This post should have been published last year, following the birth of my first grandchild however due to a busy schedule I forgot all about it and only found it in my archives yesterday! It seems fitting to post it now as my grandson is approaching his first birthday....how time flies!
Recently I have had the most wonderful of experiences, that of being present for the birth pf my first grandchild. I was thrilled when my daughter Sarah asked me if I would be her birthing partner along with her husband but I was totally unprepared for the profound way it would affect me.
Watching my daughter give birth birthed something in me too - it birthed a deep and lasting impression about life that I want to share with you now.
We are perhaps all familiar with the old saying 'no pain, no gain' and whereas there is a certain truth in this I know now that in order to reach the gain we have to feel that pain in the depth of our being, not just know about it superficially or have a general awareness of it, but actually feel it fully, in its entirety so that our whole body can respond to it.
At one point during my daughter's labour the doctor gave her some advice that I feel is crucial advice for us all. As my daughter was crying out in pain the doctor told her to stop shouting out loud, which he said was just pushing energy away from her when she needed the energy to aid her in giving birth. Instead the doctor told Sarah to use the energy of the pain to help her deliver her child.
This simple piece of advice has not left me since and I have been unable to stop thinking about it. How often do we cry out in pain, in frustration, in disbelief, in anger? How often do we give vent to our feelings rather than feel them? When we do this we are actually pushing away energy that we could use more creatively - energy that could be used to help us birth a new experience for example.
I witnessed first hand what happens when we take the energy of our pain into our bodies and let it work its way through us - the result for our family was the birth of a beautiful, healthy baby boy. I believe in a similar way that if we can harness the energy of our emotions and allow then to move through us then we will find that we respond to the challenges of life in far mor creative ways than if we just react to the pain by shouting out our anger and frustration.
When we react to something what we are doing is literally re-enacting that something externally. Rather than feel the pain internally we experience it externally so for example if we don't feel our own anger we project it onto someone else and get angry with them rather than process the conflict that anger has provoked within us.
What seems to be needed is for us to be able to to bring the energy of our unwanted emotions into our bodies where we can feel the full extent of them. Emotion is energy (E) in motion - it is meant to be an agent of change - something that moves through us in order to birth a new experience, helping us to stop enacting out old familiar patterns of behaviour that often aren't really that healthy for us.
It seems we can either have a reactive or creative (note that the same letters make up both these words - just arranged differently!) response to life but to have a creative response we cannot go on ignoring our pain and trying to avoid our unpleasant feelings.
This is the question then that my experience as a birthing partner has given me. How do we begin to feel our pain. How do we begin to feel that which we know will hurt us?I'm not sure I have the answers but watching my daughter give birth I know that her body knew what to do. My daughter didn't have time to think about what to do, to ponder on it, weigh up her options or postpone a decision - her body took over and all she could do was to go with the pain until it produced for her, her treasured baby boy. In a similar way do we need to respect our bodies and believe that they can handle the pain given to us (both physical and emotional) knowing that this pain can be a catalyst for growth? There can be no new birth without pain, without a letting go of resistance, without a degree of discomfort, without a willingness to feel it all.
I hear a lot about feeling into the body these days - bodily awareness it seems is now the new spirituality.
However I want to say that feeling your pain is not the same as succumbing to it or to wallowing in it.
Feeling is about movement - you feel what moves through you. Wallowing is holding onto pain, swimming in it rather than let it move through you. Wallowing leads to stagnation not growth and it is a way of avoiding feeling the pain.
So in order to experience a birth whether that be the birth of a new child, the birth of a new idea, a new response or a new solution to an old problem it is essential that we allow ourselves to feel adequately whatever it is that we are experiencing. As far as possible let us disengage the mind with its thinking agenda and adopt instead the agenda of the soul with its longing for feeling and experiencing.
Our bodies are intelligent and they know what to do with the energy of pain. The birthing experience may be painful but as any new mother (or grandmother!) will tell you - the new life that we get to experience at the end of it is well worth it!
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.