is if there is a dogmatic belief that consistent long-term repetition is necessary for changing behaviour & each behaviour must be addressed directly & individually, then why does ALL behaviour simply disappear during our single one hour Parameters session? Not a single behaviour is addressed in any way & our pet is never asked to do a single thing...

We must also take into consideration that many will practice diligently during class time but won't take the time to practice anything away from the group setting. This is the first place we need to assess if we truly want permanent & lasting solutions. If we aren't willing to make the time & effort to address our own behavioural habits, how can we expect lasting change in our pets who are a reflection of our choices?

Why is it easier to practice in a group setting? Because we are confident that there will always be someone there to guide us whenever we need it & we don't want to be judged by the other participants, who indirectly force us to be accountable for our choices. When we're on our own, it's too easy to allow our habitual thoughts to take over, cause confusion & a lack of confidence in ourselves & what we're trying to achieve. One of the more deeply ingrained human habitual tendencies we must begin to address is our own avoidance behaviour. As a whole, confusion causes us to quit in many cases, too easily & much too often. We have no problem pushing our pets through their discomfort, but we often fail to address our own.

It is often repeated that we want our pets "moving forward but thinking back". This refers to a pet partner who is actively seeking interaction & willing to do what is being asked without becoming distracted by external stimuli, aka; "the connection". Thinking back is what is referred to as reverse when using the car analogy. We must downshift from fifth gear into neutral & once this is achieved, we can begin shifting into reverse, where our pet is 100% focused on us, what we want & what we're doing. This is the "magnetic connection" that is achieved through willing cooperation, not force & dictation.

Do we notice how distracted we become while with our pets? We are constantly looking around at movements, sights & sounds, we get lost in conversations & periodically forget that our pet is with us, until they make a movement or sound that brings our awareness back to them. (Our pets are a reflection of us). We keep flitting in & out of connection with our pet as a memory of something pops in & carries us away with it. As we're beginning to learn about & understand the mind's forward gears & how they are expressed through our pet's bodies, we must also begin to recognize & understand our own forward gears, how they are expressed through our own body language & how they interfere with building the connection.

Shifting the mind into neutral is where the connection is not only made, but it's the foundation of everything you do moving forward. If you choose to quit & not build a solid foundation, then the walls & roof you build later will always be unstable & able to topple at the slightest bump in the road. It's not because of your pet, the teacher or the method being taught, it's a result of your own choices. You have to be willing to accept & take responsibility for your own choices & begin to hold yourself accountable.

Every person who has been through a Parameters session has expressed that they feel much calmer & more relaxed at the end. The reason for this is because we aren't only shifting our pet's mind into neutral, but our own as well. Just like our pet's having had no previous idea that this neutral state existed, let alone was possible prior to the shift, the way we interact with the world has become so normal & seemingly natural that we had no idea this was possible for ourselves either.

This is also the reason that everyone of you has begun to experience higher highs & lower lows after having gone through Parameters. Because we have forgotten & moved away from our natural state of being, this remembrance will cause a rollercoaster of previously buried emotions to surface, that are seeking balance. This is also why I often refer to this process as emotional balancing. This in itself can cause confusion & a lack of drive to continue to create that balance for both of you, but we must be committed to overcoming the discomfort of change & remember that it won't last forever. It's much too easy to allow our comfortable old habits & mind gears to take over & run the show again. If we can accept & push through the discomfort of change, the new doors that will open to us will bring endless opportunities.